January 21, 2018
Before We Worship
Unbelievers often argue that the presence of suffering (what they call “evil”) proves Christianity false. After all, if God is loving, why does he not prevent suffering? And if he could prevent suffering but does not prevent it, then he is not good.
The problem of evil is a thorny issue. But it does not disprove Christianity as much as it questions the unbeliever’s view of reality and of himself. For this objection to evil and to God assumes that God has no good purpose for suffering. That’s quite a leap in logic, isn’t it? How do they know that God has no purpose? They will answer, “How can there be? I can’t imagine any good coming out of evil.” Indeed, the problem of evil is often a problem of the unbeliever’s puffed-up view of himself. But is it really true that if a man cannot perceive a greater end of suffering, that no such greater end exists? The Bible is clear that God works all things (including evil things) for good (Rom. 8:28). We have, therefore, the weight of biblical authority on the one hand, and the competing claims of the man who claims his opinion has more authority than revelation from God. In other words, the problem of evil is not really about God’s character or power. It is rather a problem created by man’s craving for autonomy, the desire to understand life and himself apart from Scripture.
Besides, are we really to measure God’s love on the basis of how comfortable life is? Actually, it isn’t just the unbelievers or the followers of prosperity “gospel” who believe this. We all complain when suffering comes. James teaches us to count all trials as joy (James 1:2), and Peter teaches us not to be surprised by it (1 Peter 4:12). But, truth be told, we often resent it and are shocked by it. We want to be carried to heaven on a bed of roses while an adoring crowd applaud and sing our praise. Anything short of this, quite frankly, is unacceptable. So we question God’s goodness and wonder where, and when, it all went wrong.
Psalm 116, therefore, is an important corrective. Verses 1–8 is a call to praise “because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.” The rest of the psalm teaches us how to trust God amidst suffering: “I believed, even when I spoke: “I am greatly afflicted”” (v. 10). Life is hard, but I believe, the psalmist says. And he gives himself to prayer (4, 13, 17). This psalm teaches us that God uses suffering to deepen our faith and strengthen our commitment. In such a season we learn to depend more deeply on God’s grace, and deepen our worship: “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving…I will pay my vows to the LORD”.
God means to mature us through suffering, and the end that God has in view is more than worth the trouble. This does not mean that the process is easy. But while we are broken and weary, we lean on the Lord Jesus who cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus knows the utter devastation and loneliness of suffering. He will hear us with sympathy. So we can rest in him. Because Jesus was truly forsaken, we are never truly forsaken by God.
Call to Worship
Psalm 116 (reading responsively from TH p. 827)
Trinity Hymnal #391 “Safely through Another Week”
Trinity Hymnal #731 “Doxology”
Prayer of Invocation
The Reading and Exposition of the Law
2 Thessalonians 3:1–2 (p. 990)
Prayer of Confession
The Proclamation of the Gospel
“Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”” (Jeremiah 9:23–24)
Trinity Hymnal #463 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone”
The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) — Lord’s Day 4
Presentation of Gifts and Offering
The Proclamation of God’s Word
Galatians 3:19–25 (p. 973)
The Holy Law for the Unholy People
Rev. Ken Han
The Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper
We participate in the Lord’s Supper weekly. We welcome to the Lord’s Table all baptized believers who have sincere faith in Jesus Christ, and regularly worship in a Reformed or evangelical church.
The Lord’s Supper is a sign and a seal of the new covenant blessings. When we participate in the Lord’s Supper with faith, it strengthens our bond with our covenant Lord, Jesus Christ. Thus we participate properly when we come to our Savior with faith and repentance as we renew our resolve to forsake sin and live for his glory.
The Lord’s Supper also renews our bonds with God’s covenant community, the body of believers in the local church. As we receive the Lord’s Supper, we renew our pledge to give ourselves away in loving service.
During the distribution of the bread we will sing Trinity Hymnal #34 “The God of Abraham Praise” stanzas 1–3, and stanzas 4–6 during the distribution of the cup.
Trinity Hymnal #520 “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness”
Family Devotion for the Week
The Shorter Catechism lesson of the week is posted here: Q. 28.
We have some new resources for you at the information table, including several new CCEF mini books, as well as other edifying books. Be sure to check them out!
Upcoming Events and Notices
Every Lord’s Day 10:15 AM: Please join us for Hymnsing, a time of preparing our hearts for worship in praise, and for learning new hymns for worship.
The Catechism lessons for children and adult will resume on January 21, 2018.
Join us for “12 for 18” as we read 12 great books in the year 2018. For January, 2018, we will be reading Sinclair Ferguson’s “From the Mouth of God: Trusting, Reading, and Applying the Bible.”
January 21 (Lord’s Day): Catechism lessons for children and adult will resume.
January 28 (Lord’s Day): Join us as we discuss Sinclair Ferguson’s “From the Mouth of God” during the Sunday School hour after the worship service.
(Nursery meets in the Conference Room)
January 21: Liza Beede
January 28: Michelle Kay