FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap includes an assortment of items to help keep the Gospel in front of you throughout the week. Most are from the previous Sunday while a couple look ahead to next Sunday. As you read consider these questions:
- Did anything land with you during worship?
- What did it make you think? How did it make you feel?
- What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word?
- What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought:
I must hearken to the Gospel, which teaches me, not what I ought to do (for that is the proper office of the Law), but what Jesus Christ the Son of God has done for me: that is, that he suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. – Martin Luther
Self-righteousness in large part consists in a denial of our lostness…. We are as lost as any wandering sheep, as any dropped coin, as any prodigal son…. For as long as we hold on to any pretense of having it all together we are prevented from deepening and maturing in the Christian faith. For as long as we avoid recognition of our lostness we are prevented from experiencing the elegant profundities of foundness. – Eugene Peterson
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Gal. 3:1-9
Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand - Adoration
Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me - Confession
The King of Love My Shepherd Is - Grace
Come, O Come Thou Quickening Spirit - Response
In Christ Alone - Communion
According to the church calendar, next Wednesday, March 1, (Ash Wednesday) marks the beginning of the season of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday. Lent (literally "springtime") dates to the 4th century and is often described as a season of preparation analogous to Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness (re: Matt. 4:1-11). In other words, like we do each Lord's Day, it's a season to reflect on what Jesus has done for us and what we could never do for ourselves. It's a time to be humbled by sin and lifted up by grace. Sadly, many traditions have grown up around the season of Lent, which at first may seem plausible but in light of the Gospel are really of no value (Col. 2:20-23). However, if Lent is something you find particularly meaningful then perhaps these words may be of help to you.
"We ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church's springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin's winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. Put another way, Lent is the season in which we ought to be surprised by joy. Our self-sacrifices serve no purpose unless, by laying aside this or that desire, we are able to focus on our heart's deepest longing: unity with Christ. In him - in his suffering and death, his resurrection and triumph - we find our truest joy."
While Red Mountain Church will not have an Ash Wednesday service, I wanted to let you know of two options for an Ash Wednesday service in case you would like to attend.
Covenant Presbyterian Church - Ash Wednesday service at 12 Noon
Church of the Advent - Ash Wednesday Services
Lastly, there are two devotionals that may interest you as you reflect on the gospel in the coming weeks:
Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
Redeemer New York Lenten Devotional
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Depth of Mercy
Jesus speaks and pleads his blood
He disarms the wrath of God
Now my Father's mercies move
Justice lingers into love
There for me the savior stands
Shows his wounds and spreads his hands
God is love, I know I feel
Jesus weeps and loves me still.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Gracious God, we confess that we daily sin against you and our neighbors in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions. Our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more into the likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text – Galatians 2:15-21
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
1. What is justification (v. 16)
2. How we receive justification (v. 16, 19-20)
3. Why it matters in the day to day (v. 20; v. 14; Rm. 5:1)
The British play-write, George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "The lives which have no use, no meaning, no purpose, will fade out. You will have to justify your existence or perish." Left to ourselves, Shaw is absolutely right and the Apostle Paul agrees: "by works of the law no one will be justified" (v. 16). By "works of the law" Paul refers to our validating performance record, whether religious or not. "It is good behavior or religious behavior that is performed because someone else is looking, or because God is looking. It is life by performance, by show, by achievement. And, of course, it imprisons us because someone is always looking." (Eugene Peterson) Just think for a moment about your reaction to Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. As you swipe through pictures, read posts, and see promotions how do you feel? How does your validating performance record stand up. Do you feel vindicated or do you feel condemned?
Thankfully, the two options Shaw lays out aren't the only two options. Paul says, "We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ" (v. 16). In other words, Paul opens up to us a way to freedom from self-justification, from the crushing weight of our validating performance record, from sin and from God's just wrath. It is through our union with Christ! I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (v. 20). What does that mean? Simply put faith in Christ means finding your identity in Christ and not in yourself. It means your identity, your life, your story has been enfolded by another story - the story of Jesus, his life, death, resurrection and ascension.
"To be found in Christ means you don't have to prove yourself anymore. Your frantic attempts to find or craft an acceptable identity, or your tireless work to manage your own reputation--these are over and done. You can rest. You don't have to be intimidated by anyone, ever. Who are you? You are in Christ! And you no longer need to fear the judgment of God (1 Jn. 4:18). When God looks at you, he sees you hidden in Christ. This is freedom. This is confidence. This is good, good news." (Rankin Wilbourne)
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from these verses?
- What questions do they raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- How would you describe your validating performance record? How do you notice it in your daily life?
- How can you be sure that through faith in Christ you are safe, you are hidden in him, and therefore free in him?
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 103
Q.103: What do we pray for in the third petition?
A. In the third petition, (which is, Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,) we pray, that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.