Several visitors attended the morning service, including one young man who just arrived to Alaska with the Army. One of the blessings of having a large military base nearby is we often have individuals or families become part of the church while they are stationed here. The downside is, we have to say goodbye to them in a few years when they move on to their next assignment. But it’s been a privilege to serve the military community, and we’ve made some good friends along the way.
As for the worship service itself, I began a new series of sermons on what is called the “ordo salutis,” or the order of salvation. This consists of all the acts by which the Holy Spirit applies to us the redemption accomplished for us by Christ. Specifically, it includes calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification. For the next several weeks we’ll be considering these biblical doctrines one at a time.
But I began this series on Sunday by looking at the “big picture,” that is the fundamental spiritual reality that ties all these truths together. And that is our union with Christ. In Ephesians 1:3 we read that God has blessed us “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” So we receive all blessings from God by virtue our being united to Christ, including the various acts and gifts of grace included in the ordo salutis – calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, etc.
This truth of our union with Christ should help us in the coming weeks to remember that, above all else, we need to look to Christ as the one and only source of every grace and blessing we need for salvation and faithfulness. In him alone are all we need for eternal life, blessedness, and peace. And I hope we’ll see as we study these biblical doctrines that our salvation is by God’s grace from first to last.
At the evening service I spoke from Lord’s Day 14 of the Heidelberg Catechism (Q & A’s 35, 36). The subject was the virgin birth of Christ, and how it benefits us as Christians (the topic and the hymns made the service feel a little bit like the Christmas season!). The virgin birth (to be precise, the virginal conception) of Christ is a non-negotiable article of Christian faith because not only does the Bible teach it, but the truth of the gospel hinges upon it. If Christ was born in an ordinary way, he would have inherited the sin of Adam and therefore he could not have offered himself as a holy sacrifice to take away our sin. Not only that, but the virgin birth is another way in which the Scriptures testify to the full deity of Christ. So as Christians we must confess these words of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.” Our salvation depends on it.
Soli Deo Gloria!