July 26, 2020
We'll finish our study of Acts this week with a look at the concluding verses of chapter 4. This is one of the most beloved texts for the Christian church as we see an early example of the unity we are to now portray – like ones with everything in common.
Prelude – "We Exalt Your Name"
This is a simple song that sets the stage for the morning well. Note the use of its pronouns. This will be an important theme this morning. When speaking from a human point of view, it is always in a corporate way (We exalt). Our unity must begin with the understanding that we are one in our union with Christ. "We exalt your name high above the heavens. We exalt your name, all of creation sings praise. For Jesus reigns, over all he reigns."
"Christ our Hope in Life and Death"
We'll continue to learn our new song together this week. This also plays off the same idea by including some explicitly corporate language. What do we have in common? Most importantly, Christ. "What is our hope in life and death? Christ alone, Christ alone. What is our only confidence? That our souls to him belong. Who holds our days within his hand? What comes apart from his command? And what will keep us to the end? The love of Christ, in which we stand."
"Sing to Jesus"
Not to beat a dead horse but, the language here is also explicitly corporate. At this point, it's probably natural to ask, "why is that so important?" Well, for many reasons. Thanks for asking! In our present cultural moment, especially within the church, there is an emphasis on the personal relationship with Christ often to the detriment or neglect of the communal aspect of relating to each other through Christ. We are meant to live in community and to experience our God both personally and together. We seek to begin addressing the problem and offering a remedy intentionally through these songs. "Sing to Jesus, Lord of our shame, Lord of our sinful hearts, he is our Great Redeemer...Sing to Jesus, we are his own, now and forever, sing for the love our God has shown."
"O Praise the Name"
We'll conclude the corporate singing with a song focused squarely upon the gospel story. This includes more personal language in the verses. Our hope is that this will be a renewed opportunity for you to experience the gospel afresh in your own hearts. Then, the choruses provide the chance to respond communally. The gospel should drive our hearts to respond in worship to God both personally and corporately. Note the difference again in pronouns here as you see the intention unfold: "I cast my mind to Calvary where Jesus bled and died for me. I see his wounds, his hands, his feet, my Savior on that cursed tree. O praise the name of the Lord our God. O praise his name forevermore. Through endless days, we will sing your praise, O Lord, O Lord our God."
Response – "O Church Arise"
After hearing the Word preached, we'll respond by taking up our call to go forth as a church with all things in common and empowered by the Holy Spirit himself. "So Spirit come, put strength in every stride, give grace for every hurdle. That we may run with faith to win the prize of a servant good and faithful. As saints of old still line the way retelling triumphs of his grace, we hear their calls and hunger for the day when with Christ we stand in glory."