September 1, 2022
Share

Marks of the Church Part 1: Sacraments and Preaching Manuscript

WELCOME

As always it’s a joy to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And there’s one thing I want you to know — I want you to know that God loves you and that I love you too.

SERIES INTRODUCTION

If you’re new to Gateway — we’ve been journeying through the book of Acts — the history of the early church. And we’ve been seeing how the early Christians came together to be the church. Last week we saw their commitment to both the Word of God and the Spirit of God — a key commitment that all churches hold to. And — today — we’re going to remind ourselves of something we’ve looked at in previous sermons together. What’s that? Some of the other key characteristics that all true Christian churches have always had.

ANNOUNCE THE TEXT

If you have your Bible please turn with me to Acts chapter 20. We’ll be looking at verses 1-16. We’re in Acts chapter 20. Beginning in verse 1.

“After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted. 13 But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. 15 And sailing from there we came the following day opposite Chios; the next day we touched at Samos; and the day after that we went to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.” (Acts 20:1-16 ESV)

SERMON INTRODUCTION

There are certain events in life where we expect specific experiences to happen. In fact — without these experiences — it feels like the event wasn’t authentic because it lacked key qualities — key markers — that make the event what we know it to be.

For example…

  • You go to a baseball game, but if they’re out of hotdogs — were you really at a baseball game?
  • Or can you imagine going to a Mexican restaurant and there being no chips and salsa? Chips and salsa is what distinguishes a Mexican restaurant from an Italian one.
  • Or Thanksgiving with no turkey. Now I know some of us may be vegetarians — but for most of us it’s not a Thanksgiving if there’s no turkey.
  • That’s like going to a birthday party with no cake. (Pastor Robert gave me this illustration. If you want to make sure he always has cake on his birthday, mark October 6th on your calendar. :) )

In any of these situations, if a key element or an essential quality is missing — it feels inauthentic.

So what about the church? What are the key qualities — the essential characteristics — what historically have been called the marks of the church — what makes a church a true church? What distinguishes the church from other community organizations — even other Christian organizations? Maybe if you’re not a Christian you’ve never even thought to ask this question — you figure all churches are the same. So how do you know if a group that calls themselves a church is actually a church?

Historically — there have been three marks of the church with a few folks advocating for a fourth. The three agreed upon are — one — the faithful preaching of God’s Word — two — the faithful administration of the sacraments — that’s the Lord’s Supper and baptism — and three — church discipline. The fourth mark — that some include — is the fellowship of the saints — saints meaning Christians.

These markers can be used to identify whether or not a group gathered together is a true church or not. Is the faithful preaching of God’s Word present? Are communion and baptism administered? Is church discipline acted upon? Is there fellowship — a family-like bond — among the members of the church? If so, you indeed have a true church.

Today, we’re going to look at some of these marks of the church. And — I want all of us — Christian or not — to be aware of these marks — these indicators — so that we don’t confuse personal preferences — which we all have — with what God’s Word says are the characteristics that matter most when it comes to the church we’re part of. These marks aren’t optional — these are God ordained. In fact — if you’re ever part of a church and these marks aren’t present — you should sense that something’s off.

FELLOWSHIP OF THE SAINTS

And we’ll begin by looking at the disputed mark — fellowship of the saints. A quality — regardless if it’s an official mark or not — that should still be found in the church. We’re back in verse 1.

“After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days.” (Acts 20:1-6 ESV)

Now — to be clear — what we’re reading is a description of the early church. And descriptions should not be confused with prescriptions — or commands that are to be obeyed. We’re reading Luke’s account describing what the early church was like — what they did, how they lived, what their priorities were. And there’s much for us to learn from them — while being cautious to not make commands out of things that were never meant to be more than a description of what the church can be.

But — in these opening six verses — we see a sweet fellowship among the Christians. It starts in Ephesus — the city we were in last week — where — after the riot in the city — that’s the uproar referred to in verse one — Paul calls for the Christians in the city to gather with him. And — after they’ve done so — he spends time encouraging them. And then he heads out — traveling back through an area that he’s traveled before. And what does he do in these cities? He encourages more Christians.

Then Luke lets us in on who’s traveling with Paul. And I want to impress upon you the evidence — in this list of names — of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit at work.

  • There’s Sopater — a Berean Jew who had believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
  • There’s Aristarchus — a Greek believer who was dragged in front of the town clerk by the angry mob in Ephesus.
  • There’s Secundus — who we don’t know anything about.
  • Gaius — who most likely was Aristarchus’ “get dragged by the angry mob” buddy in Acts chapter 19.
  • Timothy — who we’ve met a few times already.
  • Tychicus — who will hand deliver Paul’s letters of Ephesians and Colossians to their churches.
  • And Trophimus — a Greek believer.

Here’s the point of reviewing all of these names. These guys — and many others — were Paul’s friends and ministry partners. And they represent quite a diverse group — an uncommon kind of group for this time period. People from different cities, different backgrounds, even Jew and Gentiles working together — and not only working together — but friends, spiritual brothers, family members.

Where once there was division and hostility — due to religion, race, ethnicity, geography, and so on — now there’s fellowship and love for one another. There’s a bond that unites them together — a bond bought in blood — Christ’s blood — which has destroyed “the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) that we naturally erect between each other. Where now — because of our faith in Jesus Christ — all of the ways the world tries to divide us — and cause hostility — all of these walls of hostility have been destroyed by the blood of Christ — resulting in peace and harmony and fellowship and unity and love for one another among Christians. Where — no matter what may attempt to divide us — our common faith in Christ is stronger in bringing about unity.

And it’s this unity — this fellowship — this love for one another — that we’re to be working towards for it is our blood bought right. We’re not to live in hostility. We’re not to live in division. We’re not to live in disunity, disharmony, dissension, and distrust. We’re to live in peace with each other. For — as Paul has written, “Now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. 14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” (Ephesians 2:13-14 NLT)

Followed later with, “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6 NLT)

Dear Christians, do you see the unity that’s ours because of what Christ has already accomplished on our behalf? This unity — this bond — this fellowship — this sweet love for one another — is possible — if we lead a life worthy of our calling — both individually and as a church. What calling? Our calling as Christians — as members of one Christ-blood-bought family. And this unity requires all of us to practice humility. It takes gentleness. It takes patience. It takes intentional effort — unity does. It takes us all binding ourselves in peace with one another. For there is one body — one Church of Christ. One faith — one truth that we confess. One baptism — one sign of entrance into God’s family. Just as there is one God.

And these truths — that Paul wrote in a letter and entrusted to his friend Tychichus to deliver to the Christians in Ephesus — would be passed onto other churches. Who would preserve it so that we — today — would have these words of God as our guaranteed promise. Gateway — this promise of unity and sweet family fellowship is ours if we live worthy of our calling.

Do you want to be loved — to be loved in a way you may fear to dream is possible because all you’ve ever experienced is betrayal? I hope you’re still open to being loved.

Do you want to be cared for? And — again — this may be hard because you’ve trusted others before and they let you down. Do you see the promise given to us: When the people of God are fulfilling their calling — together — we will care for each other.

Do you want to have friends? People who are humble and gentle and give grace for your faults. People who will need your humility and gentleness and you to extend them grace for their faults. True friendship — fellowship — isn’t cheap — it’s costly — but it’s been made possible through Christ’s work on the cross.

If you’re a Christian your desire is to be loved and to love others, is to be cared for and to care for others, is to have friends and to be a friend to others — even if you have hurt and pain in your past. Why? Because the Spirit of God in you desires this fellowship for you.

And how does this sweet fellowship become our reality as a church? By us all choosing to love each other as we’ve first been loved by Christ. By us all choosing to care for others because we’ve first been cared for by Christ. For us to be friends with others, and to be humble, and gentle, and be grace givers because Christ has first called us his friends, and has been gentle towards us, and extended us grace when — in humility — he allowed himself to be hung on a cross. He did all of this so our fellowship with God — and each other — would be restored. And he’s given us the Spirit of God — who empowers us — so we can lead lives worthy of our calling as the people of God.

To claim to be a Christian is an easy thing — but to live a life worthy of your calling as a Christian — is no easy task. It’s an impossible task, in fact. But with God all things are possible. Do you desire sweet fellowship in this lonely and isolated world? Live worthy of your calling as part of this family of God. For when we do — this sweet fellowship will be an undeniable marker that we are a true church of Christ.

PREACHING AND COMMUNION

Now — let’s turn to two other marks of the church. We’re in verse 7.

“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. 9 And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.” (Acts 20:7-12 ESV)

The first thing I want you to notice is that Luke lets us know this gathering of the church is taking place on the first day of the week — Sunday. This is the first time we read of the church gathering together on Sunday instead of on the Sabbath — which was Saturday. We’re seeing a break from Judaism begin to take place. Up to this point — Christians — especially Jewish converts — saw their faith as a continuation of Judaism. Instead of waiting for the Messiah to come — they worshiped Jesus — the Messiah who had come. But now — in worshiping Jesus — some changes start to take place — like a change in the day they gathered to worship. Now they gather on Sunday — the day Christ rose from the dead.

And — in our verses — the Christians are gathered together in a home as there weren’t formal church buildings at this point in history. And they eat a meal together — they break bread is how it’s described. We’ll be breaking bread together — later in our service — as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper — but what we see described in Acts is a bit different than what we do today. Once again — a good time to remind ourselves of the difference between description and prescription. We’re seeing something described — not a command on how things in the church must always be done.

With that being said — let’s see what we can learn from their time of breaking bread together. Though not a prescription — is there anything we can gain from their example? Here’s what one scholar writes. “In the early church there were two closely related [meals]. There was what was called the Love Feast. To it all contributed, and it was a real meal. Often it must have been the only real meal that poor slaves got all weak. It was a meal when the Christians set down and ate in loving fellowship and in sharing with each other. During it or at the end of it the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was observed.” (William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, 2nd ed. (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1962), 162-163.)

So there was a meal that the church ate together — like the old church potluck — followed by the Lord’s Supper. The writer goes on to say, “It may well be that we have lost something of very great value when we lost the happy fellowship and togetherness of the common meal of the Christian fellowship. It marked as nothing else could the real homeliness, the real family spirit of the Church.” (Ibid.)

Do you see what happens when one mark of the church — fellowship — is missing even when another mark of the church — the Lord’s Supper — is present? You end up losing both. The question for us isn’t necessarily “Should we have a potluck meal together before we have the Lord’s Supper?” Rather the question is “How is our practice of fellowship uniting us to one another prior to us coming together to eat the Lord’s Supper?” How intentional are you being to connect with others at Gateway rather than waiting on a program, church ministry, or activity — like the Lord’s Supper — to provide the connection for you?

Now the Lord’s Supper isn’t the only sacrament — it’s just the only one mentioned in our verses. The other sacrament is baptism. Both of these sacraments have been preached and taught on here at Gateway. If you’re interested in learning more about either sacrament I’d encourage you to go to our website — gatewayepc.org — and search for “Understanding the Sacrament of Baptism” or — if you want to understand communion better — search for the sermon from March 27th of this year — on the Lord’s Supper from the series we did on the gospel of Mark. Both of these resources will help you to understand this mark of the church — the faithful administration of the sacraments — of the Lord’s Supper and baptism.

The other mark — we find in our verses is — preaching. One of my favorite preaching books is titled “Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word and Keep People Awake” — all based on this poor fella who falls asleep during Paul’s sermon. Now — in our verses — we’re not told what Paul’s preaching on — we don’t know his topic or verses — but one thing we can safely deduce is that whatever he’s preaching on wasn’t being addressed at a shallow level. The guy preached through the night — and you thought my sermons were long — and the congregation stuck around all night with Paul — all except poor Eutychus.

Quick reminder — Luke — our author — is a medical doctor. So when he describes Eutychus as “dead” — he means dead. Now — this is somewhat confusing because when Paul runs down the three flights of stairs to the boy — he picks Eutychus up and says, “Everybody relax. He’s not dead.” Which — rightly so — is kind of confusing. Is he dead or not? Let’s take Luke’s word for it that the boy is dead while remembering the miraculous power of God that we’ve seen work through Paul to heal others. Thus — the most likely scenario is that Eutychus did die from the fall and God used Paul to resurrect the boy from the dead.

Now — I make no such claims as having the gift to raise people from the dead. So if you fall asleep during one of my sermons…let’s keep going.

Here’s more craziness to this church gathering we’re witnessing. After Eutychus’ death and resurrection interruption to his sermon — Paul gets right back at it! He keeps preaching until the sun rises. The preaching of God’s Word — for Paul — and the hearing God’s Word preached — for the congregation — was highly valued.

According to Pew Research, more than 80% of church goers say the quality of the preaching affects their decision in choosing which church they attend. (Pew Research Center, “Choosing a New Church or House of Worship,” August 23, 2016. https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2016/08/23/choosing-a-new-church-or-house-of-worship/.) “No pressure, Josh!” And — yet — there’s often a confusion as to what preaching actually is. What would you say preaching is? If the faithful preaching of God’s Word is a mark of the church how do you know if you’ve heard faithful preaching?

So what is preaching? One person has defined preaching as “the manifestation of the Incarnate Word (that’s Jesus) from the written Word (the Bible) through the spoken word (that’s preaching).” (Bernard Manning, A Layman in the Ministry (London: Independent, 1942) as quoted by John Stott, Between Two Worlds (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982)). What does that mean? It means that when the Bible is faithfully preached — you’re given a taste of Jesus. One way to know if you’ve heard a faithful sermon is to ask: Did it give me a taste of Jesus?

Centuries ago — it was common to hear phrases like, “When a minister faithfully preaches the Word of God, Christ is pleased to speak through him by the Holy Spirit.” (http://www.prca.org/resources/publications/articles/item/5160-luther-and-preaching). Where — to hear God’s Word faithfully preached was to hear a word from Jesus himself — there’s the taste of Jesus we’re talking about. Afterall — preaching is a gift of the Spirit of God — as we learned last week. So preaching is more than one person — me — sharing my thoughts and opinions about the Bible and how it applies to life — to you — or at least preaching should be more than that. Preaching is a gift from the Holy Spirit to the people of God where Jesus uses the written Word to speak to his people through the one preaching. And we just don’t tend to think of preaching this way anymore. We think of it as hearing some (hopefully) wise advice from the preacher. Or we hope we’ll learn something we didn’t know from the Bible guy. Or get some help with parenting or money or a relationship that’s stuck. But do we come expecting to hear from Jesus — for that’s ultimately what happens when God’s Word is faithfully preached — we get a taste of Christ? All that to say, preaching is significantly more than information transfer. Preaching involves way more than just our minds. It involves our whole being — mind, soul, spirit, and will.

Of preaching — it’s been said, “I can forgive a man for a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that, though he is inadequate himself, he is handling something which is very great and very glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and the glory of God, the love of Christ my Savior, and the magnificence of the gospel. If he does that I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones) This is what faithful preaching is — it gives you a sweet taste of your Savior.

As one pastor has said, “If I only had one more sermon to preach before I died, it would be about my Lord Jesus Christ. And I think that when we get to the end of our ministry, one of our regrets will be that we did not preach more of him. I am sure no minister will ever repent of having preached [Christ] too much.” (Charles Spurgeon) Let me take this quote and spin it in your direction as the hearers of preaching. If you knew you were hearing your last sermon — today — what would you want the focus of it to be? Jesus Christ or something else?

Which leads us to ask: If the faithful preaching of God’s Word is a word from Jesus to us — a word giving us a taste of him — how then should we respond to the preached Word?

First, we should respond expectantly. (These application points inspired by https://www.reformation21.org/blog/hearing-the-voice-of-the-lord-in-your-pastors-sermon). We gather together to hear from God about his Son and our Savior — and this should excite the people of God. Throughout the week, be praying for me — and the others who preach — to be faithful in our preparation. To take seriously our call to proclaim God’s Word to you. To point you to Christ each week. Come with expectant hearts, minds, and souls — expectant to hear from God.

Second, we should come hungry. As Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4 NET)

God’s Word is our food — our spiritual nourishment — what sustains us in this spiritually dry and barren land. And we should come hungry to be fed the Word of God — hungry to feast on Christ. Not because we’ve starved ourselves of the Word between Sundays but because we can’t get enough of God’s Word in us.

Third, we should come with attentiveness. Do you come prepared to focus as the sermon is preached? Before you arrive on Sunday, as the sermon is about to begin, even during the sermon — pray, “God, I’m listening, speak to me. Spirit, help me to stay attentive to your word — for I’m hearing from you right now.”

And — finally — respond faithfully. If what you’ve heard is the very word of God — you’re then obligated to respond in faith and obedience. And — better than being obligated — Christ has set you free from your bondage to sin so that you can respond faithfully to his Word! The prayer here is “Lord, you have spoken — help me to respond in obedience.”

Now — hear me — because I know that this way of viewing the preached Word of God may be startling — as I said last week — one of our tendencies is to make supernatural gifts — like preaching — into something we view as purely natural. So — know that the guardrail in place — for the preaching of God’s Word to be received as a word from Christ himself — is the written Word of God. The reason why I keep pointing us back to Scripture again and again and again in my sermons is because I want you to see that what I’m preaching comes from God’s Word. The reason why — if you’ve noticed lately — that we’re reading a lot of Scripture in our services — is because the best part of our time together isn’t the songs we sing. Isn’t the prayers we pray. Isn’t the announcements we give. Nor the coffee or the hanging out that happens between services. And it isn’t what you hear Josh say in the sermon. The best part of our time together is the reading and hearing of God’s Word. What should make all of our hearts sing with gladness and find encouragement and cause us to repent and be joyful and find comfort — is God’s Word. The best part of any sermon you’ve ever heard — no matter how good or bad you thought the preacher was — is God’s Word. And the best part of our time together is hearing from God through his Word. This is why our time together is — and will always be —saturated by God’s Word. For it’s then that we get a sweet taste of our Savior.

CONCLUSION

And our verses end with Paul traveling — once again — continuing on his missionary journey to spread the gospel. We’ll continue with him next week — looking at a final mark of the church. Let’s pray together.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word to us. Thank you for being a speaking God — a God who is not silent. Holy Spirit, give us ears to hear, eyes to see, hearts that are alive, and wills that desire to obey. And — Jesus — how sweet it is to feast on you — to hear from you — to know that you are always with us.

Father, Son, and Spirit — may you help us to walk in the opportunity that you’ve made possible — the opportunity to be your true church. To demonstrate love, care, and friendships with one another through fellowship. To remember, celebrate, and receive the grace you offer to us through communion and baptism. And to hear from you as your Word is faithfully preached. May it be evident to all that we are your people — that we are your church. It’s in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.

COMMUNION

At this time, I’d like to invite forward those who are going to be serving us. And — as they come forward — please follow along with the prompts that will be on the screens.

Leader: Lift up your hearts.

Congregation: We lift them up to the Lord.

Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

Congregation: It is right for us to give thanks and praise.

Leader: With joy we praise you, gracious God, for you have created heaven and earth, made us in your image, and kept covenant with us — even when we fell into sin.

Congregation: We give you thanks for Jesus Christ, our Lord, who by his life, death, and resurrection opened to us the way of everlasting life. Therefore we join our voices with all the saints and angels and the whole creation to proclaim the glory of your name.

Leader: We give thanks to God the Father that our Savior, Jesus Christ, before he suffered, gave us this memorial of his sacrifice, until he comes again. At his last supper, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, he took the cup after supper and said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this in remembrance of me." For whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord's death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Leader: Therefore we proclaim our faith as signed and sealed in this sacrament:

Congregation: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

INSTRUCTIONS

As the bread and cup are passed down your rows, take the bread on your own — but save the cup — which we’ll drink together. Also — in the trays with the bread — there’s a gluten free option in the center of the trays. Eat the bread on your own — but save the cup — which we’ll drink together.

COMMUNION PASSED OUT

The blood of Christ, shed for you.

PRAYER

Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, in your wisdom, you’ve made all things and you sustain them by your power. You formed us in your image and set us in this world to love and serve you — and to live in peace with one another. When we rebelled against you — refusing to trust and obey you — you did not reject us, but claimed us as your own.

Then — in the fullness of time — out of your great love for us — you sent your only Son to be one of us, to redeem us, to heal our brokenness, to cleanse us from our sin, and to defeat our greatest enemies of Satan, sin, death, and Hell so that we might have hope until our Savior returns. And in response to these great truths we now praise you in song together. Amen.

BENEDICTION

May you go having tasted Jesus — having heard from him through his Word. Amen.

God loves you. I love you. You are sent.