Here’s the outline from my sermon on the “Lord’s Supper” as an ordinary means of grace, preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship (church in Naperville).
Acts 2:42 “The Lord’s Supper as an Ordinary Means of Grace”
Intro: Every year 10 million people die of cancer around the world. It is the 2nd leading cause of death in America. Most of us know someone who has had it or even died of it. Some have said that the church is America has a cancer too. It is a cancer that is affecting its life and unity and health. It is the cancer of CONSUMERISM. Consumerism is approaching church like a consumer. It is to be unhappy with a healthy biblical church because it does not mean your every felt need. It is shows itself in complaining about the preaching—wishing that one’s preacher sounded more like someone on the internet—moving churches to find one that has the right programs or trying to find a church with people in the right age group. One symptom of it is found in the complaint ‘I’m not being spiritually fed at my church.’ Now, there are good reasons to leave a church: especially if it has departed from the Word of God. But consumerism is an immature, foolish, selfish approach to church that is ruinous to the health of a local church. And I believe one cure for the cancer of consumerism is rightly understanding the ORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE.
-An ordinary means of grace is a God-ordained way that God uses to strengthen His people. They are called “ordinary” because they are the ways that God usually works. They are called “means of grace” because through them we experience God’s grace. God’s people are invited to experience His grace through these ordinary means like God’s Word, prayer, fellowship. We don’t need special experiences, programs, or a church that meets all of their felt needs in order to grow and be fed. We have what we need through the ordinary means of grace. Understanding this will protect us from having a consumeristic attitude toward church and also lead to renewed strength, joy, and maturity in our walk with the Lord.
-As a church we are taking the month of July to look some together: Word of God, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer.
-A DEBATE: Theologians debate about how many there are. Some think only 3: Word of God, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Other argue for 4 and include prayer. One theologian has a broader definition and lists 11! Depends on your definition.
-OUR APPROACH: rather than argue over how many there, we are looking at the four listed for us in Acts 2:42: the Word of God, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer.
-WHY THIS VERSE? Here we have a peak into the Early Church and the practices that Christians utilized to grow in their faith. This verse comes right after Peter preaches a sermon and 3,000 individuals come to faith and are baptized. We are informed by God’s Word here on how Christians normally experience God’s strengthened grace in their lives: through these means.
-SO FAR, we looked at Word of God and fellowship. This week: “breaking of bread,” also known as the “Lord’s Supper.”
-A WEAK AREA FOR US EVANGELICAL PROTESTANT CHRISTIANS. We don’t know how to approach Lord’s Supper.
-Some churches don’t practice it very often.
-Some Christians are so overwhelmed by their sins that they never feel able to take the Lord’s Supper.
-We reject the Roman Catholics view (transubstantiation; and weekly sacrifice)
-But unsure what is the right approach.
TODAY: We’ll consider what God’s word teaches us about “Lord’s Supper” and how it is a means of grace.
My prayer: We see God’s amazing grace to sinners as displayed through the Lord’s Supper and learn how to better utilize the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace. PLAN: 1. What is the Lord’s Supper? 2. How is it a means of grace?
I. What is the Lord’s Supper?
4 KEY TRUTHS FROM THE OT:
-Our first parents Adam and Eve SINNED and were expelled from God’s presence in Garden of Eden
-CONTRA CULTURE: People are NOT basically good. We are sinful and our relationship with God is broken.
-God Called His People to Perform Sacrifices at the Temple.
-We need ATONEMENT: “getting right with God again.”
-CONTRA POPULAR OPINION: We can’t make ourselves right with God. We need God fix things -Regular sacrifices and the Day of Atonement sacrifices. These pointed forward to Messiah (Isaiah 53)
-God gave His people a way to remember His Deliverance through the Passover meal (Exodus 12):
-Meal was a regular reminder of God’s deliverance from Egypt
-God’s people need regular reminders of God’s grace. We are prone to forget!
-God promised something better was coming in the New Covenant (Jere 31:31-34)
-See especially forgiveness of sin.
-God’s people were in eager expectation of a future deliverance, a better covenant.
JESUS IS THE FULFILLMENT, SACRIFICE, AND INAUGURATOR OF NEW COVENANT
-Jesus is Messiah, who “save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). All “promises of God” find their Amen in Him (2 Cor 1:20)
3 KEY NT TEXTS about the Lord’s Supper:
1 The Lord’s Supper was INSTITUTED BY JESUS (Matt 26:26-29)
–Whole book of Matthew is leading up to the Cross: explained significance in Matt 20:28.
-Lord’s Supper explains significance of Jesus’ death: READ MATT 26:26-29
–BREAD= “this is my body” which means that the bread symbolized the body of Christ (26)
-His body broken on the cross: our sins placed on Jesus. Payment for sins was made.
–CUP OF WINE=symbolizing the blood of Christ (27-28)
-His blood shed on the cross. Note: “blood of covenant” which is the NEW COVENANT.
*NOTE: The bread and wine are SIGNS OR SYMBOLS pointing to Jesus.
-Contra Roman Catholics’ Transubstantiation.
Ryan Davidson: “We call them signs because they are not just things that we do, but rather they are the word of God in visible form. When we come to the Lord’s Supper and the bread is broken, that is the word of God proclaimed to us in tangible form announcing again that the body of Christ was broken for us.” (49)
2 A PROCLAMATION of Christ’s Death done in REMEMBRANCE OF HIM (1 Cor 11:23-26)
–CONTRA ROMAN CATHOLICS: It is not a weekly sacrifice, but reminder of Jesus’ one-time sacrifice!
3 A Participation/Fellowship with Body and Blood of Christ. (1 Cor 10:16):
-Fellowship with Christ: ‘participation’
-This is where we get the word “communion”—sharing or partaking.
So what is the Lord’s Supper? It is an ordinance given by Jesus to help his people remember the grace of God shown to us in the gospel.
1689 explanation: The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by him the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his churches, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the sacrifice of himself in his death, confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to all duties which they owe to him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other.
II. How is the Lord’s Supper a means of grace? 5 WAYS
God has given us the Lord’s Supper that we might be strengthened by His grace through it. Here’s 5 ways this happens:
1. We experience God’s grace as we hear the gospel afresh.
Early Christians in Acts were shaped and formed by the gospel. Had to hear it often. (Luther: beating the gospel into people’s heads)
-We are QUICK TO FORGET about God’s love and grace, about Jesus’ death deals with our sins. We need a REMINDER!
Ryan Davidson: “When the Christian takes the Lord’s Supper, the covenant of grace is being declared again in all its wonder to those who come in faith…Visibly, the promise of God to save all who come by faith in Christ is announced.”
–When you take the Lord’s Supper, hear the gospel afresh!
2. We experience God’s grace as we feed and “nourish” our souls on CHRIST
Best meal you’ve ever had? Some food that nourishes, other food leaves you sick
-Our souls were made to “feast” on God. But sin leads us to other things: idols, entertainment.
-Our souls need nourishing! And God has made a way for that to happen in the Lord’s Supper.
-Our souls are nourished as we sit in the reality of God’s love, mercy, and grace.
–When you take the Lord’s Supper, let it be a feast for your soul of God’s love and grace.
3. We experience God’s grace as we commune with Christ
*CHILDREN: Being a Christian is about knowing and loving God. NOT rule-keeping. -We experience a communion with Christ in the Lord’s Supper. He is there in a special way. Ryan Davidson: “Christ is spiritually present with His people in a special way at the table”
–When you take the Lord’s Supper, let it be a sweet time of drawing near to Christ
4. We experience God’s grace as we have communion with God’s people
Francis Schaeffer apologetics ministry. What he called “final apologetic”=God’s people loving and united in the gospel. -Unity that is expressed and experienced as we take Lord’s Supper together.
-We are one as God’s people united with each other and other Christians.
–When you take the Lord’s Supper, remember you are doing it with brothers & sisters in Christ
5. We experience God’s grace as we Affirm our faith in Christ Again (Grudem)
-We are affirm once again our faith in Christ. We are saying that we believe in Jesus and rely on his sacrifice.
-Thus, it is only for believers to partake.
-Danger of approaching it without a repentant heart: 1 Cor 11:27-32
-When you take the Lord’s Supper, let it be an affirmation that you have trusted in Christ.
CONCLUSION: May the Lord give us eyes to see His grace displayed to us in the Lord’s Supper.