Looking to Sunday – Sept. 24th

Looking to Sunday – Sept. 24th

Set List

How Firm a Foundation

God Alone

Come Thou Fount

Hail Sacred Union

The Gospel Is All I Have

Liturgy

Call to Worship

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Again today we come together to worship— the God of creation, of salvation, of time and eternity; the God of all peoples, of all nations, of all conditions of people everywhere. Praise the Lord. All that is within me, Praise God’s holy name. Praise the Lord and remember all his kindnesses: in forgiving our sins; in curing our diseases; in saving us from destruction; in surrounding us with love. The Lord is full of mercy and compassion. The Lord is slow to anger and willing to give us gifts of love. Praise the Lord! Oh, all that is within me, praise the Lord. —based on Psalm 103:1-8; 118:24

Corporate Confession

Father, we are sorry for the many times we have left you and chosen to satisfy our own selfish desires. For the times we have hurt the members of our families by refusing to do our share of the family tasks. Father, we have sinned. Forgive us. For the times we were unkind and impatient with those who needed our time and concern. Father, we have sinned. Forgive us. For the times we were too weak to stand up for what was right and allowed others to suffer because of our cowardice. Father, we have sinned. Forgive us. For the times we refused to forgive others. Father, we have sinned. Forgive us.

Assurance of Pardon

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ––1 Peter 1:3-9

Benediction

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.–––2 Corinthians 13:13-14

Hail Sacred Union (a Lost Hymn, Rediscovered)

Hail Sacred Union (a Lost Hymn, Rediscovered)

We are forgetful creatures. We spend most of our time from rut to rut, apathetic toward the magic around us and in us. We exist in a universe spoken into existence out of nothing. Trinitarian beauty is woven into every part creation, and every existing fact testifies to God’s existence and his goodness. Our response?

*Yawn*

For unbelievers, this indifference is understandable. Their default disposition, after all, is to suppress the truth about God—they cannot help it, it is in their DNA to whistle in the dark; no one needs to teach them how to resist the overwhelming revelation in which they are immersed. And of course, there, but for the grace of God, go we. Yet, we could say, there, despite the grace of God, go we still. Because, despite the fact that we have had our eyes opened by grace to recognize God’s activity in the world, we respond to his artistry with slow blinks.

But it’s not just the magic of general revelation that we ignore. As Christians we can absent-mindedly read the words of God in the special revelation of Scripture.

God’s words.

Words, that God has spoken and written. We can read a book authored by God absent-mindedly… (go ahead and read that out loud if the ridiculousness didn’t strike you the first time)

For Christians, these words contain promises of assurance. Promises which belong to us in Christ—they’re our (new) birthrights! Promises like:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39

It’s a funny thing, that words like this can become familiar to our ears.

Maybe funny isn’t the right word. Odd, or perplexing, perhaps?

Better yet, tragic.

Yes, let’s go with tragic.

It is tragic that we can read these words, or hear them read, and remain un-phased and indifferent. When I stop to think about my own attitude towards the claims in scripture, I’m embarrassed. How jarring does God’s Word have to be to shake me out of my lethargy?

God: Hell itself cannot separate you from my love, Sam.

Me: *Yawn*

We need to be reminded, not just of what the gospel is, but what it means. We need to regularly be grabbed by the shoulders, shaken, and screamed at: ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION?!

A good hymn does this. When a good hymnists writes a potent line, he is casting light on the same familiar gospel from an unfamiliar direction, thereby exposing you to shades and contours you had either forgotten about, or had never noticed before. The gospel never changes, but like a diamond which refracts light in a thousand ways, we get to be freshly mesmerized by this never-changing-gospel when it’s presented to us from different angles, and when it’s exposed with light from a different direction. This is what John Kent does for us in his hymn, “‘Twixt Jesus and the Chosen Race” (which we are renaming Hail, Sacred Union).

John Kent was an English hymnist who lived at the turn of the 19th century. This fellow was actually a shipbuilder who wrote hymns as a hobby, and he was relatively unknown even in his own time (despite the fact that his hymns were among Charles Spurgeon’s favorites). As relatively obscure as Kent was during his own lifetime, his obscurity only increased over time; the last hymnal to include Kent’s hymns in them was published in 1872. This is something of a travesty, however, because John Kent is a wordsmith on all accounts, and his songs beautify the gospel better than most.

This particular song was discovered by Pastor Ronni Kurtz, who stumbled upon it while researching Charles Spurgeon for his (other) job. He approached me with the idea of resurrecting this hymn with a new, singable melody, and I was eager to do it. You can listen to it here.

Let’s break down each of these verses a bit more:

Between Jesus and the chosen race

Subsists a bond of sovereign grace

That hell, with its infernal doom 

Shall never dissolve or rend in two

Right out of the gate, Kent drops this breathtaking statement: Jesus and his chosen race (his Church) are bound by grace with a bond that hell itself could never touch. Kent is referring to the doctrine that we at Emmaus are in love with: union with Christ. When are united to Christ by faith, we are united to all of Christ for all of eternity – we “hitch our cart” to a “wagon” that sits at the right hand of God the Father. This is the doctrine Kent intends to examine throughout this wonderful hymn.

This sacred bond, shall never break

Though earth should to her center shake

Rest doubting saint assured of this

For God has pledged his holiness

Now Kent applies this doctrine to the uneasy and tender conscience of the doubting Christian. “God’s very own holiness” Kent assures the doubting saint, “is pledged to this promise: your bond with Christ cannot be broken. His status as a ‘holy God’ is staked on your salvation!”

He swore but once, the deed was done;
‘Twas settled by the great Three in One
Christ was appointed to redeem

All that the Father loved in Him

In this verse, Kent points to the fact that this gospel message—this glorious, unbreakable union between Jesus and his Bride—was a plan conspired in eternity past between the three persons of the Trinity. This intra-Trinitarian agreement is what theologians refer to as the pactum salutis, and it essentially conveys the idea that the gospel is a God-wrought plan from beginning to end. That first line communicates the finality of this divine agreement; Kent is saying, “He swore it, and it was done.” Each member of the Trinity agrees to play a different role to collectively finding their terminus in the salvation of sinners to this glory. In this verse, Kent alludes to the Father’s role (in love, predestining a people in the Son and appointing the Son to redeem them) and the Son’s role (he obeys the Father and redeems those people). In the last verse, Kent will touch on the Spirit’s role.

Hail, sacred union, firm and strong

How great thy grace, how sweet the song

That rebel worms should ever be

One with incarnate Deity

This is the height of the hymn, the natural burst of doxological gratitude that comes with meditating on the doctrine of union with Christ. Kent highlights the contrast between who we are who the God is we are bound to: we are “rebel worms” who become “one with incarnate Deity.” What else could we do but exclaim, “Hail!”?

One in the tomb, one when he rose

One when he triumphed over his foes

One while in heaven he took his seat

While seraphs sung at hell’s defeat

Here is the most explicit definition of union with Christ we find in this hymn. It is in this verse that Kent explains what we have in our union: Christ’s death becomes our death, Christ’s resurrection becomes our resurrection, Christ’s triumph over his enemies, becomes our triumph over his enemies, Christ’s security in heaven becomes our security in heaven. In this single verse, we are reminded of past, present, and future salvation—we have justification, sanctification, and glorifications. All of our sins were nailed to the cross with Christ when we were united to him there, and they were all buried in the grave when he took us there, and we have all been resurrected with him to walk in newness of life by virtue of his resurrection. That’s what our union grants us at our initial conversation. But now that we have been united to Christ in his resurrection, we also get his triumphant life in order to overcome our foes (our own sin, our flesh). In other words, our continued victorious triumph over our sin is a privilege afforded to us in our union with Christ! And lastly, we see highlighted in this verse the reality that our station before the Father is secured by this union as well. In other words, if you are a Christian, your chances of spending eternity in the presence of the Father are as good as Jesus‘.

Blessed by the wisdom and the grace

The eternal love and faithfulness

That’s in the gospel scheme revealed

And is by God his Spirit sealed

In this concluding verse, Kent now explains the third Person’s role in this Triune bond—the Spirit seals and applies all of these glorious truths. Which is to simply affirm the reality that our union with Christ is a spiritual union (that is, a Spirit-ual—Holy Spirit wrought—union). It is the person of the Holy Spirit who does all the binding work we’ve been reveling in up to this point.

 

Looking to Sunday (New Song) – Sept. 17th

Looking to Sunday (New Song) – Sept. 17th

Set List

Absent from Flesh

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

Father You Are All We Need

Hail Sacred Union (New Song – Lyrics Below)

A Son of God

Liturgy

Call to Worship

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. – Psalm 34:1-10, 19, 22

Corporate Confession

I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. – Micah 7:9

Assurance of Pardon

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. – Micah 7:18-19

Benediction

Now may God the Father—who sent his Son to be born of woman, born under the law, to redeem you from the law and purchase your adoption—and God the Son—who was sent by the Father, who died and rose again, and who ascended on high to give you his Spirit—and God the Holy Spirit—who is poured out into your hearts, and who enables you to cry, “Abba! Father!”—hold you fast and encourage you this day and throughout the week. May you rest in this Triune God’s unrelenting love for you as you live faithfully where he has called you. Amen.

 

Hail Sacred Union (Lyrics)

Between Jesus and the chosen race
Subsists a bond of sovereign grace
That hell, with its infernal doom 
Shall never dissolve or rend in two
This sacred bond, shall never break
Though earth should to her center shake
Rest doubting saint assured of this
For God has pledged his holiness
He swore but once the deed was done;
‘Twas settled by the great Three in One
Christ was appointed to redeem

All that the Father loved in Him
Hail, sacred union, firm and strong
How great thy grace, how sweet the song
That rebel worms should ever be
One with incarnate Deity
One in the tomb, one when he rose
One when he triumphed over his foes
One while in heaven he took his seat
While seraphs sung at hell’s defeat
Blessed by the wisdom and the grace
The eternal love and faithfulness
That’s in the gospel scheme revealed
And is by God his Spirit sealed
Why We Sing With, and Catechize, Our Kids

Why We Sing With, and Catechize, Our Kids

To be a Christian is to be about the business of disciple-making. Every person we come across, by definition, is either a disciple, or a potential disciple—and children are no exception to this. At Emmaus, we are passionate about the biblical, theological, and spiritual formation of children. We look at their presence in our corporate gatherings, our classrooms, and our homes as an incalculable opportunity—a stewardship from God that we do not want to squander. This stewardship belongs to the entire church in the general, and it is particularly concentrated to parents in the particular.

To flesh this concept out a bit further, those of us who are serving in Emmaus Kids ministry—who are teaching and instructing and demonstrating the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God to our babies, toddlers, and children in K-2nd grade—take our responsibility seriously and soberly. A great honor and weight falls squarely on the shoulders of those who serve in this ministry. But woe to the church, and woe to the parents represented therein, if we ever begin have the impression that the primary discipleship of our kids belongs to volunteers on Sunday morning! These ministries don’t exist to give parents the opportunity to outsource their responsibility to disciple their own children. They exist as supplementary gifts to come alongside and aid parents in their duty train up their kids in the knowledge and discipline of God. They are intended as opportunities for the members of Emmaus to live out the “one anothers” of Scripture, but the primary God-ordained method for discipling children is parent-disciplers. A brief survey of Scripture makes this point clear:

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children. – (Deuteronomy 4:9)

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. – (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. – (Deuteronomy 11:19)

… When your children ask in time to come, “What do those stones mean to your?” then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD… – (Joshua 4:6-7)

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. – (Proverbs 1:8-9)

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. – (Proverbs 22:6)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – (Ephesians 6:4)

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. – (Colossians 3:21)

Discipleship through Worship

So, how can parents do this? Well, one simple way is by keeping their children in the worship service with them. Soon, we will be offering a service for our 3rd-5th grade kids, for all of the same reasons we offer our other Emmaus Kids programs. But, this 3rd-5th grade service will never turn into a weekly event. Do you want to know why? It’s not because it’s too much work. It’s because we believe that it is a benefit for our children to worship (through song and through submission under the preached Word) with their parents! By the way, this is why even for the K-2nd graders we do dismiss into their own classrooms, we wait to dismiss them until after the music portion of our service. From a logistical point of view, it would actually be much easier to dismiss them before our call to worship. But the general benefits of having our children worship with their parents are just too good to pass up for the sake of logistical practicality.

The nonverbal messages that come from including children in the service are communicating a lot to them. They are learning that the corporate gathering includes activity that is relevant to them (church isn’t just for “mom and dad”). They are seeing their parents worship God through song. They are seeing their parents confess sin with the rest of the congregation. They are seeing their parents listening intently to the word being preached. They are seeing their parents stand up to take communion. By seeing their parents value the corporate gathering of the church as an important aspect of life, the children are themselves learning how important the corporate gathering is.

Further, by being present during all of these activities in the corporate gathering, the children are accumulating pictures to understand the gospel. They are learning the general “melody” of exaltation, meditation, confession, assurance of pardon, submission to the Word of God, and response—even though they won’t understand the complex “harmonies” that will give the tune a more robust sound until they are much older. They may not fully comprehend the broken body and shed blood of Jesus at first, but as they grow older, they will already have the groundwork to make sense of the gospel by watching it reenacted every Sunday Morning by mom and dad.

Discipleship through Catechisms

And this is why we are going to begin catechizing our kids. What is a catechism, and what does it mean to catechize a child? Great questions, I’m glad you asked. A catechism is a series of questions and answers that summarize and exposit basic doctrines. They serve to construct a worldview for our children, by answering questions, not only about the bible, but about life in general. This is important because, the reality is, our children are being catechized already. Our world is not a neutral place, and whether it is in movies, TV, music, social media, or other outlets, our children are constantly being trained to view the world a particular way. Let me give you a few examples from our world’s catechism:

Question: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: To be true to one’s self, follow one’s heart, and be happy at all cost.

Question: Is it possible for one to have a sinful desire?

Answer: No, desires are by definition good, and if one suggests that my desire is sinful, he is a bigot and is against me as a person.

Question: Where is one’s most basic foundation of identity?

Answer: One’s sexuality; one is not true to one’s self unless one finds one’s identity fundamentally there.

You get the idea. Christian catechisms can be useful to combat these untruths for our children and give them a biblical framework to see the world the way God intends. So when they are told time and time again that the chief end of man is “to be true to one’s self, follow one’s heart, and be happy at all cost,” they don’t have to wonder if that is true or not; they already know that the chief end of man is actually to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

Of course, this is not to say that catechizing our kids will guarantee conversion. We believe that salvation belongs to the Lord. But by giving our children a biblical worldview, a thought-category and biblical formulation of the gospel, we are shoveling kindling into their little hearts so they’ll have everything necessary to be set ablaze with gospel truth, should the Holy Spirit see fit to light the match.

So, every week, we will be providing our parents with a catechism question and answer. For now, we’re primarily borrowing resources from Founders Ministries. So for ages 2 through 4th grade, we’ll be using a modified version of A Catechism for Boys and Girls, and for 5th-8th grade children, we’ll be using a modified version of The Shorter Westminster Catechism. The idea is for these catechism questions and answers to be fodder for conversation in your homes throughout the week. Be creative, parents, with pointing out the relevance of these catechism topics throughout your day, and let them serve as occasions for worship and instruction.

Looking to Sunday – Sept. 10th

Looking to Sunday – Sept. 10th

Set List

 

Look What God Has Done

Behold the Christ

Murdered Son

Hallelujah! What a Savior

Arise, My Soul, Arise

Call to Worship

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. ––Psalms 100:1-5

Corporate Confession

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found ––Psalm 32:1-6

Assurance of Pardon

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. —Romans 5:6-11

Benediction

May the love of God enfold us. May the grace of God uphold us. May the power of God set us free to love and serve all God’s people. Now to God, who by the means of the power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ask or even think, to God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all times, for ever and ever. Amen.

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