3 Easy Ways To Make The Most Of Communion – Part 1

Sacrament of the Altar

The Sacrament of the Altar, otherwise known as Communion or the Eucharist, is one of the most observed and misunderstood of all of the sacraments. In Communion Jesus Christ gives us Himself to strengthen and preserve us in our journey that we may never have to “walk in darkness” for we have “seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). Over the next few posts we will look at the three easy ways we can make the most out of Communion:

  1. We will examine what is Communion
  2. What benefits we have from receiving it
  3. Who is to receive it

What is Communion?

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Matthew 26:26-28 WEB

The Sacrament of the Altar is nothing less than the body and blood of Jesus Christ given to us in, with, and under the species of bread and wine.

Let us be very clear. We are not talking about the Roman Catholic belief of Transubstantiation saying that the bread and wine are somehow transformed in its substance. The bread and wine remain exactly what they are, bread and wine. What we mean is that when receiving the elements we also receive the true and very real body and blood of Jesus, not spiritually, but supernaturally. Beyond our ability to perceive or fully understand it.

The reason for this has nothing to do with a special power or righteousness of the priest or pastor, nor anything to do with the faith we bring to the sacrament. It has everything to do with God’s ordinance and command. It is true because, as with baptism and the forgiveness of sins God has promised that it is so. Jesus said in the scriptures that the bread and wine are His body and blood so we may know it to be true:

  • Whether we have an unworthy minister, for what minister could ever be worthy
  • Whether our faith is weak, for this is the very purpose of Communion to strengthen such faith
  • Whether we understand it for even the theologians cannot fully grasp this mystery

Jesus is faithful and His Word will never fail, so the Sacrament is exactly what He promises.

We ask God to bless the cup at the Lord’s supper. When we drink from this cup it means that the blood of Christ is for us all. We break the bread. When we eat this bread, it means that the body of Christ is for us all.

1 Corinthians 10:16 WEB

His gift has been given to us, let us be eager to receive Him.

Conclusion

Today we talked about the first of the three ways we may get the most out of our communion experience. By knowing exactly what it is that we are receiving when we eat the bread and drink from the cup we may appreciate more fully just what Jesus gave up to save us. How can this biblical perspective help Christians today embrace the true consequences of their sin and help them stay away from it?

I would love to hear from all of my readers either in the comments below or through email on my Contact Page. Also feel free to share a link to this post on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else where content is shared.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

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Being Forgiven

Who screwed up so royally that we have all the problems we do today? Who gets the blame for messing up what was made so perfect in the beginning?

The Blame Game

As He [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him.

John 9:1-3

Christians know there is some truth behind the disciples’ question. Sin, falling short of God’s will, ultimately lead us to suffer. It is also the original sin of Adam that helped usher in the suffering we see so prevalent today. But where the disciples go wrong is in trying to apply this principle in a particular situation. They want everything to be black and white. This man is suffering because he either sinned in the womb or because his parents were scum.

Christ, as any good teacher, answers in a way to show them that they are asking the wrong question. It is not about how awful a person has been as to whether they will suffer.

For he [God] makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

Matthew 5:45b

It is not about blame, it is about God.

Forgive Yourself

It has become very popular to say this to people who are depressed. I must firmly disagree. It is pretty easy for us to forgive ourselves. We are far more tolerant of our own mistakes then we are of others. What we really need is God’s forgiveness.

Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! If you forgive anyone’s sins, they have been forgiven them. If you retain anyone’s sins, they have been retained.”

John 20:21-23 WEB

Jesus gave to His Church the power to forgive the sins of any who repent. Yet this gift is scoffed at by many Christians today. They say they need only pray and forgiveness will come. But just as God gave us the Scriptures through the words of men, so too he gives us still His words of forgiveness through the mouth of men, the pastors called to proclaim this good news to His people.

So don’t struggle to forgive yourself. Instead, strive to find the forgiveness of a God who knows exactly how messed up you are and will still forgive you anyway. That love is far greater than anything you can give yourself.

Next Time

Today we talked a little about the precious gift that God gives us. We do not need to play the blame game. Instead, we look to Christ to be forgiven and then show this same forgiveness to those who need it. By replacing blame with forgiveness we can make society just a little bit better.

Next week we will dive into one of the final Sacraments on our list, the Sacrament of the Altar. If you have any questions about forgiveness or any about communion you want to be answered let me know in the comments below or in a private email through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

The Power of Baptism

Have you been born again? That is a question I have been asked by a lot of people over the years. Usually by folks who aren’t very sure what that question really means.

Born Of Water and Spirit

Jesus answered him [Nicodemus], “Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can’t see God’s Kingdom.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into God’s Kingdom! That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:3-8 WEB

This is where the phrase “Born again” comes from (rendered in this translation as “born anew”). Yet what most people pass over, is that Jesus is talking about a real birth. They ask if you have made the decision to be born again by asking Jesus into your heart.

This, however, is rather absurd. Nowhere is asking Jesus into your heart mentioned. Also, no one asked your permission for you to be born physically. You had no say in the matter. The truth is, your spiritual birth is the same way.

The Means of Grace

But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love toward mankind appeared, not by works of righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior; that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This saying is faithful, and concerning these things I desire that you affirm confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men [that is mankind];

Titus 3:4-8 WEB

Being born again is not our choice, but God’s promise. Baptism is not our work, but His. We are reborn anew of the Spirit because God said we would be. Not because we said the right prayer with enough sincerity (for who can honestly claim to have been truly sincere), and not because we were dunked into the right amount of holy water.

It is solely because God promised and because God always delivers on His promises.

Your Faith Does not Matter

In the last few posts, we have covered the particular blessings of baptism. So here I want to cover a very important topic. Your faith or level of understanding does not make or break baptism.

So many people are wrongly and sinfully rebaptized because they think they did not understand what was happening the first time or because they did not really believe correctly the first time. They doubt whether their baptism was right or accepted because of their own shortcomings.

Guess what, that will always be true as long as you make God’s work out to be your own. You do not bring anything to baptism. Your faith does not matter, your understanding does not matter. What matters is God. That He promised baptism would mean something. That it would forgive you your sins, make you His own child, and free you from the devil. That is what matters. So in baptism, and in life, rely solely on God.

Next Time

Today we have talked about trusting in God for all of His promises, even those we are tempted to make our own. Next time we will continue this idea in the concept of forgiveness.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

Hidden Treasure

Does salvation sometimes feel like a treasure hunt? Maybe that is the fun part!

Last time, in Baptism, The Spiritual Sponge Bath we talked about how important Baptism is. Today we are going to talk about the blessings it holds for us today.

Changing Names

On March 10, 2007, Amy Moore and Anthony Bacon were united in Holy Matrimony in North Carolina. As in many weddings today, Amy decided to hyphenate her last name with her husbands, instead of a complete name change. Those of you who are quick on the uptake will realize how funny a situation that puts her in. If you are like me, it took a moment to realize that her last name now reads, “Moore-Bacon”.

New Name

Did you know when you become Christian that you get a new name too? It isn’t as comical as above, but it comes with a great inheritance. When you are baptized, the minister says “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. Have you ever wondered why that is said? Notice the minister does not say “I baptize you in the names” but rather name is singular.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Matthew 28:19 NASB

This is because you take on yourself the one new name of God. You are, as we mentioned before, adopted into the family of Christ. Why does this matter?

Adoption

There was a family who desperately wanted a child. Finally, after many years of going through the paperwork, they were able to adopt a wonderful young girl from China. Shortly after her arrival, the family had their pastor over for dinner. While there, he noticed that their new daughter spent a lot of time trying to serve the family, do the dishes, clean up the table, etc.

About a year later, they had the pastor over again. This time, there was a marked change in the girl’s behavior. She no longer did any of the things she had before, but like most kids had to be asked to offer assistance when it was needed. The reason for the change? She had been loved.

Family Benefits

Belonging to a family is important. Knowing that you belong to a family is a lot more important. Christians today are often pretty poor at being Christian because they have lost the importance of Baptism. They have forgotten that they are family.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 3:27,29 NASB

You see, the girl acted the way she did at first because she did not know she was part of a family. She thought she could be sent back if her new parents did not like her. So she sought to earn their love by seeking to please them. After she lived there for a while, she discovered that no matter how badly she messed up, no matter what she did, she would always be a part of that family.

The same goes for God’s family. That is why we have all of the freedom I have been talking about. That is why our salvation cannot depend on us. It is the precise reason why we do not have to worry that God will take away our home, our job, or our family just because we missed church one too many times.

What is even more important, that is why Baptism is so important. Baptism is God’s promise that we are His family. It is not our work of testimony for God. That is worthless. It is His promise of forgiveness, unconditional love, and unmerited grace. That is everything.

Next Time

Today we went over the beautiful blessing that Baptism is. Next time, we are going to take one final look at baptism. This time covering the great power it holds. For now, I would love to hear from you. Has your appreciation for Baptism increased? Does it make more sense why Jesus would have put such a focus on this sacrament before ascending into heaven? Let me know in the comments below or send me a private message via my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

Baptism, The Spiritual Sponge Bath

Ever had anyone offered to give you a bath? Probably not, but it just might be worth doing. Let’s find out together.

Pickling

To start today, we are going to need to learn how to pickle. Around 200 B.C. there was a Greek physician named Nicander. One of the many things he wrote was a recipe for how to make pickles. In one step he calls for the chef to dip (bapto) the vegetable into boiling water. Afterward, he is to submerge (baptizo) into a vinegar solution. Both of these words mean to dip or immerse (see Mark 7:4) but the latter causes a permanent change to of the cucumber into a pickle.

Power in the Word

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit

Titus 3:4-5 NASB

Most people have a deep misunderstanding of Baptism. They believe it to be something that they do. Consequentially, many good Christians believe Baptism to be nothing more than a public affirmation of faith. Respectfully, this is an inncorrect and wholly unscriptural understanding of Baptism.

who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through thewater. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

1 Peter 3:20-21 NASB (emphasis added)

He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

Mark 16:16 NASB (emphasis added)

The water, our understanding or faith, or the manner in which we are baptized don’t mean anything. If it were our work, then Baptism would truly be nothing more than a religious sponge bath. But it is God’s work. What is important is God’s Word combined with the water. It is His promise, His power, His work that saves us in Baptism.

Adoption

When a person wishes to adopt a child they must go through many hoops to become the legal guardian of that child. But do any of those things make them the parent of that child? Do they become the parent because they signed the papers or took the right training course? No, they become the parent through their choice to take upon themselves the role of a parent.

This is the true importance of Baptism. God promises that whenever someone has both faith and Baptism, He has adopted them to be His child making Him their Father. Thus God must fulfill all the roles of a good Father to us. Never abandoning us, no matter what bad choices we continue to make. He is ours, not by our work. We do not have to properly believe this or that to be baptized correctly. We do not have to understand the great mysteries or difficult texts of scripture. We have only to rest in His eternal promise:

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

John 10:27-30 NASB

So, we are just like the pickles above. When the pickle is ‘baptized’ in the solution its nature is forever changed into that of a pickle. It is the same with a person. When baptized, our nature is forever changed into an adopted son or daughter of God. What we were not before, we will now forever be.

So rest secure in your Baptism. Never doubt His promise or His Word. For it will always accomplish what it sets out to do.

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11 NASB

Next Time

Today we talked a little bit about what Baptism is. Next time we will look into what blessings we can have from such a beautiful gift. For now, I would love to hear your thoughts on Baptism. Let’s get a discussion going on this either in the comments below or feel free to send me a private message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

The Unwanted Delivery

If someone offers to pay your debt, spit in his eye. Let’s find out why in this post of Saintly Sinners!

The Gifts

Last time we talked about how God gave us particular gifts to help us along in life. Most importantly, we learned Jesus lives His life through us. That is if we let Him. But how is this done? Through what we call the Means of Grace. These are physical things that God has left to every member of His Church to strengthen us in Christ. They are:

  • The Word of God
  • Baptism
  • The Office of the Keys
  • The Sacrament of the Altar

Go And Wash

So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.” But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’

2 Kings 5:9-11 NASB

Just like Naaman, most Christians of today utterly despise the gifts God has left us. Surely we must contribute to the work of God they think. He would never do such things Himself. Over the next few weeks, we will go through the last three in the above list (the fourth being a part of each of these). It is my hope that I will be able to show you the importance of each of these beautiful gifts God freely gave us.

Free Grace

The truth is, grace is free.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it isthe gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

Many cannot seem to get over their desire to pay for salvation. They almost need to earn it. Consequentially these Means of Grace are ultimately neglected. The Word of God no longer has a place in their lives. Instead, they must fill every minute with tasks to make their time worthwhile. Baptism is reduced to a bath, Communion to a snack, and God surely has no place in forgiveness, only judgment. Such Christians will have much to answer to God for one day.

The truth is God is powerful.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

He not only sent Christ to die on the cross for our sins. He also left us with the means to draw ever closer to Him, despite our consistent failures. The gospel is that His Word is powerful to save. He can and will deliver us. He is the well of water springing up to eternal life.

Do you find yourself exhausted by daily life? Does the work week never end or bring so much stress you cannot breathe? Then come to the well. Let God wash you in His Word preached and refresh you with His grace.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

Next Time

This week we had an introduction into the Means of Grace and prepared ourselves to discuss them in the coming weeks. Between now and then I would love to hear from you. What have you been taught about these things? Do you have any questions about them you would like answered? Let me know in the comments below or send me a private message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

I am Christian, but I Don’t Do Christian Things

Doing Christian things is for Jesus, I am a sinner so I sin.

In our last post on the Apostle’s Creed, All Hail the Sinner, we learned from a more practical standpoint, what Christ has done for us. Today let’s jump into what is still going on. To start our final session on the Apostle’s Creed here is the last section:

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Here we have a sort of catch-all section. Everything they wanted to include is sort of thrown into this last section.

A New Form

There was a wife who worked very hard to stay in top physical condition. She wanted to stay in shape so she could have a good quality of life. Her husband, however, had no such ambition. Every weekend he spent most of his time in front of the television watching whatever sports show he could find.

After coming home from a morning run, to find her husband once more on the couch watching a baseball game, her blood boiled. Before she knew what she was saying she burst out, “How can you spend so much time on that couch? You need to get outside and get into shape!”. Surprised by her sudden rant, her husband looked at her with genuine confusion in his eyes and said, “Honey, I am not sure what you are talking about. I am in shape…Round is a shape”.

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Corinthians 15:51-53

Did you know God is going to give us a new body? That’s right. One day, when Jesus comes back we will all be given a glorious resurrected body. No more pain, no more weight or figure problems. A perfect body just for us. When you think about how we tend to treat our bodies that is a pretty spectacular gift.

And it won’t stop there. God is going to make a whole new heaven and earth as well. The one we have is pretty beautiful. So much so, that there are entire groups dedicated to preserving its natural beauty. Imagine how great a perfect one will look one day.

His Body

That’s great and all, but that doesn’t really help us in the here and now does it? It is great to look forward to it one day, but what about the car payments? Or the mortgage? What about Mondays? Some days are just hard. What is he gonna do about that?

One day, a little girl came home from school after learning about arranged marriages in history class. She was shocked that women used to be forced to marry someone they did not choose and did not really know. She went to her mom, excited to tell her what she learned. Running into the kitchen she said, “Mom! Did you know women used to be forced to marry men they didn’t even know until after their marriage?”. The mother calmly replied, “Honey, that is every marriage”.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

Well, He gave us an arranged marriage. Whether we like it or not, God made us apart of the church. We didn’t choose it. Some of the people in the church are pretty dysfunctional. The music can be pretty bad, and there is always that one group of people that want to ban donuts from the coffee hour in place of veggies. But they are our people, our church, and we are theirs.

He gave us this great communion so we could help one another through. They say misery loves company. Sometimes, nothing is better or more healing, than to be able to find out that Monday was hard for someone else too. Or that there are other people struggling to make things work the same way you do. It is great to know that you’re not alone.

Life is Hard, So Let Jesus Live It

This is a bit of a risk on a Christian site (but let’s live on the edge). The author of the Chinese classic Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, once wrote this about leaders:

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him. But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.

For someone who is not a Christian, this is a pretty good description of the Holy Spirit. One other thing Jesus did for us, is he gave us the Spirit to enable us to do what we need to. All those commands that we are supposed to live by in the Bible, yeah those are His responsibility.

For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Galatians 2:19-20

This is where Christianity gets pretty unique when compared to other religions. When God commands us to do something, He also gives us the ability to do it. This works the other way too. If God did not command us to do something, He is not going to empower us to do it. So next time someone at church tells you you’re supposed to be praying ten times a day, attending daily prayer meetings,  or read three hours a day of bible stories, don’t worry about it.

The same is true for life. Ever find yourself working as hard as you know how at something you thought was your ‘calling’? Only to find out you aren’t very good at it? Sometimes God just wants you to focus on where He has put you. Do not worry about what others are doing, how successful their mission or witness is. Just put your heart and soul into what He has given you and let God take care of the rest.

Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear youI have done it, and I will carry youAnd I will bear you and I will deliver you.

Isaiah 46:4

Next Time

Today we learned about some of the gifts God has given us to sustain us in our journey, and strengthen us into salvation. Gifts like the Church, the Holy Spirit, and the joyous future of the resurrection. But He did not stop there. He also gave us many gifts to strengthen our faith. The faith we need in those hard times of life when nothing else can satisfy our earning. So next time we will take a look at the first of those gifts.

Until then, I would love to hear more from you! Do you find yourself encouraged and growing in the knowledge of your Savior? I would love to know. Feel free to write in the comments below or send me a message via my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.