Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 March 1, 2020
“That It May Go Well with You”
We, at our best moments, want to walk with God—and, in most moments, we want things to be well with us. We see in today’s sermon that we may have both from God’s good hand. We have instruction for our souls in today’s text, and we also have power to comply with what we hear by the strong, gracious work of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within us. Let us give our attention to God’s Word read and proclaimed once again in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Our text today is a crucial part of Moses’ extended farewell sermon—a sermon which forms almost the entire book of Deuteronomy. Moses preaches this sermon from the desert plains of Moab, east of the Jordan River, in about 1400 B. C. Moses, alas, will not enter Promised Land due to the signal sin of his life (cf. Numbers 20:1-13), but he would encourage God’s covenant people one more time before the end of his time on earth. Again, our text forms a crucial part of Moses’ sermon to the Israelites—and God the Holy Spirit speaks to His New Covenant body, the Church, through these words as well.
God calls us from this text to do several things. First, God calls us to know Him. In particular, we are to know that God is one. He is neither two nor any other plural—and certainly He is not zero. Thus, God, being one, exists eternally in three Persons: to wit, the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. Each of these three Persons have incommunicable attributes—that is, divine attributes that God does not share with us, such as eternity, omniscience, and the like. Each of these three Persons, once again, exist within the one Godhead. Hence, Jesus says that His disciples shall baptize in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Moreover, the Holy Spirit blesses us through Paul, saying, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be yours” (2 Corinthians 13:14). Let us aim to know our triune God better through His appointed means of grace—such as Scripture, prayer, public worship, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the like.
Second, God calls us to love Him. He calls us to love Him in two senses. He calls us to love Him with all our heart and with all our soul. Thus, He calls us to love Him with all our inner being. For an example, we note David, who wrote, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy Name” (Psalm 103:1). God also calls us to love Him with all our outer being—with all our might. By this we love God—and display our love for Him—with our physical strength, our material resources, and so forth. In short, God calls us to love Him with all we have and with all we are, and He empowers our obedience by the gracious operation of His Spirit.
Third, God calls us from this text to teach of Him. The explicit command here is for us to teach our children the words—yea, the very Word—of God. This command also applies to us who find ourselves in loco parentis, or in place of parents, for children or others committed to your charge. We are to learn God’s Word and ways sufficiently well to teach it to others diligently and incisively. Moreover, we are to teach His Word at all times. In any opportune time—when you sit, when you walk, when you lie down, when you rise—we shall teach of Him Who loves us and sustains us. Whatever we do, and whenever we do it, let us be found apt to teach His Word—and that founded upon ever-lengthening, ever-deepening acquaintance with Him via His Word.
Fourth, God calls us to recall Him. Moses declares the external means of recalling God’s Word available in his day: signs on hand, frontlets between eyes (which became the phylacteries mentioned in Jesus’ day), and writings on doorposts and gates. We have analogous ways today to set the Word of God before our eyes; they include plaques, hangings, and Post-It notes, among others. Whatever it takes, beloved of God in Christ, let us recall Him—again, using any necessary tangible or intangible aid.
During the final week before Jesus’ crucifixion, an expert in the Law asked Him, God incarnate, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (Mark 12:28). Jesus replies with the two-fold love command. First, Jesus says, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind—with all your inner being. Love Him also with all your strength—with all your outer being. This remark from Jesus rises also verbatim from our text today in Deuteronomy. Second, Jesus calls us to love our neighbor as ourself (Leviticus 19:18), as most vividly depicted in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Sometimes our neighbor is not likeable, comes from a despised class of people, or the like. We, like the expert in the Law who heard Jesus’ parable, must go in His gracious power and do likewise. These things sound difficult for us—and, the better we know ourselves, the harder they seem to do in our own strength—but let us, assured of the ability to perform these things by the Spirit’s work, comply with Jesus’ command, “Do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:28).