Every church gathering preaches something. Through what and how we pray, sing, read and teach the Bible, the church is corporately and publicly proclaiming what they believe to be true about the “gospel.” Who is God? Who are we? Why did God send his Son, Jesus and what did Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection accomplish? What is the appropriate response to this “good news?”
Our goal with each gathering is to provide biblical answers to these fundamental questions for both the edification of the church and the evangelization of the world. Listed below are the songs and readings for this week’s gathering. I’ve also included a small abstract that describes how we, as a church, aim to proclaim the gospel together in our gathering this Sunday.
THE ORDER OF OUR GATHERING:
Call to Worship: Psalm 103:1-5
Hymn 1: “Bless the Lord (10,000 Reasons)” (BtL)
Transitional Reading: Isaiah 6:1-5
Hymn 2: “Holy, Holy, Holy” (HHH)
Prayer of Praise
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 52:14-53:4
Hymn 3: “Smitten, Stricken, and Afflicted” (SSA)
Prayer of Confession
Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 49:7-8; 1 Timothy 2:5-6
Hymn 4: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (OCE)
Hymn 5: “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood” (FFwB)
New Testament Reading: Mark 8:1-21
Hymn 6: “Look and See” (LaS)
THE GOSPEL IN OUR GATHERING
(Scripture in bold, song quotes in italics and initialed–see above)
“Bless the Lord, O my soul (Ps. 103:1).” This is both the command of our Lord and the cry of our hearts. We are to bless him and give him glory with everything that is within us! Why? Because according to his “holy name (v.1),” the Lord “forgives (v.3)” and “heals (v.3)” and “redeems (v.4)” and “crowns (v.4)” and “satisfies (v.5)” his people! Because of God’s eternal majesty and infinite worth we are right to sing,
“Bless the Lord, O my soul…worship his holy name (BtL)!”
What’s more, the angelic realm joins us in our chorus: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim…And one called to the other: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory (Is. 6:1-3)!’”
“Only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee; perfect in power, in love, and purity (HHH).”
Because God is worthy, we pray His Word back to Him in praise!
In light of God’s holiness, we understand that we are sinful. God is perfect in his power, love, and purity. We are weak, selfish, and impure. It’s for this reason that God will send “his servant (Isaiah 52:14)” Yet, this servant who is “high and lifted up and…exalted (Is. 52:14)” will become “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted (Is. 53:4).” It is here, through the substitutionary death of this suffering Servant, that
“…we who think of sin but lightly, nor suppose the evil great,
May view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate (SSA).”
Indeed, God has demonstrated his perfect righteousness through the death of his beloved Son (see Romans 3:23-25). There is no more vivid portrait of our Holy God’s righteous hatred for sin than at the cross. Here we discover that God has set himself against sin and sinners. He makes himself their enemy! Where, then is hope?
“Here we have a firm foundation, here a refuge for the lost.
Christ the Rock of our Salvation, Christ the name in which we boast.
Lamb of God for sinners wounded! Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded who on Him their hope have built (SSA)!”
In light of God revealed righteousness in Christ, we have no choice but to confess to Him through prayer that we are, in fact, sinners in need of His grace and mercy!
In light of this, we confess that we cannot save ourselves, for “truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice (Ps. 49:7-8)” Our only assurance for pardon is that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:5-6).”
That “proper time” arrived at the conception and birth of God’s Son, Jesus, the promised Messiah who, in accordance with the prophet Isaiah, would be called “Emmanuel—God with us.” And so we cry out:
“O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear…
…O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one heart the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace (OCE).”
The promised servant that we heard about from Isaiah 53 is “the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom (1 Tim. 2:5-6).” Jesus is “God with us!” But how, exactly, does Emmanuel pay the ransom to free captive sinners from the wrath of God? That which is only implied in “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is explicitly proclaimed in “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood:”
“There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains (FFwB).”
What glorious news! The high and lifted up, exalted Son of God made himself stricken, smitten and afflicted so that those of us who are stricken, smitten and afflicted might be, by faith, high and lifted up, exalted as the very sons and daughters of God! That’s not just good news, that’s great news!
“E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream they flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die;
Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die (FFwB).”