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Can We Talk About The Lord’s Supper?
I ask us to reexamine our traditions concerning the Lord’s Supper.


The teaching that worship belongs to God is that worship is for God so that He may have what He seeks from His creation for His own purposes. It is our eternal calling and just due to Him to worship Him. Though we benefit through our worship, it is for God, not for our own sake that worship is given. That is why we say it belongs to Him alone, and that it is both for His good pleasure and by His good pleasure that we worship Him.

This may seem like it should be a commonplace thought to some, but there is no little variety of opinion among Christians about it. Many take exception to it and say instead that God intends us to benefit by our worship of Him. And many are careful to add that He doesn’t force it upon us, and that it is actually an expression of our mutual relationship in communion with Jesus Christ as the children of our loving Abba, Father God. There is truth in that counter point, we do need a balanced view. But we cannot pass by what may be uncomfortable because of the desire for a balanced view. The idea of balance in teaching is an analogy for different ideas brought into proper relationship to each other. In the analogy perhaps one thinks of scales being weighted down to bring them to the level with each other, but to do that one must handle each weight, one by one, each in its own turn. And to see God as He has revealed Himself, just as in the analogy, we must examine each aspect of God’s character individually in its own turn. We look at each teaching, one by one, each in turn. To try to look at everything all at once is to see the big picture. But we also need to look at the details. Yes, we want to see the forest, but we also want to see the trees. The nature of analysis is to examine each part separately. The nature of synthesis is to look at the parts all together with new understanding. Synthesis follows analysis. We want to condition our thinking about the idea that worship belongs to God, not us. But we also want to condition our thinking about how God uses worship to benefit us.

A balanced view of God, or seeing Him as He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures and not as we imagine Him to be, shows that His love for us is all that much more remarkable because of how holy He is. When we understand what it means that He is self described as a jealous God, a consuming fire, and that He will take vengeance which belongs to Him upon His enemies and repay them, and judge sin, we can then begin to understand and give proper value to the truth that He loves us so much, and proved it through His Son Jesus by giving Him as a blood sacrifice for sin. As in the analogy of the balance scales where each weight must be placed in turn, there is a time to study the severe, even frightening aspects of God, and a time to study how He loves us. There is, and must be time for each or we will have an unbalanced view of who God is.

Unless we study all aspects of God’s character and how it relates to worship, we will miss many aspects of worship. Our view of God should affect our view of worship, and in turn, our view of worship should affect our view of God. To ameliorate the severe aspects of God’s character, to avoid the frightening truth, or to ignore it, is to become lukewarm. It is hot, a burning fire, to meditate about the Father in anger, jealously taking fiery vengeance upon His enemies. This fire of God is damnation to His enemies, but to His people, it is the refiners fire: it teaches the fear of God as the beginning of wisdom. We must not quench it because it is wholesome and purifying. And on the other hand, if we focus overly much upon this severe aspect we cannot do justice to His great love for us, nor understand much of the New Testament. If we don’t understand love, what then of John 3:16, or the chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, or the Epistle of 1 John? Necessarily we must learn what God has revealed of His character to us, and learn about His eternal purposes. This must affect not only how we view things, but also change us. And that is very clearly the effect God’s word is to have upon us, because faith comes by hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17). Ultimately we are to be changed into the likeness of His Son, Jesus (Romans 8:29).

It is well to condition our thinking by such study. We are to put on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), and we are not to be conformed to this world, or to our own way of thinking, but rather be transformed, renewing our mind with the mind of Christ (Romans 12:2). It is significant that our ultimate transformation will be when we see Jesus face to face, see Him as He is not as we may imagine Him to be (1 John 3:2). But till then we have the Scriptures which present to us God’s revelation of Himself, and it is of utmost importance that our thinking be “according to the Scriptures” as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. When we “hear” Scriptures we soon discover that we do not think like God at all. In Isaiah’s book, God put it this way,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We know that part of God’s stated purpose is to create a people for Himself, the Church, and conform us to the likeness of Jesus Christ. One aspect of that means that we will become spiritual and true worshippers, the which, God has clearly said that He is seeking such (John 4). So very certainly in that sense God wants us to be worshippers because that partially describes the character He wants us to ultimately have, and the communion He wants with us. He has told us that He has decided beforehand, in His determinate counsel and foreknowledge, that we will be conformed to the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29).

So then here is the value of this study, like the Law, God’s revelation of what may be called His severe character is meant to lead us to Christ, to be a school master to us. We are not to be left cowering in fear and dismay but instead find the true value of the freedom of our salvation and the love He has shown us in Christ. Despair is called a deadly sin because it is a cry that the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23) is not obtainable. That is to call God a liar because He has said … whosoever will … may receive that gift (John 3:16-17) .

The teaching that worship belongs to God is supported by His self revealed character in the Scriptures. It is supported by the Law concerning worship in the Old Covenant. It is supported by the language used for worship throughout Scriptures. It is supported by practical illustrations from Bible history. It is supported by what some have called the theology of reversal found in the Bible. And it is supported by the common sense that what is given is given not only to, but also for the one to whom it is given, otherwise it is not truly given. This last thought about giving will condition our understanding of John 3:16 for example. God … gave His only begotten Son; He truly gave Him, for our salvation.

©FH 2012

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