Tell Us the *Telos* of the Gatherings

Tell Us the *Telos* of the Gatherings

What is the object or aim of our church’s gatherings? The worship of the one true and living Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); the engaging, “with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.” (Peterson, p. 20) We gather for the feeding of God’s sheep, for the encouragement, perseverance, and edification of the saints. We gather to admonish and exhort one another. There are a number of reasons why a local church gathers.

But, why and what is the main purpose that we gather on any particular Sunday? Is it always the same? In one sense it is, but the centrifuge of our worship of God has as many nuances as God’s Word gives. At Redeemer Baptist Church we give ourselves to the regular expository preaching of God’s Word as we move through books of the Bible together. We take this same approach of exposition to the gathering as a whole. The “main point of the text” is the “main point of the sermon”. Likewise, as a church we aim to ground “the main point” of our gathering each Sunday in the “main point of the text” of the sermon. This means that every element of the gathering – the songs, the Scripture readings, and the corporate prayers – is responding to and focusing in on the themes of the particular text that we will be feasting upon together during the sermon. The entire gathering together is expositional, not just the sermon.`

Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Shortly after He prays, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21) As a local church gathers, our life together is expositional, but what is it that we are expositing? How does the visible display of the unity of God’s people lead the world to believe that the Father has sent the Son? Their life is unified around the truth of God’s Word as it finds it’s climax in the good news of Jesus Christ. This means that the gathering of the local church is a content filled event. A local church doesn’t gather silently in a room. There is speaking, reading, singing, exhortation, praying – all appropriating the medium of words. And the content contained in the words accompanying the gathering shows where the unity comes from and it causes the world to pause and consider the reason this church exists. The answer comes not from the physical forms, traditions, and rituals, but the content infused to them. So, we aim to have the Bible drive everything that we do in our gatherings on the Lord’s Day (we strive for this in our church polity and individual lives as well). As Ligon Duncan writes,”By reading the Bible, praying the Bible, expounding the Bible, and singing the Bible, God’s people, Christ’s bride on earth, grow into a ‘dwelling place for God by the Spirit.’ (Eph. 2:22)” (Duncan, p. 16)

Recently, I’ve been considering God’s kindness to our church (Redeemer Baptist Church) from the time that we gathered once a month, to the period of time that we met weekly before we covenanted together as a church on February 8, 2015, and through to yesterday. As I have been recounting the many evidences of God’s grace to us the question, “Why have we met?” came to mind. What has been the content that our unity as a church is founded upon by which the world might know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Each week I write and tell the congregation why we gather that morning during the announcements before our worship service. Why has Redeemer Baptist Church met? Below is a list of the answers to that question. In a life filled with temptations to sin and moments when our “hearts are prone to wander”, God, in His unsearchable wisdom and mercy to us, has enabled us to gather for the reasons listed below. My mind is weak and I often don’t remember all the reasons we meet, but when I have to give an account to the Lord for how I have sought to keep watch over the souls under my care (Heb. 13:17), I’m thankful that I didn’t pick the reasons and aims that we gathered out of my own supposed intuition and creativity in attempting to “create a worship experience”. I’m also thankful that there are reasons that we gather. We are deliberate and intentional about what we do. I have toiled and struggled, I trust with all His energy that He powerfully works in me by the Holy Spirit through His Word (Col. 1:29), to understand how His Word would focus the purpose of each of our gatherings. I’m thankful that God delights in His Word, and His Word doesn’t return void. I can think of no other way that I might aim for faithfulness to God in gathering a local congregation of His people for His glory.

These statements aren’t a perfect and exhaustive explication of how each particular text would have us meet, but hopefully you can see some of the treasure contained in the jar of clay that is our church and me. I’m humbled and often feel inadequate and undeserving to be appointed to the service of Christ’s lambs at Redeemer Baptist Church, and I’m thankful that God has made a way by which we can approach Him with confidence by faith alone in the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and the hope of the glorious return of Jesus Christ alone, by His Word alone. It is my hope that this post does not come across as arrogant or boastful, but as an expression of praise to God for giving us the ordinary means of His grace that we might grow in the gospel together at Redeemer Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa. Lord willing, I pray with thankfulness and joy that as Christ tarries this list will only continue to grow. This said, we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

In 2014 Redeemer Baptist Church gathered…
March 9, 2014 …to praise our saving God. (Philippians 1:1-26)
April 13, 2014  …to praise our sanctifying God. (Philippians 1:21-2:18)
May 11, 2014  …to praise Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Philippians 2:19-3:21)
June 8, 2014 …with joy in our gracious God. (Philippians 4:1-23)
July 13, 2014 …to worship our kind God. (Ruth 1:1-22)
August 10, 2014 …to praise our God who provides. (Ruth 2:1-3:18)
September 7, 2014 …to delight in our God who redeems. (Ruth 4:1-22)
September 14, 2014 …to praise God for the good news of Jesus Christ. (Mark 1:1-15)
September 21, 2014 …to worship the King of kings, Jesus Christ. (Mark 1:16-45)
September 28, 2014 …to worship Christ, King for sinners. (Mark 2:1-17)
October 5, 2014 …to worship the only source of rest, Jesus Christ. (Mark 2:18-3:6)
October 12, 2014 …to worship Jesus Christ in unity. (Mark 3:7-35)
October 19, 2014 …to praise Jesus Christ, Ruler of God’s Kingdom. (Mark 4:1-41)
October 26, 2014 …to delight in the authority of Jesus Christ. (Mark 5:1-43)
November 2, 2014 …to praise our God who accepts us through Christ. (Mark 6:1-29)
November 9, 2014 …to worship Jesus Christ, King of the Jews! (Mark 6:30-56)
November 16, 2014 …to praise Yahweh who accepts us through Jesus Christ. (Mark 7:1-37)
November 23, 2014 …to worship Jesus Christ the King of all! (Mark 8:1-26)
November 30, 2014 …to praise Jesus for freeing us from our sin. (Mark 8:27-38)
December 7, 2014 …to stand in awe of the beauty of Jesus Christ. (Mark 9:1-13)
December 12, 2014 …to honor Jesus Christ for becoming fully man. (Hebrews 2:9-10, 14-15; 4:15)
December 14, 2014 …to worship God for powerfully saving His people. (Mark 9:14-50)
December 21, 2014 …to give praise to God for powerfully bringing His people to Himself through Jesus Christ. (Mark 10:1-31)
December 28, 2014 …to worship our crucified and risen Savior. (Mark 10:32-53)

In 2015 Redeemer Baptist Church gathered…
January 4, 2015 …to worship King Jesus by faith alone. (Mark 11:1-25)

January 11, 2015 …to submit to the authority of King Jesus. (Mark 11:27-12:12)
January 18, 2015 …to worship Yahweh, the God of the living. (Mark 12:13-27)
January 25, 2015 …to hear from and worship our triune God in His Word. (Mark 12:28-34)
February 8, 2015 …to praise Jesus Christ by uniting together as a church. (Mark 12:35-44)
February 15, 2015 …to worship Jesus Christ who is coming again. (Mark 13:1-31)
February 22, 2015 …to wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Mark 13:32-37)
March 1, 2015 …to worship our Savior who was anointed to die for us. (Mark 14:1-11)
March 8, 2015 …to feed upon Jesus Christ by faith. (Mark 14:12-25)
March 15, 2015 …to flee our sin and love Christ our Savior. (Mark 14:26-72)
March 22, 2015 …to worship Christ the King. (Mark 15:1-20)
March 29, 2015 …to worship Jesus Christ for bearing God’s eternal wrath for His people. (Mark 15:21-47)
April 5, 2015 (am) …to worship Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead. (Mark 16:1-8)
April 5, 2015 (pm) …to obey Christ in baptizing those who repent and believe in Jesus Christ. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
April 12, 2015 …to worship Jesus Christ, the head of the church. (Ephesians 1:22-23)
April 19, 2015 …to worship God for revealing Himself in His Word. (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5)
April 26, 2015 …to immerse our lives by repentance and faith alone in the death and resurrection of Christ alone. (Romans 6:1-14)
May 3, 2015 …to feast upon Christ by faith. (1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
May 10, 2015 …to grow in our dependence on God. (1 Corinthians 5:1-12)
May 17, 2015 …to worship the one true and living God who created all things. (Genesis 1:1-2:3)
May 24, 2015 …to worship the God who created us and who redeems. (Genesis 2:4-3:24)
May 31, 2015 …to worship Jesus Christ who gave His life as a ransom for many. (Genesis 4:1-26)
June 7, 2015 …to worship the God who judges all things justly. (Genesis 5:1-10:32)
June 14, 2015 …to praise God our strong tower. (Genesis 11:1-32)
June 21, 2015 …to worship our unstoppable God who powerfully keeps His promises. (Genesis 12:1-14:24)
June 28, 2015 …to praise God for releasing us from the law through Christ alone. (Romans 7:1-6)
July 5, 2015 …to praise our covenant making and keeping God. (Genesis 15:1-17:27)
July 12, 2015 …to worship our King who delivers His people from the domain of darkness and transfers them to the kingdom of His beloved Son. (Judges 3:12-30)
July 19, 2015 …to worship Christ for saving us from God’s just wrath. (Habakkuk 1:1-3:19)
July 26, 2015 …to worship Yahweh the perfectly just Judge of all the earth. (Genesis 18:1-20:18)
August 2, 2015 …to worship our God who provides a substitute for the salvation of His people. (Genesis 21:1-25:18)
August 9, 2015 …to praise the Lord our God with all our lives. (Genesis 25:19-31:55)
August 16, 2015 …to worship our God who graciously creates His people. (Genesis 32:1-36:43)
August 23, 2015 …to worship our God who graciously preserves His people. (Genesis 37:1-41:57)
August 30, 2015 …to praise our God who works all things for good for His people. (Genesis 42:1-50:26)
September 6, 2015 …to give praise to our Creator who makes and keeps His promises. (Genesis 1:1-50:26)
September 13, 2015 …to give thanks to our Lord who is full of mercy. (Psalm 138:1-8)
September 20, 2015 …to praise God, who knows all things and is everywhere at all times. (Psalm 139:1-24)
September 27, 2015 …to worship our Lord who hears prayer. (Psalm 140:1-13)
October 4, 2015 …to praise our God who hears. (Psalm 141:1-10)
October 11, 2015 …to praise our sovereign Protector. (Psalm 142:1-7)
October 18, 2015 …to worship God, the only satisfaction of our souls. (Psalm 143:1-12)
October 25, 2015 …to praise Yahweh our mighty fortress. (Psalm 144:1-15)
November 1, 2015 …to worship our great Lord. (Psalm 145:1-21)
November 8, 2015 …to worship our sovereign King. (Daniel 1:1-7)
November 15, 2015 …to praise our giving God. (Daniel 1:8-21)
November 22, 2015 …to worship our sovereign King. (Daniel 2:1-49)
November 29, 2015 …to give praise to our powerful God. (Daniel 3:1-7)
December 6, 2015 …to praise our saving God. (Daniel 3:8-30)
December 13, 2015 …to worship our Lord who opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (Daniel 4:1-37)
December 18, 2015 …to honor Jesus Christ for being fully God. (Matthew 1:21-23; 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; John 9:38)
December 20, 2015 …to give praise to the King of kings. (Daniel 5:1-31)
December 27, 2015 …to worship our saving God. (Daniel 6:1-28)

In 2016 Redeemer Baptist Church gathered…
January 3, 2016 …to worship the eternal God Most High. (Daniel 7:1-12)

January 10, 2016 …to give praise to Jesus Christ the Son of Man. (Daniel 7:13-14)
January 17, 2016 …to set our hope upon God’s promise to give His kingdom to His people. (Daniel 7:15-28)
January 24, 2016 …to worship our Lord who rules history. (Daniel 8:1-27)
January 31, 2016 …to give praise to God for condemning Christ as our substitute. (Romans 8:1-4)
February 7, 2016 …to worship Jesus Christ, the power and wisdom of God. (Proverbs 8:1-36)
February 14, 2016 …to worship our covenant-keeping, angry, wrathful, righteous, merciful, forgiving God who acts on behalf of His people. (Daniel 9:1-19)
February 20, 2016 …to worship our revealing and loving God. (Daniel 9:20-27)
February 28, 2016 …to give praise to our sufficient God. (Daniel 10:1-21)
March 6, 2016 …to worship our God who works all things according to the counsel of His will. (Daniel 11:1-45)
March 13, 2016 …to worship our reconciling God. (Colossians 1:11-23)
March 20, 2016 …to worship Jesus Christ our redeemer. (Colossians 2:13-15)
March 27, 2016 …to give praise to our resurrected King, Jesus Christ. (Daniel 12:1-13)
April 3, 2016 …to worship Yahweh and to rest in His supremacy over all things. (Daniel 1:1-12:13)
April 10, 2016 …to praise our God who is a God not of confusion, but of peace. (1 Timothy 3:8-13)
April 17, 2016 …to praise our God who calls His people to Himself. (Mark 13:13-14)
April 24, 2016 …to worship our King who commissions us to make disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20)
May 1, 2016 …to give praise to our God who reconciles sinners to Himself. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
May 8, 2016 …to give thanks to the LORD and to make his deeds known among the nations. (3 John 5-8)
May 15, 2016 …in humility to count all things as rubbish in order that we may gain Christ. (Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:26)
May 22, 2016 …to worship Jesus Christ the head of the body, the church. (1 Timothy 1:1-6:21)
May 29, 2016 …to give praise to God for His saving work through Jesus Christ our hope. (1 Timothy 1:1-2)
June 5, 2016 …to trust fully upon the gospel of the glory of the blessed God. (1 Timothy 1:3-11)
June 12, 2016 …to give praise to God that Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:12-20)