Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Communion Duty

1 Corinthians 11:23 – 26

Theme: We have a duty to reveal our secret. It’s part of the communion service...

1. We reveal our secret when we remember.

Explanation: Once it was thought that children could not become place their faith in Christ... Founder of CEF showed otherwise. Something shifted at that point and some dark things emerged. One of them was that we abandoned evangelism to adults. James Dobson observed that 86% of our children, who make professions for Christ, walk away from the faith. He suggested it was because there is a process where faith has to mature with the individual.

What has developed was a Christianity that has no sympathy towards those who are ignorant of Christ, a Christianity given to immature emotional whims, a Christianity without voice or authority.

Illustration: Take for example the characterization of “contemporary” Christian music. Researchers claim that when a phrase is repeated three or more times with the same music... two things happen. First, the listener’s mind shuts down. Second, the listener is more likely to accept whatever is repeated as true. The study was done in relationship to violent content in music but it applies generally. It’s why the media replays sound bites and why politicians use “talking points” and why good teachers use repetition. The more often we hear something the more likely we are to believe it.

Application: What remembering does is it gets us past the shallowness of our emotional responses and helps imprint the actual facts on our brains and lives. In a sense remember, through the “Lord’s Supper” is repetition that helps us believe BUT it is also a revelation of the best kept secret of our generation.

“Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me.”

Jesus was the one the prophets talked about in the Old Testament. No other religion has the weight of history and prophecy behind it.

“All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” [Acts 10:43]

Jesus was the physical representation of God.

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
[2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. [3] He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” [Hebrews 1:1 – 3a]

In other words, Jesus is exactly like God the Father in every way.

Jesus put it this way: “I and the Father are one.” [John 10:30]

The fact is that we need the mercy only Jesus can provide. Here is brutal honesty. It means we are no better off than what we would call a sinner. With sin there is no such thing as “worst” or “better.” The murder and the liar are on the same legal standing, the adulterer and the gossip share the same condemnation, the thief and the gossip are both guilty.

We reveal secret of the blood of Jesus... it is for EVERYONE.

2. The trouble is that very few understand the secret.

Explanation: Paul called God’s plan of providing salvation through Jesus a “mystery.”

“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” [Colossians 1:27]

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ...” [Colossians 2:2 NIV]
“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” [Colossians 4:3 NIV]

“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ...” [Ephesians 1:9 NIV]

One of the reasons that Jesus is a “mystery” is because there is active opposition to God from Satan.

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. [4] The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” [2 Corinthians 4:3 – 4]

Another reason Jesus is a mystery is because our minds have become dull with sin.

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” [Romans 1:21]

Or as Jesus put it: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. [20] For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” [John 3:19 – 20]

Illustration: What this means is that we go on our merry way without thinking.

Consider this story: A man and his son are in a car accident. The dad dies instantly, but the boy is rushed to the emergency room. The attending doctor sees the boy and says, “That’s my son.” Who is the doctor?

It is amazing how many people don’t get the answer. Let’s try another...

There is a pyramid that is upside down. It is perfectly balanced on its point. Any disturbance will cause the pyramid to topple. Under the pyramid is an $100 bill. How do you get the bill without the pyramid from falling over?

Chances are you either got it or you are still trying to figure it out.

Some things are so simple but we can’t figure it out because our minds are working in another direction. That’s what happens with Jesus.

We are trained to think we are good people so it’s hard to understand we stand condemned before God if we do not trust what Jesus has done for us.

We are trained to think we can do it for ourselves that it’s hard to understand we are helpless in ourselves.

We are trained to think that our religious motions and moral effort somehow make us righteous when the Bible describes them as filthy rags.

When we were in the Philippines there was a woman cleaning a public bathroom. About half the men used the wall instead of the urinal. She was on her hands and knees mopping this up with a bunch of rags.

That’s what our religious efforts look like from heaven’s point of view.

Application: People will continue in their darkness, their ignorance, their willfulness until someone somehow somewhere helps them understand the truth that Jesus saves.

Unfortunately the number of people who understand that is shrinking because there are fewer people who know Jesus who are willing to share Jesus.

3. Yet Jesus says we have a duty to tell people.

Explanation: Jesus valued the idea that His followers would tell others...

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [Matthew 28:19 – 20 KJV]

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Acts 1:9]

“...repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [48] You are witnesses of these things.” [Luke 24:47]

The early disciples understood this... Peter said:

“He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.” [Acts 10:42 NIV]

Illustration: Our problem is that words like “duty,” “obligation,” “responsibility” rub us the wrong way... often they are used as weapons against, to “twist our arms,” force or manipulate us.

We have also become a culture that values individual freedom to the point that we no longer recognize “duty” to any group... even family. We have disconnected ourselves from being able to join something bigger than ourselves. We have isolated ourselves from any obligation that requires commitment of time, or effort or resources.

We are simply more comfortable as “free agents.”

Application: Problem... proclaiming Jesus is part of who we are... Remember sin is defined as doing things that are defined by God as wrong AND not doing things God defines as right.

Conclusion: We cannot look back at the death of Christ and then forward to His return ALONE.

Fact is that this table is a challenge. We either announce or denounce Jesus at His table. Saying nothing essentially violates the covenant we make and renew when we celebrate communion.

Remember someone told you... If you are silent... then people will continue to live in ignorance, darkness, and willfulness. If you are silent the devil will dance on our graves because of our failure. If you are silent then the message ends here, with you.

Challenge: Pick one person you will talk to this year. Pray for that person. Pray for an opportunity to talk to them. Pray for the courage to speak to them.

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