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Apr 2011

Sunday Rhythm | God Speaks to His People Through His Word | Sermon

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Among the many excellent gifts with which God has adorned the human race, it is a singular privilege that he designs to consecrate himself the mouths and tongues of men in order that his voice may resound in them. – John Calvin in Institutes 4.1.5

When the Bible speaks, God speaks. – Augustine

The first part of our gathering each Sunday begins with God calling his people to worship. During this time, we are simply asking the questions, “Who is God?” and, “Who is Jesus?” We come together to sing songs, read scriptures, and offer prayers that bestow adoration on, and recognize the greatness, goodness, and grace of God. In light of who God is, we recognize that we are sinful people in desperate need of his grace. His pardon then becomes necessary as we affirm God’s provision of grace through the person and work of Jesus on our behalf. We sing songs about Jesus and his work on the cross, and we read scriptures together that also remind us of the mercy provided by God, who has reached down to us through the gospel of Christ. After this reminder that we have received pardon from our sin because Jesus sacrificed himself and paid the penalty for our sin on the cross, we then go on to pass the peace that we now have with God through his son.

We then move into the time of the service we have entitled: God Speaks to His People Through His Word. We believe that the Bible is the means by which God graciously reveals Himself to His people, so each week, we take the time to listen, read, and study it with expectant hearts. True spiritual health can only be effected by the Spirit of God, the same spirit that inspired the Word of God as his only infallible witness to the minds and hearts of his people. As the Spirit works by and with the Word in our hearts, God teaches us all that is needed for our spiritual lives.

We begin each sermon together with what is called a “prayer of illumination” where we pray that God makes His Scriptures clear to us and that His Spirit makes them effective to our souls. In his book Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice, author Bryan Chappel goes on to describe the Prayer of Illumination that Calvin and other reformers used in their liturgy:

    Since the sermon is God’s Word preached, it demands reverence from God’s people and God’s aid for their understanding…The Prayer of Illumination petitions the Holy Spirit to equip preachers to understand and proclaim the Word inspired by him.

After hearing God’s Word proclaimed, we respond to God speaking to us in a variety of ways. Most Sunday’s we have a time of reflection. This is simply a moment in the service where we take the time to silently reflect on what has been preached. Sometimes we provide questions to help in this process. Sometime’s we also have a time of confession. A true revelation of the goodness of God will bring clarity to our own depravity, and the Gospel reveals that we can not do anything that would make us “good enough” for God. During this time we may pray and sing songs of confession giving voice to our sinfulness and need for a Savior.

The last way that we sometimes respond to God’s spoken Word is by celebrating the redemption he has provided us in his son Jesus. During this time, we are reminded through Scripture of the good news of the Gospel: Jesus has done for us what we could never do for ourselves and God has promised to make us new and dwell in us through His Holy Spirit.

imagrs

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