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Finding Life

August 08 2013
August 08 2013
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This week in the sermon I talked about the fact that we are all looking for Life, capital L, Life. We want to experience life that is more than mere survival, but how do we do that? Outside of Christ our world offers many imitations of this capital L Life, but they leave us dissatisfied. We know we have Life in Christ ultimately, but how do we remind ourselves of it in a way that impacts us daily? I talked about (1) confessing the mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16) and (2) training ourselves for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). One thing that we celebrate together in the church that impacts us in both those ways is the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s Supper is one way that we proclaim the mystery of godliness together. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:26 that as often as we partake in the sacrament we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So the Supper is a proclamation, a common confession, an affirmation by the members of His body that Jesus lived, died, rose again, ascended to heaven, and will come again. We believe that the work of Jesus in history has real implications for how we experience life now. His life is an example to us. His death was an atonement for us because of sin. His resurrection is a promise to us that we will live again. His ascension is a guarantee to us that no power on earth can prevail over us. All these things we proclaim together and to each other when we partake of the Lord’s Supper.

But also, the Lord’s Supper is a way in which we train ourselves for godliness. Because we live in a church culture in the 21st century that has reacted so strongly against dead ritual we tend toward a practice of Communion that can look like this: Someone grows up in a church setting where Communion was practiced weekly along with several other rituals, the meaning of which were never taught to anyone. Then they find a church that places less emphasis on ritual and more emphasis on real emotion experience, or what is often called authenticity. But because we know the Lord’s Supper isn’t supposed to be just a ritual we try to make it special in some way. We treat it like visiting a gravesite. We stand at the headstone. We remember a person’s life. We work ourselves into tears at the memory of a loved one who is gone. The only problem is that the Lord’s Supper is not this kind of ritual at all. It is not a memorial first and foremost because Jesus is alive!

The Lord’s Supper is a ritual more like the ritual of brushing your teeth. The ritual actually does something that benefits you! Brushing your teeth benefits you every time you do that ritual. If you participate in it incorrectly, it is of no benefit to you. But if you use toothpaste and brush properly then you derive benefit from it. Likewise, the Supper is a spiritual benefit to you if you participate in it correctly. It is a mystery, hard to put into words, but because Jesus is alive, believers who partake of the bread and wine experience connection to the living Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. As a physical meal nourishes us physically, so also this spiritual meal nourishes us spiritually. When we eat this meal we grow in grace, have our union and communion with Christ confirmed, testify and renew our thankfulness and engagement to God, and testify and renew our mutual love and fellowship with each other as members of Christ’s body.

More could be said about all this, and more has been said by much better writers than me. Let me give you a few resources below that I hope you will click, and let me encourage you that if you haven’t thought about the Lord’s Supper as part of your own training in godliness that you take some time this week to do so.

- Questions #133-138 about the Lord’s Supper from the Catechism for Young Children (pub. Great Commission Publications)

- An excerpt from Training Hearts Teaching Minds by Starr Meade

- Book 4 Chapter 17, Section 10 & 11 from Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin

In Him,

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