FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 17, number 34, August 30, 2018
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” -Acts 2:42
Four Necessities for Every Believer: 3) Feeding on the Living Word
I, for one, am very thankful that many of our Presbyterian and Reformed churches observe the Lord’s Supper each Sunday. After all, we believe that the Lord’s Supper is more than a memorial, a time of remembrance. We believe that it, along with the preached word of God and public worship, are means of grace. That is, the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism and the ordinances of preaching and worship are used by God to cause His people to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
However, it seems to me that our observance of the Lord’s Supper does not always promote personal holiness of life. We can easily move to the point where it becomes mere ritual, just as public worship and preaching can sometimes fall short of promoting gospel holiness in the congregation. Why is this so often the case?
A look at Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost can surely be instructive in this regard. Peter’s main point, or shall we say his theme, is “This is the day of the coming Holy Spirit.” Every preacher must find through diligent study of the text the main point which the Holy Spirit seeks to make in every sermon he preaches. He comes to this conclusion by outlining and expounding the text. In the case of his Pentecostal sermon, here’s the outline:
I It is the day of extraordinary things on earth, Acts 2:14-21.
II It is the day of the Lord’s passion, Acts 2:22-36.
III It is the day of salvation, Acts 2:37-40.
From this Peter proclaims the cutting edge which each sermon must provide, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ,” (Acts 2:36). What are they going to do with this message? Hebrews tells us that the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the division between soul and spirit, of both joint and marrow, and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the human heart (Hebrews 4:12).
This, my friends, is what is missing in so much of our preaching today. There is seldom a cutting edge, or punch, or call to repentance. Seldom do we hear of the one thing one is commanded by God to do, drawn from the very text itself. No wonder there is so little spiritual transformation in our churches.
So, what does this have to do with the Lord’s Supper? Jesus made clear that unless we eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, then we have no part in Him (John 6:3). There is both a definitive and progressive dimension to a believer’s salvation. On the one hand, the moment he is regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:6), born again to a living hope (1 Peter 1:3), then he is also justified, receiving the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor.5:21, Rom.5:1). He also receives the Holy Spirit in sanctifying grace (Heb.10:10, 1 Cor.1:30). This is the definitive nature of our salvation.
However there is also a progressive dimension to our salvation. We are to grow daily in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. We, however, battle indwelling sin every day of our lives, and we therefore constantly fall short of all that God requires of us. The preaching of God’s word is to reprove (convince or persuade them of the truth in the sermon), rebuke (show them where they are wrong), and to exhort (to move them to specific action, based on the sermon they are hearing). See 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
So, what did you do the day God showed you your sin in your unconverted state? You repented and ran to Jesus for His new heart in regeneration, the cleansing of your sin, and the gift of the Holy Spirit who gave you power to live in holiness. That was a definitive action.
But you sin daily, and the preaching of God’s word is to bring the sharp knife of conviction into your heart, mind, emotions, and will. So, what shall you do when the Spirit reveals your sin to you on Sunday morning? You should go to Jesus in the Lord’s Supper, asking Him not only to cleanse you but also to feed you with His body and blood, so that you might have His holiness for further sanctification.
On Sunday morning, you must go to Jesus in the Lord’s Supper for cleansing and power. But on Monday morning and every subsequent day of the week, you are unable to go to Jesus in the Supper so you go to Him in your personal times of prayer as you read God’s word.
So, the problem with much preaching today is that it does not lead us anywhere. Yes, some pastors are very good at expounding a text and giving us boatloads of valuable information. This, however, is not the end of preaching. Preaching is to reprove, rebuke, and exhort. Preaching is to have a cutting edge. Preaching ought to bite, convict, make the unbeliever very uncomfortable and even make the Christian uncomfortable at times.
The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11). A preacher who is filled with the Spirit, who wields the sword of the Spirit, will preach to the heart, the mission control center of every man. His preaching ought to cause the people in the pew to proclaim, “Now, what must I do with what I have just heard?”
As we saw last week, the believer must get in a small group and pray with others until they all get it and own it. But he must also go to Jesus in the Lord’s Supper to eat of His flesh and to drink of His blood by faith. There alone is the heavenly food and drink which promotes gospel holiness in the people of God.
So pray for your pastor to preach with the cutting edge of the Holy Spirit, and when you see your sin from the sermon, as you sit or move forward to eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus, consciously say to God, “I have sinned against you. I now see what I have done and what I must do. I cannot do this in my own strength. So I am coming to You, Lord Jesus. Feed me and quench my thirst. I want to obey and honor You this coming week.”