As you can tell from the relative silence here on the blog, I’m in lock-down mode. Must write, must write all day, must write all night. Must just write constantly. But it is always good to let folks know you are not just off goofing around, so, another quick peek at Pulpit Crimes. Possibly to the shock of some, one of the chapters has to do with the abuse of the ordinances of the church, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. From that chapter:
The second truth to see in Paul’s words is one that has truly been lost for many today. Paul taught, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” Believers are activein the Supper. For so many we just sit like a lump on a log, introspective, eat a cracker, drink a little cup, sing a hymn, go home. We do not see that we are doingsomething, something of eternal value. We are proclaiming something. These words are addressed to allwho in faith participate, not just to the elders, not just to the preacher. Everyone is proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes. We are doing so by faith. By partaking we are saying, “Yes, this is the source of my life, this is how I’ve been redeemed, by the giving of the body and blood of Jesus Christ in my stead.” We are saying this to ourselves. We are saying this to all those around us. We are joining a group of believers who are all likewise solemnly confessing this faith. We are standing in an unending line of believers who have been drawn out of the world and united with Christ and granted the same faith all across the spectrum of time, geography, and culture. We are making sure by our actions that what happened on a windswept hill outside of Jerusalem so long ago will never, as long as the sun rises and sets, be forgotten. This is our privilege, this is our calling, this is our gift of grace in the Lord’s Supper.
Ironically, our VPN firewall died a thousand deaths, total brain scramble, less than sixty seconds before I tried to post this hours ago. But please note, I am not blaming anti-Baptists for it. And so we press on….
Recall that in Acts 10:42 Peter spoke of Jesus as the judge of the living and the dead, and that this was a definitional portion of the proclamation the Lord Himself commands from His servants. Clearly, this aspect of the biblical message was vital to the first generations of the faithful, but it has fallen out of the consciousness of a wide portion of the church today. The meek and mild Jesus standing at the hearts door looks very little like the powerful judge of the living and the dead announced in Scripture. The Jesus of the Bible is indeed a gracious, loving Savior. But there is an order to divine truths, and before Jesus can be experienced as Redeeming Friend He must be seen as Creator, Maker,Judge, Lord. Inverting the order may save us from the frowns of men but it likewise creates the kind of malaise we see in so many would-be-Christians today. The wonder of Jesus as Savior is that as just judge He could so properly leave us to wrath, but, in mercy, He does not.
The charge Paul delivers to his beloved son Timothy is lodged with solemnity in the presence of God and of the divine judge, Jesus. This is not a human charge. It is not witnessed solely by a human tribunal. This kind of high adjuration is hard for modern Westerners to fully grasp. We have lost, in the main, any sense of honoring those in authority. Even our highest public officials are regularly mocked in the media, or asked what kind of underwear they prefer! The weight of representing a high standing person is difficult for many to understand today, so the picture of receiving a charge in the presence of the Father and the Son does not strike us with the solemnity it should. Western individualism has deeply seated the concept of egalitarianism in our thought. Rarely do we experience true solemnity, especially in the context of the commissioning of one to go and represent another who is high and exalted and full of authority. And yet this is surely what Timothy would think of here. He would have seen with his eyes, or depicted in art, the commissioning of representatives of high officials, even kings and emperors, and so he would have a context in which to hear Pauls words. His mentor is giving him a solemn charge in the presence of the very judge of all mankind.