Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Usefulness and conscience comforting effect of the Lord Supper. Part IV

Chemnitz now talks about a fourth way in which the Lord’s Supper comforts the conscience of the believer when it is rightly regarded as the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the same body and blood which paid for our redemption. The conscience often does not believe that some event that happened 2000 years ago can really do anything for me now. We read the Bible and are assured over and over again that Christ died for all. (John 3:16) (Curious the same churches that deny the body and blood of Jesus Christ, often also deny that God died for all.) Yet even knowing that Jesus died for all, it is sometimes hard to believe He died for me. People are often terrified by their sins. Sins are scary. They seem fine at the time, sometimes we even think we are doing the right thing. Drunk on self-righteousness, and faulty reasoning man does terrible things. We divorce. We murder. We commit adultery. We use hateful rhetoric against political opponents. We harbor grudges. The next morning we wake up to our hangover, the effects of our sin strewn around our life like broken furniture in a frat house. Broken relationships, children growing up without the benefit of one parent or another, sometimes insecure, and trouble prone, jail and prison, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, the ire of those who have come home to roost, stifled friendships. Worst of all we wake up to guilt, insatiable guilt. Guilt plagues us in this life, if we are honest. Guilt makes us believe we are unworthy of salvation, undeserving of forgiveness, not fit for grace. We see our sin, and it terrifies us. We know we deserve temporal and eternal punishment. We experience the temporal and assume the eternal punishment will come too. We despair. Can Christ’s death really save me?
Now, perhaps a few of us are feeling a bit smug right now. Perhaps we are thinking that person just has weak faith, or no faith at all. Perhaps a voice in the back of our head is saying that if they won’t take Christ at His word, then they don’t deserve Him. No, they don’t, and neither do you. That is the point, we don’t deserve Christ. We all have weak faith, which is manifest in our sinfulness. Every sin we commit is an expression of our unwillingness to fear love and trust in God above all things. Yet Christ doesn’t berate us for our unbelief. Christ doesn’t snuff the smoldering wick. Instead He looks at us and says. “So you are experiencing doubt. You believe and want me to help your unbelief. Here so you know that what I did on the cross applies even to you, especially to you. Here is that body that took the spear. It died for you, eat that you might participate in that very sacrifice and know that it was for you. Here is the blood that poured out of My side, shed for the forgiveness of your sins. Drink that your sins may be forgiven. See that yes it was 2000 years ago if it was 2 minutes ago, yet what happened there is applied to you now. That same body that was on the cross, now seals the benefits of that sacrifice to you. That blood that poured out on that most holy hill where death died, shed for your forgiveness has now given you My life. ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.’ (Leviticus 17:11 (ESV) No, you did not deserve me, yet I give myself to you even now, with my body and my blood. Your sins are forgiven.” Jesus does not trust this message to mere symbols that would add nothing to His word. No, He trusts this message of His forgiveness to His very body, and His very blood. And so our conscience finds rest in the body and blood of the One whose yoke is easy and Whose burden is light.

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