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Week 19

Liturgical Note: the Lord’s Supper is a time of true fellowship at the heart of a true relationship. Christ is spiritually present at the Table in a real, objective, and spiritual manner. However, Christ is not in the meal. Rather, Christ is at the meal. Christ is the host. The bread and wine are the meal that Christ gives His people to feed them.

 

Liturgical location: By this point in the service we have gathered in fellowship around the Table and are preparing to eat. As we receive the bread and the wine it is important to take a moment and reflect on the significance of the meal we are given.

 

During the Course of this lesson, I want to ask three questions:

·       What is the Lord’s Supper

·       How does it work

·       What benefits are we to receive by partaking of it

 

I. What is the Lord’s Supper?

A] It is not magic. The bread and wine do not become the body and blood of Jesus. Nor do they contain grace like a pill, which works on its own just because you take it.

 

Notice at no point does Scripture ever say that Christ’s body and blood are given to you. Rather, Scripture is emphatic: Christ’s body and blood were offered one time to the Father on your behalf.

Hebrews 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Luke 22:19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you (not to you);

Remember, you are not the judge nor are you the one to whom the debt of sin is owed. It is owed to God and therefore payment must be made to God. In fact, if Christ’s Sacrifice was not offered to God and received by Him on your behalf, it has no value to you. You are dead in your sins.

 

B] Instead the Lord’s Supper is a Sacrament. A Sacrament is a means ordained by God to portray the very essence of the Gospel that Scripture proclaims. Therefore, the message of the Gospel and the message of the Lord’s Supper are exactly the same. In both cases, your faith is directed to Christ and His saving work on the cross.

 

II. How does the Lord’s Supper work?

A] Simply put: the Lord’s Supper works by faith. That is, God assures you that when you receive the Sacrament by faith (just as when you receive what God says in Scripture by faith), that Christ and all His benefits are yours personally. In other words, the grace signified is actually given and the fellowship with Christ depicted is truly and actually enjoyed.

 

B] Importance: just as it is vital for us to remember that the Lord’s Supper is not magic, it is equally important for us to remember that it is not simply a bare memorial meal. Thus, while Jesus tells us to remember, He also tells us to take and eat. These two commands cannot be separated. They go hand in hand. Why? The spiritual reality we are instructed to remember is the very reality that the Lord offers us at the Table and tells us to receive. In other words, the fellowship with God restored by the Cross and the grace accomplished by His onetime sacrifice are truly given to us at the meal.

1 Corinthians 10:16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless Koinonia (literally fellowship with or participation in) the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break Koinonia (fellowship with or participation in) the body of Christ?

 

C] Notice then, Scripture gives clear and unambiguous signs of God’s unique spiritual presence and involvement at the Table. In fact, Scripture seems to draw a direct parallel between entering the Holy of Holies and partaking of the Lord’s Table.

1 Corinthians 11:30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.

Notice then, Paul does not say when we partake of the Table in an unworthy manner our memorializing is incomplete or our memory is inaccurate. Rather, he says many are sick or have even died. Why? When we come to the Table unrepentantly, we are entering God’s unique and covenantal presence clothed in our own sins rather than Christ’s blood. In other words, how you come is important because of where you come.

 

Bottom line: when you receive the Sacrament by faith, God assures you that the grace signified is actually given and the fellowship with Christ that is depicted is truly and actually enjoyed. In other words, the grace is real and Christ’s spiritual presence is real.

 

Notice the result: Christ is not in the meal. Rather, Christ is at the meal. Christ meets with His people in fellowship at the Table. Christ is the host. The bread and wine are the meal that Christ provides to nourish us. The meal that Christ provides is the full merit and grace of His onetime sacrifice.

 

III. What benefits do I receive from the Lord’s Supper?

A] Notice the Lord’s Supper is a recurrent meal. As such, God intends it to nourish us throughout our lives. Why? The grace that God provides is not simply a matter of the distant past nor is it merely a factor in the far off future. Instead, the grace that Christ accomplished for you on the cross, the grace that will one day fully and finally complete you, is already at work in you.

Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

B] Notice what this means: every week you come to the Table in the very midst of life. That is, you come with current needs, new situations, and specific sins. As you partake of the Table by faith, God assures you that Christ is with you in the very midst of your present circumstance and that His grace is already at work in the very details of your life.

 

C] Notice the result: as grace begins to heal you, those areas of life that you formerly withheld from God, you now begin to offer more and more to His service. Not only that, each week you return to renew your dependence and to offer the fruits that grace has yielded in your life. This is known as the Eucharistic Cycle- lives renewed by grace and return to God’s service.

 

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