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God's people and God's household

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God’s people and God’s household

Brought near through the blood of Christ

 

Announcements

Doxology Hymn no 53:            “All people that on earth do dwell”

Call to worship

Bible Verse

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah (Psalm 143:5-6)

Blessing

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. (Revelation 1:4-5)

Hymn No 306:                                            “I love your Kingdom Lord”

Invocation and the Lord’s Prayer

Invocation

Our Father in heaven through Jesus Christ,

We praise You, LORD our God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. (Nehemiah 9:5-6)

We seek your face, please answer us and deliver us from all our fears.  As we look up to You, make us radiant as our face will not be covered with shame.  Poor as we are, we call upon You,; please hear our prayer.  Send your Angel to encamp around us and deliver us.  Grant your mercy upon us so we will taste and see that the Lord is good. We come before to unite in prayer, saying the words of the prayer You taught your disciples to pray.

The Lord’s Prayer

Children’s Address

Hymn No 256:                            “Sing we the King”

Scripture Reading                     Psalm 145:1-21

Prayer of Adoration and Confession

Father, on this special day of celebration and thanksgiving we are gathered here to praise You for your mercies upon us as a church over many years. We remember the former things, those of long ago.  We worship You Father, and declare that that You are God and there is no other; there is none like You.  You make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come.  You say, “My purpose will stand and I will do all that I please.”  What You have said You will bring about; what You have planned You will do.  You promised in your Word that You will bring your righteousness near.  You declared that your salvation will not be delayed.  We know these promises are fulfilled in your Son Jesus Christ.  Therefore we bow in adoration, but also with contrite hearts to confess our sins.

Our rebellious nature caused us top disregard the commands You gave through the prophets.  We are ashamed and disgraced because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.  We are before You in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.

We ask for forgiveness and restoration.  We pray the You will not account our unrighteousness to us.  We ask for the blood of Christ to cover our sins, and we pray that You will cleanse us in his righteousness.  Restore in us the joy of knowing and loving You.  Give us your Holy Spirit to lead us on the paths of righteousness. Hear our prayer, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Declaration of pardoning

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:8, 14)

Hymn No 415:                            “I belong to Jesus” (tune 271)

Offering and Dedication

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it; the world and all who live in it, for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”

Hymn no 472:                              “Fill now my life O Lord my God”

Prayer for others

Chris and Narelle Bubb and their children who are ill.

Ena Newmann

Jean Mathison

Graham Wells

Scripture Reading                     Ephesians 2:11-22

Sermon

Introduction

My dear brother and sister in the Lord,

In 1883 some people got together with a desire to see that a Presbyterian Church in Townsville be established. It was God’s will that this church was formed and that for 120 years God would call his elect together under the preaching of his Word.

No doubt, as our Confession states, the members of this church and even the preaching coming from its pulpit were over the years sometimes more or sometimes less pure. The doctrine of the Gospel was no doubt taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed sometimes more or sometimes less purely.  (Chapter 25:4)

But by the grace of God and as a result of his faithfulness we can still meet for worship; we can still conduct the business of the church; we can still say we are burning, but not consumed.

Many of the original members had their roots in Scotland where they enjoyed the sound of the Gospel coming from Reformed pulpits.  They were children of the Reformation which had its roots in the Reformers like John Knox and others.  The history is rich and colourful.  And we shout out to the glory of God:  Ebenhaezer -  “Thus far has the Lord helped us”.

8  Into all the world

But let us trace back our history to the very beginning after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Before He left this world He commanded his disciples to go into all the world to establish the Kingdom of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and the message of the Word of God.  At first some understood that they should be looking for Jews dispersed right across the world.  But soon, as they were enlightened and empowered by the Holy Spirit, they understood that Jesus meant for the Kingdom of God to be preached to all people all over the world.

They understood the wonder of God’s grace shown to the Jews first in Jesus Christ.  They understood of their salvation which was by faith.  They understood about their election and adoption.  8  But what grew on them was this “mystery” – as the apostle Paul states – that the Gospel call was not meant to be exclusively for the Jews. In Eph 1:9-10 he proclaims:

8  And He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:9-10)

Thus, driven by the Holy Spirit, they went into the four corners of the world to proclaim the Gospel of hope and salvation in Jesus Christ.  He tells about this in chapter 1:11-12:

8 In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11-12)

The “we” in this text refers to the elect of God who were of Jewish descent in the first place.  Paul was one of the converted Jews under the grace of God. God called them for the praise of his glory.  But the glory of God would only be fulfilled if his chosen and elect of all the nations, tribes and tongues would be gathered in under the Gospel.  We hear about this in the following verse:

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation (Ephesians 1:13).

And the purpose God had for calling even the heathens who were not Jews according to the covenant and promise?  The answer is to be found in verse 14:

“… to the praise of his glory.”  (Ephesians 1:14)

8  So, God’s unfolding plan of redemption to the nations begins in Jesus Christ, through Whom He created the universe, works through Jesus Christ because of his Headship under God over all rulers and authorities on earth and the heavenly realms, and will be consumed in Him as the purposes of the Gospel will be met under His kingship.

This is where our family line begins.  This is where we have our roots.  In this birthday celebration we bring glory to Him who included us into his family from the very beginning. 

8  “Us” and “Them”

From the “us” (Jews) and the “you” (Gentiles – heathens, non-Jews) the apostle tells the good news of the unity of these groups and how it came about.

8  Yes there were distinct “us” and “them” groups in the beginning.  The “us” Jews were the “circumcised” – people of the covenant and the promise.   By birth they were from the same nation as the Christ. They were not foreigners, but citizens.  They were God’s people and therefore not “far away” (verse 13).

The Jews had the temple worship and the sacrificial system instituted and ordained by God.  There were many laws which actually excluded the gentiles from worshipping with them.  Their ceremonial laws separated them from the peoples around them.  Even the temple was designed in such a way that there was a visible and literal separation from the gentiles.  Gentiles were aloud in the outer perimeter of the temple but not into the second sphere of the temple.  This was against the law of God.  By this God would keep his people and their worship holy.  No multi-culturalism and syncretism was aloud.  Their Law, which was God’s law, forbade it.  They were a nation holy unto the Lord.

Pictures of the Temple.  1-3

8  But in the fullness of time, God sent his Son Jesus Christ do make and end to the sacrificial system.  By his body and his righteousness He met all the standards of God.  And He restored what went wrong in paradise.  8  Now that paradise was open again, now that the ultimate sacrifice was made and God’s wrath was taken away from mankind, it was God plan, according to the “mystery” of which the apostle speaks, to unite his elect from al nations, tongues and tribes under Christ all to the glory of the Father.

This the Jews did not understand.  They became proud and boastful as a nation of the Law.  What was meant to be God’s grace, and what was meant by God to give expression to his holiness and grace, they took as national pride.  The Law of God, which in this context is the ceremonial law, became a source of their so-called national superiority over other nations.  They used the temple worship to look down upon others as inferior, not only in the sense of worship, but also as “uncircumcised” and those far away.  In arrogance they referred to themselves the exclusive citizens of God’s kingdom – as if God intended to call Israel in existence purely to a political entity, a nation.

8  The family of God

But God worked out his plan in accordance with the purpose of his will.  He had other sheep, apart from those who were the Jewish family of God as his elect who had to be gathered in into his household.  The ones He had in mind were 8  those lost in darkness of sin, living in far-flung places in distant ages.  He who knew the purpose of this plan:  even in Townsville in Australia, would one day be gathered in his Name those He would call to Himself.

They were the uncircumcised. To them would be preached the Gospel of hope and salvation.  They would hear the Good Message who would proclaim to them the adoption to become children of God.  To them would be given a sign of the covenant which God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – no, it is not the circumcision which was done by hands;  they would receive the sign of baptism, which is done spiritually by the work of the Holy Spirit, and not by hands.

8  To us is preached the Gospel which rings with the Good News that we are not separate from God anymore, and therefore excluded from citizenship of true Israel.  Through Jesus Christ we are not foreigners of the covenants and the promise of the Holy Spirit anymore.  We hear the Gospel that we are, because of Christ, not without hope anymore.  Through the blood of Jesus Christ we were brought near.

8  Jesus Christ is our peace, as He is the peace of the Jews. Not only did He fulfil and abolish the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and therefore abolished that law which kept Jews and Gentiles apart , but He also fulfilled the laws that kept God and man apart.  The temple is not there anymore.  There is no wall between the foreigners and the Jews.  There is no law between them anymore.  There is no circumcision any more.  But far more than this, He brought both the Jew and the Gentile to God.  He is our peace.  He is our righteousness.  The hostility between Jew and Gentile, and the hostility between God and his people was reconciled on the cross of Calvary.  There Christ paid the highest price to reconcile us with God and those we might even think are not worthy of the grace of God.  And because this is the case, in Christ we must accept as brothers and sisters in the Lord those called and elect by God in his eternal plan of redemption and election.  8  We are saved by grace, so are they.  We were lost and foreigners, so were they.  We were without hope, so were they.  We are saved in Christ, so are they. Our Head in Jesus Christ.  He is King of kings and Lord of Lords.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.  (Ephesians 2:19)

8 A new people

Christ is building a new temple now.  It is not a building.  It does not arise on the mountains of Judah.  It does not consist of bricks and walls and holy rooms.  There are no holy utensils and special priests called from the family of the Levites anymore.  No it is a new creation.

8  This new building is being erected on the foundations of the teachings of the apostles and the prophets. We have the Word as our foundation.  Lose that, and the building falls apart.  We have Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone.  He is our anchor as was the large stone used to anchor and align corner of a wall in a big building.  He is the capstone used as lintel to keep the wall secure above a wide arched door.  In Him the whole building is joined together to become a holy temple. This temple is a dwelling of the Holy Spirit.

This, my brother and sister, is our heritage.  8  By God’s grace He grafted us into the tree of Israel.  We became God’s people and God’s household by grace.  It is by the blood of Jesus.  Remember, we were without hope, foreigners and far away.  And as we celebrate today, let us remember the word of the Scriptures in Romans 11:17-21

8  If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. (Romans 11:17-21)

Conclusion

Where do we stand?  How does this temple arise in Townsville in the shadow of Castle Hill?  To the glory of God?  Are we maybe boastful and proud? Do we still have room for the lost, elected by God but still wandering in the wilderness of sin and depravation?  How does the light of the Gospel shine from this place?  Even more important: how does your body as temple of the Holy Spirit shine forth the glory of God? 

The very reason for our existence takes us back to Ephesians 1:13-14

You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Amen.

Prayer

Hymn No 294:                            “The Church’s one foundation"

Benediction

Threefold “Amen”

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