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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:Are You Coming?
Text:LD 30 Q & A 81-82 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Lord's Supper
 
Preached:2002-11-24
Added:2008-08-01
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Are You Coming?

Sermon by

Rev. S. Bajema

on LORD’S DAY 30b (Q & A 81-82)

of the Heidelberg Catechism

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

 

 

Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ…

 

In the period before Christmas the managers of some firms give a party for their employees and their families. They show that they appreciate the work they’ve done for the company that year.

Now try to imagine a situation where the manager cannot be there. But before he’s called away, he gives instructions to his deputy and assistants, that only those who are presently employed by the company are able to come. All others are left out. So anyone, for instance, who worked for a while but then left, as well as those who were fired, can’t come.

Then, when the party is on, all the present employees and their families come, plus some others. Among those others are a few curious, or greedy, trying to get in. And there are also those who’ve left their jobs, or who were fired because they weren’t working properly.

Naturally, the men in charge stop these people. They ask them, politely, to go away. Yet some are insistent. The men in charge again tell them to go away. They have their clear instructions to follow.

It seems straight forward, doesn’t it? Not if you hear those people turned away, though. They’re complaining quite loudly about the whole thing. “What right do you have to turn us away?” “You’re not the boss!” “Come on, show a bit of Christmas spirit!” “After all, we’ve worked here, haven’t we?”

It becomes very difficult for those in charge. Still, nothing said by those complaining gives any good reason why they should be allowed to join in. The manager has the perfect right to exclude those whom he doesn’t consider as being eligible to join the party.

Can you see anything wrong with it? It’s the manager’s choice, isn’t it?

Yet many people find fault with the Lord for having only selected guests at His great banquet table. There are many who think that the Lord’s Supper should be open to one and all - to anyone who feels like coming.

Lord’s Day 30 disagrees with this thinking. It says that there’s a dividing line between those who can, and those who cannot, come to the Lord’s table. So let’s, consider, in the first place... THOSE WHO MUST COME, and then secondly... THOSE WHO CANNOT COME.

 

Those who must come

Firstly... THOSE WHO MUST COME. Yes, who are to come? Well, briefly stated, the call to communion comes to all confessing Christians. The two previous Lord’s Days have shown that quite clearly. I mean, there’s a command from Christ Himself! He declares, “Do this”.

But there is a way to do it. As the apostle of the Lord, Paul, writes in 1st Corinthians 11 verse 28, after speaking of the institution of the Supper, “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”

So there is to be a reflective self examination before we come to the table of the Lord. And it’s the three parts of this self-examination which are spelt out in Answer 81.

So let’s use that Answer now for you and me. In the first place we read that those able to come to the Table are, “Those who are displeased with themselves because of their sins.”

Dear friend, are you really sorry that you’re a sinner? Have you been angry with yourself because of your corrupt nature, and the many times you’ve broken God’s Law?

“Now, hold on,” you might say. “That’s a bit heavy! Makes me sound like I’m pretty rotten!”

Exactly! You and I are rotten - we’re spiritually tainted. We are bad.

 

Perhaps you still think you have redeeming qualities. You feel that you’re a little better than those around you. Oh, you know that there are some really good Christians, superior to you, but as far as the rest goes, you’re not so bad.

Jesus spoke a parable just for you. In Luke 18 He pictured two men. One a noble, proud Pharisee. The other was a tax collector - one of those who openly defrauded people, stealing from those least able to help themselves.

In Jesus’ story, the Pharisee takes a place of prominence near the front of the temple. There he prays, as we read in the verses 11 and 12, “God, I thank you that I’m not like all other men - robbers, evil doers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”

In complete contrast, the tax collector stands right at the back. He doesn’t even dare to look up to heaven. Instead he beats his chest, saying in verse 13, “God have mercy on me, a sinner!”

Jesus tells us that of the two men it was the tax collector who went home justified before God. As he concludes there in verse 14, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”         

 

Brother, sister... can you see how you haven’t loved God, or your fellow Christian and neighbour, as you ought? For example, is there anything you hold against a brother or sister in the Lord? And knowing that, have you acted in Christian love and so have spoken to that person?

Yes - to that person! Not to your friends who bear no relation to the difficulty. Have you spoken about that concern with that person?

You may think it’s the other one who has the problem. But how can that now be? Together you are a part of Christ’s Body. And so you even knowing about that wrong means you are part of God’s way to dealing with it.

Friend, does a rotten patch on an apple ever become smaller? Of course not! It will only get bigger. Unless we go and cut it out!

That’s why we must go and confess all our sins to God with a truly humble spirit. We can’t get rid of the rot! Only He can cut it out! That’s why we’re holding out our hands to Him. He has to touch us.

And then we will know the second part to our self examination. As Answer 81 says of the believer, “who nevertheless trust that their sins are pardoned and that there continuing weakness is covered by the suffering and death of Christ.”

What do you say? “My Saviour God!” Jesus has reached out to you. You trust in His death to be your only hope of life.

You are like the father of the demon-possessed boy Jesus healed in Luke chapter 9. For when Jesus tells him that everything is possible for him who believes, he says in verse 24, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

We are confronted with no-one less that the all-holy God Himself. For it is He, the second person of the Trinity, who came down, taking our very nature. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even the cursed death on the cross!

Friend, can you see the Saviour? Do you notice the thorns that pierce His brow, the blood flowing from His hands and feet, that gaping hole in His side? There despised for us, suffered the Saviour!

And do you see this same Jesus exalted to the highest place? Have you given Him the name above all names?

You see, recognising all this, means that we can’t help but come to the third part of our self-examination. As Answer 81 goes on about the repentant and believing Christians, “and who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and to lead a better life.”

 

Congregation, it is simply this: “Is Jesus Christ more than someone who once did you a favour?” In fact, having met Him do you find that you simply cannot get away from Him? And you actually don’t want to - you know you have to follow Him in everything you do! You’re His slave - you want to serve Him.

Now, that’s not to deny that you won’t stumble. Sin is still very much a reality in ourselves and the world around us. But you know where you’re going. And you can’t help showing that! Because it’s God’s Spirit who’s leading you there?

Do you believe that your sins are forgiven only because my Lord sacrificed Himself for you on the cross? Is it your sincere desire to love God and your neighbour, and to serve them according to God’s Word?

If you don’t feel that you can honestly answer “yes”, you’re not right to come to the Lord’s Table. In fact, you’re in the wrong. You have to repent before the Lord. You have to pray for God’s grace so that you can answer these questions in the right way. This is why the Apostle writes in 1st Corinthians 11 verse 27, “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord?”

 

Those who cannot come

And so, in the second place, there are... THOSE WHO CANNOT COME. This is why the Catechism concludes Answer 81, “Hypocrites and those unrepentant, however, eat and drink judgment on themselves.”

Two types of people. The hypocrites and the unrepentant. Two types of people found in the local church. People who have come to years of understanding. Those who have professed their faith. But those who at this time are apart from the Lord who saved them.

 

Take a hypocrite, for example. What he says and what he does are completely different. For while he may say all the right words, when it comes to living out his life, he goes right against God. Do as I say - don't do as I do!

So the hypocrite isn’t genuine. If he were he would be able to see that in what he does, even if there were many mistakes. After all, who among us is perfect?

Yet, where is the Spirit’s move in his life? How is his walk with the Lord? Or has it got to the point there’s no walk at all?

 

Then there’s the second type of person - the unrepentant believer. He is someone who refuses to acknowledge that he’s sinned. His fellow believers have spoken to him about it, they’ve encouraged him to confess his sin, they’ve exhorted him to return to full fellowship within Christ’s Body.

But he’s so right! And everyone else is completely wrong! He has become hardened in his sin.

         

As we consider the hypocrite and the unrepentant, we might ask, “Why can’t they come to the Lord’s Table? Aren’t they in need of the God’s grace even more than others? Didn’t Jesus Himself say, ‘I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners?’”

But, congregation, we shouldn’t think of ourselves as we come to the table. Answer 82 points us to where our focus should be. In answer to the question whether the hypocrite or unrepentant is to come, “No, that would dishonour God’s covenant and bring God’s wrath upon the whole congregation.”

The vertical relationship is all important. What is it that God requires of us?

Brothers and sisters, young people, we know well enough what the Lord expects from His people. When He calls us in 1 Peter 2 verse 9 “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” he separating us from the world. Because we’re a people belonging to Him, we are to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness in to His wonderful light.

God expected nothing but the very best from the Old Testament Israelites. In Leviticus 19 verse 2 He tells them, “Be holy, because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”

And God expects nothing less now. And to help make this so He gives His Body on earth the Keys of the Kingdom.

That’s why we have a restricted table. The Supper is to be guarded by the elders of the church so that only church members confessing the Gospel, and so living a godly life, may participate.

 

In this way we come back to our opening illustration. For if we don’t see anything wrong with that manager inviting only selected guests, why should we be ashamed that the lord tells us to do the same?

If our children and visitors ask, we should tell them the reasons why. This is the way that God is pleased. And isn’t that the whole business of the Church - indeed our whole lives, our service, and our possessions? Why should we hold back on Him when it comes to His Table?

Congregation, do we want that horrible situation that the Corinthians had fallen into? For them it was no longer a table of blessing. It had become, instead, a table of judgment!

 

Now, this point can easily be seen as negative. But remember the last words of Answer 82 - “until they reform their lives.” We don’t look upon the hypocritical and unrepentant brother or sister as being permanently cut off from us. We’re looking for repentance, for that humbling before the Lord, which we all should be doing, every day. We’re praying for His grace upon them, as we know it upon us.

Let’s not end looking down. Instead, having realised our sin, the One who saves us from our sin, and the way we live with Him, let’s come to the Table looking up! For Christ will indeed bless us in faithfulness to his Word.

Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray...

LORD God, we bow before You now in humbleness. We have done nothing deserving of all love and favour. Yet in Jesus Christ You have given us every blessing. We will live forever before You!

Please make us live like that - right now! Through Jesus who opened up the way, and who even now in the Way, we pray, Amen.

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2002, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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