Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Lord's Table: Where Do We Look?

People ask me from time to time if there is any value to reading blogs. Well, last week I took two things from blogs to use in the Sunday service. I admit that using blog stuff in ministry is somewhat rare, but I do benefit from what I read.

Last week, I was thinking about interrupting my Hebrews series to do a more pointed reflection upon the Lord's Table. I found this post at The Gospel Coalition Blog to be very helpful. I stole the outline and wrote my own material under each point. It was well received and I think it is a very good guideline for thinking through the meaning of Communion.

The second thing that caught my attention was this post by Tim Challies from Saturday. I used part of this powerful Spurgeon quote in my message.

My notes for the reflection are below. My message from Sunday is up on our website as well.

Text: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

1. We look up in worship.

Jesus is Lord. He is the Son of God. We must worship no one but God. When we come to the Communion Table we worship Jesus. He is God. No one else and nothing else can bear the weight of worship – not because our worship is so great, but because God created us to worship Him alone.

Think about it. When we look to Jesus as Saviour and worship Him as our Lord, we know that He is absolutely perfect, our all sufficient Saviour. He is BETTER than any other, and absolutely powerful, faithful, loving and eternal.

If we lean on anyone else as ULTIMATE, they will fail us. But with Jesus, we can put all our hope and trust in Him and He will never let us down and never let us go.

Our worship includes joyful praise and DEEP THANKSGIVING to Christ. He has done for us what we could never do for ourselves – He has given us forgiveness, reconciliation and adoption so that we can call God our Father and enjoy Him forever!

As you participate in these elements today, worship Jesus as your God and King.

2. We look back in Remembrance

Jesus told us to remember when we eat and drink. Our thoughts should turn back to that hill outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago and remember what it cost the Saviour to suffer for my sin.

Our only altar is that blood-stained cross.

Think about that last meal – the Passover supper – that Jesus had with his disciples before He was betrayed. Think about the mockery of the trials that He endured. Remember the crown of thorns and the purple robe, the flogging and the jeering of the leaders and the crowds.

Think about that day – how the earth shook, how the sky grew dark, how the pagan centurion said, “Surely, this is the Son of God!”

Look back and remember.

3. We look forward in anticipation.

Jesus told us to continue to eat the bread and drink the cup until He comes. This solemn meal is very small, but it points ahead to a great feast in that Great Day to come – the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

At that meal, we will be clothed in our FOREVER BODIES. We will be done with faith and hope, because we will have Jesus with us physically and we will OWN the INHERITANCE of the saint – reunited with all those that have gone before us, done with sin and corruption and sickness and death FOREVER.

Look forward to that day, savour the reality of the New Heavens and earth and determine to build up your treasure THERE, not here in this broken-down world!

4. We look outward in proclamation.

Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper our actions proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. I often say that these elements are a sermon in material form. That may not sound very Baptist, but it is biblical.

1 Corinthians 11:26 – as we eat and drink, we proclaim.

If you are here this morning and you are not a Christian, we want you to feel that you are on the outside looking in. Without that sense of distance, of alienation from this sacred meal, you will not appreciate what you are missing.

Don’t get me wrong – we WANT you to come in by faith, confessing Jesus as Lord and trusting Him as your Saviour.

I don’t want you to participate if you do not believe. There are warnings of judgment for taking part in an unworthy manner. This does not mean that any of us consider ourselves to be worthy BY OURSELVES, but only through faith in the forgiveness and righteousness EARNED by ANOTHER – namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. We come by faith – but we participate because we really do believe in the merit of Christ for us.

5. We look inward in examination.

As believers, when we eat the bread and drink from the cup, it should only be in a spirit of humility and repentance. It is our sin that cost Jesus such suffering – particularly the suffering of the cup of the Father’s wrath that He drank for us as He absorbed the penalty for our sin.

If we are Christ’s people by grace through faith, then sin no longer reigns. However, it still remains until we see Jesus face-to-face, and we must learn to hate it more and more.

We should not focus merely on the physical sufferings of Jesus, but confess our sin that caused our Saviour grief. Just yesterday I read this quote on Tim Challies’ blog:

*You need not weep over the crucifixion, but weep over your transgression, for your sins nailed the Redeemer to the accursed tree. To weep over a dying Saviour is to lament the remedy; it were wiser to bewail the disease. To weep over the dying Saviour is to wet the surgeon's knife with tears; it were better to bewail the spreading cancer which that knife must cut away. – C.H. Spurgeon

So participate in this holy meal only after you have looked deep within and have confronted and confessed the sin that remains in you.

Remember, though, that your sin is wonderfully and supernaturally forgiven by the work of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Confess it. Trust Christ that He will remove it from you “as far as the east is from the west.”

6. We look around in consideration.

Look at each other. We who are joined together in a fellowship of faith in Christ are His Bride, His Body.

In 1 Corinthians 11 the context is love for one another. This church was messing up their celebration of the Lord’s supper and even doing more harm than good because they were not considerate to each other.

I read somewhere recently that, “One of the reasons the church exists is to teach us to love people that we don’t like very much.” Christ’s ministry of reconciliation not only teaches us an example of love, it promises to change our hearts so that we do love one another.

Be considerate, understanding, patient, courageous to exhort when necessary, speaking the truth in love.

We are going to have a few moments to silently prepare to take the Lord’s Supper together.

Look to God in Worship; look back to the cross in remembrance; look forward to Heaven in joyful anticipation; look outward in proclamation at those who are watching you; look inward in examination as you confess your sins; and look around in consideration at Christ’s body that is sharing this meal with you.

* C.H. Spurgeon, "Wherefore Should I Weep?" 22 October 1876, from Luke 23:1-31.

1 comment:

Trevor Peck said...

And I benefited from reading your blog today - as I usually do brother.

Thanks for the post!

Love in the Truth.