-Lord’s Supper one of two ordinances
-Baptism before Lord’s Supper; Open communion
-Supper of remembrance, proclamation, renewing grace
-Examine yourself; Responsibility to warn others not to partake of the Lord’s Supper if they are not born-again
-Partaking of the Lord’s Supper also brings spiritual renewal to our lives and strengthens us both individually and as a body of believers.
-We are united with the death and resurrection of Christ. Lord’s Table is a reminder of that and a participation in that union. Christ is our life. Colossians 3.4; John 6.56
-“Means of Grace” what God uses to minister grace to the believer by the Holy Spirit. No sacramental but by faith and through the Holy Spirit.
Today we remember the Lord Jesus, proclaim his death until he comes, remind ourselves of our union with Christ, and partake of the life of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace John 6.48-58
A couple of weeks back I spoke about the Lord’s Supper and came to a number of conclusions from a study of the Bible on this subject.
I concluded that the best name to use for this gathering is the Lord’s Supper, and the best terminology for both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper is ordinance.
I concluded that Baptism should come before partaking of the Lord’s Supper if possible but that here at Rosedale we practice open communion which restricts participation only to the necessity of being a born-again believer.
I concluded that the Lord’s Supper is a supper of remembrance, a supper of proclamation, and a supper of renewing grace.
Finally I concluded that the Scriptures call us to examine ourselves before we come to the Lord’s Table so that we might come with a clean conscience and a pure heart. We are responsible to warn those under our care not to partake of the Lord’s Supper unless we are sure that they are born-again believers.
This morning I would like to speak a little bit more on the Lord’s Supper as a supper of renewing grace.
When we gather around the Lord’s Supper we remember the Lord. We remember his death on the cross as a payment to God for our sins. We remember that he came to earth and gave his life as a ransom for many. At the Lord’s Supper we also proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes, acknowledging his resurrection and anticipating his return in glory to set up his kingdom. But something else is taking place at the Lord ’s Table beyond remembering Jesus and proclaiming his death until he returns. Partaking of the Lord’s Supper also brings spiritual renewal to our lives and strengthens us both individually and as a body of believers. The Lord’s Supper is a time of participation in the body and blood of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a time of fellowship with Christ, a time of spiritual nourishment and empowering.
Not only did Christ die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin but in the cross, by the work of God, we are united with the death of Christ. By the work of God we are also united with the resurrection life of Christ. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder to us of our union with Christ and a participation in that union. Through the cross we have been separated from our life in Adam and any claims that life in Adam had on us. We are no longer under the condemnation of the Law for we are dead to the Law. We have been released from our past slavery to the flesh and in the Holy Spirit have the power to live a holy and godly life in our union with Christ.
All of these things God did in us through our union with the death and resurrection of Christ. When we come to the Lord’s Supper that union with Christ brings renewal and refreshment. Colossians 3.4 says that, “Christ is our life”. At the Lord’s Supper we renew and refresh that life in Christ just as Jesus said in John 6.56, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
At the Lord’s Supper we partake of the bread and juice by faith. By faith we acknowledge the reality of our union with Christ and our dependence on Christ for life and in partaking our spiritual life in Christ is strengthened. Just as physical food strengthens our body so partaking together of the Lord’s Supper strengthens us spiritually both individually and as a body of believers. The life giving work of the Holy Spirit is at work in our innermost beings as we share in this Supper together.
I would like to introduce you to a new phrase this morning. The phrase is “means of grace”. In the Reformed tradition we speak of the means by which God gives grace to His people. In the Catholic tradition those means of grace are called sacraments and grace is imparted to individuals through priests, who through their ordination into the Catholic church are given power to impart grace through the sacraments to the participants. It is the sacrament itself that imparts grace. In the Reformed tradition, to which we belong, “means of grace” is what God uses to minister His grace to the believer by the Holy Spirit. The primary means of grace given to the believer is the Word of God, Prayer, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. As we partake in these activities the Holy Spirit is enabled to minister Grace to our hearts. Grace is God’s sustaining power to live in holiness and love. Grace is God’s enabling to persevere faithfully in obedience to God. Fellowship with other believers and suffering are also means of God’s grace to us. Grace is not automatically conferred upon the believer as he reads the Word of God or prays or partakes in the Lord’s Supper, but giving ourselves to these activities as we seek God gives God the means by which He can impart grace to the believing heart by the Holy Spirit.
This teaching on God imparting grace to us through His Word, prayer and partaking of the Lord’s Supper may be new understanding to some of us. We may judge these things as too mystical or to close to Catholic practices and stay clear of them but we do that at our own loss. God has provided means by which He wants to build us up and we need to partake of those means regularly, especially the Word of God but also the Lord’s Supper.
As we partake of the Lord’s Supper this morning let us remember the Lord Jesus, let us proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes, let us remind ourselves of our union with Christ, and let us expect God to renew and refresh us spiritually through the Holy Spirit and to unite us as His people in this local church.