The following is the Sunday worship of Joy Christian Church on July 1, 2018. My words are transcribed with additional notes in brackets.
The book of Isaiah tells of a time when the prophet was taken up to the throne of God. In God’s awesome presence, Isaiah’s first response is not to pour out his affection for God, but to tremble in fear. He cries out, ”Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isa 6:5). His first impulse is to assume his life must be over. A sinner, he thought, cannot possibly stand so close to our holy God and live.
The first explicit commandment in the book of Ecclesiastes is: “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God” (Ecc 5:1). Whenever we approach God in worship as we are doing this morning, we should begin with confession. We should acknowledge our sinfulness as well as the pure righteousness of God. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9).
Let’s take just a moment to do that. As we sit in silence, pray that God may cleanse our hearts and renew our minds.
[The church prayed silently for a minute or two.]
Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. (Psalm 5:1-8)
In reflection of Isaiah’s experience at the throne of God as well as an affirmation of our firm belief that God is holy, let’s sing “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
We sing another song that speaks of approaching the throne of God, but it also reminds us that we are able to approach his throne because a sinless Savior died. Through him, our sinful souls are counted free. Let’s sing “Before the Throne of God Above.”
Before I turn it over to you and ask which songs you’d like to sing, I’d like to introduce a not-so-new song for us to learn. We’ve sung it before. In fact, we sang it last week, but we could use some practice. The song is “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?”.
“Amazing love! how can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me?” Praise God for his grace!
Please call out one of the hymns you’d like to sing. We’ll sing a couple more before we turn our attention to the word of God.
[The church sang “Fairest Lord Jesus” and “My Savior’s Love.”]
Let’s go to the word of God. Turn with me once again to Ephesians 6 as we come to the end of Paul’s description of the Christian’s armor.
I’ve never asked you to do this, though I’ve often thought about it. It is the custom of some churches to stand as the word of God is read. By doing so, we acknowledge the importance and authority of Scripture. Some churches stand to sing, but if we stand for anything, I believe it should be the word of God.
This is a tradition as old—even older than the New Testament. The custom in Jewish synagogues was for someone to read a passage of Scripture while the congregation stands. Then, everyone would sit to hear a rabbi teach, expressing a distinction between God’s word and man’s word.
If you feel capable, will you please stand as I read Ephesians 6:10-20?
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20)
You may be seated. Thank you.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, we are captivated by your grace. You have shown your power over all our enemies as well as your willingness to save us from them. Christ was victorious on the cross, and his victory will be abundantly clear to all when he returns. We thank you and praise you. May you grant us your divine protection and strength as we fight the good fight until that day. In Christ’s name. Amen.
[I preached on Ephesians 6:18-20.]
Our holy Father, the fact that we can pray to you and know our prayers will be heard and answered is all thanks to your Son. He is the merciful Mediator between us and you. Without his willingness to die in our place and satisfy your wrath, we could never approach your throne of grace and expect to be heard. But your Son’s blood has atoned for our sin and given us peace with you.
Lord, thank you for your sovereign grace. Thank you for hearing our prayers. In Christ’s name. Amen.
As we come to the Lord’s table, the Bible reminds us what we are doing. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (1Co 11:24). The bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper compel us to remember the broken body and shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Understandably, that imagery puts the suffering Savior at the front of our minds, but I want us to see the whole picture. Yes, Jesus was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isa 53:3). He was smitten by God, and afflicted. … He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities (Isa 53:4-5). But he is also a conquering hero.
Listen to the words of Revelation 19:
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11-16)
All glory be to Christ our King! He may have been hanging on a Roman cross the last time the world saw him, but he didn’t stay there. When they see him again, every knee will bow … and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Php 2:10-11). He’ll return not as a suffering Savior, but as a victorious King.
May we remember that while we eat this bread and drink this wine.
If you know Christ is your King, I invite you to come up, take a piece of bread and cup of wine, and return to your seat. We’ll pray, then eat and drink together.
[Pastor Wade prayed, then we ate and drank.]
We’ll sing “All Glory Be To Christ” as we bring our worship to end.
Brother John, will you pray?
As the apostle Paul said to the Philippians, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit (Php 4:23).