September 1, 2019
Lord’s Day Worship
The sermon starts at 17:00 in the audio file.
Or, A Look at the Upcoming Trellis Telos
In each address to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, Jesus promised great things “to the one who conquers.” Conquers comes from the Greek word nikao, which we know as Nike, meaning overcoming, winning, conquering. The one who conquers will eat of the tree of life (2:7), will not be hurt by the second death (2:11), will get some of the hidden manna (2:17), will be given authority over nations (2:26), will be clothed in white garments (3:5), will be a pillar in the temple of God (3:12), and will sit with Jesus on His throne (3:21).
Interestingly enough, the one who conquers might be killed. The conquering, the winning, is faithfulness to Jesus and refusal to compromise with the rebellious ways of the world. By faith we conquer as Jesus conquered (3:21), which was by giving up His life in full surrender to His Father.
This is going to be the theme for the upcoming ministry year, from now until around the end of August 2020: Just Conquer. It’s a play on Nike’s family motto, and on the word nike itself. It’s understand on purpose. If by God’s grace I can get a thought into your head, it would be just this. When you come to church for corporate worship, when you head to work on Monday morning, when you pick up your kids from school, when you greet a neighbor in the street, when you’re headed into a tough conversation that you’d rather avoid, just conquer. Be faithful to the Lord, period. Great things are promised to the one who conquers.
This will be a major emphasis of the sermon exhortations Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day this next year. And this morning, on behalf of the other shepherds, I want to describe some of the field that we are looking to take the flock into over these next 12 months. This is not an introduction to the book of Revelation, though the time is near for that. Today is a description of the trellis telos (that is, the goal of our church programs) and an exhortation to join in to just conquer.
Of all the church trellis, our corporate gathering for worship is the least negotiable. I suppose there could be a time when Sunday, or Sunday morning in particular, didn’t work for our gathering. But if we could only meet once a week, we would keep this liturgical worship of the assembly.
We will begin a study through The Apocalypse next Sunday. I’d like to think that we will finish the book in at most two years, so let’s say we may be able to cover the first 11 chapters in the next year. There are numerous reasons that I chose, and have been encouraged by the other pastors, to teach Revelation. The consideration of last things, eschatology, is often more heat without light, when in fact, Revelation is light for sake of heat, and hope. Regardless of one’s current position on the millennium or tribulation or other end-times events, there is a lot to learn about how to behave now, while times are turbulent, while we wait and anticipate the return of Christ and God’s righteous judgement on His enemies.
There will be occasional Sunday breaks from Revelation, including reminders about our worship at the beginning of the year, and any other appropriate changes. Yet the majority of our Lord’s Days together will be looking to and listening to Revelation. Those who hear are #blessed.
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3)
We intentionally do not try to recreate Sunday morning on Sunday evening. The services on first and third Sundays of the month are planned to edify the body in different ways, and allow us to assemble again for a variety of things. Though there isn’t a verse that requires attendance, the pastors believe that our evening gatherings are good for the flock.
We will, for example, continue to have a few “choir practice” nights. We want to sing, we want to sing with full hearts, and with new songs, and with skillful, harmonious parts. We will also have a couple family nights to discuss God’s work in our finances, and a couple prayer nights to seek His blessing on our lives and responsibilities.
This year we also have coordinated with each of the four ministries that we support as a church, and each will have a representative come and share more details about their work. Kidstown International – Chuck Valley, Project 92 – Matthew Smith, i2 Ministries – Josh Lingel, and Antioch Adoptions – Ezechiel Bambolo, are already on the schedule.
And around all of those services we are going to have a series called “Centers and Circumferences.” As shepherds, based on our own growth, as well as on our observations of where the flock has come from and where the flock still needs to grow, we believe more needs to be said regarding all the ways disciples of Christ represent Christ’s interests. Our kids, Lord willing, will have different assumptions about what they can do to honor Christ, but many of us still don’t know how to be godly disciples in the “secular” spheres. I continue to be helped by Abraham Kuyper’s attempts to figure that out, and in his book Lectures on Calvinism he describes how a true understanding of God’s sovereignty shows at the center of every subject “with its fullness and purity of vitality and strength” and then extends out to the edges of every subject. So we aim to consider how God’s sovereignty is the foundation and the energy for art, science, the household, education, economics, the future, and more.
We continue to believe that godly men as husbands and fathers, alongside of godly woman as wives and mothers, is key to loving generations, and a major witness in our geographic location.
The ladies are going to continue working through You Who on the issue of identity. Whenever that is finished, they are talking about reading through a book on identifying and mortifying envy, Seeing Green.
The men are going to read three books this coming year. The Household and the War for the Cosmos and Man of the House are both by C. R. Wiley. Following that we’ll read Rules for Reformers. Obviously not every man is available for those meetings. But every man is accountable for these responsibilities. Men to Men is one place for mutual sharpening and butt-kicking to get us to grow up in Christ. Though not organized by the pastors, we all do recommend Kuyperian Camaraderie as well.
Our smaller group meetings also do different things than our larger group meetings. In particular, we still desire for these L2L groups to be a place for life on life interaction more than lecture to audience interactions. These are settings for more conversation, especially conversation about application of the messages. We need to hear and obey God’s Word; these are obedience support groups.
The men who are our L2L leaders are ideally being equipped for the work of the ministry while also doing some equipping of their own. Many of the men, along with their wives, have been getting more and more deeply involved in some shepherding/discipleship opportunities, and we want to keep encouraging that. With the men on our Saturday mornings we’re going to have some Shepherding Case Studies discussions, and talk through issues that they might encounter and how to respond. The issues will include pornography, drunkenness, intimacy and communication, no-growth “disciples,” effeminate abdication, and jerk patriarchy.
At our Wednesday meetings we will be talking about Revelation, and hopefully growing ourselves so that we can be examples for those we lead.
One of the cries of the French Revolution was: “No God, no masters!” This was humanism and total depravity run amok. Because 2020 is a presidential election year, and since government is another sphere that God’s sovereignty is both at the center and extends to the circumference of, our seminar in February will be on politics. In fact, “Give me politics or give me death” (a play on Patrick Henry’s famous cry) will be the subtitle, since true liberty only comes from submission to God, and He has established worldly authorities for our good.
The telos, or end, of all this trellis is to build up the body, and each member of it, so that we are submitting to the Lord, boasting in the Lord, and living for Him in such a #blessed way that others would be jealous of what we have in Christ. How we serve Christ in our worship, our homes, our jobs, our city, our growth, is the work of God in us that we may obey all that He’s commanded.
The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:21–22)
God has immeasurable power; just conquer. God has raised Christ from the dead; just conquer. Jesus has the name above every name that is named; just conquer. All things are under Jesus’ feet; just conquer. He is head over the church; just conquer. From His fulness we have all received, grace upon grace; just conquer.
[May you know] what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:19–23, ESV)