Each week our church has a part in the service where the congregation is exhorted (an urgent reminder) to remember and cling to the gospel. Below is my exhortation for November 20, 2016.
Grace Church, the exhortation is the part in our service whereby we remind ourselves that we are acceptable to God and forgiven of our sins only because of our trust in Jesus, and him alone. This part of the service is meant to remind you of your need for the gospel, your need to confess your sins before God, and the joy we have in right relationship with God because of the gospel.
Yet there is a danger here. The danger is that which Jesus rebuked the Pharisees of in Matthew 15. They were obeying God’s commands and even doing right things yet they made void the word of God. You could write a check to me for a million dollars, but if you write “void” across it, the check is worthless. What they were doing didn’t matter because it was voided out by their cold hearts.
The danger is that you can see this exhortation as a voided tradition. You can see it as just something we do every week and miss out on the riches of it. You can do and say the right things yet have them mean absolutely nothing if your heart is far from God. If you are feeling coldness or numbness right now, in this exhortation, ask God to change your heart. The Pharisees didn’t care that their hearts were cold. They preferred their dead traditions over the living God. Don’t be like them!
If you heart is cold or numb this morning, that is bad news. The good news is that you can’t change it on your own. Come before God and ask him to set your heart on fire with a renewed passion and love for the gospel. I can’t do any better than reading to you Titus 3:4-7. Take this into our time of confession and plead for God to plunge you deeper into the truths of God that abide still.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”