Ownership & Judgment; Romans 14:10-12

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.

 

Preparing for the Lord’s Supper

Our statement of faith and church covenant are helpful tools for discipleship and unity. Concerning discipleship, our statement and covenant teach true doctrine in a short summary fashion. Concerning unity, our statement and covenant provide short reminders of what we believe and what we commit to do for one another. Broadly speaking, the statement of faith records what we believe, and the covenant records our commitment as members one of another. As we come together, please consider what Christ and His Church have handed down for our benefit.

On Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

We believe that Christian Baptism is the immersion in water of a believer1, into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost2; to show forth, in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, with its effect in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life3; that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a Church relation; and to the Lord’s Supper4, in which the members of the Church, by the sacred use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ5; preceded always by solemn self-examination6.

  1. 3:5-6; 28:19; Mark 16:16; John 3:22-23; 4:1-2; Acts 2:38; 8:12, 36-39; 16:32-34; 18:8
  2. 28:19; Acts 10:47-48; Gal. 3:27-28
  3. Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:20-21
  4. 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42; Acts and Epistles
  5. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 11:26
  6. John 6:26-71; 1 Cor. 11:28; 5:1, 8; 10:3-32; 11:17-32

 Our Church Covenant

As we trust we have been brought by divine grace to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ and by the influence of his Spirit to give ourselves up to him; so, we do now solemnly covenant with each other:

That, God, enabling us we will walk together in brotherly love.

That, we will exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other, and faithfully build up, encourage, rebuke, admonish, and discipline one another as the case shall require.

That we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, nor omit the great duty of prayer, both for ourselves and for others.

That, we will participate in each others joys and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each others burdens and sorrows.

That, we will earnestly endeavor to bring up such as may be under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

That we will seek Divine aid to enable us to walk circumspectfully and watchfully in the world, denying ungodliness and every worldly lust.

That we will strive together for the support both temporally and spiritually for a faithful evangelical ministry among us.

That we will endeavor by example and effort to win souls to Christ,

And through life, amidst evil report and good report, seek to live to the glory of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light,

And may the Great Head of the church enable us to keep and perform this solemn covenant. Amen.

What is a church?

“We can illustrate the difference between a church and a collection of Christians in this way: I can easily imagine a summer camp counselor watching a seventeen-year-old boy undergo conversion over the course of a summer, which is followed by a seemingly credible profession of faith. Should the camp counselor then baptize the body? He can, if he can baptize him according to the authority of the charter Jesus handed the apostles in Matthew 16. Has this counselor, together with several others, determined to continue indefinitely in overseeing the boy and one another; to regularly proclaim the Lord’s death through the Lord’s Supper; to discipline the boy or one another should they revert to following in the ways of the world; to teach one another everything that Christ has commanded; to guard, protect, and proclaim the gospel; and to make more disciples among not just other teenagers but among all comers who do not yet know Christ? If so, yes, he can baptize that boy on behalf of the church. If that counselor cannot commit to all this, that is, if there is no church to speak of, he does not have the authority to baptize the boy. The camp counselor’s desire to protect the gospel in the boy’s life and in the eyes of the broader public should impel him to send the boy to a church saying, ‘Join it! Be guarded. Be watched over. Be cared for. Be protected. Be loved.'”

Jonathan Leeman, The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love, 205 

Living Because of Christ

Text: Romans 6:1-5                                                    10/30/2016

Main Point: We must remember to live because of Christ.

I. Daily remember God’s plan to respond to our sin with super-abundant grace (Romans 5:18-6:1)

No one talks to you more than you. Say true things. Know this

  • God’s plan is to prove He is more gracious than you know

Why did God allow Adam to be tempted? God allowed temptation because he knew Adam would sin. Why did God give us the law? God gave the law so our sin would increase. What in the world? Why would God do this? We were given the answer last week from Romans 5:20 and 21, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” God allowed sin into the perfect world he created in order to show the super abundance of his love and grace. God has more grace than you have sin.

We know this is right because Romans 6:1 asks, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” If God’s purpose in allowing temptation and giving the law is to increase sin for the display of his greater grace let’s go sin it up. The truth is right; God wants to display his greater grace in response to our great sin. But the application is wrong; we must not sin it up for the glory of God. God doesn’t give us great grace so we can continue to drink the poison. God’s grace transforms our thirst.

  • How to use the Lord’s Supper

God wants us to taste and enjoy his super abundant grace. Have you been feasting on the things of this world? What are you hungering and thirsting for? Are you trying to fill yourself with your work or with your candidate? Our emptiness, our fears, our frustrations are invitations to come and eat at a better table. Use the Lord’s Supper as a reminder that indeed your sins are great but God’s grace is greater still. Remember his great grace and

II. Daily remember your death (Romans 6:2-3)

You talk to you more than anyone else. What do you tell yourself when you are tempted to sin? God knows, grace abounds, anything goes? At this table we remember our death. With Christ I died to Adam’s way.

  • With Christ, you died to Adam’s way

What is Adam’s sin? It is our daily sin. Adam’s sin is the desire to be like God instead of the willingness to trust God. It’s the idea that I can do life without God. Grace abounds, right? I don’t need to daily feed on Christ to make it through the day. I have what it takes. Prayer and bible feasting become optional.

We are born this way and must be reborn into another way. Adam’s way is self-sufficiency. The dangerous way is grace’s sufficiency. The new way is Christ’s sufficiency. Look back at Romans 6:1-3 (read it).

Faith is not the simple understanding of and agreeing with facts about Jesus. Faith is desperately reaching out for life precisely because you know your own death. Faith is informed and glad dependence upon the righteous and resurrected Son of God. Faith is baptism into Christ; faith is union with Christ so that what is true of Jesus becomes true of you. I am a dead slave of sin. He is the living Son of God. I need his life. With Christ, united to Christ, you died to sin. Sin’s power has been broken and you are no longer a slave of sin. So, how do we use the Supper?

  • How to use the Lord’s Supper

Come to the table admitting your inability. Come to the table admitting you need Christ in order to master the sin in your life. Apart from Him you can do nothing. The power of sin is its absolute reign over your mind and desires. You must die to sin, by faith join with Christ, His death was your death to defeat sin’s power over you.

Come to the table admitting your inability. The power of sin is its punishment through death. Death must be paid. Praise be to God death has been paid. My payment for my sin is paid through my death with Christ. Come to the table knowing Christ is able to pay for and free you from your sin. Remember death with him.

III. Daily remember your life (Romans 6:4)

I want you to examine what you believe about grace, sin, death, and life because no one reinforces your beliefs more than you.

  • With Christ, you can live a holy life

Look back at Romans 6:4 (read it)

By faith we are united with Christ in his death for the purpose of sharing in his life. There can be no life, no forgiveness, and no joy apart from partaking in Jesus’s death and resurrection. Union, by faith, with his death and resurrection are for the purpose of sharing in his life. Listen, your life will change only to the degree that you are dependent upon Christ. Your life will change only to the degree that you admit your death and seek Christ for life. Are you living because you are feasting? There is no other way.

  • How to use the Lord’s Supper

With the bread, think of the body of Christ crucified. With the bread, think of Christ dying in order to break the power of sin over your life. Come to the table admitting your inability; your great need for a Savior.

With the cup, think of the blood of Christ, think of the life of Christ laid down in order that you might live. Christ is inviting you to partake in his life. The way to life is through acknowledging your death. Look at God’s righteous standards and confess you cannot do it but joined to Christ you are able. Look at your poisonous desires and admit your foolishness but with Christ there is sufficient grace to change. Look at your relationships and confess your parasitic desires but with Christ there is true food. Christus Victus, Christ the Victor, calls us away from ourselves and unto himself. He breaks the power of sin. Christ our Passover lamb proclaims as sufficient sacrifice has been made unto God for our sins. Christ the risen One calls us to come to him in order that we might live.

IV. Prepare for the Supper

Think for a moment about the words you are about to sing. What do they mean? Of all that we could sing, why sing these things?

“Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away, Slain for us – and we remember The promise made that all who come in faith Find forgiveness at the cross” (Communion Hymn).

God’s promise stands, His desire is to show his great greatness by forgiving all your sins. The promise made is that all who come in faith find forgiveness at the cross. We do not find forgiveness at this table through bread and cup. The bread and cup point us to Christ who alone forgives and sustains his people. Follow the bread and cup to the Christ to whom they point.

As we sing the first verse of the Communion Hymn I invite you, under the authority of God’s Word I command you, test yourself (1 Tim 4:11). “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor 11:28).

Do you acknowledge your death? Do you submit to God’s righteous wrath poured out on the cross? Are you feasting on Christ who alone gives life? Come and eat.

Have you followed Christ in believer’s baptism? Have you confessed your spiritual union, your baptism into Christ, through the public act of baptism in water? Come and eat.

Let’s sing, think, and celebrate.

Come and Die

The Lord’s Supper never ceases to amaze me. The moment I think I have sounded the depths of this act of faith, the Spirit uses the Word to show me I am only splashing around on the surface.

Come and die

The Lord’s Supper is a regular invitation to come and die. The Way of Christ is a road of daily dying. Jesus made it undeniably clear, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

In salvation, we are transferred from death to life, from the reign of sin and death into the reign of grace and life. This fundamental and unrepeatable change must be modeled and acted upon in our daily decisions. This transformation must be acted upon.

In the Lord’s Supper we receive an invitation to come and die. The Lord’s Supper is a reset. We’ve spent the week living for ourselves. Come and die. We have surrendered so much to the reign of death. Come and die. We have fought for the wrong things and murdered those we should love. Come and die. We’ve gone a long way in the wrong way. Come and die. There is grace sufficient for you.

Come and die so that you may live

At the Lord’s table we see the world for what it is and cry out “there is death in the pot” (2 Kings 4:40). The stew we’ve made from the gathered gourds isn’t just a harmless meal. When we pause and look anew at the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, we see death swimming in our desires. But Jesus is a better prophet than Elisha. Jesus isn’t content to simply give you good things. Jesus came to make you a good thing. Jesus came to bring the dead to life.

The way to life is through embracing the reality of your death. There is death in me! The way I work, rest, spend, play, love, and hate are all poisoned…by me. When the dinner bell sounds to come and eat at Jesus’s table we are being told to leave behind the lies and lures of the world. Take stock of yourself. Examine your desires. There is death in there! There is life here with Jesus. Look upon the One who was slain. Look upon the One who was raised. There is no life out there. Life is found in Him.

 

What We Expect from our Members

Have you ever been suckered into a commitment? Like the telemarketer who promises to be brief but is still rambling 15 minutes later. Have you ever been sold a lemon? Like Matilda’s dad some used car salesman put sawdust in the transfer case to keep the rattle down and you found out once you are too far down the road to turn back. We do not want to do that with church membership. We want to be clear about expectations and there are many biblical expectations for church members. Part of discipleship is teaching others how to obey what Jesus commanded concerning the church. This morning as we continue working through the biblical material from our new members class we come to the topic of expectations. What is it that we should expect from our members?

I. We expect our members to make the good confession (Rom 10:9, 10; 1 Tim 6:12: Heb 3:1; 4:14; 10:23; Mt 10:32; 1 Jn 2:23; 4:15; Titus 1:16; Eph 4:5-6).

A.  Make the good confession at salvation (Rom 10:9-10)

When a person goes from being dead in trespasses and sins to alive in Jesus Christ that person always confesses Jesus Christ as Lord. I have given a host of passages to you in the notes so you can track them down and test what I’m saying. For now quoting one will due, Romans 10:9 and 10,

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Your verbal confession of Jesus as Lord is the public proclamation that you belong to Jesus. You fly his flag and wear his colors. You are not your own master and commander. Jesus is your Lord and master. He saved you. He bought you. You belong to him.

God requires the good confession so we expect each member to make the public verbal confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. We also expect the public side of your faith to match the personal side. We expect repentance and faith.

B.  Repentance and faith (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21)

Jesus began his ministry and filled his ministry with the words, “Repent and believe in the gospel.” The Apostle Paul’s ministry could be summarized with the same message, “repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ.” The defining mark of a Christian is repentance to God and faith in Jesus Christ.

In order to become a Christian you must acknowledge your sin before God and trust Christ crucified to remove those sins. God, this is my sin and I hate it. I am sorry and I trust Jesus died and rose again to atone for that sin. You cannot be a Christian without repentance and faith. You can ask Jesus into your heart and not be a Christian. But if you experience godly grief over your sin leading you to cry out to Jesus for salvation then you are a Christian.

Repentance and faith mark the beginning of salvation and repentance and faith continue in every Christian. Think of the opposite. What does it mean to fall away? It means you stop repenting and you stop believing. What does it mean to mature as a Christian? You continually root out the sin that remains trusting the work of Christ to change you. Salvation must always be tested by repentance and faith. God requires repentance and faith so we expect repentance and faith from every member. We also expect every member to be baptized.

C.  Baptism (Mt 28:18-20)

Jesus commanded us to take his disciples, those who have believed in their hearts and confessed with their mouths, and baptize them. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is a confession of Jesus Christ as Lord. Baptism is a public confession of the personal facts of salvation. I was dead but now because of my faith in Jesus I am alive. Now that I am alive in Jesus I will live a new life in obedience to Jesus. You were raised to walk in the newness of life. Baptism in water, being immersed or going all the way under the water, is the faithful biblical way to be baptized.

We expect every member to be baptized as a public confession of each members’ personal union with Christ- united with Jesus in death, burial, resurrection, and a holy life. This confession leads to the Lord’s Supper.

D.  Lord’s Supper

As often as we eat the bread and drink the cup we are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Cor 11:26). In the Supper we are proclaiming the Lord’s death which bought us and by which we are made His own. We are confessing his work on the cross as the sure and wonderful ground for our forgiveness. We gladly confess that his shed blood and broken body have reconciled us to God. And we keep proclaiming his atoning death because our Lord is coming for us.

So, while salvation is a personal matter it is never a private matter. Your confession, our confession, is fundamentally a public act. You are announcing the change of your allegiance because God has changed your heart.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:13-14).

Salvation begins when you repent and believe. You are joined to Christ by faith which leads to joining Christ’s church through baptism. Through baptism you are declaring your allegiance to Jesus Christ. You belong to Him and will therefore be a part of His church. And it is Christ’s church which confesses Jesus Christ as Lord. We confess Christ as Lord by following him every day. We expect every member to confess Christ, follow Christ, and strive to be holy like Christ. Since we are a people who confess Jesus Christ as Lord we expect every member to make the good confession. And

II. We expect our members to love (1 Cor 13)

1 Corinthians 13 is the love chapter and few Christian weddings are finished without quoting or referring to some aspect of God’s wonderful call to Christian love. But did you know 1 Corinthians 13 is first and foremost about the love between church members? 1 Corinthians 13 was written to teach a local church how to live as the church. I want to encourage you to sit down this afternoon and read 1 Corinthians 13. As you are reading ask God to show you how to love Mambrino Baptist Church according to a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love.

One of the marks of love for the church is prayer for the church

A.  We expect each member to pray for the church

We expect church members to pray for the church. Last year Lynn put together a new directory with pictures precisely so you and I could be better equipped to pray for the church. He is currently working on an update so you and I can pray for every member by name.

We pray our way through the church membership role throughout the year as well. On the tear off tab in the bulletin you have your daily bible reading plan, weekly scripture to memorize, and a church member to pray for by name. We need you to pray for us. We expect you to pray for us and we expect you to

B.  Build up the church

In 1 Corinthians 12 we are told, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7, 14:26). Every Christian has been gifted by the Spirit to build up a particular local church. The temptation is to only value the speaking gifts like preaching and teaching. Gifts like administration and caring for children are discounted or ignored in the name of the “higher gifts.” May we as a church honor the one who labors in the nursery like we honor the one who labors in the pulpit. It takes all of us doing our part for the church to mature.

I want to encourage you to serve your church in weird and wild ways. Do things outside of your comfort zone. Work in the nursery. Go mow someone’s lawn. Take a widow to the grocery store. Go fold a young mom’s laundry. Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Invest yourself in your church. We expect you to build up the church.

C.  We expect you to commit through covenant

We have a church covenant. A church covenant is a simple summary of what it means to be a member. Think this way, a statement of faith summarizes what a member believes. A church covenant summarizes what a member does. In our bi-monthly members meeting and during the Lord’s Supper we read our church covenant. Every prospective member reads through the covenant in order to determine if he or she actually wants to do what is expected. We have printed that covenant on the back of the bulletin to remind our members and help those considering membership. We expect you to commit through covenant. And once you are in we expect you to pursue unity.

III. We expect our members to pursue unity (Eph 4:3, 14)

Turn over to Ephesians chapter 3. Chapter 3 ends with an amazing promise- God is not limited by our requests. Look at Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Where is this great and generous God supposed to be glorified? To him be glory in the church. How is the church supposed to glorify God? How are you and I expected to glorify God? Let’s read Ephesians 4:1-3.

In order to glorify God in the church we must walk worthy of the gospel. How do we do that? We walk worthy of the calling by being humble and gentle with one another over the long haul. We walk worthy of the calling by graciously enduring one another’s quirks, weaknesses, and idiosyncrasies. We walk worthy of the gospel when we eagerly maintain the unity of the Spirit. We expect you to

A.  Eagerly maintain the unity of the Spirit

Doing something eagerly means doing something with intense effort and motivation (Louw Nida 68.63). Have you ever been wrestling in a pool and been held under water long enough to freak out? Have you been under water so long your lungs start to ache and burn? When you have the motivation to breath and not die you make an intense effort to reach the surface. Did you know you are to eagerly maintain the unity of this church like that?

Through the work of the Spirit we are brought together as one body in Christ Jesus. We are all unworthy sinners clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We are all unwanted orphans adopted into the family through Jesus Christ. Being joined to Christ is the fundamental quality of every Christian. We are to maintain that unity in the bond of peace.

We protect that unity by keeping our undeserved salvation the focus. We protect the unity of the Spirit and we strive for the unity of the faith.

B.  Strive for the unity of the faith

God is glorified when his sons and daughters united in Christ strive to understand him and obey all of his commands. God is glorified when his sons and daughters united in Christ strive to know and worship God with great faithfulness. What I’m saying is we all have errors and weaknesses which must be rooted out. Not one of us is perfect and not one of us will be perfect until Jesus returns so we must work at the unity of the faith. Being a full-grown mature Christian is work. Being a mature Christian is the product of a healthy church.

Notice in verse 11 how spiritual leaders are given to the church in order to equip the church. And what is the church equipped to do? Verse 12, we are equipped to build up the body. But for what purpose or goal are we building up one another? We are after the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. We want everyone to be faithful to God’s word accurately reflecting God’s Son.

There are many ways to strive for the unity of the faith. One way to keep us all moving in the right biblical direction is to have a biblically accurate statement of faith.

A statement of faith is a summary of what the bible teaches concerning core doctrines. Who is God? Who does what in relation to the Trinity? Who is man? What is sin? How is a person saved? What are we saved for? What is the role of the Old Testament Law? What about singleness, marriage, family, money, government, reconciliation, and the church? It is one thing to say, “I believe the bible.” That is well and good. But it is quite another to know what the bible teaches. It is even more important to live in light of what the bible teaches.

We have a statement of faith precisely because we are commanded to pursue the unity of the faith. So I ask every new member if he/she has any questions about or disagreements with our statement of faith.

When this church was founded in the late 1800’s those Christians chose the New Hampshire Confession of Faith as an accurate biblical summary of core doctrines. It is still our statement of faith today. Copies are available in the foyer and you can find them easily online. Read it. Track down the references. Pursue unity by striving for the unity of the faith. And pursue unity be graciously confronting gossip.

C.  Graciously confront gossip

God is clear concerning what to do with a divisive person, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:10-11).

God is serious about divisive attitudes, words, and people because they tear apart a church. It is okay to disagree. It is okay to not like what someone says or does. It is not okay to undermine, plant doubts, or poison relationships. If you have a problem you go to the person you have a problem with; it’s simple but hard.

For a couple of years now I have been giving all our new members a copy of the article “How to Stop Church-Killing Gossip[1].” Copies are available in the foyer and you can find a link on my blog. Do you want to be a productive member who builds up others while pursuing unity? Read this article and put the biblical wisdom into practice. We must pursue unity by talking to one another not about one another. We must graciously confront gossip.

Here’s what I want you to do with all of this

IV. Join this church

This church rocks.

A.  Do your homework before you join.

Do not let your children or your preferences rule your commitment to a local church. Your children and your preferences will change. It is better to ask, Is this church committed to and pursuing Jesus Christ according to His Word? Talk to members. Talk to pastors. Read the statement of faith. Work through the new members’ class. Do your homework before you join.

B.  Prayerfully consider if God is putting you in this body

As much as you can, seek to accurately know the body while seeking God’s will in prayer. Meet with mature believers and ask them to pray with you. Ask members of the church you are considering joining to pray with you and for you. When you are sure God is putting you in that body

C.  Join the church

Don’t cohabitate with the church. Don’t sporadically attend the church. Don’t go to the church. We’re not talking about friends with benefits. Join the church. Commit yourself to the church.

Asking to join a church is like asking your girlfriend to marry you. You want to commit to her but she must be willing to commit to you. Some of you are dating this church and dating that church buying time until something better comes along. I mean Mambrino Baptist Church isn’t your dream come true but it’s better than being alone so you’ll string us along until your prince charming church comes along. Joshua Harris reflects the heart of God when he says, “Stop dating the church.” It’s time to commit.

Committing is what you’re doing when you come forward and say, “I want to be a member of Mambrino Baptist Church.” Church membership is a commitment. You want this body, these people, to care for you and protect you. You want to care for and protect these people, this body.

Our brother Rick whose work moved him to Arkansas just joined a local church there. Rick has it right when it comes to church membership. He says, “belonging to a church is a big deal.” Church membership is an honor and a commitment. Are you ready to commit? Come forward today and make your desires clear. Do you still have questions? Ask them. I would love to talk with you more about Mambrino Baptist Church and what it means to be a member. I love this church. I love you. While we are a little rough around the edges we are lovely because of Christ. I want you to be a part of the body.

As we individually consider what it means to be a member of this local church we will collectively confess our submission to Jesus Christ. We’ll sing hymn 285 together, Wherever He Leads I’ll Go.

[1] http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2013/02/12/how-to-stop-church-killing-gossip/

Necessary Ingredients for the Lord’s Supper

Every meal has ingredients. As we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s Supper I want to show you the necessary ingredients for the Supper. God has given us a recipe to follow. The Holy Spirit has delivered to us a parts list with instruction manual. We need to sit down for a moment with the instruction manual so we can faithfully put it together and enjoy all its benefits. We need to do some biblical thinking so we can enjoy all that Christ has provided for us in the Supper.

Let’s go back to the beginning, the institution of the Lord’s Supper in Luke 22. Look at Luke 22:14-23.

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  ‎15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  ‎16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”  ‎17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.  ‎18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  ‎19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  ‎20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  ‎21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table.  ‎22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”  ‎23 And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. 

There’s the big picture- the bread represents Jesus’ body broken for us on the cross and the cup represents the blood of Christ which secured the New Covenant for us. In the Lord’s Supper we are reminded that our salvation was purchased through the death of God’s Son. By forgiving us of all our sins and clothing us in his righteousness, Jesus has brought us into a new relationship with God. We have been born again and brought back to God by the blood of Christ. Luke 22 gives us the picture- here is the meal – bread and cup. Through the Lord’s Supper we remember all that Christ has done and the Lord’s Supper is a God-given way to enjoy all that it means to be the church

What should we be doing? What should we look for? What are our necessary ingredients? The Lord’s Supper is made up of joy in one another, joy in the crucifixion, joy because of the New Covenant, and a deliberate focus on the death of Christ. Let’s take them one by one.

I. Joy in one another

Read 1 Corinthians 11:17-22

  • Selfishness is to the Lord’s Supper what salt is to ice cream

If you’ve ever made homemade ice cream you know the dangers of getting salt in your ice cream. That rock salt is good on the outside but if it gets inside it ruins the ice cream.

Rock salt is helpful for ice cream and divisions are helpful for the church. Working through divisions demonstrates who is genuine and who is a hypocrite. Divisions help to purify and solidify the church. However, if divisions and factions are allowed to remain unaddressed or ignored they will mix throughout and ruin the unity of the church.

The most common cause of division in the church is selfishness. “I know what I want and I want it now!” People who approach the church with this mindset are people who have thoroughly misunderstood Christ and his gospel. Christ gladly came and sacrificed everything in order to redeem us. He became a servant so that we could experience his joy. Christ followers do the same. After experiencing joy in Christ we gladly become servants of others so that they can experience the same joy in Christ.

  • My joy in Christ makes me want to do whatever it takes so you can enjoy Christ

Christ is the only treasure which grows more precious as we give it away. People who love money horde it for themselves but people who love Jesus make great sacrifices to give him to others.

So you know you are getting closer to Christ when you are happiest celebrating Christ with others. Jesus is not a vitamin we tolerate taking in everyday because we know he’s good for us in the long run. Christ is a treasure worth selling everything we own in order to gain.

Track with me. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more.” Nobody knows the fullness of joy in God’s presence better than the Father, Son, and Spirit who have been delighting in that joy for all of eternity.

In John 15 Jesus invites us to live with and depend on him like a branch lives with and depends on a vine. We are told to bear much fruit, abide in his love, love him, and obey his commands. And here is why. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn 15:11). We depend on Jesus, rest in his love, and obey his commands so we can have his joy in us; so that our joy may be full. Draw near to Christ so you can experience the fullness of the joy of Christ. We draw near to Christ around his table.

One of the regular ways we are to experience the joy of Christ is by celebrating the Lord’s Supper together. We are his cleansed people welcomed into his presence around his table. In order to increase our joy we need to find ways to serve one another. Like Jesus, we need to humbly take on a servant’s role and sacrifice in order to purify one another. We don’t labor to wash feet. We labor to help one another trust Christ for the forgiveness of sins and obey Christ for the fullness of joy.

My joy in Christ drives me to do whatever it takes to increase your joy in Christ. As the bread and cup are being served, go and encourage a brother or sister; pray with one another. Go and ask for forgiveness. Sing about the glories of Christ inviting others to join you. Share your testimony of God’s faithfulness with your spouse or with your children as the bread and cup are being served. Work to increase other’s joy in Christ and it will increase your own. This attitude is a necessity for the Lord’s Supper. Here’s the next ingredient

II. Joy in the crucifixion

It is impossible to enjoy the Lord’s Supper as Christ intended without joy in the cross. So,

  • Remember the way atonement was made

Jesus held that loaf of bread and said, ‘This is my body which is broken for you.’ In the Lord’s Supper we are given a way to remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon  him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Is 53:5).

Around the Lord’s table we are reminded that Christ is the only source of true Christian unity. Through Christ the dividing walls between races falls down. Around the Lord’s table we remember that it’s only through Christ that we have life. The person raised in the church with a clean nose and a self-righteous attitude and the person raised in a home where sin was encouraged come together around the table. The man wearing a suit and the man covered in tattoos come together around Christ crucified. The strong and the weak, the young and the old, the contemporary and the traditional join together to remember Christ crucified. There is our salvation, there is our forgiveness, there is our unity, it is Christ crucified. Remember Jesus’ body broken for you and

  • Be thankful

The Lord’s Supper is meant to be a joy ride not a guilt trip. Yes, remember your sins but remember they have been forgiven. Christ died and rose again in order to give you a clean conscience. He knows we have done terrible things and he invites us to come and be cleansed, come and eat around his table. He doesn’t exclude you; don’t exclude yourself. Trust him, celebrate the forgiveness of all your sins and be thankful.

In order to really celebrate the Lord’s Supper we need joy in one another and joy in the crucifixion. Next we need

III. Joy because of the New Covenant

  • His blood cleanses us from all our uncleanness (Ezek 36:25)

Each one of us has made Christianity look terrible. We have profaned God’s name in our homes, at our work, and on our street. We cannot claim faithfulness in any realm of life. The testimony against us is one of complete failure and utter ruin. Against the backdrop of the cross we all see that we are all in desperate need of his grace. The cross proves how terrible each one of us truly is but His blood cleanses us from all our sin and shame. Celebrate the forgiveness of sins.

  • His blood secures a new heart and a new spirit for each of us (Ezek 36:26)

The reason you and I have failed and ruined every aspect of life is because of our hearts of stone. Set as hard as stone we can chose only to rebel. It is not our circumstances or environment which cause our sin. It is our hearts.

We need to be changed. We need to be transformed. The blood of Christ changes us; he brings us into the New Covenant. In the New Covenant we receive new hearts and new spirits. The blood of Christ makes a way for a new life of joy with the Father, Son, and Spirit now and forever. His blood secures a new heart and a new spirit for each of us. And

  • His blood opens the way for each of us to receive the Spirit (Ezek 36:27)

Wash a pig and it will return to the mud. Give it the chance and a dog will go back and eat its vomit. If you and I were not given the Holy Spirit our new hearts and new spirits would return immediately into destructive sin. The Spirit seals us; his presence guarantees our redemption.

So it is the Spirit who convicts us when we sin. He comforts us in sorrow, makes us more like Christ, and will keep us to the end. Were it not for Christ’s blood we would not be in the New Covenant. Were it not for the New Covenant we would not have the Spirit. If we did not have the Spirit we would run headlong into to hell.

In a moment, when you hold that cup, remember Christ’s blood poured out and rejoice with gratitude- you have been given the Holy Spirit. You have been cleansed. Christ has brought you into the New Covenant through His blood. In the New Covenant we become God’s people.

  • We become God’s people and He becomes our God (Ezek 36:28)

Remember, at one time you were outside and cut off. God owed you nothing but justice and promised you nothing but wrath. Then Christ stepped in, cleansed you, and brought you in. We were once not God’s people. Now because of Christ we are God’s people. We once had no claim on God. Now he is our God.

Restoration, life, hope, and a future have been given to us only because of Christ. Rejoice because you have been made clean. Rejoice because you have been given a new heart and a new spirit. Rejoice because he has given you his Spirit. Rejoice because you now belong to Him. Church, let us remember and rejoice.

We need

IV. A deliberate focus on the death of Christ

  • He came to restore us and he’s coming to restore all things

The reason we eat this bread and drink this cup is so that we can proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Cor 11:26).

We proclaim our unity around the death, burial, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ. We are his people redeemed by his blood and we celebrate Jesus together. Of all the things we do together as a church, the Lord’s Supper is the most basic and fundamental. The good news of Christ crucified and raised for the salvation of souls is the only sufficient glue to hold us together; because Christ got us we get over ourselves. When we believe the gospel it drives us outward to one another. Celebrating the Gospel makes us glad servants of one another.

As we prepare to eat prepare to serve. As the bread and cup are being served to you find ways to serve one another- seek forgiveness and give it, pray together, share a testimony, sing in faith. All of these things, when done for Christ are a celebration of his death. We must keep doing them until he comes.

We don’t celebrate an empty tradition. We celebrate a living Savior who makes us one. We celebrate a risen Savior who is coming again. In the Supper look back to the cross, look around at the people of God, and look forward to his return.