Heaven is such an amazing promise in Scripture. Heaven is when the perfect is realized. It is the consummation, after the resurrection, after the great judgment of God, when all is made right. It is the new heavens and the new earth. When the space between humanity and God is removed and we are no longer estranged but brought into eternal communion with God.
Heaven is home for Christians. Heaven is where we belong. Heaven is where Jesus is enthroned. I’m not referring to heaven (lower case “h”) that is the Intermediate State where the Christian is with Christ after death. Heaven is that time and place after the Return of the King. It is that time when the Kingdom of God is fully realized, after the separation of the wheat and tares, the good fish are taken from the net, the sheep and goats are sent to their respective dwellings. When all is finally said and done. When we can enter into the Eternal Sabbath, the final rest, that is Heaven. (more…)
It is one thing to think about the reason for the Supper. Perhaps another side of that coin is to ask what happens when we are partaking of it? Or another way of phrasing the question is “What benefit do we receive from the Supper?” I am thinking of focussing on a practical question. One that wants to see the beyond the promise extended to seeing the promise fulfilled.
The answer begins with the exhortation to examine ourselves. This is an exercise that causes the conscience to be pricked by the law, as it is reminded of all short comings and offenses. This is when we are brought to a place to understand, hopefully, that there is no righteousness in us apart from Christ. It is this self examination, when illumined by the Holy Spirit, that we see the reality of our sinful nature, our unfaithfulness to God, and that we are underserving of his blessings. In our self examination there is no additional voice needed to bring condemnation, because the Law is more than adequate. The Law reminds us of the implication of our failure; the wrath of God which is warmed against us and our sin. Our self examination reminds us of our mortality. That none of will escape death and the impending judgment. It brings to our mind, the awareness of our frailty in the presence of an awesome, holy, and just God. (more…)
When I speak with other pastors I am always interested to hear how they approach their calling. I want to know what their work week is like. How much do they preach? How much do they teach classes, Bible studies, etc.? How much time do they spend with family? How much do they engage with the congregation? You can see how much a pastor really loves a church by how much they put into it. You can get an idea of their attitude towards their calling in the way they carry out their days. Maybe they don’t get to preach that often, but they’re constantly with the people, old, young, chatty, silent ones, families, singles, etc. Or maybe they preach all the time and then they are never seen again.
Last week I met a pastor who taught service during the week, then on Sunday he taught a Sunday School lesson in the morning, preached a sermon, stayed till everyone was finished speaking him, went home and took a nap, then preached in the evening and stayed till everyone was finished speaking with him. You would think someone that went through that sort of day was a young, fresh out of seminary, single, man. But you would be wrong. He was a pastor of a congregation of 5,000 and he had been in ministry for over 30 years! (more…)
Some churches don’t take the Supper weekly because they don’t see a good reason to do it. This raises the question, “Why did Jesus institute the Supper for us?” If we answer this question, then perhaps we would have a reason to either consider the reason we take Communion weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.
John Calvin gives three reasons that are helpful to the discussion and worth consideration. They are: the comfort of our conscience, to move us to praise God, and move us to holiness. Each of these on their own merit is reason enough, when taken as a collective whole, we must strive to change our perspective on the Supper. (more…)
Jesus Christ is the only food that nourishes our souls. Therefore he calls us to submit ourselves, first to the proclamation of his Word and second to partake of him as he has offered himself to us in the sacrament of the Supper. Just as the Lord has given us his audible Word (the Word of Christ) to bring us to faith and salvation, in his mercy, he confirms to us his declarations with visible signs. First he speaks, then he acts. It is in the sacraments of bread and water, which Christ has blessed, the promises of God are declared to his people visible.
It follows, that what we say of the Word we say of the Supper. In our partaking of the Supper, God is pleased, by the Holy Spirit to bring us to commune with the risen Jesus who is at the right hand of the Father. Not that Christ comes down and dwells in the elements, or that they cease to be what they are, rather the Holy Spirit by faith lifts our hearts to truly partake of our Lord’s body. A spiritual moment occurs in Communion, just as the conversion and justification of our soul is a spiritual matter so it the partaking of the body of Christ. (more…)
A vital part of our life is our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is not fed with physical food. The eternal soul is not fed with corruptible food but eternal food. Our souls, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, are awakened, maintained, and encouraged by a heavenly meal, that is Scripture. This is what Scripture tells us, that the spiritual food which our souls are maintained by, is the Word through which God regenerates us.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17 ESV)
We know that faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17). So it is important that our diet consists of a healthy dose of Christ, so that our souls would be well fed by him. Christ, we maintain, is our only life. He is the one we come to hear when we worship. Christ is whom we feed upon in the Lord’s Supper. So we must make diligent use of the means of grace that God has given us and not be lazy in our approach to them. We cannot take them for granted because they are not offered anywhere else but in the house of God. (more…)
Psa. 106:1 Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,
or declare all his praise?
3 Blessed are they who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times!
Preaching through this psalm I was struck by the way God’s faithfulness was shown in spite of the faithless people of Israel. The psalm recounts how Israel failed to live a life of faith and love to the God who redeemed them time and time again. The psalmist attributes this faithlessness to the fact that they “soon forgot his works and did not trust his word”. (7, 12, 13, 24, 43) The result was a life of disobedience manifested in heinous and unimaginable sin. The sin they entered into was punished harshly by God and then when they cried out to him, he looked upon their distress and “relented according to his steadfast love.” (45)
Their sin wasn’t something even we, in our modern desensitized hearts, could look over. Shortly after their Red Sea experience they created a calf of gold and worshipped it. Proclaiming this was the god that delivered them from the army of Pharaoh. While they were in the wilderness in Egypt they murmured in their hearts because they were hungry and God graciously fed them manna from heaven. It wouldn’t be long till they would forget again and then become intimate with a pagan god. Partaking in blasphemous sacrifices and even sacrificing their own children. This provocation was met by a strong plague sent by the Lord but in His mercy He didn’t wipe them out as a nation, due to the interventions by Moses and Phinehas. Eventually God’s anger would bring about the exile of Israel. The “warning, punishment, deliverance” cycle was abused too often by the young nation. So they were removed from their homeland yet in exile God’s mercy and grace was with them. He “caused them to be pitied” (46). They are delivered again from their dispersion and brought home. (more…)