Sunday, 5 July 2015

Bringing Our Faith to the Communion Table

Words matter.  Words bring the Gospel to those who have not heard it.  Words produce faith in the hearer.  Words confess Jesus as Lord & Saviour.  Words can bring life or death.  We are accountable for our words.
Over the last month we have been looking at the word Faith. We looked at the original word in the Greek: PISTAS.  It means to have a firm conviction. We have learnt that without Faith it is impossible to please God; that faith comes by hearing & hearing by the word of God; that God’s children are to walk by faith & that without faith it is impossible to please God.

Now we know that there are different kinds of faith: weak faith, little faith, strong faith, great faith, faith as small as a mustard seed…saving faith.  We have talked about the different sorts of confession: the negative sort when we confess our sin & the positive sort when we proclaim our belief in God, who He is & what He has done for us.

I am reminding you of these things because faith is what you should bring to Communion. Again we have talked about what communion really is: how it is first & foremost a communion of the Holy Spirit because it is He who brings us into communion with Christ & Christ brings us to the Father, clean, redeemed, justified, sanctified. The old word, the catholic word is Eucharist.  Now that mightn’t mean much to us today but I want to remind you of the liturgical words used by many churches for communion.  They come from 1 Corinthians 11:
and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me
We think of *thanks* in terms of our grace ~ & that is fine ~ but the word used is eucharisteƍ, from which we get the term Eucharist. The Eucharist is a giving of thanks, a proclaiming of what the Lord has done for us according to verse 26: For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

In this sense Communion is a way or reaffirming our salvation according to Romans 10:9:
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.
So what exactly are we giving thanks for?
I think this is a hugely important question because if we look back over some of the things we have talked about as regards communion we begin to get a revelation of what God intended.

We know that the first Communion meal was part of Christ’s last Passover.  Here the matzoh bread was broken & it is a bread that is stripped & pitted just as Jesus body was stripped & pitted that by His stripes we might be healed.  Thank you, Lord.  We know that His blood was shed for us: 4 cups, 3 times the wine was drunk while the 4th, the cup of the kingdom, has been reserved for the wedding feast in heaven. Thank you, Jesus. It is at Passover the Hallel is sung ~ the great psalms of praise & worship, Psalms that Jesus sang as part of this final celebration with His disciples & which finishes with The Great Hallel, the wonderful psalm 136 whose refrain reiterates “His Love endures forever…”
Just stop & think for a moment.  This was probably the final hymn Jesus sang as recorded in Mark 14 & Matthew 26 & when they had sung it they made their way through the city streets to the Mount of Olives.  It was dark.  It was the Passover.  The streets would have been empty because the Special Sabbath for the Passover had begun.  House after house would have been lit with the lights of the menorah.  Perhaps people would have done what some Jews do today & placed their lit menorah in their window as a testimony & a witness. As they walked the only sounds would have been their sandals hitting the cobbled stones & the voices drifting out from the cosy rooms praising God & declaring, His Love Endures Forever. Words of Faith.

We can be very glib & quite often we don’t stop to think what we mean when we open our mouths; the old open mouth before engaging brain problem.

We say Jesus came to redeem.  So He did.  What did He come to redeem?  You would probably answer, people ~ & you would be right, but he came to do, oh so much more than that!
Turn to Romans 8:19~22: For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

We know, of course we do, that when Adam & Eve sinned in the garden they brought the whole of creation down with them, subjecting the world to death & decay. We might even give lip service to the new heaven & the new earth.  What we may not realise is how that is even possible.
We have talked before about the meaning of *shomar* ~ a legal custodian of another’s property.  Adam was the earth’s shomar.  When he defaulted on his responsibility the whole of creation became subject to futility.  This is a legal position. Satan was able to usurp Adam’s position as shomar & he is always a liar, a destroyer, a murderer. Thus what he ruled became subject to lies, death, destruction.
Now if Jesus legally retook the earth as it’s shomar ~ & that is what His death & resurrection is all about ~ who rules creation?  Is it satan or is it Jesus? 
I am going to run some parallels past you.
Adam & Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit which hung on a tree in the garden of Eden. Five times  (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Galatians 3:13 and 1 Peter 2:24) Scripture refers to the cross as a tree. The 2 most common words used are   stauros (stake) [a noun] and the   verb stauroo (crucify).
Before they sinned Adam & Eve were clothed with God’s glory.  Afterwards they were ashamed of their nakedness.  Jesus was stripped naked to be crucified that His righteousness might become ours.
Now watch.  God cursed the land with thistles & thorns. What was placed on Jesus’ head?  A crown of thorns!  He is Lord.  He is King.  His rulership extends even to the redemption of the land.  He wore the thorns that the land might be freed of the curse.
Sin separated mankind from God.  It put a spiritual veil between them.  2 Corinthians 4:3~4 says And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
A veil was torn in the synagogue on the day Jesus died.
Adam committed high treason.  He sold his birthright for a lie. Jesus was obedient even unto death to the one who sent Him.  Legally he has restored all that was lost.  Not just some of it.  All of it.  This matters when we come to communion.

See, I don’t see a restored world delivered from destruction & decay when I look at the world.  However, I have a *firm conviction* that legally the land has been retaken & if it has been retaken it is restored.  I may not be able to see it yet but it is so because Jesus died to ensure it was so!

What is it that satan has destroyed, killed, maimed, lied about in your life?  Whatever it is you can bring it to the cross & give it to Jesus because He died that we might have life & have it abundantly. John 10:10   He has a legal right to give that life to everyone who believes on His name. What’s more, verse 9 says
"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”. It is a very wonderful thing Jesus is saying.  Where are we?  We are in psalm 23 & what does it say?
 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he guideth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

This is the table He has prepared for us. There are enemies all around us but He is our shomar, our shepherd.  We have a firm conviction that this is so & because of it we can walk in blessing & abundance, in utmost assurance that the Lord promises good to us all the days of our lives. So bring your faith with you to communion & eat & drink to the glory of God.

Acknowledgements: Mike Beecham

~ Understanding The Mystery of the Cross.

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