Main Point: The Lord’s Supper prepares us for Judgment Day.
Relationships are good, glorious, and hard. Living life together as the church is glorious, wonderful, and often very difficult. Even here, where we share much in common, there are still many opportunities to take up an offense, pass judgment on others, or just simply and sinfully blow others off as inconsequential. I said it a couple of weeks ago, the church would be so much easier if we were all alike. It is easy to color a picture if you color everything green. But instead of bland uniformity, God has ordained that the church be a reflection of the beauty, unity, and diversity of the Trinity.
In a sense, the Lord’s Supper is a reset button for us when we have gotten off into our little cliques and started trying to color everything green. The weak and the strong are invited to come together at the Lord’s Table and remember that the resurrected Christ is the source of our unity. Republican and Democrat are invited to come to the Lord’s Table and proclaim that the gospel, and not our platforms, is the source of our unity. The rich and the poor are invited to come together around the Lord’s Table confessing their weaknesses and rejoicing in Christ’s strength.
In order to give adequate time for the Lord’s Supper we will take up three verses this morning, Romans 14:10-12. I want to remind you of Christ’s ownership and warn you of coming judgment. In light of our coming judgment and in preparation for the Lord’s Supper we will judge ourselves, confess our sins, and then enjoy the sweet fellowship of reconciliation with the Father in Jesus’ name.
Read Romans 14:10-12
Think on this truth as fuel for unity
I. The weak and the strong belong to Jesus
In 14:4, the weak are told to stop judging the strong because it is inappropriate to judge the servant of another. You see, the weak don’t like the way the strong are living. The weak are concerned about their brothers and sisters who are eating meat offered to idols and not following the Jewish holy days. With tenderness the apostle Paul puts his fatherly hand on the shoulder of the weak and tells them to calm down. The Lord will uphold his own. The Lord is able to make him stand. In 14:8 we are told
- We are the Lord’s (14:8)
The Son of God has come, taken on flesh, lived a righteous life, died an atoning death, and been raised victoriously from the grave in order to make us his own. Jesus is the Lord over life and death. Mark Seifrid puts it well, “Christ’s lordship comprehends and grasps the life of every believer decisively and completely.” Jesus has grabbed onto our brothers and sisters decisively and completely. We are the Lord’s.
Around this table we must fight to deal with one another according to the righteousness of Christ and not according to the strength of our preferences. Christ crucified and raised to reconcile us to God is our common confession. Around this table we must fight to deal with one another according to grace and not passed offenses. Jesus Christ delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification is the foundation for our unity. We are a people, from the first to the last, who are owned by the Lord. We are a people, from the first to the last, who are living for the Lord.
If you are the Lord’s, if you are owned by him through the cross, if you are living in repentance and faith, then you are invited to this table. The simple test is the test of baptism. Baptism is the act by which the Christian confesses, “I am united to Christ in a death, burial, and resurrection like his.” Our unity is not based on liking the same things or doing the same things. Our unity is based on the shared fact that we are brothers and sisters owned by the Lord.
We also come around this table knowing we will be judged. Let’s be clear:
II. You will be judged
Look back with me at Romans 14:10, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
- This passage is a reality check
What are you doing? Why are some of you sitting there going through the lives of your brothers and sisters with a fine-tooth comb? Why are some of you sitting there disgusted by your brothers and sisters with fine-tooth combs? All of these details concerning matters of indifference are going to be tested before the judgment seat of God.
Reality check: judgment embraces all persons and all deeds (John Murray). You’re worried about your brother who eats meat, drinks wine, and doesn’t honor special religious days like you? Remember, it’s not simply food and drink that will be judged. Jesus tells us that every seemingly small and insignificant word will be judged. Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Mt 12:26). You will give an account for how you live.
Listen to how Michael Bird explains it, “For believers, the final judgment is not an investigation as to whether they are Christians or not, but an evaluation of how they were a Christian” (Michael Bird, 473). You are concerned about your sister’s eating habits? You need to be concerned about your own coming judgment. You need to stop sitting on Jesus’ judgment seat.
We are all going to be judged for how we lived, ate, drank, worshipped, spoke, loved, and served.
- God will judge. Leave the judgment to him.
You should not judge because you are going to be judged (Stott). God is not playing around, his existence is the promise of judgment. Look at verse 11, “for as it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue confess to God.’” If we stop right there we might think this is a happy verse like every person will be saved. Is the point of verse 11 that in the end every person will love and praise God? Not at all. We know this because of verse 12, “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
Judgment day is an audit of every word, every thought, and every deed. But unlike the IRS there is no need to produce the receipts; God has a perfect record of every word, every thought, and every deed. You will give an account to God for how you talk to your little brother or your big sister. You will give an account to God for how you treat your neighbor both the weak and the strong, the poor and the rich. Our thoughts will be judged. The way we tear one another down will be judged. The way we envy one another will be judged. The way we lust after one another will be judged. The way we judge one another will be judged. The day is coming quickly when you will give an account of yourself to God.
We don’t need more rules by which we can condemn our brothers and sisters. We don’t need more freedom by which we can escape our brothers and sisters. We need Jesus.
III. We need Jesus
This table prepares us for three days. This table prepares us for the every-day, the Lord’s Day, and Judgment Day. Turn in your Bible to 1 Corinthians 11:27. 1 Corinthians comes right after Romans. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”
- The Lord’s table prepares us
One of the requirements for the Lord’s Supper is to judge yourself against the Word. The Lord’s Supper is a call to consider the way you are living every day. Are you living unto the Lord? Are you honoring God with your decisions? Where you aren’t, Jesus has forgiving grace for you. Repent and be cleansed. Where you are living unto the Lord give Jesus thanks. It is by his grace that you are able to do the good you do. We live every day for the glory of God.
The Lord’s table also prepares us for the Lord’s day. On Sundays, as a celebration of the resurrection of Christ, we gather together as the church to worship God and build one another up. We come together and use our gifts and give our gifts for the good of others. How are you doing on that front? Judge yourself now so that you will not be condemned on judgment day. Receive the discipline of the Lord, turn from sin, and Christ will produce a harvest of righteousness in you.
Have you begun to judge or condemn one of our members? Have you wronged a brother or sister and not sought forgiveness? Out of bitterness or superiority, have you been withholding some good? On the other side of that coin, have you begun to mock or despise one of our members? Does the personality of a sister annoy you? Does the weakness of a brother frustrate you? Do you find yourself coming to church wishing everyone was like you? Judge this sinful attitude for what it is- a source of division in the church. Repent like the rest of us in this room. The Lord’s table is a reminder of how wrong our attitudes quickly become toward the church. The right use of the Lord’s table will prepare you for the right use of the Lord’s day.
But the Lord’s table is bigger than personal or church issues. The Lord’s table is preparation for eternity. The Lord’s table prepares us for judgment day. The concern is that we would be condemned along with the world (1 Cor 11:32). Judgment day is coming when you will give an account of yourself to God. Will you be condemned by your words or by the way you treat the church?
If you are a Christian, use the bread and the cup to remind yourself that you belong to Jesus. He bought you at the cost of his body broken and his blood poured out. Do you recognize his ownership over every detail of your life? Do you long to honor your Father and are you glad to give him thanks? Are you sorrowful over your sin and the ways you refuse to honor God or give him thanks?
Use the bread and the cup to remind yourself that Jesus will make you stand. You will not be justified by works of the law. You will not be justified by eating what is good or by esteeming certain days as good. You will be justified by the broken body and poured out blood of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s table is preparing you for judgment day. Are you trusting Christ and resting in Christ and living for Christ? Then come and take the supper and take heart concerning judgment day. Jesus will make you stand.
The Lord’s table prepares us. Now, let’s prepare for the Lord’s table
- Prepare for the Lord’s table
As we prepare Dale is going to play a verse of the Communion Hymn and then we will sing the first verse together. So, there will be some music for a while and then some singing. During this time, do whatever the Spirit leads you to do. Some of us will likely give ourselves to judging ourselves and repenting of our sins. Others of us will want to give thanks to God for his grace that has enabled us to live for his honor. It is likely that some members will go to other members with a word of encouragement. Some members will go to other members and ask for forgiveness. Also, there are wash basins at the back of the room where you can go and as an act of love and service wash someone’s feet. There are towels back there and we will quietly serve you the bread and cup if you choose to wash someone’s feet. Dale, come and play for us as we prepare for the Lord’s table.