Friday, 4 November 2016

The Spirit & Communion ~ Ganeida

Last time we looked at the role the Holy Spirit plays in
our salvation but this is a communion week & so I want to discuss with you the role the Holy Spirit plays in communion.

The scripture I would like to start with is 1st Corinthians 11:26~ 30
For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honouring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself.
 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.

The bible has a lot to say about examining ourselves.  

Psalm 139 concludes with these verses:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Many people consider that the only examining we need to do is from 1 John 1:9
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness…

It is true that we are to examine our lives & eradicate all sin but our self-examination is to include much more than that.
2 Corinthians 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?
And Galatians 6:4~
But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.
So we have 3 areas wherein we are asked to examine ourselves:
·      To see if we harbour sin in our lives
·      To see if we are indeed in the Faith
·      Our own work

The first one is to examine ourselves to see if we are in the Faith.  It is impossible to examine the other 2 areas correctly if we get this one wrong.

Romans 8:16 informs us that the Holy Spirit will bear witness with our own Spirit that we are indeed God’s. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…

Those who are God’s have His Spirit as promised in John 14:17~
He is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot receive Him. It does not see Him or know Him. You know Him because He lives with you and will be in you.

Then 1 Corinthians 3:16~17 expands on this:
 Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

This is a good translation as it highlights the use of the Greek plural for you ~ meaning the ecclesia is the body & when we come together as the Church the Holy Spirit abides with us.

It is important to recognise that the body Paul refers to in 1st Corinthians has 2 aspects.  There is the remembrance of the body of Christ, broken for us, that our sin might be removed, beaten for us that we might be healed of our sicknesses.  Then there is the body of Christ, which is the body of believers when we come together.

There is to be unity in the body when we come together. Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 2nd Corinthians 13:14 calls this the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

There is only one body, only one Spirit [Ephesians 4:4~6] & it is His fellowship we are to seek in, with, & through other believers because it is His primary job to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ to us.

Well, you say, how come there are so many different denominations?  How come there is not just one Church?

Because not everyone gives the Holy Spirit His place in their Lives & allows Him to do His work. It is the Holy Spirit who brings unity.  It is the Holy Spirit who brings fellowship.

Galatians 1 expresses it like this:

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God's curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.

And 2nd Corinthians 11:4 says this:

You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

The only one who can guide you through this maze is the Holy Spirit.  He is called the Spirit of Truth & will lead you into all Truth.  John 16:13

So our self~examination considers firstly our relationship with God & secondly our relationship with our Church.  We are to examine both & get ourselves sorted out before we come to communion because, as Jesus Himself pointed out, there are just 2 commandments:  Love God, love your neighbour.  Everything else hangs on these 2 commandments.  I don’t have time or space to go into exactly what God means when He uses the word *love*; suffice to say it doesn’t mean what we generally think it means.

Our behaviour & our Faith is to be motivated from our relationship with Jesus.  If we only look at works it is easy to become trapped in legalism, meaning we do the *right* thing but we don’t really know & love the saviour.  Our whole relationship with Christ is based on Faith ~ a trust that what He has said concerning us is indeed true. Both love & faith come through the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 5:5 For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. & Romans 12:3 God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.

If we have taken care of the first thing then we will have taken care of much of the sin in our lives because we will have aligned our lives up with the will of God.
In the same way Galatians 6:4 exhorts us to see if we are doing the very best we can.  This prevents comparisons with others.  Are we doing what God has asked us to do?  It does not matter what our neighbour is doing or what some other church is doing.  We have not been asked to do what they are doing so it is irrelevant to us.  We are to keep our focus on what the Holy Spirit is saying to us, how the Holy Spirit is leading us.

Jesus made this abundantly clear when Peter wanted to stick his nose in John’s business [John 21:22] ‘…what is that to you? You follow Me!”   

2 Thessalonians & 1 Timothy also stress minding our own business for how can we be about about what the Lord wants of us if we are meddling in someone else’s business.

Only having done this are we prepared to approach communion. Now you may have heard us say something like, if you are in need… of healing or restoration or the salvation of a loved one, bring it to the cross during communion & find that which you need.  You can only actually do that if you have relationship, faith & the fellowship of the Holy Spirit or it is going to seem like utter nonsense to you.

Communion is much more than simple remembrance or a religious ritual. We have said that when the Body of believers comes together the Holy Spirit is manifest.  Jesus said, For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them."  Matthew 18:20 So, Jesus is present. The Holy Spirit is present.  Now listen carefully.

If you go the gospel of John & open it to chapters 14, 16,17 you will find John talking about the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s His job description.

15:26 says He testifies of Christ

“But I will send you the Advocate[ ~the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.

He glorifies Jesus.

16:16 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.

He helps us discern the Truth.

16:13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.
He is our teacher.
14:26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

God has made it very easy for us. The elements of Communion help us.  The bread is unleavened & striped & pierced; We recall : This is my body which is broken for youbecause  he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
We take the cup, the last cup of Passover, the cup of the kingdom & we remember this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many… & we look forward to the promise of His return because there is a celebration that will happen in heaven at the marriage feast of the lamb when all of the redeemed celebrate what Jesus has done for them & in them & on that day Jesus will celebrate with His glorified church. Until then He does not partake.

In every & all aspects of our Christian walk we need the empowering of the Holy Spirit.  Without His revelation a lot that is in the bible will not make a lot of sense to us & a lot of what we are asked to do will be impossible.  Faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, that is represented in Communion, is His work also.  He will bring to vivid life the reality & the Truth ~ & reveal the glory of Christ to our darkened minds & hearts.

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