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The Sacraments

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
August 27, 2020 4:00 am

The Sacraments

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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August 27, 2020 4:00 am

Communion may seem strange to outsiders. Why would someone want, even metaphorically, to consume their Savior’s body and blood? What does this sacrament symbolize, and what does it accomplish? Hear the answers on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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Some churches call it. Others refer to it as communion or the Lord's supper. Regardless of what you call it. This ordinance is a regular part of Christian worship.

What makes it so important will address the subject today on Truth for Life as Alister Ben continues his series called encore 2020 sacrament is not a biblical word.

It's a word that entered theological parlance via the Latin Vulgate and it literally means something sacred when Augustine defined the sacraments in history as quotes outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace, he made it possible for people tend to think of them subsequently in terms of signings or symbols external elements which point to a reality beyond themselves is important that we understand is that the signing or the symbol without it is water or bread or wine is not to be confused with the thing it signifies or symbolizes the sign or the symbol that is a visible object that points to the reality reality that is different from and more significant than itself and we put it down of the most elementary thinking. We don't imagine that because we have seen on the highway, a sign pointing to Chicago that we have actually arrived in Chicago all that we have seen is a sign that is pointing to a reality beyond itself and we could park by the sign and never ever be in Chicago so in the signs, the reality to which they point and get this is displayed not dispensed the blessing which is promised in the sacraments is not mechanically or automatically conveyed in.

However, to be surprised by that because that is just as true of the Bible. The blessings which are conveyed in the Scriptures as the word of God speaks are not automatically conveyed because we read the Bible.

That is why when we study the Hebrews we found that there were those individuals for whom the preaching of the word and the reading of Scripture was of no value to them because they did not combine the hearing of it with faith. So the fact that they were present for the reading of the Bible did not mean that they automatically receive the benefits which came from the Scriptures in the same way when we think in terms of baptism and the Lord's supper, the blessings and the benefits which accrue from them. Do not come to an individual automatically or in some mechanical fashion. And that's why it's possible to sit on the fringes of all of this and say I don't understand why these people are so concerned about what I don't understand why they would be so passionately involved in the matters of baptism, etc. note in the pre-Reformation church. There were a number of sacraments.

Those of you who are students of history will know that to be true and when in the Reformation. The reformers determined that there were actually only two. The Council of Trent then rebutted the notion of the Reformation and declared that there were in fact seven sacraments, namely baptism, communion, penance, confirmation, marriage, ordination, and final unction, and it was in reaction to the reformers cry off solar script sure only the Scriptures alone that these same people declared that the unwritten traditions of the church and Scripture where to be received with equal reverence that the unwritten traditions of the church and the Scriptures were to be received with equal equal reverence and were to be submitted to on the same level. You see, this is a most fundamental distinction then between that notion and the Reformed Church because ever since the Reformation. Protestantism has understood that there are only two sacraments, and they are those which have been given to us by the word of Christ himself, namely that Jesus himself instituted both one on the nights when he was betrayed when he took bread and broke it and gave it to his disciples and said, as is recorded for us in the Gospels and on the other occasion on the eve of his ascension and he gave to his followers the responsibility to go into all the world and to preach the gospel and to baptize Jesus then instituted these two sacraments now.

By the time again of the Reformation.

The confusion extended beyond the number of the sacraments to the very nature of the sacraments and so they came to be regarded as not simply signs of God's grace or a means of grace, but they were actually thought to contain and convey grace are you see if you think about this for a moment or do you understand and why certain churches established themselves a song along certain lines because there is a logical cohesion provided you understand their starting point, given one's conviction that their premise is wrong. Their application follows wrongly.

Nevertheless, from where they started. Makes perfect sense to demand of their people and to call their people always to be the receiving the sacraments because they believe that in the receiving of the sacrament grace is conveyed to the individual recipient and the fact is that these notions are still firmly embedded in the minds of many people and that is why there is a kind of mystical superstition attaches itself in the minds of men and women both to baptism and to the Lord's supper and we need to understand the Reformation church in the Reformed Church gone through all of the centuries in concurrence with what was happening in the institution of these things in the Gospels, to which Paul refers here in first Corinthians 11. Throughout all of time, the Reformed Church is understood that the bread and wine in communion remain bread and wine, and of the water of baptism is quite simply tap water to attach significance beyond that to the symbols and to confuse the reality with the symbol is to end up in dreadful positions. So for example the Roman Catholic view in distinct contrast to what I'm just saying is that the bread and wine actually become the Lord's body, which is of course transubstantiation in the water of baptism is no longer ordinary water, we categorically deny both of these notions, and there is no middle ground. So the sacraments baptism and the Lord's supper do not signify. Don't teachers any other truths than the truths that are taught in the Bible know people are concerned this it will what why do we use different names for the Sacramento Bee. Why would somebody call it the sacrament and we wouldn't call it that we would want to call it an ordinance because wardens doesn't sound like sacrament because sacrament, we think conveys all these faulty notions. Well, we refer to it as the Lord's supper refer to it as the breaking of bread, some refer to it as holy Communion. Some refer to it as the Eucharist, the Anglican Communion because of the Eucharist.

Presbyterianism never because of the Eucharist Eucharist also simply the noun in Greek for Thanksgiving.

Nothing particularly special or bad about the term and the issue is not the terminology, the issue is, what is it actually all about. I want to summarize it for you very briefly by giving you five phrases. So here in the phraseology of the Rev. Eric Alexander. Are these important observations.

They truths to note are very very clearly there before you in first Corinthians 11 and the first thing to notice.

Although this is one of the five is that Paul is declaring that his practice is derived directly from what the Lord revealed to him as Ray says, for I received from the Lord what I also passed on to use in other words, he said I'm not making this up, this is not my own idea.

This is from the Lord himself.

So what then is the Lord's supper.

What is happening in the breaking of bread.

What is the first of these two sacraments number one. It is an instruction, in which we obey Christ.

The meal was instituted by Christ, if it were merely a human tradition. It would be optional of the reformers were very clear that we should understand that the sacrament of communion is not saving ordinance.

In other words, you can still get to heaven without ever sitting at the Lord's table, which is particularly good news for the thief on the cross.

I think you would agree to is not in itself a saving ordinance, but it is a commanded ordinance and since we have been commanded to do it when being told how often to do it on which particular framework to do it, but we have been told to do it and therefore it must be observed. It's not a matter of choice for a Christian. Secondly, it is a commemoration in which we remember Christ. Now I don't want to weave my way back through the Old Testament, but can I assume that you understand the link between the Lord's supper and the Passover, the events of Exodus and the sending of the angel of death in the instruction that was given for the taking of a lamb without blemish and be the lintels and the door posts the framework of the door of the home being covered with the lamb's blood is a sign of dependence. The angel of death passing over that now that picture is at the very heart of what takes place when we share the Lord's supper, because in the experience of God's people there.

They spread the signs and symbols before them of God's work of redemption, but he didn't confuse the signing of the symbol with the actuality of what was taking place. It was a visual reminder.

It was a concession to our frailty so that God would set before us in a visual way.

The reality of his redeeming grace and in so doing, give us in a picture what the word gives to us in verbs and nouns.

Consequently, anything that makes the sacrament teach something other than the word of God is without question.

False. Thirdly, it is a proclamation in which we preach Christ as in the Passover, which proclaimed that salvation was God's work accomplished through the shedding of blood and applied to the holdings in the lives of those who came to God in obedience and in faith. So to is the Lord's supper applied to those who come in repentance and in faith. It is an indication of what God has accomplished in a once and for all sacrifice and the Jews in the Old Testament made much of this Yukon on a number of occasions. As you read through the Old Testament to places where the people are told the parents are told. I want you to explain this to your children. I want you to remind them that they were redeemed by my outstretched hand. When your child comes to you and says father. What do you mean by this service. The father has to reply in accordance with the truth of God's word and I believe in Orthodox homes even down to tonight in the high holy days of Judaism. The child would still be charged with the asking the question and the father would still be charged with the giving of the response. When the child says father why are we doing what we are doing the father would say, because God redeemed his people by the provision of a substitute who bore the judgment of a holy God on sin and he would tell his children that in Egypt there was a death in every house on that night either the death of the firstborn or the death of the Passover lamb that picture.

Of course, you will remember runs down through all of biblical history.

That's the great wonder that is there in the story of Abraham and Isaac. Isaac says to his father.

I can see we have the wood but what about a land and Abram says God himself will provide a lamb and of course he does. In the immediacy of that but it also points us forward down to the one who would come the Lamb of God. Fourthly, it is a participation in which we feed on Christ. That's why here in verse 26 he says, whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Clearly this is a meal however symbolic the meal is however symbolic a part of the gathering might've been, but it is a participation in which we feed on Christ. If you think about that that is true. First of all, in terms of our coming to Christ for our coming to Christ as a feeding on Christ.

Otherwise, how do we understand the words of Jesus. I am the bread of life and he read to me will never hunger was a mean and to eat of Christ. Clearly, Jesus was not talking about actually eating him physically.

If I may say so reverently without appearing to be bizarre. He was using a picture in the same way says is God is provided for his people of all in different ways.

Provision for them. So, in the person of myself is the provision for the most basic needs of men and women in the encountering their sin, and if they will, and eat all of me if they will take me into their heart and into their experience if they will come and commit themselves to me and I'll never be spiritually hungry again and if they drink of the water that I give them still never ever be spiritually thirsty again. The picture is clear to convolute that into the sacramental is him whereby transubstantiation and all of its mystical strangeness is pressed upon people is a long stretch.

Don't forget that when Jesus said this is my body which is broken for you the disciples in the eating of the meal were clearly able to distinguish between his physical body by which he handed the very bread to them and the bread which signified the reality of who he was sitting right there beside them, they were not in any doubt.

So it is true that we feed on Christ in our coming to Christ as we receive them into our hearts and it's also true that we feed on Christ as we grow in grace and yes we feed on Christ in the sacrament of communion, not in a literal and physical way. But God clearly has determined that in the obedient act of sharing in this sacrament. He meets with those who come in three so I've never been totally comfortable with Zwingli's hands-off total symbolism, nor was I comfortable with Luther's consubstantiation that you care, but I have to conclude that just as in the same way that we are all called to obedience and in obedience.

There is the attendant blessing of God. So if he is given express instruction to obey him at the point of baptism, we would anticipate that since he demanded that all of us and it is an obligation and not an option that there would be some peculiar attendant blessing an hour of being him at his expressed point of the man that is true of baptism as I believe it to be and I believe it also to be true initiating of the Lord's, and is in all of that. I'm only in one remote appeal to sacramental is all I'm saying is simply what the Bible says that we feed on Christ in our coming to Christ we feed on Christ and our growth in grace, and insofar as the sacrament simply sets forward in visual form that which we have in the Scriptures in verbal form there ought to be a living encounter with the risen Christ. When we gather around this table. Otherwise why did Edenton for us to finally it is and then it is an anticipation in which we wait for Christ, you proclaim the Lord's death.

Verse 26 until he comes. So it is always that we are able to look back in thankfulness and able to move forward in anticipation and at every point along the journey.

You see the picture is that of a lamb in the Passover spotless lamb in the Lord's supper, the Lamb of God who bears away the sin of the world and what is it we anticipate in Revelation 19 it is the marriage supper of the Lamb.

So when we come to the Lord's table. We come recognizing that there is a reminder here that for our past, God has given us cleansing and forgiveness.

There is a reminder that for our present. He provides us fellowship and strength, and there is a clear indication of the fact that for our future he has promised us assurance and joy. I haven't said a thing about the frequency or the manner in observing communion together. There is much that we could think through concerning that. I'm sure but the riches which are the believers in Christ as wonderful as they are in our present experience. Do not yet compare to what they're going to be and actually in the wedding of Cana in Galilee, you have a wonderful anticipation when Jesus puts his hand to the matter before the people remember them. His mother comes to Mrs. Jesus. We are a real problem here.

They run out of wine. What is he say woman might obtain has not yet come with a strange answer to such a pressing practical problem at a wedding reception and as Jesus responds to that. Remember the reaction of the people when they dip into these stormwater ports which were, they are the very stormwater parts, which were used by the Jews for their ceremonial cleansings. He takes that which was used for ceremonial and external cleansing and he pours into that and makes in that the reality of this warning the people go around saying this is a strange wedding reception.

Usually, the longer it goes, the more inferior the wine becomes. But in this case he has The best wine till the end. Jesus must've been saying yes and if only you had eyes to see, you would understand that that is the whole journey of Christian living, so that when we look back and wonder about cleansing and our forgiveness. And when we look around and rejoice in our fellowship and in our strength and when we look forward in anticipation of all of our joy were going to discover that Jesus has The best wine till the last that is why this is the merest anticipation of a reality way beyond itself thoughtful study of the biblical sacrament of communion. Alister big Truth for Life. This message comes due today as part of encore 2020.

You're revisiting some of the most highly requested messages from the past year, but I hope you realize you don't have to wait for encore to hear your favorite messages.

Again, all of Alister's teaching is available online free of charge. Many messages have transcription video available as well. We are so grateful for the financial support we received from blisters like you.

Your generosity covers the cost of producing these messages so we can make them available for everyone who wants to listen and to express our thanks today for your gift. We'd love to send you a book written by Alister's longtime friend, Sinclair Ferguson, the book is titled maturity. The apostle Paul describes the goal of his ministry is presenting everyone mature in Christ. We don't hear the word maturity often in modern churches.

Sinclair dives deep into the Scriptures to help us learn how we can battle sin and temptation. And he reminds us were not alone on that journey. This book helps us track our progress keeps us on the path without losing heart.

It takes us step-by-step through the practical elements of a maturing faith request a copy of the book maturity by Sinclair Ferguson you give online today the Truth for Life.org/donate or you're welcome to get by phone, call 888-588-7884 Bob Lapine tomorrow will hear the final message and encore 2020 sure to join us again this daily program features the Bible teaching of Alister big furnished by Truth for Life with the learning is prolific


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