Hill Country Church (PCA) resumed physically gathered worship services on Sunday, June 7, 2020 at 10:30 am (at 4700 E. Rancier Ave in Killeen, TX).

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Posts by Peter Dietsch

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Preaching: Commands, Threats, and Promises, Part 1

Dear Church Family, In recent weeks, I've been reflecting on preaching. You may read the previous installments online: Preaching: What is the Gospel? Preaching: The Foundation and the Superstructure Preaching: The Abuse of Redemptive Historical Preaching, Part 1 Preaching: The Abuse of Redemptive Historical Preaching, Part 2 Preaching: The Abuse of Redemptive Historical ...

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Preaching: The Same Message, No Matter the Text?

Dear Church Family, In recent weeks, I've been reflecting on preaching. You may read the previous installments online: Preaching: What is the Gospel?Preaching: The Foundation and the SuperstructurePreaching: The Abuse of Redemptive Historical Preaching, Part 1Preaching: The Abuse of Redemptive Historical Preaching, Part 2Preaching: The Abuse of Redemptive Historical Prea...

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Preaching: The Abuse of Redemptive-Historical Preaching, Part 3

Dear Church Family, In our continuing look at the nature and purposes of Christian preaching, most recently we have been considering evidences of the abuse of redemptive-historical preaching. The first two parts of "Preaching: The Abuse of Redemptive-Historical Preaching" are available online here: Part 1, Part 2. If you've read the previous installments of this mini-ser...

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Preaching: The Abuse of Redemptive-Historical Preaching, Part 2

Dear Church Family, Two weeks ago, I sought to explain the proper definition of redemptive-historical preaching. I also attempted to explain how this form of preaching is often abused and provided some examples and evidence of the abuse of redemptive-historical preaching to be on the lookout for. You may read part one of "Preaching: The Abuse of Redemptive-Historical Prea...

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Preaching: The Abuse of Redemptive-Historical Preaching, Part 1

Dear Church Family, This is the third installment of our weekly series on preaching. First, we considered the full-orbed definition of the gospel that includes what Jesus did in history and how God saves sinners (Preaching: What is the Gospel?). Second, we considered the full-orbed definition of gospel preaching that includes Jesus Christ as well as the doctrines and comm...

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Preaching: The Foundation and the Superstructure

Dear Church Family, In last week's reflection, we considered how we might arrive at a more full-orbed definition of the gospel. The gospel is about more than the good news of justification, it is the good news of the kingdom of God! Thus, the gospel includes what Christ, as the King of God's kingdom, has done in history: how Jesus brought the kingdom (inauguration), how J...

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Preaching: What is the gospel?

Dear Church Family, In the first two sermons of our present preaching series on "The Church and the Means of Grace," we sought to ask and answer the question, "What to expect from your pastor?" So, we looked at 1 Timothy 4:11-16. Specifically, we saw how the Apostle Paul admonishes his younger protg, Timothy (as well as all pastors and preachers) to guard both himself and...

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A High (and Prioritized) Ecclesiology

Dear Church Family, In the last two lessons of our online "Inquirer / New Member" Sunday school class, we have been discussing and learning about what it means to support the work and worship of the church. As part of these lessons, we studied some ecclesiology. I am convinced that one of the major problems in evangelicalism today is a low ecclesiology. Ecclesiology simpl...

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An Oversimplified & a Mathematical Galatians

Dear Church Family, Having just concluded our sermon series in Paul's letter to the Galatians, I thought that a good way to review would be try and write a brief (and oversimplified) summary of the book. Additionally, I sat down and tried to imagine what Galatians might look like if it was written from the perspective of a math teacher to his second-grade class (in this c...

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Be of Sin the Double Cure

Dear Church Family, In our online Sunday school class this past Sunday, we examined the third vow of church membership: Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ? Basically, this vow is about sanctification, asking a person who joins the church to seek to live in ...

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Membership Vows 1 & 2 (The Bad News and the Good News)

Dear Church Family, We have been having a great (virtual) Sunday evening class for the last several weeks! Thank you to those who have participated and thank you for your patience as we all try and navigate meeting and learning in an online setting. I recognize that it is not ideal. For my part, I can sometimes switch to autopilot and the lessons end up something akin to...

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1 John 5:18-21 (That You May Worship)

Dear Church Family, This week we come to the final four verses of 1 John and the conclusion of our study of this epistle. If you've been following along in our study, then hopefully by now you might remember the three main themes or emphases of this letter. The Christian life is comprised of: right doctrine (what you believe), right relationships (who you love), and right...

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1 John 5:14-17 (That You May Pray)

Dear Church Family, As we near the end of this first epistle from the Apostle John, God's Word focuses us in on the power and privilege of prayer. And, if you give full weight to the meaning of these words, and take God's Word to heart it is, indeed, an amazing teaching about prayer. In the verses that we come to now, there are two different kinds of prayers that are ta...

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1 John 5:6-13 (That You May Know)

Dear Church Family, One of the questions that most every believer struggles with at one point or another in their Christian life is the question of assurance. Inevitably, doubt sets in, and you ask yourself "Am I really a Christian?" As a pastor, I can tell you that doubting one's salvation is one of the primary struggles for many Christians. You may have thought that y...

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1 John 5:1-5 (The Order of Salvation and Assurance)

Dear Church Family, As we enter the fifth and final chapter in our study of 1 John, we find that the Apostle John wishes to conclude this letter by encouraging and building up the assurance of faith of his readers, "those who believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:13). And so, we are encouraged in our faith in Christ and the assurance of eternal life (1 John 5:6...

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1 John 4:7-12 (The Perfected Love of God)

Dear Church Family, Continuing in our study of 1 John, we come to a section in chapter four (1 John 4:7-12) in which John once again takes up the topic of love, specifically, a call for believers to love one another. In fact, that phrase, "love one another," is repeated three times in these verses. In verse 7, it is an exhortation: "let us love one another." In verse 11, ...

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1 John 4:2-6 (Testing the Spirits)

Dear Church Family, The Apostle John begins the fourth chapter of his first epistle with a call for discernment, a call for believers to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). As we noted in our last lesson, John expects that this "testing of the spirits" be equally applied to both himsel...

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1 John 4:1 (Test the Spirits)

Dear Church Family, In our study of 1 John, we've taken note of how the Apostle John emphasizes the three key elements of the Christian life: right doctrine (what you believe), right relationships (who you love), and right morality (how you live). As we come to chapter four of this epistle, we find that he, once again, takes up the topic of right doctrine this time from ...

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1 John 3:21-22 (As You Pray, Walk Close to God and Obey His Word)

Dear Church Family, How would you answer this question: "As a child of God, what gives you confidence before God in prayer that He will give you what you ask for?" I suspect that there are many answers to that question, but I doubt that I would get the answer that God's Word gives us in John's first epistle (1 John 3:21-22): 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, ...

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1 John 3:19-20 (Semi-transcendence)

Dear Church Family, When C.S. Lewis' wife died, he kept a journal of his grief. Later, these observations were published in a book, A Grief Observed. In that book, Lewis describes how God feels so very distant in times of mourning and loss, something with which most everyone can relate: "Go to [God] when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do yo...

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1 John 3:17-18 (How God's Love in Christ Causes Love)

Dear Church Family, We've seen how God's love in Christ for His people causes hate (1 John 3:11-15) how the world hates those who are born of God. And, we've seen also how God's love in Christ for His people causes change: "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16). Jesus' sacrificial love ...

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1 John 3:16 (How God's Love in Christ Causes Change)

Dear Church Family, Last week, in 1 John 3:11-15, we saw how God's love in Christ for His people causes hate. That is to say, the world will hate those who are loved by God, those who are born again and thus love Him. John goes all the way back to the first example of fratricide wherein Cain slew his brother Abel because Cain's deeds were evil and Abel's deeds were righte...

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1 John 3:11-15 (How the Love of God in Christ Causes Hate)

Dear Church Family, The love of God for His people is a major theme in Scripture. God's very nature is love (1 John 4:8, 16). Our being predestined to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, is based in the love of God (Ephesians 1:4-5). Because He died for us, the love of Christ controls how we live and how we interact with others (2 Corinthians 5:14). Indeed,...

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1 John 3:3-10 (The Christian's Present Practice)

Dear Church Family, Last week, in our look at 1 John 2:28-3:5, we reflected on how as a child of God, "be" comes before "do." That is to say, according to God's Word, we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. And then, only after we have been made a new creation, are we enabled to do good works out of thankfulness for what Christ has already done...

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1 John 2:28-3:5 (The Christian's Present Circumstance and Position)

Dear Church Family, In most religions one must "do" in order to "be." That is to say, most religions are works-based you have to do things in order to become a new person or gain a reward. The Christian faith, however, is the exact opposite: one must "be" in order to "do." That is to say, according to God's Word, we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Chris...

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1 John 2:18-27 (Abiding in the Truth, Part 2)

Dear Church Family, Quick Review Just a quick review of what we've learned and where we've been thus far in our study of 1 John. John's first epistle teaches us about the three main aspects of the Christian life. And, the second chapter of 1 John covers all three emphases of this letter. The first part of this chapter (1 John 2:1-6) emphasizes the important of right mora...

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1 John 2:18-27 (Abiding in the Truth, Part 1)

Dear Church Family, As we've seen, John's first epistle teaches about the three main aspects of the Christian life. And, the second chapter of 1 John covers all three emphases of this letter. The first part of this chapter (1 John 2:1-6) emphasizes the important of right morality and learning to walk in the same manner as Jesus walked. The second part of this chapter (1 J...

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1 John 2:12-17 (Worldly Disaffection)

Dear Church Family, In the second chapter of his first epistle, the Apostle John talks about the importance or right affections or right relationships. Unfortunately, many people believe that what or who a person loves is outside of his or her control. Surely, you've heard this sentiment: "I can't help who I love," or "the heart wants what the heart wants." For unbeliever...

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1 John 2:7-11 (Brotherly Affection)

Dear Church Family, As we've seen, the first main part of 1 John (1:5-2:6) is about obedience and right morality. God's Word calls us to examine ourselves (1 John 1:5-10), examine Christ (1 John 2:1-2), and examine our calling to keep and obey God's commandments (1 John 2:3-6). The Apostle John concludes the first section of his letter by exhorting believers who abide in ...

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1 John 2:3-6 (Calling Examination)

Dear Church Family, After the prologue of his first epistle (1 John 1:1-4), the Apostle John writes to his fellow believers in order to help them grow in sanctification and cease from sinning (1 John 2:1). So, he first calls us to self-examination: believers ought to remember that they are "in the Light" (in knowledge and holiness, 1 John 1:5-7), while as the same time re...

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1 John 2:1-2 (Christ Examination)

Dear Church Family, In our continuing study of 1 John, in our previous installment, we saw how the main emphasis of the first section of the main body of this letter (1 John 1:5-2:6) is sanctification how to cease from sinning and to grow in obedience to God's Law. In the center of this section, John says: "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you...

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1 John 1:5-10 (Self Examination)

Dear Church Family, Following the prologue of John's epistle (1 John 1:1-4), the first section of the main body of this letter runs from 1 John 1:5 to 1 John 2:6. And, the main emphasis of this section is sanctification how to cease from sinning and grow in obedience to God's Law. In the center of this section, John says: "My little children, I am writing these things to...

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1 John 1:1-4 (Joy in the Balance )

Dear Church Family, Presently, we are living in a time in which many people are afraid and have doubts about the future. I've often found television news to be depressing and anxiety building, but it's gotten even worse. With many people not being able to go into work, losing their jobs, or worried about their financial future, it's very easy to be consumed by that doubt ...

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1 John: Background

Dear Church Family, In the first installment and introduction to our study of 1 John, we learned that the purpose of this letter was to help believers gain assurance of salvation: "These things I have written to you whobelieve in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you haveeternal life" (1 John 5:13). And, we also discovered that the Apostle John intends...

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1 John: Introduction

Dear Church Family, He is risen! I hope that everyone had a good Easter, despite being physically separated from one another and not able to meet because of the precautions taken due to the Coronavirus. While it seems wise and prudent at this time to follow the recommendations to forgo meeting together, I long for the time when we can worship our Savior as a congregation ...

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