Our corporate priorities: Preaching, Worship, Prayer

We continue our series where we’re talking about our church’s mission statement. And now we’re talking about our values. Our core values as a church. This morning I want us to look at Hebrews 2:10-18. And then we’re going to jump over to chapter 4:14-16

10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who [a]sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying:

“I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly, I will sing praise to You.”

13 And again: “I will put My trust in Him.”

And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

and then in Hebrews 4:14-16:

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We pray now that as we study your bible that your son Jesus would declare your name to us as our priest and as our older brother. That as he is in our midst that he would be laying his hand on us and touching us and renewing us. Cleansing us and pointing us to you. We ask that what we would hear would be none other than the voice of our chief shepherd the Lord Jesus Christ. So, we ask to open up our ears, open up our eyes and open up our hearts. We ask it through Christ and for his sake. Amen.

What is your church like?

There’s a very famous American author named Mark Twain. He wrote several books and one of them is called the adventures of Tom Sawyer. He is not really somebody to model your life after, but there’s a little part in the book that I want to share. There’s a conversation he’s having with one of his friends. She asks him what his Church is like. And so he goes on to talk about the Church and of course there’s a preacher. Then she replies that her church has 17 preachers. And he thinks, well man that must take forever when you guys meet if they’re all preaching. And he says we only have one preacher a day. I’m paraphrasing, and then she says well then what do the others do? And he says: Well, they don’t do much. They kind of collect money, they pass the bag around. But other than that they really don’t do much. She asks what are they for? He says: They are there for style. And then they go on to talk about church.

I couldn’t help but think about that, as we’re looking at our values as a church together. If somebody were to ask you: “what is your church like?” I wonder what you would say. Or if somebody were to say: “what do you guys do at church and why do you do it?” what would you say? That is essentially the point of this series.

But on the other hand, we want to grow in our values and establish and maintain a culture that reflects these values. We need to understand who we are in Christ, what we are doing with Christ, and why we are doing it.

Last week we saw our first value and it really sets the tone for everything else that

Christ is our head

He is in charge. Here, it’s all about Jesus. And all that is done in the life in the ministry of the church comes from the head of the Lord Jesus Christ. That it is Jesus giving us life, that it is Jesus doing the work of the ministry through us and that he has the preeminence. And we’ll have the opportunity as we look at each value to see that is what Jesus is doing in his church.

Today we’re going to look at the next three. But these three I can perhaps say, these are our corporate priorities. These are the things that we are to be sure that we are doing when we gather. These are the things that we want to do every Sunday as we come together as God’s people on his appointed day.

A strong emphasis on preaching

Our first one is that we have a strong emphasis on preaching. We preach the word of God to exalt him, to edify his people and to equip them for a life of worshipful service. Preaching is central for the life of the church. The next value that we’ll look at today is concerning worship.

Worship that stirs the heart and renews the mind

In the words of Jesus we worship in spirit and in truth. Worship is God’s idea and it is God’s command. Worship is actually something that God is doing through his people. And then nextly we have prayer. That we are

Steadfast in Prayer

That is that we pour our hearts before God, because his strength is made perfect in our weakness.

So those are our first three priorities, that we’re going to be looking at. Let me say that these are not just ideas that we’ve come up with over a cup of coffee. I have a lot of good ideas to come over a cup of coffee and by the grace of God this church has spared from many these.

But these values are deeply rooted in the Bible. in the biblical description of God and his people. In source of these values is the scripture just we’ve consulted the bible and we have crafted statements that articulate what the bible says about the church.

You notice here in Hebrews chapter 2 and 4, that all these values are fully represented in the ministry of the lord Jesus Christ. The ministry of Jesus is one of preaching, it is one of worship, and that the ministry of Jesus is one of prayer. And as our mission statement says, that “we seek to follow him” we want to follow him in what he is all about.

We can see that all these values are based on the ministry of Jesus. This is what Jesus is about in his church. So really what we’re doing is we’re coming together and we’re gazing on the lord Jesus Christ and saying: this is what he’s doing, and that is what we want to do.

But even more so we are saying this is what Jesus is doing in and through his people. Jesus is the prophet who preaches the kingdom of God and proclaims the gospel. Jesus is our high priest who leads us in the worship of his father. As our high priest teaches us and cleanses us and pastors us. And as our older brother he shares his son-father relationship with his father with us. We share in the sonship of Jesus. Therefore, Jesus is bringing us along in his prayer life and saying guys you can now pray to my father in my name let’s do it.

What we emphasize here is that the life and the ministry of the church of Christ is something that he is doing. That is that we through our union with Christ are partaking in his life and in his worship of the father and in his ministry from the father. This happens because through faith we have become united to Jesus. and so really when you think about this law and the idea of being united to Jesus you can’t help but recognize that there’s a sense of intimacy isn’t there?

But as Jesus speaks to his sheep, they know him that’s intimate. That as God’s spirit is moving in our hearts as we sing. There’s intimacy as we pray to a compassionate and loving father who loves us. The entire Christian life is basically being caught up into the dynamics of the loving relationship of the father son and holy spirit. We’re brought into the life of the trinity.

I want to emphasize that our values are God’s values, and that the life of the church is the life of Christ. and that the ministry that takes place in and through the church is the ministry of Jesus. Christ is our head. We belong to Christ. there’s not a single thing that isn’t all about Jesus it’s impossible for it to not be.

This morning I want us to look at these from three perspectives. First, we’ll look at them theologically. We’ll understand the “what” of what the values are. Then we’ll look at them practically, how of it all. And then doxologically the why of it all. To the glory of God.

A strong emphasis on preaching

So, first theologically. Let’s just consider preaching: why do we have a strong emphasis on preaching?

You must ask yourself :What is really going on as God’s people gather? You see for some of us we might be like tom sawyer right we don’t know a lick about what’s going on. When somebody says what’s your church like? You say it’s a church and it’s got blue chairs and you sign up when you come in. It’s a church – what do you mean? People ask what kind of church are. What do you emphasize, what are you all about?

First and foremost, Christ is our head, and you say we are a bible preaching church we believe in the authority of the word of God.

You see sadly, that’s not really the case in a lot of churches. I say this not to gloat, but I wonder how many churches on a given Sunday in the city of Heidelberg are faithfully preaching the word of God with all authority and belief. Because as soon as you move away from the centrality of God’s word, you move away from blessing, you move away from faithfulness, and you move away from life.

And then there’s a greater question: What’s going on? What’s going on right now as I speak? On the one hand Paul tells us that the angels are here. They’re watching and they’re observing us. They are in awe of the worship of the church. Even more so as I’ve said we are corporately participating in the life of the triune God. That Christ gathers us, as he says: “Here I am with the children whom God has given me”.

And even in worship God is the actor. God is the one who is bringing us into the eternal fellowship, which is worship and love and fellowship of the eternal Godhead. When we come together, we’re not coming and marking off an hour of our week. And saying I’m going to get some good stuff. And then I’m going to go back out there and I’m going to try to do the good stuff in the bad world. That’s not really all that’s going on.

We’re coming here together as God’s people and we fellowship with God. He is drawing us ever deeper into experiencing the fullness of joy, that he has had from all eternity. The love, the worship, and the fellowship of the members of the triune godhead.

So, what should our focus be? Our focus should be what God’s focus is. In Hebrews 2 the author provides that for us and he says: First, you have a high priest who is like you. He’s a human who suffered for you and through him you are sanctified. You have an older brother. He shares in your humanity. You see the emphasis here in Hebrews 2 is on the humanity of Jesus. It’s marvelous. It might be my favorite passage in the bible. You’ll notice here as he says in verse 14:

14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him

In order to die for humans, he had to die as a human. Verse 17:

17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest

He is an older brother. Chapter 4:15

15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

I interject this: As a human he can sympathize with our weaknesses, because he was tempted in all points like us yet without sin.

Therefore, our union with Jesus is of course a spiritual one. We understand that, but it is also a physical one because he has shared in flesh and blood. Therefore, it is through the shared humanity of Jesus that we can come into contact and into fellowship with the divine. So the humanity of Jesus means everything if we want to have a real relationship with God.

In Verse 11 it says that he is not ashamed to call us his brethren. He’s not ashamed. I was thinking about this. That’s a good time to start and to say: You know that? That God is not ashamed of you? This is true! He is your brother. He is your priest. And he shared in your humanity in order to sanctify you. Why would he ever be ashamed of you? Isn’t that a good thing to hear today that God is not ashamed of you?

I know what it’s like to have the devil harangue me and say God’s ashamed of you. Do you know how that’s like? To you hear those nagging thoughts: God’s ashamed of you. He’s disappointed in you. You’ve let him down too many times. God is disgusted from you. Therefore, you should be disgusted with yourself and have no self-image whatsoever. Here’s death, God’s done with you!

Because I know I’m not the only one that’s heard those thoughts, right? But that’s not true. He’s not ashamed of you! He’s not ashamed of you in any shape or form. He’s sanctified you. And he says here I am joyfully with the children whom God has given me. My brethren I love them! And it is through my suffering that I am perfecting them and bringing them to glory.

God is not ashamed of you! In verse 12 we get more into the explicit content of preaching This is Jesus speaking:

I will declare Your name to My brethren

He shares in our humanity, he is our older brother, he is our high priest. And he’s not ashamed of us. He is declaring the name of this father to us. In other words: How do you know who God is? You didn’t just discover it, you didn’t pick up a book on apologetics and say okay all my questions are answered, that’s good. You didn’t go through the process of searching and seeking and say: “Okay now I found God”. That’s not the whole story! And it’s not even just: “Well I heard a good preaching and it told me I was a sinner and that I needed to repent”. It’s even more than that!

It’s that you have a shepherd, and he spoke to you personally and he calls you by name. and you have shown that you belong to him by responding. And as he called you by name, he was revealing his father’s name to you. A father who says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son”. And then everything changed, didn’t it? It was an entire paradigm shift you say there’s a God who loved me so much that he sent his son to suffer for my sins.

How in the world did that happen? Unless Jesus himself is calling you and declaring the name of his loving father to you. Jesus says, “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father”. Right! I’ve come to reveal God. Quoting psalm 22 the author of Hebrews says, Jesus is in his church and he says, I will declare your name to my brethren. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? That Jesus is all about declaring and proclaiming the name of his father to his people?

So, in this person he’s revealing him, right? You’ve seen me you’ve seen the father. I am the right hand of God. And in his preaching he is proclaiming the name of him. He is the prophet who preaches. All the time Jesus said: “I and the father are one”. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. This is what heaven looks like right here. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom and the gospel. That’s what’s what his ministry was about.

Jesus is in the midst of his church. I say this all the time, because we have to get away from the idea that the God’s out there, passed away distant galaxies and we’re here trying to get everything together and singing the good songs and making sure the wires are connected. We come here and we muster up enough strength to sing and hopefully God’s interested. Every now and then we’ll say something like God is here. But not enough. There is no church apart from Jesus. We see in the in the apocalypse of Jesus, Revelation 1, it says Jesus is walking in the midst of his church. And as one man said recently Jesus is walking in the midst, as his word is preached. He is preaching and he’s laying his hand on you. And he’s touching you and affirming you and loving you and speaking to you. Applying the truth, that he is saying to your heart and you feel it, don’t you?

So, when somebody comes to me and says: “you know pastor, you really spoke to my heart today”. I say thank you, but the ultimate reality is that Jesus spoke to you. We’re not just here, talking about good ideas, are we? You might be like me. You’ve had your cup of coffee so your brain’s full of good ideas right? Well that’s what your journal is for. Go, write it down! We’re proclaiming the name.

We’re not just here talking about values, that make our church great and stand out as significant. No, we are preaching the gospel of the lord Jesus Christ. Week in and week out. In order for God to have the preeminence. That’s what we do. Because Jesus is about proclaiming the name of his father. Not a church, not a church movement, not a pastor, not anybody else. That is why preaching is so vital. Because it’s when God’s word is preached that Jesus’s sheep hear his voice and know him and follow him. When you read the gospels, you might say: “Well what was Jesus’s ministry like? What did he do?”

Of course, there were miracles. He cast out demons. He healed people. But all of that was simply to verify the reality of what he was saying. And they say that he went about preaching and teaching the kingdom of God. Jesus is all about preaching. Therefore, when we preach the bible we understand that Christ is speaking to his people.

For instance, we don’t gather here to hear a man. No matter how much coffee I have, my ideas are just that ideas. And they’re not really helpful for me or for you most of the time. We’re not here to think about what social things are going on or political things or anything else. We are here to come under the sound of the authoritative inerrant life-changing word of God. And in our preaching, we are proclaiming the name and the majesty of God and none other. His love. His nearness, faithfulness, grace, justice, beauty. Therefore, we don’t want to focus on anything else. Why should we?

Therefore, this is a priority, because this is what Jesus is all about. Because preaching is more than just giving some instructions about how to have an effective week. It is instructions, but it’s more than that. It is exalting God. That’s why we say: We preach first and foremost to exalt God. so that’s preaching and then we come to worship.

Worship that stirs the heart and renews the mind.

Now look at the next part of verse 12. He declares the name to the brethren and

“In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

How many times have you of read past that? Hebrews is all about chapter 6 and other weird stuff and just go right past this. Jesus is our high priest he is the ultimate worshiper Jesus is a worshiper. He is the one. He is the altar. He is the lamb. He is the priest. He is the temple. He is the place where we come to worship. We join in the worship of Jesus. This is his priority. It says: “here in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise”

So, first of all notice the location where is this happening: Right here in our midst. And what is Jesus doing? He’s singing. He praises his father in our midst and he brings us along. As Zechariah says: “He sings over us, because he loves us”. When somebody loves you they sing over you. He leads us in the singing and he brings us along. He says share in my worship and in transmitting. Because as he’s bringing many sons to glory. This is one of the things that he’s doing. Jesus is our worship leader.

Isn’t this a wonderful thing when we think about that he’s somewhere? Wherever heaven is – we sing and then the words go to him. But he is the one who is in our midst. And he is singing and he’s the one stirring us up and saying come on guys. My father is worthy to be praised. That’s what I’m all about. Let’s do it! Let’s clap, let’s sing, let’s dance, let’s rejoice. I’ve declared his name and it’s greatly to be praised!

[To be continued …]


Sermon by Fortenberry
3 October 2021

Published On: September 3rd, 2021Categories: General0 Comments
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