Archive for February, 2010
Whenever we have out of state guests, we try to go to San Antonio in order to show them the Alamo. Perhaps the best know phrase regarding the history of this fort is, “Remember the Alamo.” The fort sits today in the midst of a concrete jungle as a commemoration of that historic battle and in memory of those who fought and died there.
Today, we have learned to say, “Remember 9/11.” As a dark moment in our nation’s history, we don’t remember 9/11 in order to drudge up memories of that terrible event. Instead, we remember 9/11 in commemoration of those who lost lives and family members.
According to the New World Dictionary, to commemorate means “to preserve or honor the memory of.” As Christians, when we observe the Lord’s Supper we commemorate Christ; we remember and honor His name and His sacrifice for sin. The supper is a remembering of a specific event in the life of Christ. We preserve the memory of Christ and honor his name by remembering and reflecting upon what the bread and the fruit of the vine signify. Michael Green reminds us that every time we observe the Lord’s Supper we do so in remembrance of Him as . . .
We look up in adoration. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper we remember God’s mercy and grace as the loving Father sent His beloved Son to die on the cross for sin.
We look back in commemoration. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper we remember that Christ came into this world to save sinners. He lived a life without sin, yet He was rejected by His own, beaten and ultimately killed for our sake. Through His death, Jesus paid the penalty for sin and liberated those who trust in Him from the bondage of sin.
We look forward in anticipation. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper we are eating and drinking in anticipation of the great marriage supper of the Lamb, at which a place has been reserved for all those who belong to Christ’s family.
We look outward in proclamation. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper our actions proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
We look inward in examination. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper we reflect upon our own lives, asking the Holy Spirit of God to expose our own sins, so that we might come into the presence of Christ with clean hands and pure hearts.
We look around in consideration. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper we are forced to look around at our brothers and sisters in Christ being reminded that we are sitting at the table as a family.
Next time you participate in the Lord’s Supper, I encourage you to examine your hearts as you sit together at the Lord’s table with God’s people in remembrance of Him.
We are not accustomed to snow in Austin, Texas, but today the Lord has covered our grounds with much snow. We cut staff meeting short and are heading down for a staff snowball fight!
If you are in the Austin area – ENJOY!
More fun in the snow!
On Saturday night I had the privilege of addressing a regional gathering of college students at an InterVarsity retreat here in Texas. Their theme was Abiding and Abounding from John 15, so I posed the question:
Is it possible to be connected to Jesus (i.e., church member, baptized, InterVarsity) and still not be a genuine follower of Jesus?
When you look through the Scriptures the answer is that you can be connected to Jesus in some way and not be a part of God’s people. The primary example is Judas Iscariot (John 6:70-71; 13:21-30; 17:12).
In John 15, Jesus reminds us that the Father planted the true vine and cares for the branches so that they would glorify Him by bearing fruit (15:1-2).
Jesus reaches back into the Old Testament for the vine and fruitfulness imagery. Previously, God had planted Israel as the vine that would produce fruit, good grapes; however, they produced sour grapes instead, so God declared that He would no longer prune them and protect them (Isaiah 5:1-7; Ezekiel 19:10-14; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:1-5).
Now Jesus, not Israel, is the true vine. Jesus is the true Israel, the vine that produces fruit (15:1-2). John’s fulfillment theology has already shown how Jesus fulfills the old age: Jesus turns the old purification waters into new wine (2:1-12); Jesus calls for the tearing down of the old temple and claims that He is the new temple (2:13-21); Jesus claims that the old worship tied to a time and place will be no more because new worship is not about time and place but about Him (4:19-41). So, Jesus is the true, fruitful vine that replaces the old, fruitless vine (15:1). And those who are truly His will bear fruit; thus, fruitfulness is an undeniable mark of a genuine follower of Jesus.
So, if Jesus produces fruit through His branches, and genuine branches bear fruit, thus showing to be true disciples, then what kinds of fruit glorify the Father (15:8)? John reminds us of the fruits of obedience (15:10); peace (14:27); love (15:12); witness (15:26-27). Throughout the New Testament we also find that followers of Christ should bear the fruit of repentance (Matthew 3:7-10); the fruit of Light which is found in all that is good and right and true (Ephesians 5:7-12); the fruit of lips which is a sacrifice of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15); and of course, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).
However, the important question is how does one bear such fruit (15:3-7)? The way in which one answers this question betrays the difference between religion and Christianity, for many religions would propose that its proponents bear such or similar fruit.
Whereas religion suggests that the individual is responsible for bearing such fruit in his or her own power, the gospel reminds us that we are incapable. The only fruit we can produce in our own power would be rotten.
The gospel, on the other hand, reminds us that fruitfulness flows from a continuous, intimate and dependent relationship with Christ, which is initiated by God.
Jesus initiates relationship to Him by His cleansing word (15:3). He is the one who has come to reveal the true nature and glory of the Father (John 1:1-18); the Spirit is the one who removes the heart of stone and gives a new heart that beats for God in the new, heavenly birth (John 3:1-8; see Ezekiel 36:22ff); and the only appropriate response is to believe in Jesus, whom the Father has sent (John 3:9-15), and keep believing.
Genuine believers remain in continuous relationship with Jesus. If we are to bear fruit, we must remain/abide in Christ; apart from Him we can do nothing – no fruit (15:4-6). As the true vine, Jesus is the only source of life (14:6; 15:3) and thus, of fruit bearing (15:4-5). Those who do not remain in Christ do not bear fruit and will be cut off (15:6; Ezekiel 15:1-8, 19).
Genuine believers remain in an intimate relationship with Christ. In other words, true believers remain in Jesus’ words – His teaching (truth) is the life-blood that flows through our veins (15:3, 7). True believers also remain in Jesus’ love (15:9-10; cf. 13:34-35; 14:23), which is most clearly displayed in His death on the cross in our place (15:13). We are to love one another as Jesus has loved us (1 John 3:11-18; 4:16-21; Romans 12:9-21).
Finally, genuine believers remain in a dependent relationship with Christ. We must depend upon Christ and look to Christ and cry out to the Father in the name of Christ that He would bear such fruit through us (15:7). We are to pray for such fruit that glorifies the Father (notice how Paul prays in Colossians 1:3-14).
Do you have a continuous, intimate and dependent relationship with Jesus? Examine yourself and see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Look to Christ and keep trusting in Christ. Everything Jesus has said and done is for God’s glory (John 17:1-5) and our joy (John 15:11). There is great joy in abiding in Christ!