The greatness of this sacrifice, the greatness of Christ, the holiness of Christ, the grace of Christ, the mercy of Christ, the purity of Christ, the kindness, the gentleness, the tender mercies of Christ toward us. That's what we remember. Hello and welcome back to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I'm Bill Wright. And today, as Don continues teaching God's people God's word, he'll begin a new series called The Priority of Unity. Today, exploring the rich meaning and endless benefits of communion in the life of the believer. And Don, when Jesus said, do this in remembrance of me, meaning the practice of communion, he wasn't telling us to perform some religious ritual, right? His desire was for it to be more about a time of unified, intimate reflection and the worship of our exalted King.
Isn't that true? Well, Bill, when Jesus commanded us to come to his table for communion, he intended for us to particularly remember his sacrifice for us at the cross when he died for our sins. The elements remind us that Christ literally suffered on a literal cross to redeem us from our literal sins. And my friend, as you listen to the message today, understand this. Communion is a time to examine your life for unconfessed sin and to renew your love for Jesus Christ and for fellow believers. I trust you'll be edified. Stay with us as we see how communion works in the life of the local church right here on the Truth Pulpit.
Thanks so much, Don. And friend, let's join our teacher right now with part one of a message called Communion and Church Unity here on the Truth Pulpit. Today I want to use this message to prepare our hearts for the Lord's table simply to focus our attention on Christ and the way that his work on our behalf, how that works to promote even our spiritual unity as a body of believers that gather together week by week. Make no doubt about it, here at Truth Community, our supreme focus is the Lord Jesus Christ.
It's not any so-called seeker. It's not any one particular man or anything like this. Our focus is on Christ. He's the one that we love. He's the one that we praise. He is the one that we remember as we come to the Lord's table. And we do so with a knowledge, with a certainty, testified by the inerrant Word of God that his righteousness and shed blood are the ground of our redemption.
Turn to Ephesians chapter one, if you would. Ephesians chapter one, as we prepare our hearts to remember our Lord in the way that he commanded, he said, do this in remembrance of me. And so today we have a particular privilege, not only of remembering Christ and his work on the cross, but to do so in the way that he particularly commanded his people to do.
This is a Sunday of blessing and privilege for us at Truth Community to be able to remember our selfless, sacrificial Lord. In Ephesians chapter one, verse five, it says that God predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished on us. As Christians, we see ourselves in this passage.
As Christians, we realize that the Apostle Paul is describing God's people, the people for whom Christ died as he speaks here in Ephesians chapter one. And our salvation was not an afterthought. It was the purpose of God through all eternity. From eternity past, he predestined us to the very position that we now enjoy in Christ. There was never a moment in time where God's saving intention toward us was lost on his mind. He predestined us for this very purpose that he might adopt us into his family to belong uniquely to him, not only for time but throughout all of eternity future. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have such a magnificent position of privilege that belongs to us as Christians. He predestined us to adoption.
And this is not primarily about us even. This is to the praise of the glory of his grace, it says in verse 6. We are saved not so that we might be the object of attention, but that Christ himself might be the object of attention, that he might receive the glory for the wonder of redemption.
And look at verse 6. It's to the praise of the glory of his grace, his undeserved favor. Those of us who deserved judgment instead are on the receiving end of divine blessing and privilege.
Not because we had done anything to earn it. It says that in verse 6, he freely bestowed this on us in the Beloved. It was a free gift of God's favor and kindness. Grounded, verse 7, it says, in him we have redemption through his blood. We have been purchased out of our slavery to sin at the cost, at the price of the lifeblood of the perfect Son of God. We have, it says in verse 7, the forgiveness of our trespasses. God will not hold our sins against us any longer. Those of you that come conscious of the fact that you have fallen short in the past week in ways that cause your soul pain, we see here that the blood of Christ is sufficient for the forgiveness of those sins. Scripture says that he has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. A metaphor for saying that in no way will God ever hold our sins against us anymore.
He has removed them from our account. Where guilt was charged to us, he took it away and applied instead the righteousness of Christ to our account so that we would have a perfect standing with a holy God. You and me, sinners by nature.
You and me, sinners by choice, preferring disobedience to worship. And in our time before Christ, dead in our trespasses and sins, here it is laid out in marvelous glory that we have redemption through his blood. Our slate has been wiped clean, righteousness has been given to us. And look at it in verse 7. Paul just piles up the magnitude of the goodness of God toward his people. It's according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished on us.
God didn't merely drizzle out a little bit of kindness, a little bit of sugar upon his people. According to the riches of his infinite grace, he has poured out blessing upon us. He lavished it upon us. Treasure upon treasure upon treasure of us who were in the rags of unrighteousness before him.
He brought us to himself and he did it at the price of the blood of Christ whom we remember at the table. We're grateful, aren't we? We're grateful for Christ. We're grateful for this love, for this mercy, for this kindness, for this grace. And we understand without pride, without apology, we understand that this came at God's initiative, not us. We are in this position because he first loved us. We love Christ not because we first loved him, but because 1 John 4.19 says he first loved us.
The priority, the initiative came from a holy God toward sinful people, not from a sinful people toward a holy God. That's humbling. It's joyous at the same time. We realize that we're here at this table that we're commanded to come, that we're welcome to come at the initiative of a gracious King, at the initiative of a merciful Savior, a wonderful Savior. That's what we're remembering here today as we come to the table. The sacrifice of Christ, and beloved corporately as we contemplate this today, the greatness of this sacrifice, the greatness of Christ, the holiness of Christ, the grace of Christ, the mercy of Christ, the purity of Christ, the kindness, the gentleness, the tender mercies of Christ toward us.
That's what we remember. And it should make us humble. It should make us grateful. It should drive us to worship. And as it has that effect upon us, it will prepare our hearts for communion, to take communion as Scripture commands in a worthy manner.
One of the ways that we take communion in a worthy manner is that we cultivate our spiritual unity together as a body of corporate believers. Look at Ephesians chapter 4 for just a moment. Ephesians chapter 4, one of the main points that Paul has in this epistle is to promote the unity of the church.
This is the driving application that he starts with. After these first three chapters in Ephesians of laying forth the great doctrinal realities of our salvation, he says to apply it, he says in verse 4, he says, Therefore I, the therefore, this is the implication that we should take out of the grandeur of our salvation. Paul says in chapter 4 verse 1, Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called. We've refreshed our memory in these opening comments about the grandeur, the magnificence of the call that God has placed on our lives, the grandeur of the fact that the eternal Son of God would lay his life down to save us, to make us his people. Well, how do we respond in a manner that's worthy of that? The hymn that we sang just before the message said that if the whole realm of nature was mine, that would be an offering far too small to give back to Christ. How could you give back a physical dimension to properly thank Christ for the spiritual blessings that he's given to us is the point of that. What price do you put on the sacrifice that saved your soul?
How do you value that? And if I gave all of the realm of nature, it wouldn't be enough to say thank you? Paul has that kind of thought in his mind there in verse 1. He says, Realize. Realize that the magnitude of the reality of the cross places a call upon your life to respond in a worthy manner. And he goes on to explain what that looks like in verse 2, as it were almost chastened by the price of our salvation, as we remember the undeserved, lavish grace that's been poured out upon us. He says in verse 2, With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One of the ways that we respond in a worthy manner to the sacrifice of Christ is that we're conscious of the priority of the unity of the body of Christ, the unity of our own life together as a body of believers, and that one of the ways that we take communion in a manner that is worthy of Christ is to cultivate that spiritual unity, to understand that we take communion not in isolation, not as spiritual silos, as it were, but we remember as we come to communion that Christ died for a people of which we are a part. We are conscious of the fact that he died for the church, and that as part of the church we want to do what we can to preserve the unity of that, to make that a priority that subjugates our selfishness and our own desires and conflicts and subjects that and says, no, unity is more important than these other things. Well, the passage that Andrew read for us earlier helps us cultivate a spiritual perspective that will help us appreciate the importance and the priority of church unity as we come to communion.
That's what we want to look at here. Andrew read Ephesians 1 verses 15 to 23. I won't repeat it here as I preach here today, but I just want to pull out a couple of brief items for you to help us be mindful of how it is, what are the spiritual attitudes that cultivate spiritual unity so that we not only individually, but we corporately could take communion in a worthy manner today, that we would honor the sacrifice of Christ with a proper attitude not only toward him, but also toward one another.
Well, first of all, there's two things that I want to bring out from that passage to you. First of all, we thank God for each other. We thank God for each other. Look at verses 15 and 16 of Ephesians chapter 1. Remembering that Paul had been expounding on the redemption that is found in Christ, that coming up is going to be this emphasis on church unity. Here he turns to prayer in verse 15 as one of the driving engines of the response that we are to make to this sacrifice as we live with one another. Paul says in verse 15, for this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you while making mention of you in my prayers. It's appropriate that Paul would give thanks for believers because the source of their spiritual life came from God himself. He recognizes the spiritual life that has been described to him by these people that have come to him and have described the faith of the people at Ephesus and in other areas. And Paul says, I am so grateful to God about these things that I have heard. Paul recognized that they had true faith in Christ.
And whatever their other problems might be that he addresses later in the letter, Paul could affirm that faith and thank God for them. To recognize that the Christians that he was addressing, for us to recognize that the Christians with whom we gather here have their spiritual life as a gift from this sovereign gracious God. And as you see that life in one another, as we see that life in each other, a love for Christ, a love for his word, a desire to serve, a sweetness of spirit, which I believe is really coming to mark the life of truth community. We realize, beloved, that what we're seeing manifested around us is something that God has done in our lives individually and corporately.
And we realize the source and therefore we give thanks to the source. God, thank you for these believers with whom I share spiritual life together. And as we take communion, I want to encourage us, encourage you, to remember that Christ died not only for you, he died for the rest of us as well. We share in this together. We are together the privileged recipients of divine favor. And as we look and contemplate who's sitting next to us and who's in front of us and who's behind us, we realize that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. That we are grateful for a work of Christ that was for a people.
And as we think about it from that perspective, it elevates our view of the sacrifice of Christ even more. It's not just that Christ has been gracious to me, he's been gracious to you, Holly. He's been gracious to you, Buddy. He's been gracious to you, Chuck.
I could go down the line. And this multiplies our joy in taking communion. This multiplies the wonder of the gift. I'm with people as I take communion that share in like manner of the gift. You've been an object of the redeeming grace of Christ just like I have, and vice versa. And the appropriate response for that is for us to thank God for that. That, God, thank you that you weren't just merciful to me, you were merciful to a lot of other people in this room too.
That attitude will help us not be unwittingly self-centered in our approach. We're grateful for the grace that saved us. We're grateful that God extended it to others as well.
And we're grateful, I'm grateful, I know you are too. We're grateful that somehow in the course of his magnificent providence, he has pulled us together as a body of believers for us to share in that life together. To go through life, to walk through life, loving his word, loving Christ, and loving each other. That's a great, great gift bought for us at the price of the body and the blood that we remember here at the communion table today. Communion draws us together. Communion pulls us together in a way that reminds us of the corporate life that we share. And Paul says, look back at verse 15 and 16 with me. He says, I'm thankful for your love for all the saints. He's thankful for the visible way in which they had manifested love in practical ways for other believers. It was a tangible love, not something merely affirmed with their lips, but absent from their lives. And that has application for us as we live together as believers, as we go through life together.
And let me just draw out one particular way in which I think it helps us. It is easy to find fault with other Christians in the church. Now I haven't seen this as a major problem in the Life of Truth community, but I just want to point this out to help us strengthen and gird up our hearts even more. It's easy to find fault in the church. Sam's a grumbler.
Sally is always late. Do you know what so-and-so did to me? You know the Spirit? Some of you have come from churches that cultivated that, that anger in your lives. Well, as we come together around the communion table, I want to encourage you to lay that aside in the spirit of thanking God for one another. When you remember the fact that Christ Jesus did a work for the salvation of those that were gathered together here today, we recognize that work of Christ in their lives, and we thank God for it. And all of a sudden, the things that we're prone to complain about, the things that we're prone to find fault in, suddenly seem to diminish by comparison.
And that's the way it should be. As we come together and remember the great sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, it should cause us to look at one another with a more generous, gracious spirit. If Christ has had grace upon you, then I should have a generous, gracious attitude toward you as well.
And vice versa. As we're pulled together around a remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ, it causes us to lay aside the complaints, knowing that... Think about it this way, beloved. God, in a manner of speaking, laid aside His complaints against you.
In fact, He laid them on the shoulders of Christ and punished Christ for His legitimate complaints against you, and you now stand in a position of privilege and favor that you didn't earn. Well, doesn't that spill over into the way that we look at each other? Doesn't it spill over into the way that we think about one another? If God's been gracious to you, can I not be gracious to you? Can I hold things against you that God has forgiven you for? You see, the spirit of gratitude for salvation spills over into the life of the body, and it changes the way we look at each other.
Well, I want to tell you. I want to tell you, beloved, that as that starts to feed into the way that we approach the communion table, we'll be taking communion in an even more worthy manner as we let things of complaint and fault-finding and bitterness go, because they're simply drowned in the magnitude of the flood of the mercy of God upon you and upon me. And so we're grateful. We're grateful for Christ. We're grateful for each other. What a privilege to come together as a body of like-minded believers who love Christ together. Here is our spiritual oasis in the midst of a crumbling world, right?
So we're grateful for that. Well, we'll have to pause there for today on The Truth Pulpit with Don Green. And friend, if you'd like to share this message and this entire series with a friend, we invite you to visit thetruthpulpit.com. That's thetruthpulpit.com. Don will press on in our series called The Priority of Unity next time with the second half of today's message. Meanwhile, I'm Bill Wright. Join us next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-26 02:58:41 / 2023-03-26 03:07:09 / 8