From the Pastor

Following Jesus Together - October 14, 2021

Dear Friends,

For the next couple of weeks Pastor Jim will be working through Romans 3 and 4, teaching about the essential and life-changing doctrine of justification by faith. So let’s start thinking about it now.

Martin Luther (German 16th century monk) famously said something like this: “The doctrine or teaching by which the church stands or falls is justification. It’s so wonderful and important that this doctrine cannot be studied enough or too deeply.”

We haven’t said what justification is yet. But let’why this doctrine matters so much to the Christian life:

Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones was an influential Welsh Bible teacher and pastor in London for 30 years, starting in 1939, during World War II. He said that lots of people would come into his office for counseling and pastoral care. And he would ask, “Are you a Christian?” Often their reply was, “I’m trying.”

Jones would fire back, “Well, which is it? There is no trying to be a Christian. You either are or you are not.”

To use the language of the Bible, “You are either in the kingdom of light or enslaved in the kingdom of darkness. You are either justified by God or you are condemned by God.”

“I’m trying” on the surface sounds humble, like I haven’t arrived yet. To which we can say, “Join the club! No one in the church has arrived. The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” 
But “I’m trying” reveals a heart that still believes I have to do more to get God to accept me. 
“I’m trying” forgets Jesus words in John 3:16-18, that whoever believes in Him, is not condemned.” Go look it up!
“I’m trying” doesn’t yet understand what it means to be justified by God’s grace as a gift. (Romans 3:23-25)
“I’m trying” corrupts Christianity into another form of good advice rather than what the Bible says Christianity is: good news. 

So we need a continue rediscovery of this doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. This gift puts to death the “I’m trying” forms of Christianity. What is justification by faith alone? It’s answering the question of how am I accepted by God? 

I’ll leave you to meditate on the words of the Heidelberg Catechism question 60, which sums up the Bible’s teaching beautifully: How are you righteous before God?

Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.
Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God's commandments,
have never kept any of them, 
and am still inclined to all evil, 
yet God, without any merit of my own, out of mere grace, imputes to me 
the perfect satisfaction, 
righteousness, 
and holiness of Christ. 
He grants these to me 
as if I had never had nor committed any sin,
and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me, 
if only I accept this gift with a believing heart.

All the Scripture references can be found here: http://www.heidelberg-catechism.com/en/lords-days/23.html

What does God see when He looks at you in Christ? Blameless, holy, beloved, obedient just as Jesus is. Because we are justified God treats us as if we had never sinned and have perfectly obeyed. Justification by faith is the anchor, the one-time, forever, act of His free grace. 

Try it this week – ask someone what they think Christianity is about? Perhaps you will have an opportunity to explain the wonder of being justified by grace alone. 

See the “I’m trying” nailed to Jesus’ cross who said, “It is finished.”

9:00am – Sunday School – Come and see how Jesus was troubled in heart so we may not be. We are looking at John 14:1-6 together.

10:15am – Pastor Jim is teaching through Romans 3:21-31 – “By Faith Alone”

See you Sunday! Grace and peace,
Nate

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Following Jesus Together - October 6, 2021

Dear Friends,

One of the most helpful and humbling meditations on being made in the image of God comes from C.S. Lewis’ essay, “The Weight of Glory”. You should be able to hear the echoes of Genesis 9:6 and James 3:7-12 in his words, calling us to see our neighbors as God does – made in His image and likeness. And that reality ought to control how we speak and treat others. Lewis writes this:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

He goes on to say that this glorious burden, interacting with other humans made in God’s image, is so heavy that only humility can carry it. Can you feel that burden? 

See, humility starts with this brutal reality:  Jesus Christ, the fully human image of the invisible God, His beloved Son, came into this world, taking us and our sin seriously. He was killed for our sin  even as He cries out for the forgiveness of his unjust killers. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Even as Jesus was being cursed and killed, He was honoring the image of God in everyone, both friend and foe. 

So as you go through this week, remember the work God started in you through faith in Jesus. God is changing you into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Since He loved us loved us while we were yet enemies (Romans 5:8), how then should we treat the extraordinary image bearers of God in our lives? 

Sunday School 9:00am – Glorified, Yet Denied – Come learn about Jesus from Bible teacher Sinclair Ferguson – Come enjoy the discussions after as well!

Worship – 10:15am – “Made in God’s Image” – Genesis 1:26-31 – One of the more well known catechism questions goes like this: What is the chief end of man? In other words, what are you created for? What are you primarily here on planet earth to do?

Last Sunday we saw that God created us to enjoy Him, to be enjoyed by Him. This Sunday, we see that God created us to represent Him as His image bearers, being made in His likeness. So when people see how we rule, love and care for our world, they see how God rules, loves and cares for the world. We are created for God’s glory. 

We don’t do that perfectly or well, which is why we need Jesus, the perfect human, to obey for us. Even more, we need to be remade into Jesus’ image. So, what is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Come and see how Jesus did that for us this week!

Small Group 6:00pm at the Church – We are continuing through Gentle and Lowly. There is plenty of room in the sanctuary for anyone to join us! 

See you Sunday!

Grace and peace,

Nate Thompson
www.hopechurch.us

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