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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…)
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…)
In John Frame’s Systematic, he concludes his section on the Lord’s Supper by briefly talking about the three-fold aspect that is experienced in the Supper. It’s the three-fold aspect that is found in many places, not only found in Frame. That being said the three aspects of the Supper are critical. On one hand we don’t want to deny something is happening and on the other hand we don’t want to collapse the future reality in the present. In the first view we undermine the importance with merely memorializing and in the second we erase that tension in an over-realized eschatology.
When we take the Lord’s Supper we reflect on the past, present, and future. It is a time where we remember the death of Christ and the salvation that he accomplished for us. It is a present real and effective grace where the faithful are nourished as they feed on the true body of Christ. And it is a foretaste of the greater banquet to come when the Kingdom of God is fully manifested. (more…)
The “real presence” of Christ in the Supper has been a long discussion in the Church. The early Church would affirm that Christ was present in the Eucharist but later would debate specifically what they would mean and more importantly how that was possible. In the 9th century (844) Paschasius Radbertus wrote a treaty for the emperor (Charles the Bald). He emphasized that the elements of the Eucharist became the historic body of Christ. The same body that was born of Mary, died and resurrected. The purpose behind his understanding of this was because of the function of the Eucharist. If the Eucharist would confer grace to the body and soul there would need to be a physical transformation along with the spiritual reality of the ritual. (more…)