Jesus Is Not a Spectator on Sunday Morning

In the halls of University College London, a wandering visitor may chance upon a strange sight: the skeleton, hay-stuffed clothes, and wax head of Jeremy Bentham, an 18th century philosopher and the spiritual father of University College. (It seems an odd fetish to me, but to each his own I suppose.) It’s even reported that at the 100th and 150th year anniversaries of University College Bentham was wheeled into board meetings where he was recorded on the minutes as “present but not voting.” At least they didn?t ask him to give the closing address?.

Now, here’s the question: when we gather on Sunday mornings, how often is our functional view of Jesus something like “present but not voting?” Yes, we know we’re singing to Him and talking about Him, and we’re sure that He’s pleased with what we’re doing – but do we think of Jesus as anything more than a spectator at a party someone else has thrown for Him? Is our view of the Sunday gathering a mostly bottom-up, us-to-God kind of endeavor, the sort of thing Jesus might notice, smile down on, and say, “That was thoughtful of you!”

The reality is that Jesus is not “present but not voting” in His church. Listen to how Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck describes Jesus’ ongoing ministry as our resurrected and exalted Savior:

“In the state of exaltation, consequently, he has also been given the divine right, the divine appointment, the royal power and prerogatives to carry out the work of re-creation in full, to conquer all his enemies, to save all those who have been given him, and to perfect the entire kingdom of God?.It is the living and exalted Christ, seated at the right hand of God, who deliberately and with authority distributes all these benefits, gathers his elect, overcomes his enemies, and directs the history of the world toward the day of his parousia” (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. III, p. 474).

The next time you gather together with the people of God at your local church, meditate on this fact: Jesus is present and active among us by His Spirit. He is present and active to break through layers of unbelief, hard-heartedness, and sin’s deceitfulness to change us from the inside-out through the preaching of the Word. He is present and active to open the eyes of those still blinded by Satan and to bring them into the glorious light of His gospel. He is present and active to stir and animate and deepen our praise as we sing. You have never been in an “ordinary” Sunday meeting. Sometimes quietly, sometimes obviously, but always actively and faithfully, our risen Lord Jesus? Christ is at work in our Sunday gatherings to sustain, equip, and transform the people He bought with His own blood until the day when “the kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord.”

Could there be a better reason to gather on Sunday mornings?

Sunday Is Coming (Part 2)

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This is part two of the series, Sunday Is Coming.

Why should you bother climbing out of bed and going to church? Here’s why…

To Give Your Gifts Away

God has given you a unique set of spiritual gifts, and these gifts aren’t primarily for your own enjoyment! In Romans 12:6, Paul says:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…

Your spiritual gifts are not to be hoarded or let lie dormant. You’re to use them, to put them into action, to give them away. God has given you a unique personality and a unique set of gifts, and these are to be poured into other people, so that they may be built up.

In 1 Corinthians 12:7 we read about spiritual gifts:

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

God wants to do good to his people and his church through the gifts he’s given you. Don’t hold them back. Don’t let them atrophy by not using them. Spend your gifts on the church.

To Benefit From the Gifts of Others

The wonderful truth is, no Christian is a one man show. God has made us to need other Christians. He has deliberately withheld spiritual gifts from us and given them to others, to build us into and make us dependent on others. Using the illustration of the body, Paul says:

The eye cannot say to the hand, ?I have no need of you,? nor again the head to the feet, ?I have no need of you.?

Each of us is only a part of the body of Christ. And just as an eye can’t survive apart from the rest of the body, you can’t survive spiritually apart from the spiritual gifts of others. You need the brother who excels in encouragement, and the sister who is full of mercy toward others.

Apart from the spiritual gifts of others, you simply won’t thrive in your spiritual life.

Go to church to give yourself away, and go to church to receive the gifts of others.

Sunday Is Coming!

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Do Sunday’s really matter, or is it just another day of the week?

Why do we go to church? Why do we make so much effort week after week? Why not just read the Bible in Starbuck’s by myself or take a prayer hike through the woods? Why all the fuss for some singing, some words from the pulpit, and a quick conversation with a friend?

Because Sunday is a sacred day. Here’s why…

We Proclaim the Power of the Gospel

Those who don’t know Jesus Christ live out their lives in a sinful bubble, hating and being hated (Titus 3:3). The world is ruled by cliques, divisions, racism, arrogance, and selfishness. But through the gospel, God is creating a new people for himself, a people bought with blood and united by the Holy Spirit.

When we gather on Sunday we are saying to the world, “Look what God is doing!” When Whites, African-Americans, Asians, bankers, construction workers, salesmen, homemakers, and nurses come together to worship, we are demonstrating the reconciling power of the gospel to a watching world.

We Proclaim the Death of Christ

In 1 Corinthians 11:26, Paul writes to the church:

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord?s death until he comes.

To proclaim something implies that we are proclaiming to someone else. When we eat the bread and drink the juice/wine, we’re proclaiming to each other that Jesus Christ has shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins. We’re also saying to the world that the blood of Christ can wash away all their sins and bring them into covenant with God.

We can’t proclaim in the privacy of our living rooms. We take communion together, we remember together, we proclaim together. That’s why Sundays matter.

TO BE CONTINUED…