1 Thess. 2:17-20 - The Hope of Fellowship PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Sunday, 30 August 2009 20:00
  1. Introduction

    1. At Covenant College I gained some very dear friends, especially among the young men who lived on my hall, who were exceptionally mature, and godly. After graduation I remained at the college, but most of my hallmates left town. It was painful to know that they were gone, because in this life many of them I will never see again. Have you experienced a painful parting of fellowship? Why does it hurt? And what should we do about it?

    2. In the past 2 weeks I've begun to plan my 10 year high school class reunion, and have begun to reconnect with several long-lost friends from college who live in this area. Why do we seek to reconnect with old friends?

    3. Well, the reason it hurts to lose the fellowship you once had, and the reason we seek to restore it, is because we were made for fellowship with God and with one another. In our sin we broke fellowship with God and one another, and now in our salvation God has made it His delight to restore us to fellowship with Him and with one another. It is this hope of fellowship toward which the church's gospel-labor of love aims, and to this one hope of fellowship toward which she must press on, to the end.

Matt. 12:22-32 - The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Sunday, 30 August 2009 12:45
  1. Introduction. Matthew 11-13 reveals to us the nature of Christ's kingdom. In today's passage we learn Christ's kingdom is a kingdom characterized by the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of the Holy Spirit.

    1. Christ's Greater Prominence. You may not yet recognize this passage's focus on the Holy Spirit, because the passage gives a greater prominence to Jesus Christ than to the Holy Spirit. But this is nearly always the case in scripture, because the Holy Spirit, while co-eternal and of the same substance with God the Father and God the Son, equal with them in power and glory, yet in the economy of salvation God the Spirit does only what the Father and the Son send Him to do. In a word, the Holy Spirit makes men holy, as God is holy, perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect. In doing this, in true humility the Spirit always exalts the glory of Jesus Christ, and so gives greater prominence in scripture to Christ than to Himself. Throughout every aspect of Christ's work you see the Spirit serves the purpose of Christ—He conceived Christ, revealed Christ, performed Christ's miracles, raised Christ from the dead, was given by Christ to the apostles and was poured out by Christ upon His church, and so now unites us to Christ by faith and works in us obedience to Christ our Lord, and one day will raise us up in glory to be with Christ, and to be like Christ. This is the work of the Spirit.

    2. The Spirit's Necessity. Christ's kingdom would not be what it is without the work of the Holy Spirit, because in fact nothing would happen. Christ does all the work of His kingdom in this world by the immediate agency of His Holy Spirit. All the work of salvation, and even the miracle in this passage, is done by Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Calling, regeneration, faith, repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification only come by the work of the Holy Spirit. Without Him, we would have nothing in salvation.

    3. Outline. Because the Spirit is essential to Christ's kingdom, so we would recognize the nature of the Spirit's work, and so the Spirit would receive the worship He deserves, it was the Father's wise design for Jesus to reveal the fact that His kingdom is characterized by the work of the Holy Spirit in three ways in this passage. Christ reveals:

      1. The Victory of the Spirit vv. 22-23

      2. The Vindication of the Spirit vv. 24-30

      3. The Veneration of the Spirit vv. 31-32

Matt. 12:15-21 - My Chosen Servant PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Sunday, 23 August 2009 13:00
  1. Introduction

    1. If it was your job to plan Jesus' appearance on the stage of history, how would you choose to reveal the Savior of the world? How would you have done it? I think most of you would want to make sure Christ's coming was awe-inspiring. Innumerable angels dressed for war in a glorious array filling the sky singing "Glory to God in the Highest?" Yes! Make that first on the list! A voice like thunder coming from heaven saying "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him?" Excellent! Put that on the list too! Healing the sick, raising the dead? Yes! But how about riding on a donkey? No, that's not so good. How about eating with sinners, or washing His disciples' feet like the slave of all? Maybe not. How about dying a cruel death on the cross as a convicted criminal, to be buried and forgotten by the world? No, we would never plan it that way. But God did!

    2. God chose for Christ to be a servant. To stand not only in the glorious place of the holy God, but also in the humble place of unrighteous man. Christ humbled Himself to serve His Father, and to serve you. We would never plan it that way, but in this way Jesus Christ is God's chosen Servant.

    3. Outline. We see how Christ is God's chosen Servant in two great ways in this passage.

      1. The Fact of Christ's Humility vv. 15-16

      2. The Fulfillment of God's Promise vv. 17-21

        1. The Father's Pleasure in Christ v. 18a

        2. The Father's Promise to Christ v. 18b

        3. The Father's Prediction concerning Christ vv. 19-21

Matt. 12:1-14 - Lord of the Sabbath PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Sunday, 16 August 2009 13:00
  1. Introduction

    1. The Law's True Requirement. In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ corrected the Jewish rabbis where they neglected the true import of God's law. In today's passage Christ corrects them for applying it too strictly, in a way it was not originally intended to be applied, as if strict outward conformity could atone for inward corruption. How easy it is for we sinners to "tithe mint and dill and cumin, and...[neglect] the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness." Christ told the Pharisees, "These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others." (Matt. 23:23) By explaining the true requirement of the law of the Sabbath—the Fourth Commandment, Christ neither adds to, nor takes away from, the law of God. (Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Rev. 22:18, 19; Prov. 30:6)

    2. God's Mercy. But Christ does not only explain the law's requirement. He also reveals God's mercy. Because God is merciful to us in our great need, we should show mercy to others. In His mercy our Savior is Lord of the Sabbath. His mercy is why we rest in order to worship. We rest to worship Him for His mercy. Any rest that does not imitate His mercy is no true Sabbath-rest, for Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.

    3. Outline. We learn Jesus' merciful lordship over and in the Sabbath in this passage's two main points:

      1. Works of Necessity Are Proper on the Sabbath vv. 1-8

      2. Works of Mercy Are Proper on the Sabbath vv. 9-14

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 April 2018 14:46
Why Sing Skillfully? PDF Print E-mail
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News - Theology
Written by Tim Black   
Thursday, 13 August 2009 15:00

Brian L. Penney, pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Copiague, NY (CREC), recently announced his congregation's ministry called "Heart & Voice" which aims to help your congregation learn to sing 4-part harmony.  While we don't agree with the CREC's commitment to the theology of the Federal Vision, the work of "Heart & Voice" is a great idea--your part is not only written down, but also sung well on an MP3 you can listen to on the way to work.  Brian writes,

Our church has a ministry called Heart & Voice to help congregations learn to sing 4-part harmony...to improve our praise of Almighty God.  Toward that end, we are producing learning tracks for psalms and hymns in SATB format with full-mix so all the parts can be heard as you would sing them. If any of you have a list of psalms or hymns you would like to teach your congregations, we will consider producing the 5 tracks for each song. H&V has a learning track specialist helping us produce the audio files. He has given us a steep discount: $50 per song. His usual price is $100. If you send us a donation to cover the learning track production, that would be great! The songs will go on our website for all to share. You can hear a sample here:  www.heartandvoice.weebly.com.

On the URC discussion list, Dave asked,

But does it matter that one can sing "skilfully?" I think not.

This is a good question, and one which sometimes divides people--the humble say God accepts His people's singing even if its musical quality is as poor as the "widow's mite," the "truly musical" can imply poor singing is sinful worship, and some of the "truly Reformed" claim choirs are not an element of New Testament worship.  Dave's question deserves a good answer.

Here is mine.  Because the Lord commands us to sing, and singing requires skill, I think to sing with less skill is to sing less; to sing hardly well is to hardly sing. This is no reason to think the Lord is not merciful to those of His creatures who can merely lisp--some of whom sing in our congregation--but it is to affirm that He made us to really sing, and that He will enable us to do so once again in glory (Rev. 5; 14:3; 15:3). Our congregation has revived its choir for this reason--to teach and encourage the whole congregation to sing.  Calvin called the congregation the "first choir," implying that the choir is the "second choir" in the church.  I think his view is a good example to follow--the purpose of a choir is to teach and encourage the whole congregation to sing.

That it is the Lord's good command to sing is beyond dispute:

Psalm 30:4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints

Psalm 92:1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;

Psalm 147:1 Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.

Is not artistic skill God's gift, and does God not call us to use those skills when they are required in the elements of worship which He commands?

Exodus 36:2 And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.

1 Chronicles 28:21 And behold the divisions of the priests and the Levites for all the service of the house of God; and with you in all the work will be every willing man who has skill for any kind of service; also the officers and all the people will be wholly at your command.

That singing requires skill is self-evident, but is also manifest in scripture:

2 Chronicles 30:21-22
21 And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with all their might to the LORD. 22 And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the LORD.

Psalm 137:2-6
2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
4 How shall we sing the LORD's song in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!
6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!

1 Samuel 16:17-18
17 So Saul said to his servants, "Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me."
18 One of the young men answered, "Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him."

1 Chronicles 25:5-7
5 All these were the sons of Heman the king's seer, according to the promise of God to exalt him, for God had given Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.
6 They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king.
7 The number of them along with their brothers, who were trained in singing to the LORD, all who were skillful, was 288.

2 Chronicles 34:12 The Levites, all who were skillful with instruments of music,

Proverbs 22:29
29 Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

Our congregation may be obscure, but our King is not. So,

1 Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

Psalm 33:1-3

Last Updated on Friday, 14 August 2009 17:55
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