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I Believe In The Ordinances Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
April 19, 2023 1:00 am

I Believe In The Ordinances Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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April 19, 2023 1:00 am

At the Last Supper, Jesus served the bread and cup as pictures of His coming sacrifice. Throughout church history, this ordinance has taken many forms and spurred much debate. In this message, we look back, look forward, and even look inward through reflecting on this sacred act. Since faith in Christ alone saves, all who believe can partake.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Jesus left for us a simple moving example at the Last Supper when he served the bread and wine as pictures of his coming sacrifice.

Over the ensuing years this ordinance has taken many forms and spurred much theological debate. Today some clarity on what communion is all about. From the Moody Church in Chicago this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, today you finish up your series on I Believe in the Church. Do you believe the church will ever come to the unity Jesus prayed for in John chapter 17? Dave, I'm going to surprise you by saying that I believe that the church has that unity. The fact is that every single believer is baptized into the body of Jesus Christ. We do share a common life.

Now we're not doing a very good job of displaying that to the world and that of course is our responsibility. But at the same time we must recognize that the oneness for which Jesus died has taken place thanks to the Holy Spirit. I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry and we are making this series of messages available to you. It's entitled I Believe in the Church. I want you to be able to have it so that you can listen to it again and again. Share it with your friends for a gift of any amount. This series of messages can be yours.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Remember the series of messages I believe in the church. Now let's speak about the Lord's Supper. It occupied always a central place in the history of the church because the cross is central. But when sacramentalism came into being, again we're talking about you know the third century and especially after Constantine, the fourth and fifth centuries, where it was believed now that this was something that actually became the body and the blood of Christ.

What you found is two things. First, awesome power given to the priests. I mean just imagine through saying the right words, wine could become blood and bread could become literal flesh. That was believed by the tenth century, 1,000 years after the time of Christ that was finally believed to be the correct tradition. So what you had is not only the priests having awesome power, but people were told that they could worship the wine and the bread with the same worship given to God himself because it was God.

I have a book that was used by priests in which the priests say we can lock God in the cupboard overnight because this is God of very God, the flesh of Christ, the blood of Christ. Now mind you, when you looked at it, it was still wine. It tasted like wine. It smelled like it.

It was still bread. But the essence, it was believed, was changed somehow miraculously. What also happened as this began to grow, you know the Latin word missa is to dismiss and because at the end people were dismissed, the word missa became applied to the entire feast and therefore we get the word mass. But as this began to grow, people, the ordinary person was told you can't even drink the cup because you might spill the blood of Jesus Christ on the floor.

We can't trust you with his actual blood. You can imagine again this distinction that came between laity and clergy as the clergy had the awesome power to be able to make the concentration and be able to make the change. When you have the time of the Reformation, when there was a rigorous examination as to what the Bible would say, you find that the Reformers had their own disagreements.

I might take a moment and emphasize that. Luther did not believe in transubstantiation, that the elements were actually literally changed, but he did believe that there was a literalness even though the elements remained the same. It's very mysterious to me as to exactly what he meant, but it was called consubstantiation. That is to say that Christ is there in along with alongside of the elements somehow. So it's literal without a change. Calvin in Geneva believed that Christ was spiritually present and another Reformer in Zurich, Swingly, believed that Christ is symbolically present. Here at the Moody Church I'm sure that we hold probably the symbolism certainly most assuredly that Christ is symbolically present. Christ is also spiritually present, we could say, but it's not literal. What you have in your hand is still bread.

What you are drinking is the cup, but it has not been transformed into anything other than what it is. It is a symbol. I like to think of it this way. It's like a photograph. I've not seen my oldest grandson for over five or six weeks and so my wife saw him last week and brought some pictures back and she gave them to me and she said, this is Jack. Now I can see that he's a lot bigger than he used to be, but I didn't see him literally. It wasn't as if those words were literal.

This is he. No, it's a picture. And when Jesus was here on earth he was saying, I'm giving you a picture. The whole idea of eating flesh, literal flesh, and drinking literal blood would be contrary to some of the other teachings of the Old Testament. Furthermore, when Jesus said, this is my cup, this cup, this cup, he said, is the covenant of my blood.

Well, we wouldn't say that the cup is a covenant. So even within the context of his words himself, there is a great deal of symbolism that we were to understand. But what is it really that communion is a picture of? For this I want you to take your Bibles and turn to 1 Corinthians 11 where the Apostle Paul gives the clearest explanation of what it is of which we participate and its meaning. I'm going to pick up 1 Corinthians 11 verse 23.

That's where I'm going to begin to read, though I may make references to other verses here in the text. For I received from the Lord what I passed unto you. The Lord Jesus, on the night in which he was betrayed, took bread.

And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, this is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after supper he took the cup saying, the cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Paul says, first of all, that when we come to communion, this symbol, he says when we come to it, first of all, we look backward. We do it in remembrance of Christ.

We remember that he died on the cross and we remember that his cross is sufficient for us. You know, it's possible for you to confess your sins every single day, trying to remember every one of them. First of all, you can't remember all of your sins. Number two, there are all kinds of things that God might call sin that you don't. So if you think that confession is the way of salvation, you have no assurance because you're never sure.

It's like trying to mop up the floor with a faucet running. Tomorrow is another day with more sins and more lack of assurance. I'll tell you what you need. You need one act of God by which your eternal destiny is forever sealed. And it says in the book of Hebrews that by one sacrifice, this is what we remember when we come to communion, by one sacrifice, he has perfected forever those who are sanctified. At last, we recognize that Christ's death on the cross was sufficient for every one of us who are willing to believe in him and receive that gift. And so we remember that. And we remember it with a great deal of gratitude because we know we could never possibly trust ourselves. We come remembering the covenant. What is the covenant? It is the promise of Christ.

All of this, of course, as Pastor Schwartz frequently helps us understand within the context of the Passover is Jesus Christ shows himself as a continuation and the completion of Old Testament promises. So we remember the past. We also remember the future.

We look forward to it. You'll notice it says whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. What we're not only saying is we're saying he came once, but we're also saying he's going to come again.

And we're proclaiming it. We are saying that we believe in the return of Jesus. Now, we may not know exactly when he's coming back or how he's coming back. Lots of disputes as to exactly what are signs of his coming and what are not, and we can't maybe figure all that out. But we do love his appearing, don't we? As a matter of fact, maybe you're sitting there today and saying, I wonder if I am a born again Christian.

One way that you might be able to determine it is whether or not you love Christ and you love his appearing. Peter said in his letter, he said, whom having not seen, we love. And though we see him not, yet we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

I want you to know that on your own, it's not possible to love someone whom you haven't seen. And we don't see Christ, but we love him. And we look forward to his appearing. And when we begin to see signs as we interpret them, that the appearing of Jesus Christ is near, we may have some faint hearts believing that there may be some trouble before he comes, but we're glad he's on his way because we look forward to the marriage supper of the lamb when we'll be able to sit down with him and our fellowship with him will be eternal and will be sweet. And when we gather together today for communion, we're saying that. We're saying, Lord, thank you for the past. You came back then, but I'm looking forward to your coming in the future.

And I'm proclaiming that faith in your coming. What else do we do? We look behind us. We look to the past. We look forward. We look to the past. We look forward, but we also look inward.

We look inward. Notice what Paul says. Verse 27. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord.

What does an unworthy manner mean? Well, for one thing, if we read the earlier verses in the chapter, we'd know that the Corinthians were using the Lord's table as an opportunity to have potluck dinners at their church. And many people were overeating.

They were not taking care of the poor among them. Some of them were drinking wine to the point of getting drunk. That's part of it. So Paul says that's no way to remember the Lord's death to come with such irreverence and so many wrong attitudes and behaviors. The other thing that he's talking about though is this sense of division within the body. If I eat or drink unworthily, what it means is that there may be some disunity in my heart with another brother. Let's suppose, for example, that here this morning at the church, there was someone with whom I had disagreements that were unresolved that could be resolved. It may be my fault. It may be the other person's fault. He may be angry with me. I may be angry with him.

Perhaps we've done some things. Thankfully, I can give this illustration because today I stand before you with a clear conscience. Maybe I can't say that every Sunday, but today I can. More seriously, I want you to know that God has worked in my life so that whenever possible I want to be fully right with God and with other people.

But let us suppose that a set of circumstances like that did exist. I would have no right to communion because I would be in effect dividing the Lord's body when the whole purpose of communion is to unify us. My sister was a missionary in Africa and she said that before communion they always had a break after the service before communion so that people could go to one another and make things right before they participated. I don't think that's a bad idea really because what we're doing is we're coming together and we're saying, I discern the Lord's body as being one, as united. And if there's division within the body and we pretend that everything's okay when it's not, we are eating in an unworthy way. In fact, Paul goes on to say in verse 28, a man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord, that is without recognizing its unity, eats and drinks judgment on himself. Well, you say, what's the judgment? I mean, this is terrifying folks.

We take this all for granted don't we? He said that is why many among you are weak and sick and a number of you have fallen asleep. That's a euphemism for saying you've died.

If you don't think this is serious business just listen to this text. And then he says, but if we judged ourselves, that's what I'm asking you to do this morning. My dear Christian friend, if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.

What he means is that if we judged ourselves within our hearts and then made sure that we were right with the Lord, then we would not fall under his disciplinary hand because he wouldn't have to judge us because we've judged ourselves. So I have to ask you today, what is it that you've brought with you today in your heart that might prevent you from participating? I encourage your participation, but not if not if you're not discerning the Lord's body, not if there's division, not if there's unresolved conflict with someone else who is a part of the same body.

Let me give you the bottom line. Number one, no ordinance can save you. Baptism can't do it. Communion can't do it. They can't take away your sin. They can't reconcile you to God. They can't bring you closer to the Lord as if within these ordinances there is some inherent power. It's not what they are.

They're symbols. And the way God works is not because someone has the power to be able to make these so sacred that suddenly they have within themselves some kind of power. That's not in the Bible. The way God works in the human heart is directly. Through faith in him, we experience his love, we experience his forgiveness, and then these become symbols of the inner working of God, but they themselves cannot help us. And I say to those of you who think that you're a Christian because you were baptized, if that's the focus of your faith, you will be lost.

You will be lost. No ordinance can save anybody. Secondly, ordinances are marks of obedience.

They're marks of obedience. That's why I urge those of you who know Christ as Savior, even if you're visiting with us, participate with us today. But also say to those of you who have not been baptized, when you have opportunity, as we'll explain, you have the opportunity to be baptized, follow through in obedience. This is Jesus said, go into all the world and preach the gospel. Baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.

Set them apart in this outward way as part of the new community. So it's marks of obedience. But at the end of the day, what we must do is to realize that faith alone saves.

It really does. I suppose there is no one listening to me here today or over the radio, wherever, who does not in his heart believe that Jesus Christ is somehow necessary for salvation. I would think that everybody believes that. What there may be many people who do not understand or believe is that not just that he is necessary, but that he is enough. He is enough. We sing, Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin has left a crimson stain.

He washed it white as snow. I say to you today, in your distress, Jesus Christ is enough. Would you join me as we pray? Our Father, we do want to thank you today that you've given us the opportunity to gather together in your name to show our unity. And as we participate today, we thank you that Jesus died. We remember the cross, but we also remember his return.

And we do examine ourselves. We ask today for that great sense of unity and honesty and cleansing that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. And then may we participate with hearts filled with joy because we've come in obedience to your holy word. Grant that we ask in Jesus' name.

Amen. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. I believe in the church and I certainly hope that you do too. If you are physically able, I hope that you attend church. Sitting home, singing, seeing a church service on the computer is not the same as connecting with the saints directly. I've preached this series of messages entitled I Believe in the Church. I think it's very necessary at a time of individualism, a time when everyone wants to do their own thing.

We forget the unity of the body and the need that we have for one another. Now, for a gift of any amount, we are making this series of messages available for you. Here's what you can do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be giving you that contact info again, but I want to emphasize the need for the church.

In a day in which people think to themselves that they can live the Christian life on their own, the Bible teaches very clearly that we can do together what we cannot do alone. Here's what you do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the series of messages titled I Believe in the Church. Listen to them again and again.

Share them with your friends. Jesus said, upon this rock I will build my church. I hope that you want to be a part of that building, that your presence will strengthen that building, and as for today, well, be sure to walk with God. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Among the highlights for many church families are the meals they share together, banquets, breakfasts, and the well-known chicken dinners. One of our well-fed listeners has this culinary question, Dr. Lutzer. Will we eat in heaven? Well, the short answer is yes, I think we will. The Bible speaks of the marriage supper of the Lamb, and it talks about different fruits that are available.

Let's not let this shock us. Sometimes we think that the resurrection of the body creates a body that is so holy, so spiritual, that of course we wouldn't be interested in food. But remember this, Jesus, after the resurrection, he has his resurrection body. He eats fish with the disciples, as found in John chapter 21. So the answer is yes, we will enjoy food.

I don't think that we will ever get sick in heaven, no food poisoning, but we will be there at the banquet, and if you enjoy eating, you're going to enjoy heaven. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. I now feel much better already. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. The winning athlete understands discipline, taking the right steps to ensure victory. And you can be sure that it also takes discipline to win in the race of life. Next time, Pastor Lutzer begins the series exploring five disciplines that grow godliness. Plan to join us. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-19 03:33:52 / 2023-04-19 03:42:18 / 8

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