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Hey All!

As some of you know, Bethany is in the process of becoming a Pilates mat instructor. If you are free on Saturday morning at 7:00 AM she will be teaching a FREE beginner level class at the meeting place. Email her to let her know you are coming. The class will be about an hour long so feel free to stick around for the Saturday morning prayer meeting when you are done! Thanks!

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ec·cle·si·ol·o·gy – the doctrine of the church

This is perhaps the most important issue for our time. Watch Peter Ferris’ excellent treatment of this topic in this week’s featured video from the Summer Retreat –

by Jeremiah Hill

We believe that there is one, and only one living and true God, an infinite intelligent Spirit, whose name is JEHOVAH, the Maker and supreme Ruler of heaven and earth; inexpressibly glorious in holiness, and worthy of all possible honor, confidence and love; that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; equal in every divine perfection and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption.

Who is God?

Of utmost importance to the confession’s next article was not to determine who we are, but whose we are. It is to whom we belong that must define us. Humanity is constantly in flux, but God as Trinity has not and never will change. The identity of God is our existential constant. It is the identity of God which will determine your entire Christian paradigm. Michael Reeves says, “The Trinity is the cockpit for all Christian thinking.”[1] For the Pharisees, God was a divine dictator who cared about the external appearance of things. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute….this God is terrifying. Every waking moment you teeter on the fence of salvation, it’s like sprinting across a freshly-glazed ice rink. Your understanding of God is such that salvation depends entirely on you. Following this line of thought, Adam and Eve fled, Abraham sold his wife, Moses (initially) refused to go to Pharaoh, David murdered, Israel refused God’s promise for the land, Peter denied Christ, Jonah tried to commit suicide, the rich man went away sad… Who they viewed God to be wreaked havoc around them.

Praise be to God that the identity of God is found in the face of Jesus Christ, who “loved me (us) and gave himself for me (us)” (Gal. 2:20). It is this God who promised us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. It is in the face of Jesus Christ that we have seen the Father, because Christ is the perfect revelation of the Father’s love and grace (Jn. 14). It is through him we have access in the Spirit to the Father (Eph. 2:18). It is the Son of God who is both the means and end of our salvation (Heb. 12:2). He is able to save to the uttermost those who come (Heb. 7:25). It is this Christ who washes not just our feet, but our souls. It is the Christ who, as did the apostle John, we lean up against at the table and hear his words (Jn. 13).

Ontology vs Economy?

Too often, salvation for us is just a thing. Jesus bought it and gives it to us. After we put it in our pocket, we then keep on walking past Jesus to get to whatever is next, after all…he’s the entry point of course, but when do we get to the God that is just behind Jesus’ back? What else do we get? This line of thinking is of course, unbiblical at best. Jesus is salvation. He said, “I am the way, truth and the life…” (Jn. 14:6), not, “I know the way…” “He is offering himself to us as a person, that we might share in his most deeply personal relationship, the relationship he has with God the Father.”[2]

Traditional theological textbooks tend to divide the discussion of the Trinity into two categories, the ontological Trinity and the economic Trinity. The ontological Trinity is who God is in his very being (his essence) apart from his works. The economic Trinity deals with God in his Trinitarian works and in his dealings with us. This is not unhelpful as we study, but it may give the impression that who God is in himself, as eternal Trinity, is different than how he works. However, Fairbairn suggests that “as we come to know the Son, we too see God’s glorious presence, and this is eternal life. The presence that God has shared within himself, between the Father, Son, and Spirit, is the heart of that knowledge of God which he gives to us and which constitutes eternal life.”[3] Michael Reeves spends a little over 100 pages to convince the reader that who God has always been in himself – The Father beholding his Son and the Son his Father, while the Spirit, the bond of their love proceeds out from them to us – is that very same God working for and toward us (I highly recommend the short read for anyone). The Trinity is “turned outward.”

Worship

Do we continue to need mediation? With the death of Christ and our legal justification, can we now claim to worship him perfectly, pour out our prayers perfectly, commune in the church perfectly? The truth is, though brought from death to life, we yet only have our life continually in the Son through the Spirit. Our weak and feeble prayers are brought to Christ, through the Spirit, and are presented perfectly through his blood to the Father. Our worship, as vulnerable and humble as it may seem, still carries with it a personal sense of self-centeredness which is brought through the Spirit and purified through the blood of Christ to the Father. Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Robert Letham writes, “The worship of the church is the communion of the Holy Trinity with us his people.”[4]

In this understanding of worship we can discern a double movement of grace – (a) a God-humanward movement, from (ek) the Father, through (dia) the Son, in (en) the Spirit, and (b) a human-Godward movement to the Father, through the Son in the Spirit. This double movement of grace, which is the heart of the “dialogue” between God and humanity in worship, is grounded in the very perichroetic (this term refers to the Trinitarian “in-ness” of each member of the Trinity “in” every other person in the Trinity – See upper room discourse for this frequent language) being of God, and is fundamental for our understanding of the triune God’s relationship with the world in creation, incarnation and sanctification. What God is toward us in these relationships, he is in his innermost being.[5]

Select Bibliography:

Letham – The Holy Trinity

Fairbairn – Life in the Trinity

Reeves – Delighting in the Trinity

Torrance, J.B – Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace

Notes:

[1] Reeves, Michael. Delighting in the Trinity, 16

[2] Fairbairn, Donald. Life in the Trinity, 27; See also the rest of the upper room discourse

[3] Ibid. 30

[4] Letham, Robert. The Holy Trinity, 416

[5] Torrance, J.B. Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace, 32-33

Women of Immanuel,

We’re kicking off the fall season with bi-weekly Saturday meetings to study God’s word together! This is meant to be a time of fellowship, encouragement, good conversations, and of course, snacks/coffee. This is a great way to get to know other ladies at church better, and even if you can’t make it to every week we’d still love to see you there!

The first meeting will happen on Saturday, September 27, at 10:00 AM at Abby’s place. We’ll meet every other Saturday after that. There’s plenty of free parking around her building.

The book we’ll be going through together is a 10-week Bible study called The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis by Nancy Guthrie, which can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Promised-10-week-Bible-Study/dp/1433526255

We’ll start with the introduction for the first meeting and continue with a chapter each time we meet afterwards. If you aren’t able to buy a copy of the book, please let Abby know and we can get you a copy.

Please RSVP to Abby so we can get a sense of how much food to prepare.

Thanks!

PRELUDE – “Consuming Fire” by Tim Hughes

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP – Psalm 103:1-7

“Praise the LORD, O my soul;

all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits

who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel.”

Song –

10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman

CONFESSION OF SIN –

Almighty and gracious God, we bow before you and confess our sins:

We have doubted your goodness and thought idols were better.

Lord, have mercy on us and forgive us.

We have let circumstances control us instead of your promises.

Lord, have mercy on us and forgive us.

We have given in to our fears and worries and forgot about your power.

Lord, have mercy on us and forgive us.

We have listened to the wisdom of the world and neglected your Word.

Lord, have mercy on us and forgive us.

We have caused others to stumble because of our unbelief.

Lord, have mercy on us and forgive us.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – Psalm 103:8-14

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

Songs –

Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder” by John Newton

Here is Love” by Matt Redman, Robert Lowry, and William Rees

PRAYER

CHILDREN’S BLESSING & DISMISSAL – New City Catechism Q17

Song –

Jesus Lover of My Soul (It’s All About You)” by Paul Oakley

SCRIPTURE READING – Numbers 14:11-38

SERMON

LORD’S TABLE

Songs –

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts and Lowell Mason

In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

OFFERING

Song –

Be Unto Your Name” by Gary Sadler and Linda DeShazo

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “The Glory of God” by Shai Linne

by Jeremiah Hill

We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction (1); that it has God for its author, salvation for its end (2), and truth without any mixture of error for its matter (3), that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us (4); and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union (5) , and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried (6).

 

1. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Sam. 23:2; Acts 1:16; 3:21; John 10:35; Luke 16:29-31; Psa. 119:11; Rom. 3:1-2

2. 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; Acts 11:14; Rom. 1:16; Mark 16:16; John 5:38-39

3. Prov. 30:5-6; John 17:17; Rev. 22:18-19; Rom. 3:4

4. Rom. 2:12; John 12:47-48; 1 Cor. 4:3-4; Luke 10:10-16; 12:47-48

5. Phil. 3:16; Eph. 4:3-6; Phil. 2:1-2; 1 Cor. 1:10; 1 Pet. 4:11

6. 1 John 4:1; Isa. 8:20; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Cor. 8:5; Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:6; Jude 3:5; Eph. 6:17; Psa. 119:59-60; Phil. 1:9-11

The Fact of Revelation – The Inspiration of Scripture

It is fitting that the confession begins with a statement on Scripture. The writers of this confession believed that the content in this article is determinative in the rest. For in it, the depths of God’s wisdom and will for us is found. More than this, the very identity of God is here. In it we find that God is concerned about his creation and will not leave it to rot after Genesis 3. Scripture is the revelation of his very own heart. Through his word, God not only gives us bits of knowledge helpful to us along our path of life, nor does he mean to merely shame us and cast us down. In the Scriptures, God has revealed primarily himself, but not from afar. God in Scripture is invasive and invested. He has taken the initiative to display his heart through the story of redemption starting with Genesis; a heart that strongly pursues fellowship and communion with his people.

Unlike textbooks of any undertaking or science of any kind where we put ourselves over the object of our study, the knowledge of God revealed through Scripture is something that we put ourselves underneath – that we submit to.[1] This is all to say that the Scriptures we have are unlike anything else we have in our possession. As the creed affirms, it is the very word of God himself in no metaphorical way. To disobey Scripture is to disobey and distrust God.[2] Beyond that, it is “living and active” as the writer of Hebrews states; and it is “at work in us who believe” writes Paul. [3]

 

Scripture and Salvation

Christians everywhere and of all ages have unique stories. Many more cumbersome than others… from difficult or abusive situations they were brought to the comfort and care of their Heavenly Father. Some came from deception and were met with the truth of Christ. Some were haughty met with the humility of the son of God stepping into the stench of a barn. The common element of every salvation story is this: when God comes to his people, he comes through his Holy Scriptures. You can be sure of this: where the Word of God is preached, studied, and digested – that is where God will be (the converse of this is also true). Scripture takes what we knew to be true about ourselves and the universe and pours it straight down the drain. God is not distant, he is near. God is not uninterested, but concerned with providing for humanity the mediation necessary for us to commune with him again. (As an aside, nature cannot teach us this…rather it teaches that death, disease, and degradation engulf us outside of Jesus Christ. Don’t take your cues from nature, take them from Scripture. If you are Christ’s however, praise him through awe for his creation, for nature displays the glory of his creative power)

 

Scripture and Sanctification

John Calvin believed strongly that the only way to navigate in any way the chaos of life is by the Holy Scripture. Family, friends, church, occupation, neighbors, leisure, contemplation, etc…all of these only make sense in light of Scripture and our relationship to Scripture. Scripture and sanctification are uniquely inseparable. A relationship with God of any kind will demand that a decision be made by us, whether we reject God and therefore reject the Scripture, or trust and obey God – looking to his words as a light unto their path.[4] For the Christian, Christ revealed through Scripture becomes the only appropriate backdrop to all of the areas of life just mentioned.

Calvin hits it on the head:

“For we should so reason that the splendor of the divine countenance, which even the apostle calls “unapproachable,” is for us like an inexplicable labyrinth unless we are conducted into it by the thread of the Word; so that it is better to limp along this path than to dash with all speed outside it (he is quoting Augustine’s sermons on the Psalms).”[5] The Scriptural guidance is existentially praised by the Psalmist in Psalm 119 practically everywhere.

 

Preaching

It was under the preaching of Scripture that Charles Spurgeon was saved. It was under the preaching of Ambrose that Augustine heard of the love of God and was given freedom from his guilt of sin. It was under preaching that the apostles engulf the world in Christianity. For 1500 years Scripture was not accessible in any way to most Christians other than preaching (it was only Latin, Greek, and Hebrew). Put another way, for the majority of Scriptural history (the New and Old Testaments), its apprehension was given not in conferences, personal devo’s, ‘quiet times,’ or summer camp. Rather, it was given from the pulpit. Liturgies of old held large portions of Scripture reading because the people couldn’t go home and read it!

The preaching of Scripture is vital to sanctification as it is where Christ meets with us. Calvin writes, “When Christ is preached, his blood drips on the congregation.”[6] It is in this particular context where the Holy Spirit opens our hearts to the bitter conviction and sweet relief found in Jesus Christ.

“The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God. Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the Church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed, and received by the faithful; and that neither any other Word of God is to be invented nor is to be expected from heaven.”[7]

 

Timothy Brindle’s, “The Word of God” expresses this all very well.

Here’s a helpful resource to give you a daily pattern for Scripture reading

 

Select Bibliography (not all utilized above, but all helpful)

Bibliology

Grudem, Systematic Theology

Berkhof, Systematic Theology

Akin (Editor), Theology for the Church

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Book 1 Ch 6 and surrounding)

Webster, Holy Scripture

Deyoung, Taking God at His Word

Kruger, “The Hermeneutical Nightmare and the Reconciling Work of Jesus Christ” (Chapter 8 – Intro to Torrance Theology)

 

Notes

[1] Berkhoff. Systematic Theology, 35-36 – He is summarizing Kuyper

[2] Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology, 73; Isa 66:1-2

[3] Heb 4:12 & 1st Thess 2:13

[4] Psalm 119:105

[5] Calvin’s Institutes Ch 6.3 M&B Ed pg73

[6] Calvin’s Commentary Galatians

[7] Second Helvetic Confession (1563), Article 1

Men,

The next Men’s Night is this Friday, September 12th, at 7:00 PM.

There’s been a change of venue. We will now meet at Phil W’s.

There will be pizza and other snacks. We will hang out and get to know each other. Rob Williams from Heart Song Counseling will be there and leading a time discussing sexual struggles that men face.

RSVP so we can get an idea of how much pizza to order.

For this week’s featured video from the Summer Retreat, watch Mike Erington answer the question, “Why Does A Confession of Faith Matter?”

 

Our Small Groups will begin going through the New Hampshire Confession of Faith this week. We’re praying and hopeful that each article will spark good discussions around what we believe, why we believe it, and how it affects our hearts and lives.

We’re also using the New Hampshire Confession of Faith because the Elders are thinking of recommending to the Members that this becomes our church’s Statement of Faith after we’ve had time to study it. Therefore, we want everyone to become familiar with it and investigate it for themselves.

Why are we considering a change? There are several reasons:

· Our current Statement of Faith is theologically sound, but it’s generic and we’re not even sure where it came from.

· We want to hold to a Confession that is used widely by many churches, not just ours.

· We want to hold to a Confession that is historic and has passed the test of time, not just written in the last 25 years.

· We want to hold to a Confession that is theologically robust, while still being concise.

Why did we choose the New Hampshire Confession?

· We are convinced that it accurately and elegantly summarizes Scripture’s teaching.

· It is a beloved statement of Baptist belief that many churches have and still hold to, such as Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

· It is old. It was revised in 1853, but originally written in 1833. It will situate us clearly and firmly in a stream of historic Christianity that runs back through the English Reformation and finds its fountainhead in the ancient Creeds of the Church.

· Since it was written in an earlier day, it retains the theological seriousness and precision that has been lost in much of the contemporary church, and yet it is not as narrow or verbose as something like the 2nd London Confession (1689).

If you’re interested in researching this more, here is an article that we found helpful in our thought process.

We pray you’ll enjoy the study in your Small Groups this year. Jeremiah Hill will be working on writing the discussion questions for each article as part of his Moody internship. Each week he will also be posting further thoughts on the covered subject at www.immanuelblog.wordpress.com if you want to dig deeper. Let an Elder know if you have any thoughts or questions along the way.

Today is Saturday, but Sunday is coming. Does that make any difference to you? How should you think about Sundays?

In preparation for tomorrow, take some time today and read this article Pastor Nathan wrote for the latest edition of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.

We just found out that Peter H had an accident yesterday where he fell through a roof and hit his head on the concrete below. He is at the hospital in intensive care, but is conscious. Early reports of brain scans show some bleeding. That’s all we know right now. Please pray for him, his healing, and his wife – Lydia – and two kids – Lance and Asha.

Peter and Lydia are members of Immanuel that we support as missionaries in Thailand.

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