In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul begins his letter with an effervescent rhapsody magnifying God for his grace to the church in Jesus Christ. The call to worship this morning enters this long, cascading sentence midstream where Paul shows how our faith in the gospel is itself to the glory of God. Our sermons the past few weeks (including this Lord’s Day) have considered Paul’s re-articulation of the gospel to the Corinthians (a re-articulation necessitated upon their flirtation with heterodoxy). What Paul says in Ephesians 1:13-14 is that the good news of Jesus came to us (“when you heard the word of truth”), it saved us (“the gospel of your salvation”), we received the gracious gift of the Holy Spirit’s sealing ministry (“where sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”), and were assured our eternal inheritance. All this, Paul summarizes, is “to the praise of his glory.” What this means is that the gospel itself glorifies God. When the gospel comes to a sinner and they are saved by Christ through faith, this gracious act of salvation through the gospel glorifies God. Indeed, we glorify God when we entrust to him our eternal souls through faith in Christ. So as we consider the gospel, and it is proclaimed, this too is an act of sacred worship “to the praise of his glory.” The gospel glorifies God because it makes him and his saving work an exalted thing in the hearts of believers—it is good news. The gospel glorifies God because this message publicizes that salvation is all of his grace. Gospel proclamation is an act of worship.
In the prayer service, we will return to another Scripture from Psalm 119. We will open the service with a psalm declaring our reliance upon God, Psalm 121 (Red 159).
The sermon this Sunday continues to consider the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially the good news that Jesus is alive from the dead. The reason we gather on the first day of the week itself points to this reality, and without the truth that Jesus is alive, we would have no reason to worship God at all. But Jesus is alive, and so may this new creation reality and the salvation that has come through it be the firm foundation upon which we offer to God sacrifices of praise and worship. This is the call to worship:
Call to Worship: Ephesians 1:13-14
Hymn 272 [Red] Now Let the Vault of Heaven Resound
Congregational Reading: Psalm 10:1-5, 11-12, 16-18
Hymn 265 [Red] Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted
Hymn 285 [Red] We Gather Together I chose this hymn as our hymn of thanksgiving this Lord’s Day because it reminds us that our thanksgiving and life as a church comes from the risen Christ. This comes out especially in the third stanza: “We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant, and pray that thou still our Defender wilt be. Let Thy congregation escape tribulation: thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free.” Not one word of that stanza can be severed from the reality of our risen Lord. We extol him because he is our leader, but he is our “leader triumphant” because of his glorious resurrection. He is our everliving Defender only because he is living now, interceding for us. We as his people would never escape tribulation, were it not for the promise of a resurrection through his resurrection. Our ability to “ever” praise the name of the Lord is only due to our hope of eternal life through the resurrection of the Son of God. Our freedom from this world, the temptations of Satan, and our enslaving flesh is only possible because the life of Christ quickens through the Spirit. When we take up this hymn this Lord’s Day, may we remember how vital the resurrection is to our good news.
Scripture Reading: Job 17 & Mark 3:13-35
Hymn [Insert] Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle
Sermon: Christ was Raised from 1 Corinthians 15:4-11
Hymn 335 [Red] What Wondrous Love is This?
In Sunday School, I will speak on Jonathan Edwards’s theology of prayer.