Getting Ready For Sunday: How to Prepare for Worship at Uptown, January 5

Reza Aslan’s book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” rode high on the New York Time’s best-seller list for parts of 2013. In this book, Aslan, a professor at the University of California-Riverside, attempts to make the case that Jesus of Nazareth was one of many failed Jewish nationalists in first-century Palestine. In an interview with NPR, he remarks, “The idea that Jesus could’ve conceived of himself — or that even his followers could’ve conceived of him — as divine, contradicts everything that has ever been said about Judaism as a religion.” In another interview, Aslan says that the real take-away from Jesus’ life was that “He took on the religious and political powers of his day on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed, the marginalized and the weak.”

Though Aslan’s assertions came across in the media as fresh and controversial, they were really a rehashing of the arguments that liberal scholars have made for centuries, most notably from within the German schools of higher criticism. Despite these theories being repeatedly discredited, their central question continues to capture the popular mind: Who is Jesus? 

This Sunday, we begin a new sermon series in the Gospel of Luke. Prominent throughout the Gospel, especially in its opening chapter, is the declaration that Jesus is the divine son of God and the true Messiah. This sermon series should serve as a fresh reminder for us of who Jesus truly is and what he came to accomplish. Let us listen with fresh ears to the story of Jesus of Nazareth and contemplate the gravity of the incarnate Son of God. Let us also take action in telling others who Jesus truly is!

As we walk together through the Book of Luke, I recommend that you download Songs for the Book of Luke from the Gospel Coalition. This is a wonderful aid that helps reinforce the themes that we will study. 

THE WORD

Scripture: Luke 1:1-1:80
Sermon: Preparation for the Divine King

SONGS

Hail To the Lord’s Anointed (arr. Sandra McCracken)
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Here is Our King  (arr. David Crowder)
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Before the Throne of God Above (arr. Sovereign Grace Worship)
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Song of Preparation: Prepare Ye the Way  (arr. John Michael Talbot)
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Song of Response: Rejoice the Lord is King (arr. Traditional)
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THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM

“Baptism is a sacrament. How does an act of worship, baptism in particular, rise to the level of sacrament? First, Jesus commanded that it be performed on every believer. For example, marriage is not a sacrament because Jesus does not require that every believer be married. But He does require that every believer be baptized.

Second, a sacrament is to be done perpetually. Jesus commanded only two actions be performed perpetually, until He comes again: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. For example, Jesus commanded His disciples to wash one another’s feet, but He did not indicate that they were to it do perpetually. Some churches today practice footwashing. That is fine, but it is not required by Jesus until He returns.

Third, and most important, baptism is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible reality. So the question naturally arises: of what inward and invisible reality is baptism the outward sign? The answer in the Bible is the covenant of grace.”

Skip Ryan

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