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Author:Rev. Pete Van't Hoff
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Congregation:Bethel United Reformed Church
 Brockville, Ontario
 www.brockville-urc.com
 
Title:The Preaching of the Gospel
Text:CD 1 Art. 3 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Election
 
Preached:2022-08-14
Added:2023-01-07
Updated:2023-01-07
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Bible Translation: NKJV
Song Book: Trinity Psalter Hymnal
Welcome and announcements
Silent Prayer (respond w/♫ 558 “Hear Our Prayer, O Lord”)
Call to Worship
Confession of Dependence & God's Greeting
♫ Psalm 90-A:1,6,7 "Lord, You Have Been Our Dwelling Place"
Congregational Prayer
Offerings
♫ Hymn 294:1,3,4 "Song of Zechariah"
Scripture: Isaiah 52
Text: CD I:3
Sermon: "The Preaching of the Gospel"
By the preaching of the gospel, God shall draw His people unto Himself.
1) A People Persecuted
2) A People Prepared
3) A People Purified
Prayer of Thanksgiving
♫ Hymn 379 "Come, Christians, Join to Sing"
Confession of Faith: The Apostles' Creed
♫ Psalm 89-A:1,7 "I Will Forever Sing"
Benediction
♫ Doxology: Psalm 89-A:17 "I Will Forever Sing"
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Pete Van't Hoff, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Dear Brothers and Sisters in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,

There is only one thing that a secular world, with all its whiles, with all its temptations; I will even go so far to say, with all of its blessings, cannot offer, that Christianity can. I am reminded of that verse in Matthew that speaks about all things being equal. Matthew 5:45 give us this: “for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” In light of such words, whether saved or unsaved, whether repentant or unrepentant, whether one bows the knee to the LORD God Almighty, or whether one remains screaming out in unadulterated defiance towards God, we’re all hear. We’re all in this world, even though the faithful claim to be no longer of it. That said, there is only one thing this world cannot offer that Christianity can, that the blood of Jesus Christ has granted, and that, is a sinless, worship-filled, glorified eternity.

This thought, at some point in our lives needs to be reconciled. Now each one of us has had and is having our own unique experiences. For me, there had been some difficult days in my past, when I had to choose for God or for the world. When in order to understand the forgiveness that Jesus brings, I had to learn to forgive myself. For what its worth, young people, those days were long after my profession of faith, as a youth. But I had that profession. I had the church community surrounding me. But most importantly, I had the promise of the Holy Spirit, promised in my baptism and confirmed in my profession to help me realize that those dark days were designed and pointed towards brighter ones. By the grace of God alone, Christ’s eternity meant more than all other things.

I want such things for you. Before you knew me, and I knew you, I have wanted such things for you. The world can promise many things, but it only ends in darkness. Only Jesus can promise more. It begins with His light in the darkness. The Spirit shall find you there. God’s word reveals such things. I shall preach such things to you now. Through the foolishness of the message preached (1 Cor. 1:21), dwelling upon Isaiah 52, considering it in summary in the Canons of Dort, First main point of doctrine, Article 3, I give you our theme and points: By the preaching of the gospel, God shall draw His people unto Himself.

1) A People Persecuted  2) A People Prepared  3) A People Purified

Firstly, a people persecuted. Have you been hated for your faith? I cannot say, in my life, that I have been hated for my faith. For such hate, I need to look in other places and talk to other people who have not lived in this country built upon Christian principles. Surely we have felt persecuted as our religion and our rights are being slowly eroded away as the world becomes more secular. But even, all the day long, in other places, believers are slain without thought and without consequence. The church has been under attack from Day 8, forward.

From the fall of Adam and Eve forward, the serpent has been busy. Since convincing humanity that serving one’s self is better than serving God, life has been, to say the least, less than perfect. Scripture has revealed the hardship. Scripture has revealed the temptation. Scripture has revealed the depravity. Children, you have heard the story of the great flood with Noah and the Ark (Gen. 6-9)? You have heard of Sodom’s destruction (Gen. 18-19). You have heard of Nineveh from the book of Jonah? The state of humanity, in these moments was, to say the least, depraved. All of Scripture describes unbelief in every way shape and form. If humanity has sinned, Scripture has captured it. It is one of the main themes of the Bible. And yet, there is a greater theme present.

This is where Isaiah 52 begins. The lulls and temptations of sin have put us to sleep, as it were. Actually, for our brothers and sisters whose lives are on the line every day, this is their worry for us. That good living has made us forget our God. That we have fallen asleep. Children, when I fall asleep, I’m no longer thinking out the daytime and real life. In my dreams another world is present, that at times, looks like this one, but wants nothing to do with it. Until I awake, reality stays on hold, as it were.

But the prophet, as if through a megaphone, begins at Verse 1:

1 Awake, awake!

Put on your strength, O Zion;

Put on your beautiful garments,

O Jerusalem, the holy city!

For the uncircumcised and the unclean

Shall no longer come to you.

The prophet is calling us from our desperate state, from out of our willing slumber. And it is more than just rising from our dreams. It is a call back towards our first love, that is the divine love of God that loved us first. It is a love that has made us beautiful. The world has a love that, to us, seems attractive. It looks to the immediate. It is a first glance that takes effect. But it never lasts. It is for a moment. The Christian calls it lust. The world’s love does not understand divine love that lasts.

Dear wife, the longer I have loved you, the more I do. Consider the example in this, congregation. When this is the case, comparatively, God has loved you and I, for an eternity before you and I came along. He is your strength, O Zion. Such love has made you beautiful, O Jerusalem, the holy city! In Him, the uncircumcised and the unclean shall no longer come to you, Beloved.

2 Shake yourself from the dust, arise;

Sit down, O Jerusalem!

Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck,

O captive daughter of Zion!

The LORD knows of your persecution. What makes His love so devastatingly beautiful, continues at Verse 3. He knows “[y]ou have sold yourselves for nothing.” And then He quickly follows with free redemption. “And you shall be redeemed without money.” It is simple justice to let humanity have to pay for their sins. It is God’s right to condemn (CD I:1). And yet, He who has surely condemned and hates sin, is the God of Love (CD I:2) and redeems a people unto Himself at no cost to His people (that’s grace, that’s unmerited favour).

He knows your woes, congregation. Israel of old has long been our example.

4 For thus says the Lord God:

“My people went down at first

Into Egypt to dwell there;

Then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.

5 Now therefore, what have I here,” says the Lord,

“That My people are taken away for nothing?

Those who rule over them

Make them wail,” says the Lord,

“And My name is blasphemed continually every day.

Being left unto ourselves, if you ask me, doesn’t seem very hopeful, but with redemption comes the knowledge of He who redeems.

6 Therefore My people shall know My name;

Therefore they shall know in that day

That I am He who speaks:

‘Behold, it is I.’ ”

In this we understand that salvation, for God’s people, is never a surprise. He is more aware of our condition than we are. He has seen our miserable state. In eternity, He has chosen a better eternity for His people, and for His name’s sake. Children of the Lord, God Almighty, you are a people persecuted, but in this, you are a people being prepared.

Secondly, a people prepared. It takes a good understanding of sin, to further understand the great love of God, that saves us from our sins. The LORD has seen it all. In His omnipotence He is fully aware, so much more than we can fathom, the great rescue He provides. Humanity, from Day 8 has been looking for such deliverance, and has been unable to deliver. Great towers we have built (Babel – Gen. 11). Great powers we have become (David and Solomon, in the height of the days of early Israel. Think of the Assyrians of Israel’s first exile. Think of the Babylonians of Judah’s exile. Think of Mordechai and Esther in Persia. Think of Alexander the Great of Greece. Think of the Roman Empire of the days of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Think of the rise of Islam. Think of the Crusades. Think of current powers of these days. Empires rise and empires fall. Worldly strength ebbs and flows, but never lasts. There is no solution in it. What has remained, however, is God’s love for His people.

I have no faith in history, that humanity shall rise above its station. It seems always, that the longer we, together, as a race, look to the sun rising, and work through the rain that God gives, we remain a people stuck in our fallen ways, even in spite of the many good gifts that God gives us. Does it not seem to you, that as soon as some new thought or invention is conceived upon, humanity needs to find out how to abuse it or use it for the self? Maybe I am overly negative about such things. Let us better dwell upon the selfless God of love instead. In poetic majesty, the prophet sings,

7 How beautiful upon the mountains

Are the feet of him who brings good news,

Who proclaims peace,

Who brings glad tidings of good things,

Who proclaims salvation,

Who says to Zion,

“Your God reigns!”

Children, Philip had beautiful feet. Acts 8:26-31.

26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”

30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him.

Children, Paul had beautiful feet. Read Romans, and 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus and Philemon. Depends on who you talk to, but read Hebrews too.

Children, every man who dawns this pulpit. He has beautiful feet too. And every time you sit down with a broken heart, or sit beside a broken heart, and share the love of Jesus Christ with a broken heart, you dear child, have beautiful feet too. This is saying much, from a people, whose feet were often filthy, from hot days, sweaty feet, and open sandals in dusty climates. And it is beautiful for us to consider the gospel message presented in such a light for us today.

With beautiful feet,

8 Your watchmen shall lift up their voices,

With their voices they shall sing together;

For they shall see eye to eye

When the Lord brings back Zion.

For a God whose face, fallen humanity, is never able to look upon (Ex. 33:20; John 1:18), He chooses still to be revealed. The word preached is to prepare a people who cannot look upon Him, to remain watchful for His return. What a thought to attempt to comprehend and yet we cannot fully and yet our salvation shall be made complete in the return of our Lord and Saviour, God’s own Son, upon the clouds just as He ascended. Shall not such things cause us to rejoice? Isaiah continues at Verse 9,

9 Break forth into joy, sing together,

You waste places of Jerusalem!

For the Lord has comforted His people,

He has redeemed Jerusalem.

10 The Lord has made bare His holy arm

In the eyes of all the nations;

And all the ends of the earth shall see

The salvation of our God.

In such a song, no one can deny His presence. Creation has taught us about thee God. The Gospel has taught us about the God who saves; who saves us from our sins. Even though the masses suppress the truth in unrighteousness, their language is not of divine origin. This language is [HOLD BIBLE]. Their’s cannot be trusted and is finite. This language teaches us to trust and is of infinite worth. By this word preached, we are a persecuted people, sure enough, but a people prepared towards purification.

Thirdly, a people purified. To be untouchable, is a word that tends to be used in gangster movies. It seems to be the height of achievement for these who choose to operate under a self-made system of law rather than the established status quo. When one is untouchable, it is exactly what you think. No one can get to you. There is no way, the things that you have done to others, can be done to you. You are on the top of the pile, as it were. And yet, in every case, the inevitable always happens. If you’re not “removed” by the next up-and-comer, death still reigns. In a fallen world, death is untouchable. Death has been the great equalizer amongst us.

And yet it is from death itself that we are being delivered. We’re finishing up the Revelation of Jesus Christ in our family devotions. We’ve just gone through Revelation 20. It has mentioned a first and a second death. This world is very concerned about the first death and has forgotten about the second. To preserve this life has become high on our lists of priorities. The argument is that humanity is able to rise above its station and that all this is worthy of eternity. Surely, children, you have heard the term, “to live forever.”

You know, we Christians want to live forever as well. But not like this. Scripture promises a much brighter, a much more blessed, a perfected and purified eternity, that, until Christ returns, uses that first death that I had just mentioned as a bridge over the second death, from which there is no escape (Rev. 20:6, 14). I tell you, in that eternity, the cancer-struck don’t have to fight cancer. I tell you, in that eternity, the relationships we have with one another, will not break down. In that eternity, we will see God and will know Him. And I should stop there. We cannot fully fathom what Christ’s eternity shall bring to us. We need not. We only need to know, for now, that those days coming, shall be better than the days that we have known.

To be purified of this current state, are the days we are in now. Having been justified before the Father, through the Son, the Holy Spirit is busy, restlessly, and with intent, sanctifying us for glory. You, dear Christian, have a hope not built upon these broken days, but of unbroken ones to come. You have no tether to this world for your hope lies in the next. You have known your sins and shall see God’s grace. His strength does not depend upon you. No. Your strength is found solely in Him.

Go out into this world and live this way dear believer. As long as Jesus Christ tarries, yet, your days will remain difficult. We ought to surround one another in these days. We ought to reach out to one another, as these days go by. We ought to bare each other’s burdens while the walk upon the straight and narrow path remains. This week, call someone one, don’t text, don’t send an email, call someone, call someone you haven’t spoken to in six months. Tell them you’re praying. Tell them you’re praying for them and ask them if there is anything specifically you can pray for.

Perhaps that sound awkward to you? I tell you, if this is the case, you simply haven’t been doing enough of it. Do it, until it doesn’t seem awkward to you. Only then can you only begin to realize the kind of prayers your Lord and Saviour prayed, in regards to your wellbeing. Such a prayer life shall have a purifying effect.

Finally, dear Christian, all the world will never admit it, in fact, such truths they will suppress in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18), know that you have answer this world needs to be relieved of the curse. The Gospel message, makes this first death, that everyone is worried about, a simple doorway towards a better life. You need to live this way. You need to know that in Jesus, you are untouchable.

11 Depart! Depart! Go out from there,

Touch no unclean thing;

Go out from the midst of her,

Be clean,

You who bear the vessels of the Lord.

We have a gospel message to preach. Through such preaching God’s people are purified. We are a people of beautiful feet. Dear Children of the LORD God Almighty, pedicures don’t make your feet beautiful. The gospel of Jesus Christ does.

The final verse of our passage can be summarized with one word: “relief.”

12 For you shall not go out with haste,

Nor go by flight;

For the Lord will go before you,

And the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

Are you relieved? There is no rush with Christianity. The Lord Jesus Christ has already walked the path that you must follow and in His return, you shall be swept up in glory. He has gone before you. He is coming back to finish what His gospel has only begun. Can you live this way, dear Christian? Christianity can be understood this way too. [Breathe heavily in / breathe heavily out].

I have waited to the end of this message to consider the words of the Canon.

In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends proclaimers of this very joyful message to the people he wishes and at the times he wishes. By this ministry people are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. For how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without someone preaching? And how shall they preach unless they have been sent?” (Rom. 10:14-15).

there is only one thing this world cannot offer that Christianity can, that the blood of Jesus Christ has granted, and that, is a sinless, worship-filled, glorified eternity. By the preaching of the gospel, God shall draw His people unto Himself. Amen.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Pete Van't Hoff, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6T_wAj2Ouhw

(c) Copyright 2022, Rev. Pete Van't Hoff

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