Exasperate the Enemies of God

April 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

John Calvin commenting on John 9:14 – Now it was the Sabbath…

“Christ purposely chose a sabbath day, which would give cause of offence to the Jews. He had already found, in regard to the paralytic, that even this work was open to misrepresentation. Why then does He not avoid the offence, as He could easily have done, save because the malignant reaction of His enemies would magnify the power of God? The sabbath day is like a whet-stone that sharpens them to inquire more eagerly into the whole affair. And yet what good does a careful and earnest examination of the question do, but that the truth of the miracle shines more brightly? Moreover, we are taught by this example that if we want to follow Christ, we have to exasperate the enemies of the Gospel, and that those who compromise between the world and Christ, so as to condemn every kind of scandal, are utterly mad, since Christ, on the contrary, knowingly and deliberately provoked the ungodly. So we should pay heed to the rule that He lays down elsewhere, that the blind and the leaders of the blind are to be disregarded (Matt. 15.14).” 

John Calvin, The Gospel According to St. John: Part One, 1-10, Trans. by T.H.L. Parker, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988) p. 245.

The Necessity of Humility

April 22, 2018 in Bible - OT - 2 Chronicles, Confession, Meditations

“[King Zedekiah] did evil in the sight of Yahweh His God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of Yahweh. And [the king] also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to Yahweh the God of Israel.
2 Chronicles 36:12-13

The text before us today speaks of the sad legacy of King Zedekiah, last of the kings of Judah. Heir to a broken kingdom, Zedekiah hastened its slide into oblivion. Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, had conquered Judah in fulfillment of God’s just judgment. Rather than submit to God’s hand, however, Zedekiah sought escape by soliciting the help of Egypt. The result was disastrous. Zedekiah watched his own sons slain before his eyes before being blinded and forced to end his days in chains and slavery.

The transgressions of Zedekiah stand as warnings to all of us. Consider three admonitions which we can gather from this text.

First, Zedekiah failed to humble himself before the Word of God. He did evil in the sight of Yahweh His God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of Yahweh. When challenged by Jeremiah, when confronted with the Word of God spoken, Zedekiah chose to follow his own path instead. He rejected the Word of the Lord. So what of you? How do you respond to the Word of God preached and applied? Do you listen and give heed? Or do you harden your heart or conveniently forget? Beware the fate of Zedekiah.

Second, Zedekiah violated his oath. He rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God. He swore to remain loyal to King Nebuchadnezzar. However, when Egypt made an offer of help, when a more attractive deal came along, he forsook that oath. So what of you? Are you faithful to your oaths? Do you keep your word even when you swear to your own hurt? Or do you look for paths of escape when the going gets tough? Baptismal oaths, marriage oaths, membership oaths, service oaths – each demands faithfulness and loyalty but we are often tempted to excuse our unfaithfulness. Beware the fate of Zedekiah.

Third, Zedekiah’s refused to turn to Yahweh. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to Yahweh the God of Israel. When he entered upon the great responsibility of kingship, even when he reached the end of his own resources, he refused to turn to God and seek wisdom from Him. Instead he turned to foreign gods and relied upon his own wisdom and strength. So what of you? To whom are you turning in your difficulties? Perhaps there are new pressures at work or at home? The children are not behaving as you had hoped? A friendship is under strain? To whom are you turning? Have you turned to God, prayed to Him, asked Him to intercede on Your behalf? Or have you hardened your heart? Beware the fate of Zedekiah.

These warnings serve as a reminder that as we come before the Lord to worship, we must confess our sins and transgressions to Him, beseeching Him to forgive us for the sake of Christ. We must not stiffen our necks but humble ourselves in His sight. So as we humble ourselves before Him, and as you are able, let us kneel before the Lord. We will have a time of private confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

A Word Fitly Spoken

April 8, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Tongue, Truth

Proverbs 25:11–12 (NKJV)
11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver. 12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.

Last week we celebrated Easter. But lest we think we can exhaust the glory of Easter with one day of worship, the Church has historically celebrated this period of time as Eastertide – today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Jesus’ resurrection is far too significant an event to be celebrated only one day – it inaugurates a season for rejoicing! Jesus has risen from the dead! And this means that all those who believe in Him shall likewise rise from the dead and that even now, by the power of the Spirit, we can walk in newness of life, empowered by Christ to live in such a way that we please our Heavenly Father.

Two areas where we are most in need of Christ’s resurrection power are our tongue and our ears. James exhorts us, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (1:19). Our ears are to be open and our tongues are to be circumspect. We are to listen attentively and speak carefully.

In our study of John’s Gospel two weeks ago, Jesus condemned the Jewish leaders for their failure to listen to what He was saying. “If I speak the truth,” He had said to them, “why do you not listen to what I say? He who is of God hears the words of God; therefore, you do not listen, because you are not of God.” Jesus’ words remind us that the child of God cultivates an ear for the truth. He wants to hear the truth even if it is uncomfortable and even if it comes in an inglorious package. As I said at the time, better to receive a diamond wrapped in cow dung than cubic zirconia on a shiny band.

When we consider our calling as listeners, therefore, it is to cultivate a willingness to listen even when others are speaking unclearly or unkindly. We want the truth. Solomon urges us, “Buy the truth and do not sell it” (Prov 23:23).

Corresponding to this duty as listeners is our duty as speakers. While the godly listener does his best to overlook style and to grasp the substance of what another has said, the godly speaker is to do his best to communicate clearly. Better to present the diamond on a shiny band than wrapped in cow dung. And it is this calling that Solomon highlights in our text today:

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.

While the duty of the listener is, in our text, to have “an obedient ear,” the duty of the speaker is to be a “wise rebuker” and to utter “a word fitly spoken.” The calling of the speaker, in other words, is to display the truth in all its glory – to make it like an apple of gold, an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold such that it is easy for a listening ear to accept it, that it is displayed in settings of silver.

Solomon’s words remind us that effective communication takes hard work. It takes skill to craft golden apples, earrings and ornaments – and learning to speak clearly requires no less skill. It takes years for silversmiths to learn their craft – and developing a listening ear takes no less time. So what of you? Are you learning to communicate more clearly and to listen more carefully? Husbands, are you studying your wife so that you can live with her according to knowledge? Wives, are you studying to communicate clearly and listen obediently to your husbands? Parents and children, do you regularly evaluate your tongues and your ears to make sure that you are communicating well? Singles, do you place a higher value on others than on yourself and study to understand them well and communicate to them lucidly?

Reminded that Christ rose from the dead to empower us to be faithful speakers and listeners, let us confess that we are often lazy and sin regularly with our tongues and our ears. And as we confess, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of private confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Son of God with Power

April 1, 2018 in Bible - NT - Romans, Easter, Meditations, Resurrection

Romans 1:1-4 (NKJV)
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

Today is Easter – the most significant of the various holy days in the Church calendar. More pivotal than Christmas, more central than Pentecost, more crucial than Epiphany – Easter celebrates the most world transforming event in all human history. Because of the resurrection, we have the Gospel. Because of the resurrection, we have cathedrals. Because of the resurrection, we have new life, forgiveness, and peace with God – all because of the resurrection.

It is this world transformation that Paul highlights in the introduction to his letter to the Romans. After assuring us that Christ’s coming was proclaimed beforehand by the prophets and that he came as was foretold a son of David, Paul goes on to declare that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection of the dead. What does he mean by this clause?

While many have supposed that Paul is here outlining the two natures of Christ – according to his human nature he was of the seed of David but he was also the Son of God – the text does not support this notion. For how could Jesus’ status as the eternal Son of God undergo a transformation as a result of the resurrection? He has and ever will be the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. This is not what Paul is addressing.

What is Paul saying then? He is telling us about the transformation that has occurred in the ministry of our Lord Jesus as a result of the resurrection. He was born of the seed of David – in other words, he had the natural right to rule as God’s King. But simply having the natural right to rule does not establish that one does in fact rule. Bonnie Prince Charlie may have had a rightful claim to the throne of England; but a mere claim does not make one king in fact. And it is this that Paul addresses with the next phrase. Not only was Jesus born to be King – not only did he have a rightful claim to the throne – by the resurrection from the dead He was declared to be the Son of God, the King of Israel, with power – that is, in the resurrection Jesus was crowned as God’s King. He not only has the right to the throne, He is now seated upon His throne, ruling as God’s King.

What is the significance of Easter then? On this day we celebrate the coronation of our King. Nearly two thousand years ago he was crowned King of the Universe, the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him and this includes, because He conquered death, authority over death itself. He has the keys of death and hell. He opens and no one shuts. So death is conquered; death is destroyed. Christ is risen and those in Him shall arise as well. Death is no more the final word.

Is this not good news? Brethren, Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed!) Let us shout Alleluia! (Alleluia!) So give heed to the exhortation in Psalm 2, the coronation psalm of our King:

10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

And so reminded that Jesus is Lord, let us kneel as we are able and acknowledge our rightful King, asking His forgiveness for our sins against Him. (Our confession this morning is an acknowledgement of the ways we have broken each of the Ten Commandments.)

Palm Sunday 2018

March 25, 2018 in Bible - NT - Luke, Cross of Christ, Meditations

Luke 9:51–56 (NKJV)
51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for [Jesus] to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, it was the culmination of intentional planning on his part. From the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus understood that one day He would be called upon to enter into Jerusalem only to be rejected and killed. And it is this fixed purpose of Jesus to die for His people which Luke highlights for us in our text today.

Luke tells us that when the time had come for Jesus to be received up – in other words, when the time had come for Jesus to be crucified, the time when He would be delivered over to the scribes and chief priests, and rejected, and put to death – when that time had arrived, Jesus steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. He knew it was in that city that the final contest would be waged. So He did not shrink back in fear or waver in unbelief but steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. He went to His death willingly and courageously.

As Jesus and his disciples travel to Jerusalem, they come to a Samaritan village, but the village rejects Him and refuses to grant him and his disciples shelter. Why? Listen to Luke’s words: But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. The villagers rejected Jesus as a foretaste of the destiny that awaited him in Jerusalem. He goes to Jerusalem to suffer and be rejected.

Why? Jesus’ rebuke of James’ and John’s vindictiveness gives the answer. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. Jesus is going to Jerusalem so that He might save men, women, and children from sin and death, save them from the ravages of the Evil One. He is going to Jerusalem to give His life a sacrifice for others, to give His life so that the just penalty of the law might be paid by Him so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem to die. He went to Jerusalem willingly, courageously, and sacrificially.

It is fitting, therefore, on Palm Sunday – this day that we celebrate the entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem – that our color changes to red – for red is the color of blood and it was to shed His blood that Jesus entered into the city. While Jesus was acclaimed today, He knew that this acclamation would not continue and that the end of the story would be bloody. He had set His face to go to Jerusalem.

This morning we are reminded that Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem for our sins. There is forgiveness with the Lord, that He may be feared. If He hated sin so much that He was willing to send His own Son to die for it, then ought not we to hate sin as well? As we enter into the presence of the Lord, therefore, let us confess our sins in the Name of Christ and seek the Lord’s forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus our Savior. As we do so, and as you are able, let us kneel. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Wise People Store Up Knowledge

March 11, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Education, Meditations, Tongue

Proverbs 10:14 (NKJV)
14 Wise people store up knowledge, But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

Our proverb today once again contrasts the wise and the foolish – a common theme in Proverbs and so a thought that should never be far from our own minds. We should daily, hourly be asking ourselves, “Am I being wise or foolish? Am I exhibiting the characteristics of the wise man as he is described in the Word of God?” If you aren’t asking that question regularly, then might I suggest that you are most likely a fool? The fool is the one who fails to consider his life, fails to reflect on his own character, and constantly justifies himself whenever he gets into trouble.

So let us note this contrast in our text. Wise people store up knowledge, But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction. On the one hand is the character of the wise. The wise store up knowledge. They are careful to listen, eager to learn, and thirsty to imbibe as much knowledge as possible. While wisdom and knowledge are distinct, the wise man knows that the more knowledge he possesses the better able he will be to make wise decisions and to give counsel that honors the Lord and reflects the way that He has made the world. Wise people store up knowledge.

In contrast, the mouth of the foolish is near destruction. Whereas the wise are eager to open their ears and learn, fools are eager to open their mouths and pontificate. They already know all there is to know and there is very little that others can teach them. And so, because fools refuse to listen so as to understand how the world works, they are always near destruction. Financial disaster courts them, spiritual disaster pursues them, and relational disaster follows them. The mouth of the foolish is near destruction.

Solomon’s contrast reminds us that the wise man is the one who listens well, learns well, understands well, and does all these things before he speaks. James admonishes us, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Consequently, Proverbs frequently urges us to restrain our lips. Solomon will comment in verse 19 of this same chapter in Proverbs: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” Again Proverbs 17:27 exhorts us, “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.” The wise man learns far more than he teaches.

So what of you? Are you storing up knowledge? Christian, do you regularly study the Word of God and sound theology so that you are prepared to weather the storms of life and to offer solid counsel to others? One reason so many Christians founder under trial is because they lack a robust and solid grasp of the Word of God and so do not know the character of God. What about you?

Husbands and fathers, do you regularly study the Word of God and sound books on the family so that you are equipped to lead your families in the fear of the Lord? As a husband, your calling is, like Christ, to wash your wife with the pure water of the Word that she may be pure and spotless. It is to live with your wife according to understanding (1 Pet 3:7). How are you doing? As a father, your calling is, like Joshua, to teach your children the fear of the Lord. How are you doing?

Children, are you storing up knowledge? Are you taking your studies seriously? Are you learning to read well so that you can read the Word of God more faithfully? The things you learn now are equipping you to lead your families, your churches, and your communities in the future. So what kind of leader will you be? Are you storing up knowledge or are you despising knowledge? The wise child does the former, the foolish child does the latter.

And so reminded this morning of our calling to be wise and not foolish, to store up knowledge and not to despise it, let us confess that we are often lazy, often disinterested, often rebellious, often foolish. And as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Do People Just Want to Hit You?

March 4, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Meditations, Tongue

Proverbs 10:13 (NKJV)
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.

As our Creator, God did all things well. The creation that spun forth from His hand was good. And man, the pinnacle of that creation, was glorious. As we consider what it means to be created by God, therefore, it is important to note that God fashioned us with tongues. God fashioned us with tongues in order that we might speak words – words that reflect the eternal Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. God fashioned us with tongues in order that the words we breathe forth might give life to others – life-giving breath that reflects the life-giving and eternal Spirit of God. Our tongues, in other words, are a chief part of our glory as human beings.

It is the part of the wise man, therefore, to recognize that his tongue is a gift from God and to learn to use that tongue well. Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding. The one who understands the world rightly will use his tongue to convey wisdom to others. He will use his tongue to speak truth, to worship his Creator, to bind up the broken hearted, to oppose injustice, to expose wickedness, to honor authority, to express thankfulness, etc.

However, because we humans rebelled against God, that which was a chief part of our glory has now become a chief part of our shame. James, the brother of our Lord, reminds us that the tongue is a fire, a very world of iniquity. Among the various members of our body, it is the tongue that often gets us into trouble – with God and with others. With our tongue we slander, we boast, we gossip, we berate, we lie, we corrupt, we complain, we grumble, we destroy and so we bring upon ourselves dire consequences: a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.

I once had an acquaintance who served as a police officer. Though he loved police work, his mouth routinely got him into trouble. He repeatedly spoke ill of his superiors to his fellow officers. He was convinced that he knew better how to run the department and how to make police work effective. But despite his appreciation for his own wisdom, no one else seemed to appreciate it. He was passed over for promotions and urged to seek a position in another department which he eventually did – and then another and then another. For no matter where he went it seemed that no one appreciated how much he understood about police work.

So what of you? Does your mouth keep getting you in trouble? Do employers keep encouraging you to seek other positions? Do your parents wonder if your ears operate as well as your mouth? Do people hang on your lips, treasuring the flow of wisdom, or do people just want to hit you when you start talking? Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.

Reminded that we are called to be men and women of understanding who convey wisdom to others, let us confess that we often need to be corrected instead. And as we confess, let us kneel before the Lord as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Stirring Up Strife

February 25, 2018 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Covenantal Living, Love, Marriage, Meditations, Responsibility

Proverbs 10:12 (NKJV)
12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.

When we live in community sin and strife are inevitable. Often in our exhortations, therefore, I take the time to warn us from sinning against others and provoking strife. We need to beware lest we be a cause of strife in our relationships.

But today’s Scripture reminds us that we not only need to beware lest we cause strife in our relationships, we also need to beware lest we perpetuate it. It addresses the victim of sin and strife not the perpetrator. What do you do when you are the victim of another’s sin? There you were, living piously, saintly glow radiating about your face, angelic halo dancing above your head, and then, out of the blue, comes a sinner who treads on your toe and picks a fight. Your husband ignores you. Your wife snaps at you. Your friend speaks maliciously to you. Your sibling breaks your toy. How do you respond?

Solomon gives you two options and he paints them in black and white – “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.” The first option is hatred. You can respond to the sinner in turn. He stepped on your toe? Then step on his and poke him in the eye for good measure. Hatred stirs up strife. Hatred says, “I’ll see your sin and raise you some.” The second option is love. You can respond to the sinner out of turn. He stepped on your toe? Then overlook it and do good to him; or, if you can’t overlook it, then confront it graciously. If he confesses, you have gained your brother. If he persists, then you can choose to overlook it or to bring along others to help you resolve the matter. Love covers all sins.

Solomon’s words remind us that God does not give us a license to sin when someone else has sinned against us. Even when we are the victim of another’s sin, we are to respond to that sin in love. We are to beware lest we stir up strife by our response to the sin. Hatred stirs up strife. You didn’t introduce it, but you increased it. In other words, Solomon tells you, there is no situation so bad that you cannot make it worse by your sin. Our calling as victims, therefore, is to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ, “who, when he was reviled, did not revile in turn; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet 2:23). Jesus’ life reminds me that your sin doesn’t justify mine.

But often when we are the victim of another’s sin, we justify our sinful response and we get angry with those who would correct us. Imagine that a thief stole your money and stabbed you in the arm. You are a victim. You go to the doctor. The doctor expresses sympathy for you, stitches up your arm, and gives you instructions about keeping the wound clean. “Keep it clean and you’ll be fine in a couple months.” But you’re so angry about this situation that you ignore the doctor’s orders. You refuse to change the bandages and the wound gets badly infected. Finally, you return to the doctor and he’s dismayed. “Did you keep it clean? Did you do what I said?” he asks. “No,” you sullenly respond. So he rebukes you and tells you that you may lose your arm; you may even lose your life. But you angrily respond, “How dare you blame me? I was the victim! I didn’t stab myself!” What’s the doctor going to say? Is he going patronize you? To apologize for rebuking you? No! Not if he’s a good doctor. He going to tell you that you are a fool and that you’ve only made a bad situation worse.

So what of you? Are you using another’s sin to justify your own? Are you nursing anger or resentment or bitterness in your heart against another? Are you blaming your wife for your outbursts of wrath? Are you blaming your husband for your nagging spirit? Are you blaming your parents for your sullen attitude or sinful rebellion? Are you blaming your employer for your laziness? Or are you taking responsibility for the way that you are responding to the sin of others?

Reminded that the sin of others does not justify our own sin, let us confess that we often stir up strife through hatred rather than cover it through love. And, as we confess our sin to the Lord, let us kneel as we are able do to so. We will have a time of private confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Church Discipline: Suspension

February 18, 2018 in Bible - NT - 2 Thessalonians, Discipline, Ecclesiology, Meditations, Sin

2 Thessalonians 3:13-15 (NKJV)
13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Several weeks ago we spoke of the biblical rationale for practicing church discipline. In our text today, Paul commands the Thessalonian church to implement the first stage of that public discipline, a stage we commonly refer to as Suspension from the Lord’s Supper.

Paul begins with an exhortation to the congregation at large, “brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.” Paul’s command presumes that it is a temptation to grow weary in doing good – after all, we don’t warn against things that aren’t threats. The temptations of the Evil One, combined with the allurements of the world and the sinful desires of our own hearts, often make the task of doing good challenging. So Paul commands us never to grow weary.

Paul then commands the Thessalonians to practice a particular good – to take seriously disobedience to God within the congregation. Paul knows that if a congregation permits blatant sin to go unchecked, then that sin will spread. As Paul says elsewhere, a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough (1 Cor 5:6). So Paul writes, “if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.” Paul’s command involves two parts – first, the Thessalonians are to note – that is, mark, point out, or publicly identify – that person. Second, they are to refuse to keep company with him – that is, they are to suspend normal fellowship with that person, including sharing in the Lord’s Supper. Why? Note Paul’s words: “that he may be ashamed.” In other words, the purpose of the discipline is to awaken the sinner to the seriousness of his sin. As Solomon writes in Proverbs 20:30, “Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart.”

It is in keeping with Paul’s words here and elsewhere (1 Cor 5:4) that the elders announce the Suspension of ——– from fellowship in the Lord’s Supper. Despite private counsel and warnings for the last year and more, ——– has hardened his heart in opposition to the wife of his youth, has ceased marital counseling, and has declared his intention to seek a divorce, something that God hates (Mal 2:16). Because ——– has failed to give heed to our private exhortations, we are now announcing this to the church, praying that God will use this to convict and restore him to his family and to the church.

In so announcing, we would remind you of Paul’s exhortation, “do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” Your duty is to pray for and, as occasion permits, admonish ——– as a professing Christian to repent of his sinful conduct and to strive for reconciliation with his wife and with this body. And remember that you are to do this in a spirit of gentleness, taking care lest you also be tempted (cf. Gal 6:1-5). So how might you be tempted at this time?

  • Pride – Imagining that you are above such sins and morally superior to ——–. Such is not the case. Were it not for the grace of God, we would all be in like circumstances. So please pray for ——–, asking God to show him mercy.
  • Gossip – Using this as an opportunity to speak uncharitably about ——– or about his wife and children rather than as an opportunity to pray for him and them, expressing a longing for his restoration and love and affection for those he is hurting by his sin.
  • Slander – Making or entertaining false accusations against the elders, accusing them of heavy-handedness or insensitivity in disciplining him.
  • Flattery – In conversations with ——–, permitting him to blame others for his plight rather than urging him to take responsibility for it. We should want him to deal with his sin in a godly fashion – by confessing it to the Lord and forsaking it (2 Cor 7:8-12).

All this reminds us of our susceptibility to sin and our need of God’s grace and mercy; reminds us of our need to humble our hearts regularly and to confess our sins to the Lord. So let us confess our sins to the Lord and, as you are able, let us kneel as we do so. We will have a time of private confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.