sacraments

What am I up to?

Between preaching, teaching, conference speaking, writing, doctoral classes, 2016 has been in fast forward mode. As the year slowly comes to an end, I have a few more fun things to do including this conference in Lakeland, Fl.

In our day, the church’s most radical message might just be its most ordinary: we meet God in those places where He promises to be found. But where are those places? Speakers Mark Jones, Uri Brito, and Steven Wedgeworth will help us to see how God uses the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures, the administration of the sacraments, and the life of the church as the normal ways that He works out His special power on earth. 

Each talk will highlight the challenges and burdens which stand in the way of robust doctrine of the church today and will offer Biblical strategies for recovering a covenantal vision for salvation and discipleship. Join us as we learn how God is redeeming and restoring His people through the covenant life of His church.

The conference is being held at the 1515 Williamsburg Square in Lakeland, Florida and should be a great time of edification and fellowship.  

Don’t forget to register for the pre-conference social (limited capacity) and also plan on joining us at Christ Church Sunday morning for worship and a sermon by Dr. Mark Jones. 

 

– SCHEDULE –

8:30 AM  Doors Open and Registration

9:00 AM  YouTube is Not Enough: Preaching and Presence by Dr. Mark Jones

9:45 AM  Water, Bread, and Wine: the Sacraments and Salvation by Pastor Uri Brito

10:30 AM  Break

11:00 AM  How Did We Get Here? The Role of Catechism and Tradition by Dr. Mark Jones

NOON   Break for Lunch

1:30 PM  It Takes a Church by Pastor Steven Wedgeworth

2:30 PM  Teaching Christians: A Panel Discussion on Christian Education

3:00 PM  Break

3:15 PM  Can We Please God? Or How Not To Be an Antinomian by Dr. Mark Jones

4:00 PM  Q&A and Discussion

8:00 PM  Dessert and Fellowship

10 Reasons for Weekly Communion

This should be an ever increasing list:

  1. Jesus says, “Do this.” We desire to do all that Jesus tells us.
  2. Paul says that to partake is to participate (I Corinthians 10:16). We desire to participate in Jesus’ life.
  3. The Table builds fellowship (Acts 2:42). It is our desire to be ever increasing in fellowship with one another.
  4. The table builds glad and generous hearts (Acts 2:46). We desire more gladness in our hearts.
  5. The pattern of worship demands what Augustine called the “visible word.” We need word spoken and word tasted.
  6. We are all members of one body and drink of one Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13). Therefore, we should taste of that oneness weekly when we gather.
  7. Jesus says, Do this “as often” as you drink of it (I Corinthians 11:25). Therefore, when we meet, which is weekly (often) we should Do This.
  8. The Supper is a gift and we should never refuse a gift.
  9. We pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). If the Lord gives us bread each week and we refuse, are we then refusing his answer to our prayer?
  10. We need grace. If the Supper is a means of grace, why would we simply desire it monthly or quarterly?
Celebrating Communion by Myself

Celebrating Communion by Myself

There is a trend in the evangelical world today. It has gone for far too long unchallenged. It is the personalized and individualized practice of solo communion. As the words of the Eucharist are being said, evangelicals immediately curl up and enter into a mystical state of self-analysis. This continual introspection follows the common theme of most evangelical churches. It follows a form of worm theology. One feels “unworthy”–to use Paul’s words– of partaking of the Eucharist. a

This is manifested when the recipients contemplate their sins or manufacture images of the crucified Jesus in their mind during the passing of the elements. By interpreting Jesus’ words “remembering the Lord’s death” as a reference to silent meditation and contemplation of one’s sinfulness, evangelicals have by and large returned to 16th practice of private mass. As Jeff Meyers rightly observed:

But there’s another problem with the way modern Christians celebrate the Lord’s Supper that might be labeled as “private mass” or maybe just “private communion.”  The word “communion” refers not only to our communion with the resurrected Jesus through the bread and wine at the Supper.  There’s also a horizontal dimension to the Table that flows from union with Jesus.  We are united with one another.  We commune with Jesus and with one another.  “Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of one loaf” (1 Cor. 10:17).

A proper evangelical liturgy will do well to include occasions for confession during the service, but the Lord’s Supper is not that place. If there is something that needs to be dealt with may it be done before the Supper or before the service (preferably). But do not let the Lord’s Supper become a time to catch up on your confessional account.

The Lord’s Supper, then, is to be a time of great enjoyment and relaxation. Jesus gives His Bride rest from her labors, so too we are to enjoy the rest given by our Lord. The Church needs to enjoy the company of one another; they need to one another one another with words of comfort and joy, rather than somber individualized contemplation.

The Table is for our enjoyment. The God of joy broke His Son, so that we might be one, and then He gave us His joy in wine that we might give thanks and embody that joy in the communion of saints. “Celebrating communion by myself” cannot exist in a community. Community exists so that we might esteem others better than ourselves. In the Lord’s Supper, introspection is not desired; rather, incarnational theology is lived out together.

  1. There is a theology of unworthiness at the Table, but this is certainly not it  (back)
The Role of Preaching in Reformed Theology

The Role of Preaching in Reformed Theology

Over at Theologia, one of the best kept secrets in the Reformed world, Duane Garner wrote a piece in 2003 where he elaborated on the place of preaching in the service. It is a well worth read. It will place preaching in its proper place and show its place in the totality of the worship service. Garner writes:

Today, the great majority of Reformed preaching is not too far from the basic Puritan model. The entire Lord’s Day gathering in many Reformed churches is driven by and centered around the sermon, which is ordinarily marked by its academic language, arcane theology and tedious delivery [12]. This present reality is a world away from Calvin’s original intent when he endeavored to place the preaching of the Word back in its proper place in worship.
Calvin wrote, “No assembly of the Church should be held without the word being preached, prayers being offered, the Lord’s supper administered and alms given” [13], indicating that the weekly meeting should be a balanced celebration of Word and Sacrament. Calvin did not intend to obliterate the mass, but simply to rid it of those things which were distractions and not helpful to the ministry of the Word and Sacrament. Throughout his time in Strasbourg and Geneva, he appealed to the patristic pattern of worship and sought to present Communion every single Lord’s day [14]. Such was the importance of proper liturgy to Calvin. He desired to have truly “Word-centered” worship by not simply preaching the Word, but obeying the Word in renewing covenant and eating with the Lord every week.

Read the entire article here.

Mercersberg Theology Summarized

Brad Littlejohn offers this concise definition:

but if we may attempt to capture it in a nutshell, we might describe it thus: the Mercersburg Theology was a distinctively American yet cosmopolitan nineteenth-century theology— catholic, sacramental, both modern and ancient, Romantic and Reformed. Its eclecticism and historical awareness in an age of rigid orthodoxies, its ecumenism in an age of confessional quarrels, its theological seriousness and lofty speculation in an
American landscape dominated by anti-intellectualism, set it apart from the crowd of competing American theologies.

{Series Introduction}