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

Up In Out

The pattern in the Bible (A Biblical paradigm) is UP IN OUT

“Up, In, Out”. This describes the great Bible pattern (paradigm) for growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. It is the name of a sermon by Steve Armfield given at Thornapple Covenant Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan), June 14 2009. The subtitle is: “Revelation, Reflection, Response”. I highly encourage everyone to listen to it, it is available at the church website. The Rev. Armfield bears no responsibility for any of the content of these pages, nor is he otherwise associated with them in any way. I offer my apologies as well as thanks to him.

In the Book of Isaiah we read how Isaiah looked up to a vision of God in Heaven that revealed His holiness. The vision caused Isaiah to look within himself and reflect upon his own sinfulness. God sent cleansing to Isaiah, and in response Isaiah went out in service to God. Read Isaiah chapter Six. That is the pattern of Up In Out, or revelation, reflection, response that we find throughout the Bible. We look up when we read the Bible, it is God’s revelation to us. In the Scriptures we see God in the glory of holiness, we see that He is righteous, and that He hates sin: there is no sinful thing with Him. This should make us look in to our selves, reflecting upon our sinfulness and need for salvation. This ought to cause us to acknowledge, confess, and repent of our sin. God is holy, which means not only that He has a righteous hatred of sin, but He also has a righteous love for His fallen creatures. Because of His holy love He has made a way that He might justly justify (Romans 3:26) us through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. By this we are washed clean of sin, justified (Revelations 1:5). Then we go out in the newness of life to do His good will, doing those works of righteousness for which we were created (Ephesians 2:10), putting on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5; Galatians 3:27), working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), being renewed daily (2 Corinthians 4:14-16), growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), being built up in Him (Colossians 2:7; 1 Peter 2:5) until upon His return we see Him face to face, seeing Him as He is, and being transformed fully into His likeness (1 John 3:2). That is our only reasonable response (2 Peter 3:11; Romans 12:1).

The intended result is changed lives, this includes what we call worship in spirit and in truth. Worship is not only what we do when we join together in congregations. It characterizes how we live our lives (as above: Romans 12:1). We know that God is seeking worshipers to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).

The Biblical pattern of Up In Out is how we become worshipers in spirit and in truth. Paul taught us in Romans 10:17, after telling us how we may be saved by our belief in, and confession of the Lord, how that is made possible because God has sent messengers with the good news (Romans 10:8-17) . Paul’s conclusion is,

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

The pattern of Up In Out is comprehensive because it is based upon seeing a vision of God in the Scriptures, and having a correct response of repentance and obedience to His will, and serving Him as He would have us to. This is the pattern throughout Scriptures. We read in one place,

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18)

The word, vision, is the King James translation of the Hebrew word, chazon. It means a prophetic vision, an oracle from God, a revelation. God’s word in the Scriptures provides us our vision. The pattern of Up In Out is that we look upon the vision and let it achieve God’s purposes in us. As was said, we look up by reading or hearing Scripture. And the vision we are given is Christ and Him crucified, summarized in Hebrews 2:9:

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)

If we will “look up” and “see” Jesus in the Scriptures, we will be led of the Holy Spirit to confess our sins and to lead lives being conformed to His likeness (John 16:7-11; Romans 1:16—the Gospel is the power of God for salvation). That is why we speak of the Christian message as kergyma. Kergyma is a Greek word used in the New Testament. It is the preaching of a message intended to affect and change us by teaching God’s revelation to us in words we understand with our minds (Paul: five words with understanding as in 1 Corinthians 14:19) and act on in our hearts. The point of the vision is the message, which is Christ and Him crucified, and returning, to the end that we be transformed into the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29) and give Him the preeminence in all things. We look up and see Jesus as He is. That makes us to look in and see ourselves as we are, sinful, but redeemed by His sacrifice. And then we are free to go out, carrying the Christian kergyma, being co-workers with Him, and worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.

This paradigm of Up In Out is a practical principle for everything we do as Christians and as the Church. It means we always hold Scriptures before ourselves; we always refer to them. For example in a worship service it means that first we have God’s word opened to us. Then we have a time to reflect upon it. The worship following is the response. And this is why the Lord’s Supper has such pertinence for our worship services. It holds before us, in a most special way, the vision of Christ as He is in Scriptures. It is God’s work, His invention, He devised it, it is His picture for us of Christ. And that is why we say that we should prefer nothing to it.

©FH 2012

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