Tuesday, October 27, 2009
In the same way also the cup after supper, saying: This cup is the new testament in my blood; keep doing this, as often as you drink it in my memory.
1 Corinthians 11:26
The reading of someone's last will and testament. What an exciting and often tense moment for those involved. Did the deceased leave anything of value to me? If so, what? How much? A multitude of thoughts could be pouring through one who is anxiously waiting for such a reading of the will might be experiencing. Did I do enough to merit anything of importance; what did the deceased really think of me and our relationship.
Apply this to our Lord's Last Will and Testament. I was encouraged by one of my Seminary Professors to say the Consecration of the Communion Wine this way, since some of the listeners are not knowledgeable about just what "testament" means as they are "will."
Michael Horton in his excellent new book: The Gospel-Driven Life, brought to my attention the thought that each and every week we who speak for Christ (in this "last will and testament" since, His attorneys) read this last will and testament each week in church. It is so broad and rich that a lifetime of reading does not exhaust all of its abundant blessings. The biblical word "grace" speaks of this. One way of defining "grace" is by using each letter: God's Riches At Christ's Expense. His body and blood were given into death sacrificially for our spiritual poverty so that through His becoming poor for our sakes (crucified for our sins) we inherit His riches. In fact, 2 Corinthians 8:9 states this very fact: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
Horton in his new book puts this continuing encounter with the reading of Jesus' last will and testament in its proper function: "We must renounce the contracts we have entered that promised to make our life meaningful and say "Amen!" to the will as it is read to us."
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Apostle Paul writes of this in Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all godliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Is this legion of suppressors ignorant of the truth? No, they are anti-truth, they are anti-God. As one commentator says about this passage: "they are not ignorant but rebellious; not atheists, without God, but anti-theists, against God. For God has shown them the truth, Himself."
Jesus clearly taught that He was the Truth! And that as the Truth it would set whoever believed and trusted in Him free from the wrath of God against sin. Yes, suppression of truth is a dangerous and serious matter. Followers of Christ are controlled by it and its grace and mercy, and thus receive not their godliness or righteousness, but Christ's.
And they do this by faith in the gospel, the Good News that Jesus' death and resurrection has freed them from all truth suppression and anti-theism. They are free then to proclaim this truth, not suppress. They might seem like small, weak, lonely green arrows in a world of many reds, but they are pointed up to where the Truth will return to judge everyone based on their response to this Truth.
Amidst all the falsity and lies of our time, Jesus continues to call people out of their Truth Suppression to Him who is the Truth, the Light and the Life. For nothing is powerful enough to suppress the love of God in Christ Jesus to save His people (Romans 8:37-39).
CHRISTIANITY: COMFORTABLE OR COMFORTING?
Too many people today want church to be "comfortable." They demand it to be soothing, relaxing, inspiring, relevant, and easy on the mind and soul. A Christian writer by the name of J.I. Packer likened this to his first hot-tub experience; the water swirled around his shoulders and neck and relaxed his whole body. Jets of bubbles soothed and removed all tension. Does God intend Christianity to be a hot-tub experience, comfortable?
No, He intends it rather to be "comforting." For God describes this very emphasis in 2 Corinthians 1 as "God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share in abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."
The Bible is clear and focused throughout that this suffering and comfort of Christ's that we believers' share is none other than His sacrificial death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. This is to make us "comforted" that our sins are forgiven in Christ crucified and raised for them, rather than make us "comfortable." We are never to be comfortable with our sinful condition which persists even in the believer (see Romans 7).
While many today want and demand that Christianity be comfortable to them, it cannot be. The Apostle Paul writing to the Pastor Timothy in 2 Timothy 4 says that this is the very sad and false condition many will find themselves in Christianity in the last days (verse 3-4). But not for real pastors and their flocks, Paul goes on in verse 2-5. It has to be "comforting" that sinners are forgiven their sins, not "comfortable."