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…)
In A.D. 451 a large church council was convened to solve the problems raised in the controversies over the debate on the person of Christ. They met in the city of Chalcedon and a product of their meeting was the Chalcedonian Definition. This statement is considered the standard orthodox definition of the biblical teaching on the person of Christ by the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox communions. It is brief enough to be stated here:
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the virgin Mary, the mother of God, according to the manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us. (Schaff, Creed of Christendom 2:62-63; Grudem, Systematic, p 556)
The Chalcedonian Definition was important fighting against heresies of the day (Apollinarianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, etc) and allowed the church to grow closer in unity in doctrine and practice. (more…)
I was listening to a podcast on genocide in Scripture recently. The question will sooner or later come across our ears, by someone outside the church and most certainly from those within the church. Text such as these:
Death of the Firstborn – “So Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’” (Exodus 11:4–7 ESV)
women, child, and infant – “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”” (1 Samuel 15:1–3 ESV)
There are others but the idea is obvious, God has either commanded or sent out the execution of death upon those people that were hostile to him and Israel. The people he sent judgment against were not exclusively soldiers but included women, children, and infants. (more…)
The idea that God changes or doesn’t change has significant impact not only on our theology but in our life and discipleship. Scripture speaks of God’s Law as being fixed rooted in the God of Scripture, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The universe is sustained and fixed in a law of order and uniformity that makes science possible and intelligible. Scripture doesn’t speak of God as being capricious, arbitrary, or creating a world of chaos. Rather God brings order to chaos and order needs consistency and uniformity.
There is a theology (Process Theology) which claims that God changes over time. The Scripture of God is true during the time it was written but as the culture and science changes we are all changing. Therefore the church must change. This theology paints a picture of everything in motion and then points the finger at the conservative line of the church as now being out of sync with the world around them and more importantly, God. Process Theologians, in my view, have abandoned the authority of Scripture, perhaps not all together, but their position allows them to dismiss any parts that they believe are contrary to their claims. I will be the first to admit I have not read much of the theologians who align themselves with Process Theology. Frankly it sounds like nonsense as soon as I begin reading, listening to podcasts, watching their videos, etc. But I have gathered, what I believe, is the essence that I’ve briefly described above. That being said, If I’ve stated something false, I’m free to be corrected because I would not want to misrepresent a position. On the other hand if I’m correct I’d ask to have my questions responded to. (more…)