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Celebrating the Lord’s Supper on New Year’s Day January 2, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Apostle Paul, Blood of Christ, Body of Christ, Communion, First Corinthians.
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Had a great service yesterday. This is the devotional I brought.

THE LORD’S SUPPER
1 Corinthians 11:18-34

The importance of the Lord’s Supper is sometimes lost in how we celebrate it. Often it does not feel like a celebration. The atmosphere is too somber. We sometimes act as if “the point of the meal is to screw up one’s face and try to feel sorry for Jesus. This is often accompanied by a psychological attempt to meditate on the physical pain of Jesus’ sufferings-an emphasis that is markedly understated in the biblical text itself” (Russell Moore, contributor to Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper, 33).

A focus on the physical pain of Jesus does not seem to be the focus of the celebration described by Paul, although it is mentioned. There are two aspects of the celebration emphasized by him.

I. Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is an expression of our family relationship (verses 18-22 and 27-34). Sometimes I am asked if I go to individuals, for example, to shut-ins and serve the Lord’s Supper. I don’t, not because it is wrong, but because it then ceases to function as a family event. These people, though, did not act as a family. They understood that they were supposed to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together as a family and they did gather together. Unfortunately, they did so in a very dysfunctional way. In fact, their lack of hospitality brought shame on those who were less fortunate in the congregation.

A. Lack of hospitality within the church shows that we despise the church (verses 18-22). In Corinth the “have’s” sat separately from the “have not’s” and acted generally as if they were better than them. I wish I could say we never acted that way but many of us know better. How often have we as individuals acted like we were better than someone else in this church? That is not the way God wants us to act.

B. Lack of hospitality within the church is unworthy of the love our Lord has shown to us (verses 27-30). “Jesus, what a Friend for sinners! Jesus! Lover of my soul; Friends may fail me, foes assail me, He, my Savior, makes me whole.” Remember the thief on the cross. To die on the cross was a shameful death. In the earliest days such a death had been reserved for slaves. To die on a cross was to be “despised by the world.” Jesus, however, did not despise the thief but loved Him and took Him to paradise to be with Him forever.

C. Lack of hospitality within the church will be judged by the Lord (verses 30-34). Our Lord Jesus takes this seriously. In Corinth, some were afflicted with sickness because of their pride towards their fellow believers. Others were killed by our Lord Jesus in judgment for their sin. To my knowledge we have not suffered in this way and yet I ask myself if some of our difficulties can be attributed to our lack of love for each other. God has, however, been merciful to us. We must learn to love every person in our church family with the love He has shown us, a love that does not despise the other but rather exalts the other.

II. Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is not only an expression of our relationship as a church family but it is also an expression of the importance of our Lord’s death (verses 23-26).

A. He ought to be remembered by us (verses 23-25). This week I caught a portion of the NPR broadcast, “Talk of the Nation.” They were asking the question, “What persons passed away in 2011 that we ought to remember?” One man called in and mentioned the “Champaign Lady” from the “Lawrence Welk Show.” The daughter of the man who invented the Nordic Track and told about her dad. An acquaintance of a nun who was important in the early days of anti-nuclear protests also called in. These people all did important things in the field in which they worked. None of them, however, have done anything comparable to what Jesus did. His body was broken for us. He shed His blood for us. He established a new covenant between God and man for us. He ought to be remembered by us.

B. He ought also to be proclaimed by us (verse 26). Russell Moore says that the Lord’s Supper should “be characterized by more celebrative singing and even laughter, than the rest of the service. The congregation would be taught to understand that the Supper is a victory lap-announcing the triumph of Christ over the powers of sin, death, and Satan” (Moore, 33).

The third verse of “At Calvary” says, “Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus ev’rything, Now I gladly own Him as my King, Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary. Mercy there was great and grace was free, Pardon there was multiplied to me, There my burdened soul found liberty-At Calvary!”

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Questions regarding yesterday’s Sunday School class July 28, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, First Corinthians, Religion, Signs and Wonders.
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Good morning!

Thank you for your questions arising from the Sunday School class yesterday. Since I will not be able to follow-up since the class will be resuming with John and there was another question that I thought also to be important, I am going to answer them one at a time in an email, also posting the answer on my blog so that anyone might respond there if they should so wish.

I’m going to take the questions in this order. The easiest, the most important, and the most difficult. That is, of course, my opinion. The three questions are…

1. A question was asked about knowledge, is not knowledge that which is deemed “God’s Word?”

2. Could you provide me with express scripture that indicates that membership in a church is commanded? I can not seem to find it.

3. Is it not a threat to the inerrancy of Scriptures when we claim that certain teachings in the epistles are cultural?

These are all good questions but I will start with the first one in this email and get to the other two as I have opportunity.

1. A question was asked about knowledge, is not knowledge that which is deemed “God’s Word?”

Answer: The exact question was this, what is the difference if any between a word of knowledge and the gift of prophecy?

The phrase “word of knowledge” is mentioned only once in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 12:8 (although it is likely that 1 Corinthians 13:2, 8, and 14:6 are all referring to the same gift). It is near the beginning of a list of nine miracle gifts. Some of these gifts, like healings, tongues, and interpretation of tongues are fairly easy for us to understand but the Scripture does not give us any help in differentiating between a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge or a prophecy. All that seems clear is that it is likely some type of miracle gift.

The question that you have is this, does knowledge here refer specifically to the “God’s Word.” I am assuming that you are referring to the Bible, the canonical Word of God. In that case, based on 1 Corinthians 13:8, I would say no because it indicates that the gift of knowledge will pass away but we know that not one jot or tittle of God’s Word will pass away.

However, if you mean that knowledge here refers to a word from God, then I would say “yes”, if that word of knowledge meets the preconditions set down in 1 Corinthians 12:1-4.

Certainly, we cannot always assume that the word “knowledge” refers to “God’s Word” in the canonical sense. If it did then we would have to interpret 1 Corinthians 8:1 to mean that the Word of God(knowledge) puffs up but that love does not. Obviously, that cannot be the main meaning of the word although there are contexts in which the word knowledge might be an equivalent of the Word of God.

Things We Can Agree On September 30, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in First Corinthians, Religion, Sermons.
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WHEN CHRISTIANS DISAGREE

WHAT ARE WE TO AGREE ON?

I Corinthians 1:4-10

 

ESTABLISHING THE SITUATION: Put yourself in the place of the Apostle Paul. You are going to write a letter to a church that is torn apart by envy and strife and dissension. This church is a strong church doctrinally. The members are evangelical but not legalistic. In spite of being a young church, they have strong Bible knowledge. They live in a very wicked city, yet their lives have been changed drastically through faith in Christ. The dissension is centered around spiritual pride and the following of certain styles and emphasis of teaching as represented by Paul, Apollos, Peter, and Christ. Before you begin to correct the dissension, you want to give them a rallying point or points around which they all can agree. What would those rallying points be? (At this point there was a short discussion with a lot of good ideas given.)

 

There is much that divides Christians today. Some of those things are spiritual, some are doctrinal, some are earthly and/or personal. Paul begins this letter to the Corinthians, a church that is much very divided, with thanksgiving for things on which they can agree. He does this because he wants to contrast their behavior with the spiritual reality of their lives. The things Paul is thankful for are those things by which we as believers in general and specifically we here at Fellowship Bible Church should identify ourselves. These are the things which will keep us from dividing unnecessarily, if we are focused on them. If we focus on these things, they will keep us from focusing on ourselves. These are the things we are to agree on.

1. We are to Agree on the Gift of the Gospel (verse 4). Here the gospel is defined as the grace that is given through Christ Jesus. Notice I did not say, we are to agree that there is a God. The belief in God is absolutely necessary to belief in the gospel but that is not the basis of our unity in the gospel. I also did not say that belief in Jesus is equal to belief in the gospel. That is why John wrote his gospel and his epistles because there were people who believed in some form of Jesus but did not believe the gospel. Paul wrote Galatians because there were those who were very orthodox, they were solidly evangelical in their belief on Jesus Christ but they did not hold to the gospel. In fact, Paul said that if they come preaching some other gospel, let them be damned. I also did not say that we are to agree that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. The Bible is where we get the gospel and is absolutely necessary but that is not the beginning point of our agreement. The beginning point, the common denominator of our agreement as believers is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now what is he telling us in this prayer about the gospel of Jesus Christ?

You cannot earn grace. It is given or granted to you. We quote Ephesians 2:8-9 constantly to prove that you cannot earn grace. Salvation is not by works of any kind. Salvation does not come by works. We will see later in this passage that salvation is not kept by works. That’s why not everyone who says, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of God. Entrance is only by grace. Many in the mainline denominations both liberal and otherwise believe in works. Many evangelicals believe in works. There are fundamentalists who believe in works. The Bible teaches that it is not by works of righteousness but by grace He has saved us and grace by definition cannot be earned.

Grace is only given through Jesus Christ. If you get grace through the church, it is not grace. Baptism or the Lord’s supper are not means of grace. Grace is only available through Jesus Christ. If you are working to get saved then you are trying to earn grace, you are not going through Jesus Christ. If you are working to stay saved and trying to stay in God’s grace then you are working apart from Jesus Christ.

How then does one receive this grace? Only through Jesus Christ. There are only two possibilities – Trusting Christ or not trusting Christ. Following Him or not following Him. There is no possibility of earning this favor. Grace takes the good works or the righteousness of Jesus Christ and puts them on our time card. Trusting Christ excludes any and all good works that we could do or that could be done for us. Favor with God cannot be won.

We are to agree on the Assurance of a New or Changed Life in Christ Jesus (verses 5-7a). This is not one of the fundamentals of the faith. This is not one of the first things that we go to when we say, this is what a Christian is. Paul saw things much differently than we see them. Paul saw the Christian life as a changed life assured of its place in God’s grace and kingdom. If someone is saved and their life has not been changed, what fellowship have we with them. But when someone has trusted Christ and their life has been transformed and I have trusted Christ and my life has been transformed, how can we do anything but praise God together and work together and love each other. The reason that the first believers were of one mind and one accord was not because they were super spiritual. They were of one mind and one accord because they all had the same shared spiritual experience – the transformed life in Christ and the confirmation or assurance that goes with a transformed life.

We are enriched and lack nothing (verses 5 and 7a) by Him, that is, by Jesus Christ in all utterance and knowledge (we will come back to this in chapter 8:1). They were capable of expressing the truth and they were capable of understanding the truth. These people had put their faith in Christ and it showed in their speech and in their knowledge. They knew their doctrine. In fact, they debated the finest points of doctrine. That is why Paul uses so many doctrinal arguments in this book to make practical points. For example, he does not explain the baptism of the Holy Spirit to them because they understood the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He simply says, you were all baptized by the same Spirit into the body of Christ. Start acting like it. These people knew the truth of Christ. They were certain of it and Paul was certain of it.

We are established or confirmed by the testimony of Christ (compare with 2:1). This wonderful assurance is based in Jesus Christ. This knowledge and this capability to express knowledge comes through faith in the testimony of Christ. Assurance of salvation is based not on only on my knowledge of the Word but on my confidence in Christ and as my confidence in Christ grows my knowledge of the Word grows. There were many years in my life when I had a lot of Bible and doctrinal knowledge and I was very capable of giving it out verbally but it was as my confidence in the testimony of Christ was established that I finally received assurance in my soul of my salvation in Jesus Christ. The grace of God given by the Lord Jesus Christ should cause us to focus on Jesus Christ and when we focus on Jesus Christ that gives us assurance. To try to focus on assurance without focusing on what Christ has done in your life is ineffective and will be frustrated by your flesh.

This agreement in Christ is the basis for every gift we have from God, (verse 7a). In case you did not get that you are enriched in all things, Paul writes, “Understand! There is not one area where you are behind.” This church was blessed. They were full spiritually. They were full financially. They were full physically. This church had it made. Because they were doing so well, Paul says you have every blessing that God could give you.

3. We are to agree in our Expectancy for the Return of Christ (verses 7b-9). This certainty (verse 9 – God is faithful; see also 10:13) of a new life in Christ is the basis of our hope in His return (Compare with 1 John 3:1-3). It is very clear that our current life in Christ should produce an expectation for Christ’s return. These people were living to lay up treasure in heaven. There is only so much wealth here on the earth. There is only a limited amount of power and prestige and respect. For these people, those things did not matter. They were looking for the coming of Christ.

Their expectancy was not deterred by their prosperity. Think about this church for a moment. These people had it good. They weren’t a bunch of poor, hardscrabble farmers looking for release from their backbreaking work, waiting for the day when pain and sorrow would be gone. Many of these people were prosperous, they were doing well but they were living, not for this life but for the life to come. I have been around a lot of churches in forty-four years but I have never seen a group of people who were as a group eagerly awaiting the Lord’s return. Individuals, yes but a whole church, never. Most of us have more in common with the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3 than we do with the church at Corinth. We are so tied to this earth that the next one seems to be unreal. We become confident but our confidence is not in Christ. We have need of nothing. That was not the Corinthians problem. They were agreed that Jesus was coming again and they were looking forward to it. By the way, this verse really brings to light the reason that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15 concerning the resurrection. There were a few who did not believe in a resurrection and Paul wanted to correct that deficiency and help them to maintain that expectation for the coming of Jesus Christ.

Their expectancy was not deterred by their spiritual weakness. These people had a lot of problems. They understood that. That is why they wrote Paul and said, “Help us out!” These questions that they needed help on were actually dealt with beginning in chapter seven. In spite of their problems, they looked forward to the day when not only their faith in Christ was be established but also when their blamelessness in Christ would be established. Perhaps you remember this word from Titus 1:5-7. It means “without accusation” or, perhaps we would understand this word better as “unimpeachable”. This means more than simply acquittal but the total lack of a charge against them. It means an investigation is not even necessary. This verse says that Christ establishes us with such a high reputation and with the reality that goes with such a high reputation that no one would even believe a false charge. It does not mean we are without any fault. We are well aware that is not true. It means that Christ works in our character and in our being in such a way when He returns, it will occur to no one to even accuse us of wrongdoing. As you might expect, the ramifications of that are huge. John Piper commenting on verse 8 says, “In other words, the assurance of the believer is not that God will save him even if he stops believing, but that God will keep him believing—God will sustain you in faith, he will make your hope firm and stable to the end. He will cause you to persevere.”

This agreement with each other in Christ on the matters of grace and assurance and expectancy of Christ’s return is the practical basis of our fellowship, the basis for the way we treat each other as believers (I Corinthians 1:10; see also chapter 13 and Ephesians 4:1-6). Unity is caused by a common belief in a common Savior and Lord and is shown by a common assurance and a common hope. This is our shared reality, our shared experience in Christ.

Why then do we not act like we have a common fellowship in Jesus Christ? Why then do we disagree? There are a number of possibilities but the one Paul points out repeatedly in various ways in the book of 1 Corinthians is spiritual pride. Not the pride of self-sufficiency that the Laodiceans were guilty of but the pride of spiritual superiority. The Corinthians had a spiritual superiority complex. How do you combat spiritual pride? How do you prevent a spiritual superiority complex?

Live consciously of the fact that you are saved by the grace of God.

Live assured of your relationship with Jesus Christ and that all blessings are available to you only through Him but remember that this is the common experience of every believer who will just take advantage of it.

Look forward to the days when He comes and makes you unimpeachable, truly superior, rewards you with the heavenly treasure that is truly yours.

The Holy Spirit is a popular theme August 16, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Charismatic Movement, First Corinthians, Holy Spirit, Pentecostalism, Religion, Sermons, Tongues.
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From Latrese “…I have one question that is really burning within me. What are your views on ’speaking in tongues’ and the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’? I know people who do this, but I never have. When I prayed ‘the prayer’ to receive this, nothing happened. Is this another false doctrine? If so, then what are the ‘tongues’ that these people I know are speaking?”

There are whole books written on this subject but I will try to be as brief as possible. You can then respond to whichever of my comments you desire and we can go from there if you wish.

Speaking in tongues occurs three times in the book of Acts and is a major part of the discussion of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14. On the day of Pentecost, we know that speaking in tongues referred to known languages and there is no overriding reason in any of the other places to assure us that it was otherwise although there is much debate about the Corinthian passage. The purpose of tongues in Acts at Pentecost was to confirm the message the apostles were preaching (which is why the prophecy in Joel is quoted). Later, Cornelius and the Gentiles with him spoke in tongues for the purpose of confirming that the message of Jesus Christ was for both Jew and Gentile. The third time seems to be a confirmation that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the gospel of John the Baptist.

The use and purpose of tongues in Corinth is not totally clear although there were clearly abuses in its practice. For one, it was not being used to edify others but rather to edify one’s self which is against the purpose of spiritual gifts. For another, tongues as well as other spiritual gifts were being practiced in the absence of love for the brethren.

There is no command to speak in tongues and it is debatable whether the gift as practiced in the book of Acts exists today. I myself do not believe it exists. If it does not exist today, then the tongues being spoken are most likely emotionalism or fakery. Tongues are not and have never been a general sign of salvation, sanctification, or spirituality.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit first occurred at Pentecost. It was at this time that the church first began to function with the Holy Spirit indwelling and empowering them. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 the baptism of the Holy Spirit is mentioned as the way in which each believer becomes a part of the body of Christ. The baptism at Pentecost and the baptism in 1 Corinthians 12 are one and the same. It does not require nor automatically produce speaking in tongues. (Here is a link to a sermon I preached last fall on the subject “Baptism By the Holy Spirit”).

Is speaking in tongues in connection with the baptism of the Holy Spirit a false doctrine? First, I should point out that not everyone who believes tongues is possible connect it with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There are many though who believe that speaking in tongues is proof that one has been baptized with the Holy Spirit. They often believe that this is an evidence of salvation. This is false doctrine. It causes people to look for an experience that is not commanded and many fall into the trap of believing they are not saved or cannot be saved unless they have this experience. In this sense, this false doctrine is similar to the Galatian error where it was taught that salvation came through trusting Christ plus circumcision. Paul was pretty severe in his condemnation of those who taught this doctrine (calling it “another gospel”) when he said in Galatians 1, “…let him be accursed” who preaches this gospel. In other words, those who teach that salvation is through faith in Christ plus speaking in tongues are teaching a false gospel and according to Paul are false prophets.

This is a long answer and I have referred to little Scripture in order to keep it short. Please feel free to respond and we can go into more detail.

Here is a sermon from Ray Pritchard directly dealing with speaking in tongues.

A Sermon from Ray Pritchard to Prepare us for the Lord’s Table July 31, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Body of Christ, Character, Communion, First Corinthians, Forgiveness, Judgment, Lord's Table, Repentance, Sermons, Spiritual Disciplines, Worship.
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“Unworthy”