Sunday, March 24, 2013

Approaching the Lord's Table

Many Scriptures that speak of the Christ as the Passover Lamb
John 1:29
Rom. 5:8
1 Cor. 5:7   "...for Christ our Passover Lamb.."
1 Pet. 2:24
1 John 4:10 - this is love.....
2 Cor. 5:21
1 Pet. 3:18
1 Tim. 1:15

Could go on and on - there are more than 175 direct references to the death of Christ in the New Testament.
It is central to the Christian faith - the death of Christ for our sins.

We covered much of this in last week's message - forgiveness, cleansing for all who come through the cross, restoration, adoption!!

Today, another aspect of His death - ie:  Commemoration  (remembering)
1 Cor. 11:23-26 - ..."do this in remembrance of Me..."

Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, Eucharist - instituted by Christ at the Last Supper with His disciples, celebrated by His church for over 2000 years.

There is much disagreement on the Nature of the elements (trans-substantiation, con-substantiation, symbolic)
and, many opinions celebration - (when?  how?  who serves?  who partakes?)

BUT there is agreement on how we should approach the Lord's table.  (attitude, manner, etc.)


We should approach the Lord's Table ...

#1.  In Obedience - "do this in Remembrance of me" -- (therefore, it is a church ordinance (command) )
Similar to Baptism - "repent and be baptized"

2.  In Remembrance - "do this in Remembrance of Me"  and what He did for me.
Compare to the Passover - Ex. 12:14, 26-27, 13:8
Our tendency is to forget!!! (take for granted) - so..... Deut. 4:9

#3.  In Reverence - Awe/attitude of Worship.
Compare:  Heb. 4:16
On one hand, we're to approach with boldness and confidence - "Abba"
On the other hand, it IS the THRONE of ALMIGHTY GOD!!  Don't come flippantly!!  But with awe.

#4.  In Humility - place self beside Christ.  (see self as really are)
NOTE:  an unworthy person can approach in a worthy manner.    Luke 18:9-14 - parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

#5.  With Thanksgiving - Eucharist - (Greek word for thanksgiving)
Thanks for His work ..... for us (corporately)  for ME (individually)
No greater time than the Lord's Supper to give thanks

#6.  As A Believer who has embraced Christ (follower, disciple)
John 20:28 - my Lord and my God  

#7.  In Communion (harmony) with one another - (note context of the passage)
We will always have differences, however, set them aside.  Say that the bonds that hold us together are greater than our differences.

So........... 1 Cor. 11:28 - Take some time to consider, examine, prepare.  THEN come celebrate with us!!   Things for lifestyle - to think on daily.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Restoration of the Sinner

Last week - "Sacrifice of Christ" for our sins.  (Bridge Illustration)

Which illustrates:
1).  Man's need - we stand in a place of separation from God due to sins - John 3:18
2)  God's provision (in due time, in His time) - (Christ - substitution sacrifice) - 1 Pet. 2:24
3)  Our opportunity - because the "bridge" is there.
        NOTE:  the cross does not give us salvation!  It gives opportunity for salvation!!!!  (for cleansing, forgiveness, etc.)
4)  Our response - we must decide and accept Him.
       NOTE:  Salvation is not a result of accepting the free gift of salvation.
                   Salvation is the result of accepting HIM - John 1:12

So, last week - forgiveness, cleansing by Christ's work.
This week - restoration through the cross. 
Remember this morning's scripture reading:  Luke 15:1-32, 19:10 - lost coin, lost sheep, prodigal son.
All were restored to the place they came from.

Three Acts of God that lead to our restoration. 
 (theologically technical terms)
Justification - Reconciliation - Adoption

I.  Justification - Rom. 4:25
The act of God by which He declares a sinner "Not Guilty" - (acquittal, absolution)

BUT...... we ARE guilty!!!   So, this is more than forgiveness.
How?  (is a mystery)  through Imputation   (attribute, assign, credit)
As He credits our sins to Christ, so He credits Christ's righteousness to us (positional, not necessarily practical) - 2 Cor. 5:21

Which means - 1)  no condemnation - Rom. 8:1, 33-34 -  is a huge thing
Therefore -      2)  peace with God - Rom. 5:1 - not at odds anymore

Now have right standing legally which leads to right standing relationally.  We were separated from God due to our sins.

II.  Reconciliation = the act of God by which He restores our relationship with Him.
2 Cor. 5:17-20   1 Pet. 3:18 - not just to forgive, cleanse, but to bring us to God

Now - Heb. 10:19-22, 4:16 - let us draw near to God with confidence.

Justification => right standing (legally)
Reconciliation => right relationship -- (personally)

But God took it one step further:
III.  Adoption - the Act of God by which He  makes us  part of His family.
(which is more than in His presence) - example:  son-in-law - before marriage and after wedding

Rom. 8:15-17   Gal. 4:4-7 
I own, in a sense, a piece of the Kingdom

So, because of the WORK of Christ, the ACTS of God, when you approach God in faith, believing and recognizing Christ, you have forgiveness, cleansing, pardon, absolution

Right Standing, Right Relationship, and a welcome into His family!
1 John 3:1

Next week - evening - will celebrate the Lord's Supper.  Celebrate His death - by which we have Forgiveness and by which we have Restoration!    The prodigal son was a son.  We are prodigal strangers, and still He says "come".

He makes all this Available

Have you made the choice?

Have you made the crossing


Sunday, March 10, 2013


The practice of sacrifice is as old as mankind.  Universal.

Sacrifice means - offering to the god(s) to please, appease, win favor, divert anger, manipulate their power, etc.

Some sacrifices are "non-bloody" - examples:  cereal/grain/vegetable - "oblations"
                                                                  wine/other drinks - "libations"

Most common were blood sacrifice because a life was offered up.
Majority of these were animals, BUT the pinnacle of sacrifice by pagan peoples was Human.  Because:  was the highest life form, therefore the grandest sacrifice.  Pagan gods/goddesses all have some human traits.

Human sacrifice practiced around the world - China, Japan, Tibet, India, Polynesia, Africa, and before the time of Christ, Ancient Greece and Rome, Druids, Celts, etc.  

Most widely known - AZTECS - took human sacrifice to the highest level art form.
1)  made a human sacrifice to the Sun God each morning to aid it's rising
2)  made human sacrifice at each of 18 annual festivals.
In 1487, by their own report - there were 80,000 human sacrifices made at the reconsecration of the Great Pyramid (temple) in 4 days!

At least 9 different methods of sacrifice - all ritualistic and done a certain way to appease certain god.
Victims could be P.O.W.s, criminals, slaves, OR a losing ball team, draftees from the populace.  Often children and teens, and often from nobility.

The IDEA was to pacify, appease, placate, arouse, manipulate, win favor, divert anger.

1)  Human sacrifice is now illegal in every country - considered murder
2)  notion and practice of sacrifice is gradually disappearing.
Especially, blood sacrifice.  Now considered unnecessary, uncivilized, un-couth.

Yet we approach Easter season - when 1/3 of the world celebrates the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ!!!

Really???  His death constituted a Sacrifice for us???
John 1:29
1 Cor. 5:7
Heb. 8:26
Heb. 9:28
Heb. 10:10

So.... how is this sacrifice different?   (although we're not sacrificing anymore)
IF blood sacrifice is so out-dated/archaic/uncivilized/abhorrent.....

Then how is the sacrifice of Jesus any different?
and how can we justify the continual celebration of that sacrifice??


 This Sacrifice ........
#1.  was God's idea (His plan - not something men came up with)
example:  bridge - God's idea   Acts 2:22-23 - "....foreknowledge".  Man did not come up with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

#2.  was accomplished at God's initiative.
HE thought it, planned it, implemented it (made it happen!)
Rom. 3:25 - "... in his blood."   Acts 3:18 ... "how god fulfilled...."
God presented Him

#3.  was at God's expense.
His Son.... God the Son... - from song:  "amazing love, how can it be.....?"
(no cost to the beneficiaries)  GOD died for us.

Therefore this sacrifice could be.......
#4. The Redeeming Sacifice
Definition of Redemption - a loss/a cost (price)/a purchase
Contrast Heb. 10:4 with 1 Pet. 1:18-19 - nothing else adequate
1 Cor. 6:19-20

Heb. 10:11-12 - one sacrifice, one time,
1 John 2:2

Why did God do this?  (not obligated)
1)  God's Love - John 3:16  1John 4:10
2)  God's Justice - Rom. 3:25-26 - justice demands that payment be made

#6.  This sacrifice is different because - it must be accepted  
Pagan ........ "will God accept our sacrifice?"
Christian .... "will you accept God's sacrifice?"

So............ "salvation by works????"
Answer:  Yes!!!!! BUT - His works!! - John 19:30 - He worked hard to bring it about.

This season we focus on His death for us - His sacrifice for us!  It IS the only way!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pre-destination? or Freewill?

Does the Bible Teach Pre-Destination?
Eph. 1:11 - "In Him we were also chosen....."
Acts 13:48 - ".....all who were appointed...."
1 Pet. 2:8 - ".....which is also what they were destined for..."
Matt.  11:27 - "......and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal....."
Rom. 8:29-30

Dos the Bible teach Free-will (of man)?
Matt. 23:37 - ".... but you were not willing..."
John 5:39-40 - "....yet you refuse to come to me."
John 12:37 - ".....they still would not believe."

We conclude, God holds us responsible for our choices... because we have a choice!!  John 8:24 - your fault
responsibility - based on choice

So... which is is?  Divine Sovereignty?  or Free-Will?  -
Answer appears to be Yes/Both!!

We struggle with both being true - but Scripture displays NO tension between the two. - is perfectly comfortable with both views.
Acts 2:22-23 - handed over by God's free will and purpose, but you had free will to or not to nail Him to the cross.
Acts 3:13-14, 18 - you handed Him over, but .. God fulfilled.
Acts 4:27-28 - they did what had been decided beforehand.

Example:  Jesus - His death - pre-determined yet Hi chose  it freely - John 10:17-18
Example:  Judas (chosen but not elected) - the betrayal - pre-determined But he was responsible for the decision he made - Luke 22:22

This is a "mystery".  ie:  beyond reason but not against reason.  Beyond (our) comprehension, but not beyond Possibility or truth.
Compare:  Trinity - incarnation - ex nihilo creation

On one hand, it's difficult to be comfortable with these 2 views together!!
On the other hand, if you don't accept them together, you must one was or the other!

A Look at the Extremes

Extreme Calvinism - Pre-destination extreme
(Augtustine 4th/5th Century) --> Reformation (16th. Century) --> Calvin --> 5 Points

T - Total Depravity
U - Unconditional Election
L - Limited Atonement
I - Irresistible Grace
P - Perseverance of the Saints

All of this view stands or falls on point #1 which states:  all descendants of Adam and Eve have been and are born depraved, totally depraved.  So depraved spiritually that can't and won't respond to God's calling under any circumstances.  Therefore, God must determine to save unconditionally.  He extends grace so overwhelming that a person that has been chosen comes and accepts.

Extreme Pelagianism

(Pelagius - 4th/5th. century contemporary of Augustine) --. counter Augustine --> branded a heretic
He stated:
1)  NO inherent sin (no imputed) depravity
which lead to:
2) works-based salvation - he went so far as to say you don't need God to be saved or to respond.
The EXTREME END - 20th Century - "Open Theism" - which states that since man has free will, God can't possibly know what the future holds.

NOTE:  middle of the Road is not always the right place to stand!!

BUT - if you don't choose one way, you must embrace both!!! (dilemma of many Christians)

A Look at "Embrace Both" stance - (Overview of 'middle of the road')

1)  God is Absolutely Sovereign - boss over everything in every instance.  No dualism in the universe.

2)  I His Sovereignty He has granted us free will.
This = free will to choose, Not necessarily free will to accomplish, determine, choose outcome, choose path.
Example:  Salvation;  bridge = His doing

3.)  Our will is serious flawed by Adam's fall - separated by sin, inherent sin
4)  Our will is not damaged beyond an ability to respond to God.
Example:  Adam and Eve after the fall - still could hear God's voice.

5)  In our fallen state, He graciously assists us.
The Divine Initiative - (necessary to salvation) - A) He draws us to Himself - John 12:32
                                                                     B) He enables us to come - John 6:44, 65
6)  He allows us to decide - "whosoever will may come" - thus:  no room for pride as it was the Father who has drawn us, wooed us to come, not our own work.

7)  If we decide for Him, He graciously saves us.  -Eph. 2:8-9 - gift of God, not of works.

8)  Whom He gracious saves, He also graciously keeps (addressed last week)

MRP's advice: - 1)  Study this out, think on it
                       2) Recognize that No one view has all the answers!!! (all have holes)
                       3)  Don't be exasperated by inability to reconcile the 2
                       4)  Focus on Free-will!!!  - it's the only one you have any control over.