Monday, January 10, 2011

The Ten Commandments

On Jan. 2, I began a 12 part series of sermons on The Ten Commandments at Westney Heights Baptist Church where I serve as Theologian in Residence. I'll be preaching on the first Sunday of each month this year and working my way through Exodus 20.

The audio version of the first sermon "Gospel and Law," is available online now, along with the sermon notes, both of which can be downloaded. The powerpoint version of the sermon is available here. Anyone is allowed to make use of this material so long as credit is given as to its origin.

The purpose of this first sermon was to convince people that the Ten Commandments are both relevant to us today as believers in Jesus Christ and also that they are good news, not bad news to us. Of course, the law shows us that we fall short of God's holiness and are culpable sinners. But as Christians our guilt has been taken care of by the blood of Christ at the moment when we were simultaneously regenerated and justified by faith. From that point on, the law holds no power over us and is not a curse to us.

I stressed that the point of this series was to investigate what Calvin called the "third use of the law," that is, the revelation in the law of God's holy character and the kind of life that is pleasing to God and fulfilling to the believer. My emphasis was that these two things go together: pleasing God and finding true joy. This is why the Westminster Catechism says that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

Theologically, this sermon is thoroughly Reformed; only a preacher working out of a Reformed theological understanding of Scripture could preach this kind of sermon, which may explain why the Ten Commandments are so neglected today.

The response of the congregation to this sermon was highly positive and appreciative. I am convinced that the eagerness to learn that characterizes this congregation make anyone who preaches there consistently a better preacher. Thank God for the hunger for God's Word that is evident in our people!

We are going to memorize the Ten Commandments this year as a Church and the short form that we are using can be accessed here. By the end of the year, it will be possible to refer to "the eighth commandment" or "the fifth commandment" without elaboration and everyone will understand that the former refers to stealing and the latter to honoring parents. If you want to join us in memorizing the Ten Commandments, go here to get a downloadable and printable version of the commandments suitable for the refrigerator or your pocket.

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