The Lord’s Supper is a Family Meal

And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.” (Mk 14:13–16)

After Jesus and His Disciples came to the house where the Passover meal was prepared, they reclined at the table and began to eat.

We read this as if it is what was supposed to happen — Jesus gathering with His disciples to eat the Passover. But that is not typically what would take place. Typically the physical family would gather together. The eldest father would preside over the meal. But that is not what takes place here. Instead, Jesus gathers together with His disciples. In doing so, He and they understand that they are family. That Jesus is the head of the family.

In the Lord, as Christians, we enter into a family. A family with Jesus as our head, which is why we can call one another brother and sister. It is important to understand we are family because family watches out for and looks after one another. Family cares for one another. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to look out for and care for one another. Our relationships with one another should be deep and wide, not shallow. We should know how to serve one another, how to minister to one another. We shouldn’t have cursory relationships with those at our church. We are family. Family knows one another. Family cares for one another. The Lord’s Supper reveals and points to the fact that we are family.

As a family meal, the Lord’s Supper is reserved for those:

(1) Who are a part of the family.

When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become a part of a family. A family of believers. We may be from different races, nationalities, backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes, but Jesus brings us all together as a family. It’s the family that is invited to this meal.

The Lord’s Supper is not for those who are unbelievers.

It is a family meal. If you don’t believe Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are outside of the family and you shouldn’t partake of the Lord’s Supper when you go to church.

The Lord’s Supper still has significance to the unbeliever

With that being said, that doesn’t mean the Lord’s Supper doesn’t have any significant for for those who aren’t believers.

For the unbeliever, the Lord’s Supper points to the good news that Jesus can be your substitute — that His death can stand in the place of your death. It points to your access to the family. It’s through Jesus that we enter into the family of God. While Jesus’ family is exclusive — only believers are a part of it — it is inclusive — all those who repent of their sin and believe can enter into the family.

If you aren’t a believer, let the Lord’s Supper be a witness to you. Let it be a picture of the good news of Jesus to you.

Not only is the Lord’s Supper reserved for those who are members of the family, but it is also limited to those:

(2) Who are unified family members

In order to come to the table together and eat, we must be unified. We must be a cohesive family unit. We can’t be harboring sin, holding a grudge, or mad at another and still expect to sit down and eat with them. No, we must be unified with one another in order to eat.

Lastly, family meals are limited to those:

(3) Who aren’t harboring unrepentant sin.

If you are knowingly engaging in sinful activities and you refuse to repent of that sin, your relationship with the Father is hindered. Until you mend that relationship, you should not take the Lord’s Supper. For as Paul talks about in one of his letters to the Corinthians, you may be eating and drinking wrath on yourself because you are presuming on the grace of God.

Conclusion

The Lord’s Supper not only reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice and future reign but it also reminds us that we need to deal with family relationships and unrepentant sin in our lives. The Lord’s Supper is a family meal. Are you a part of the family?

Avoid Deception – Read the Word Purposefully

The Galatians were deceived by the Judaizers. Instead of continuing to follow God’s Word, they allowed a group of people to convince them they needed to add something to God’s Word regarding salvation in order to experience salvation. The Judaizers told them salvation wasn’t found in Jesus alone. Rather it was found in Jesus plus works. In this instance, it was the work of circumcision.

Paul is shocked they would submit themselves to the law. He lets them know in his letter to them.

What contributed to their deception?

One reason the Galatians were deceived by the Judaizers was their inability to listen to the Law.

“I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you. Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?” (Ga 4:20–21)

What does it mean to “listen to the Law”? Why is it important we listen to the Law?

BDAG Defines it as:

to hear and understand a message, understand

Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 38

Listening to or hearing the Law implies more than hearing it read aloud or preached. It implies understanding the message the text is attempting to convey.

The Galatians Misunderstanding and Paul’s Clarification

The Galatians did not understand the message of the OT Law, namely, one cannot earn salvation through works. Over and over again the Law points to our inability to keep the Law to gain salvation. Incase the Galatians did not understand the laws application, Paul makes it clear in chapter 5:

“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” (Ga 5:2–4)

It is important we listen to the Law, it tells us we cannot keep it and we need a Savior, so that we are not “obligated to keep the whole law” and end up “severed from Christ”.

The Law cannot justify us. Only Christ can provide justification through His work on our behalf.

How can we be better listeners to the Law ourselves?

Work on being better Bible readers

(1) Association – Find a way to associate the text to an experience you have had in the past, or something you are going through right now.

(2) Pray for Understanding – Before you read, pray the Lord would open the text up to you.

(3) Pray the Text – After you read, pray through the text. Praying the text isn’t rocket science. Start with the first verse you read and pray whatever comes to mind. When you have milked that verse dry, move on to the next, and then the next, until you have prayed all the verses you read. If you want further ideas and reasons why praying the text is helpful, Donald Whitney has written an excellent book Praying the Bible, which I highly recommend.

(4) Meditate on the Text – If all you do is read a chapter, close your Bible, and go about your day, chances are you aren’t going to remember much of what you read, which means you probably aren’t going to apply much of what you have read to your life. In comes meditation. By meditation, I don’t mean sitting with your legs crossed, arms out, palms up, trying to clear your mind. I have in mind just the opposite. Instead of trying to clear your mind, you should fill your mind with the text. There are several ways to do that:

  • Think through the key words in the text.
  • Write out the text.
  • Journal the text.
  • Memorize a key verse(s).
  • Visualize the text by drawing it (probably more for you artsy types).
  • Think of how the text applies to your life, your family, or your community.
  • Formulate the main idea of the text. Think about what the text is telling you is true, and then ask what you should do, think, or believe based on that truth.
  • Ask yourself how the text points to Jesus.

By employing these tips, you should be able to read the Bible in a way that allows you to hear what God’s Word is saying.

Understand the purpose of the Law

The Law points to Jesus.

How does the Law point to Jesus?

  • The Law also shows us we cannot keep the Law – The continual sacrifices are meant to show us that we are incapable of keeping the Law. That in and of ourselves, we would remain under God’s judgment.
  • The Law shows us we need a substitute – We don’t atone (make right) for our own sin. In the OT Law an animal is sacrificed in our place. The sacrificial animal is meant to point to another sacrifice to come.
  • The Law points to Jesus through its ineffective nature – Sacrifices have to continually be made. The sacrifices are not sufficient to provide us with salvation from God’s wrath.

Conclusion

If we want to keep ourselves and others from being deceived by faith teachers, we must be students of the Word reading it for all it offers. We cannot pick and choose which verses to read, nor can we read it in isolation from the other texts in Scripture. Rather, we must read it in context and in a faithful manner.

Why Shouldn’t We Be a People Pleaser?

You might be thinking: “Why shouldn’t I seek to be a people pleaser, especially in this day and age? I could lose my job, my livelihood, my status. I could get canceled and everything I worked so hard for is gone.” So why?

Why Shouldn’t We Be a People Pleaser?

(1) Seeking the approval of man is a never-ending cycle.

You all know that trends, opinions, and ideas change, and they change often. What pleases someone one day isn’t necessarily what’s going to please them the next. Seeking the approval of man traps you in a never-ending cycle of always having to figure out what’s going to please someone and then convince them that you are worthy of their attention, praise, and affection. That never-ending cycle is a grind that will eventually beat you down, leaving you broken and depressed. I believe this is why so many celebrities end up abusing drugs or alcohol, or even committing suicide. The constant pressure of having to maintain a certain status is just too much.

(2) Seeking the approval of man means we’re going to have to continually change our message.

As you all know, times change, culture changes, and along with those things, what man approves of changes. If our only goal is to win man’s approval, our message is going to end up changing along with the times and culture. The liberal church is a good example. If you look back at their history, you would see that as the culture changed, their message has changed along with it. So much so that they are a mirror of the world instead of being a light to it.

God doesn’t call us to be a church with an ever-changing message. He doesn’t want us to be progressive. Instead, He wants us to remain faithful. In order to do that, our desire has to be to please Him instead of our fellow man.

(3) Seeking the approval of man means we will often be forced to act in ways that are contrary to God’s commands and the gospel.

Peter is a prime example. As soon as the circumcision party showed up in Antioch he withdrew from the Gentiles so that they wouldn’t think any less of him. Obviously, that doesn’t coincide with the gospel’s message that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Or with God’s command to love others as ourselves. But Peter wasn’t concerned with that. He wasn’t concerned with following God’s commands or promoting gospel unity. Instead, he was concerned with pleasing the circumcision party.

If our only goal is to please man, then we are going to find ourselves acting like Peter. We are going to have to choose between following God and upholding gospel unity, and doing what will win us favor with others. That’s a problem. A big problem. Because God, His commands, and His gospel should be the only thing we care about promoting. He is our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. Pleasing Him and doing what brings Him glory should be our only concern. But the only way we are going to do that is if we are Christ pleasers instead of people pleasers.

(4) Seeking the approval of man means we aren’t living in the freedom Jesus provides.

In Christ, we are freed from having to continually seek man’s approval. That’s because in Christ we have the only approval that matters — God’s approval. That approval will never change because it’s not dependent on our work. Instead, it’s dependent on Jesus’ work on our behalf.

When we realize that we are free in Christ, we will be free from the grind of having to please others. We won’t have to deal with the anxiety that’s caused by wondering if we have done enough. Nor will have to deal with the inner turmoil of whether or not we sold out to the culture. Instead, we will be able to live joyful lives, knowing that we have the only acceptance that matters — God’s.

God’s approval is the only approval that should matter. Instead of seeking the ever-changing approval of man, we need to rest in God’s unchanging approval that’s found in Christ alone.

Let God not man dictate your value.

After Thanksgiving, everyone typically gets excited about the Black Friday sales. I know some of you are probably out there early taking advantage of those deals. Personally, I’m not one of them. I hate crowds, I don’t like getting up early and rushing out the house, and I’m definitely not looking to get in a fight over that year’s most popular toy for my kids — I just assume get them something else. While Black Friday isn’t my cup of tea, I do like a deal, which is why I look forward to Cyber Monday each year. Not only can you find really good deals on electronics, but I don’t have to battle the crowds to get them.

Now, there is nothing wrong with a deal by any means. I am always in search of a deal. But have you ever thought about why we get excited by deals? Why we are willing to get up early and fight the crowds or log onto our computer at just the right time? Besides the fact that we are saving money, I believe we get excited about these deals because we are seekers.

A seeker is someone who is attempting to find or attain something. That might be a deal. That might be the latest news or information. That is why we scroll endlessly on an app like Facebook. We are seeking out information in realtime. We want to be in the know. It is also why we do crazy challenges on apps like Tik Tok or obsess over our the look and feel of our Instagram feed. We are seekers, who not only seek out deals, the latest news, and information, but we also seek out the approval of others.

Seeking out the approval of man is not something that should drive our life. But if we are all honest, we are all guilty of it from time to time. Just so we are all on the same page, that phrase — the approval of man — can refer to a number of things.

I run a small photography business on the side. In order for that business to be successful, it’s important others approve of my work. If they don’t, no one is going to hire me. My goal, then, is not only to produce pictures I’m proud of but pictures that others approve of and are willing to pay me for. When I talk about seeking the approval of man or pleasing man, I don’t mean for us to completely disregard the approval or opinion of others. If we do that, we might be out of business or out of a job. Instead, what I’m suggesting is that we don’t find our ultimate worth or value in another’s opinion of us or our work. Tim Keller, Pastor, and Author puts it this way:

“It [seeking the approval of man] is a situation in which your desire for their blessing amounts to adoration and worship, and in which you give some form of human approval the rights and power over your heart that only God should have. It means you will be devastated by the loss of this approval as if you felt criticized or condemned by God.” (Galatians for You, 33).

When I talk about seeking the approval of man, that’s what I’m talking about. I’m talking about us elevating the approval of others to an unhealthy place. To a place where we are allowing them to dictate our life, or determine our value and worth. That’s not healthy, nor is it right. God is the only One we should ultimately seek to please. He is the only One who is supposed to dictate our life, our value, our worth.

Why must the gospel remain the same?

At times, change can be a good thing. I know it was for me. Over a decade ago, I made a change and moved to the DFW metroplex. Growing up, I never thought I would live in Dallas, but when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. I not only took the opportunity because I thought it would help me advance my career faster, but I also made the move because I felt like I needed a fresh start in order to work on my relationship with God. Starting afresh can be a good thing. It can kick start the change in our life that we need.

Take the change in the weather we have experienced over the last couple of days. At the beginning of the week I was dressed in layers of clothing with mountains of blankets on me. Yesterday, I was sitting on my back porch with no jacket on. Today is forecasted to be even warmer. The change in the weather is a welcome change. It is definitely for the better.

But as welcome as change can be at times, change isn’t always for the better, especially when it involves our core beliefs. Our core beliefs determine why we do what we do. They undergird our behavior. If we change our core beliefs, our behavior, our actions are going to change. So change, especially change for change’s sake isn’t always for the better. That’s especially true when it comes to the gospel. Why is that?

Why shouldn’t we change the gospel?

(1) Changing the gospel makes salvation impossible.

If we are forced to rely on our own works, we’ll never experience salvation.

When I was in college, I let my credit card get a little bit out of control. Nothing too crazy, but it wasn’t something I could pay off while I was in college. I just worked part-time at a climbing wall. It was a fun job, but it didn’t pay a lot. I ended up graduating college with some debt. Now, I didn’t keep that debt for long. After I got my first job out of college, I paid the debt off.

We often think of salvation like it’s a debt we have to work off by doing good works. If we do enough good works, God will forgive us and we will experience eternal life. But that’s not how it works. God doesn’t accept our works as payment towards our debt. He only accepts the work of Jesus on our behalf.

In Galatians 1:3-4 we read:

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,”

(Ga 1:3–4)

It was Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf that gave us peace. It was His sacrifice that delivered us. Not our works. That’s the case because that’s how God designed it. Notice that Paul says that this is “according to the will of our God and Father,” Since God doesn’t change, the payment He requires doesn’t change. If we change the gospel to a works-based system of salvation, we make salvation impossible because God doesn’t accept our work as payment towards our debt.

(2) Changing the gospel leaves us with a disturbed conscience

Starting in the middle of verse 7 we read,

“but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”

(Ga 1:7b)

The idea here is that changing the gospel doesn’t help us instead it hurts us. Paul tells us that these folks are troubling the Galatians. It troubles them. It troubles us because a works-based system produces emotional distress. It makes us uneasy because we don’t know where we stand. We know that’s true because when you talk to folks who are caught up in a works-based system you hear them more often than not say something to the effect of: “I sure hope I have done enough.” They don’t know if they have done enough. They just hope they have done enough. Which means they are left in limbo. Always wondering if they are good enough. That affects us. It affects us emotionally because it produces a disturbed conscience.

As Christians, we don’t have to worry about where we stand. If we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are God’s children. We will experience salvation instead of eternal damnation and separation from God — All that is good and beautiful. We can be sure of that because Jesus’ work is enough. It has satisfied God’s wrath. So we don’t have to worry. We don’t have to live with a disturbed conscience, but those who change the gospel do.

(3) Changing the gospel means we aren’t delivered from bondage.

In verse 4, we learn that Jesus

“gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.”

(Ga. 1:4)

If we add works to the gospel, that means we don’t understand or believe the gospel. We aren’t trusting in Jesus as our Savior, which means He hasn’t delivered us from bondage. Since we can’t deliver ourselves, we remain in bondage. Satan remains our master and we are his slaves. All we have to look forward to is what this world can offer us because there is no resurrection to eternal life. That is a sad state in which to exist.

(4) Changing the gospel means that we are taking worship away from God.

In verse 5, Paul tells us that our salvation should result in God’s glory forever and ever. But if we make salvation a work that we do, we steal God’s worship away from Him. Instead of it being about God’s grace and sacrifice on our behalf, it’s about our work. What we do. Our ability to muster the effort, to crack the code of salvation. When we think like that, we’ll find that we start praising ourselves for what we’ve done, instead of what God has done in our lives. Changing the gospel steals worship away from God.

(5) Changing the gospel means that we will face a curse.

In verse 8 Paul says,

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

(Ga 1:8)

The idea here is that those who change the gospel will face a curse, and that curse is eternal damnation. Or as one commentator puts it:

To be anathematized then means far more than to be excommunicated. It means nothing less than to suffer the eternal retribution and judgment of God.

 George, Timothy, Galatians, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), xxx, 98–99

Conclusion

Changing the gospel isn’t a good idea. Even though we are experiencing a massive change in our world, we must hold fast to the gospel. It is not something we should change, it must remain the same. We must rest in the unchanging message of the gospel. If we do, we will experience salvation, deliverance from this present evil age in which we find ourselves, we will have something for which to look forward. We will have hope in this dark world.

Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

Be ready to provide a defense of your hope in Jesus

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” (1 Pe 3:15–16)

Our world is increasingly growing hostile to Christianity. I’m not talking about cultural or progressive Christianity, rather, I’m referring to gospel-centered evangelicals who stand firm on God’s Word. The world in which we live is growing more hostile each and every day towards our message and values. Instead of assimilating or disassociating from the culture around us, we should engage. 

Peter tells us that we should be ready to provide a defense to the hope we have in Christ. It is that hope that keeps us going and it is that hope we should be ready to share with others. But we must not share the hope of the gospel in combative harsh ways. Instead, we must be gentle in the way in which we share. As well as we must share with a good conscience. We are not out to attack or one-up someone. We are not out to be harsh and disrespectful to other human beings. Instead, we must be gentle and loving in the way in which we share. That doesn’t mean we shy away from sharing the truth. We must continue to share the truth because it is the truth that sets us free. It is the good news from ages past that is still good news today, so we must not and cannot alter the gospel message. Instead, we must share it with others so that they might experience the same hope we experience. 

One book that has been helpful for me lately is Sam Chan’s book Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News about Jesus More Believable. He does an excellent job of walking you through how to share the gospel with others in today’s culture. If you are looking for a way to reach the world in which we live, give Chan’s book a read.