This morning we are continuing to work our way through a short series (True Christianity), within a larger series (Acts: The Story Continues), based on Acts 2:40-47. We’re taking additional time here because this passage gives us insight into four vital signs (i.e. signs of life) for every Christian church and every Christian. The first week we saw true Christianity is God-initiated (vs something we “pick-up”), Jesus-centered (vs Jesus-on-the-periphery), involving the entire person (heart, mind and will). The second week we examined how true Christianity results in a living redeemed community (i.e. the church) formed around the Living Redeemer; rather than a random collection of isolated individuals that happen to gather once a week. The third week, last week, we saw true Christianity has an immovable commitment to truth that is provided for us in the Bible and summed up in the gospel of Jesus. This week, we’ll see that true Christianity is marked by a deep and joyous worship of Jesus.
The word worship comes from old english word worth-ship. The idea is that to worship something is to acknowledge its worth. To worship is to love, devote, and revere something or someone of great worth or value. The Bible tells us that God is the greatest object of worth and anything in our life that claims the loyalty and love that belong to God alone is an idol. An idol can be anything or anyone that takes the place of God in our life (work, school, success, pleasure, wealth, security, escape, comfort, relationships, possessions, etc)
So, the test of true Christianity is not whether you do all the right things and know all the right answers. Rather, do you love Jesus? Do you worship him? Do you hunger and thirst for Him? Are you seeking Him? Are you increasingly delighting and desiring Him? True Christianity is marked by a deep, joyous love for Jesus. He increasingly becomes the passion of your life. Today, we’re going to look at just a couple ways this love and passion for Jesus bubble over – that we see the church expressly devoted themselves too “breaking of the bread” and “prayers”.
The Lord’s Supper (“the breaking of bread” 2:42,46)
The Lord’s Supper is meant to be a place to express our love, devotion and worship of Jesus.
First, the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus himself. Jesus gave us two ordinances: baptism (1x) and Lord’s Supper (repeatedly). It was not my idea, not the church’s idea, not religious ritual. Rather, it was something Jesus asked followers to do. It reminds us of our primary object of worth, our source of life. Through it we renew our covenant with him. You may say, “Well, that sounds very religious”. But, every idol has an act that serves as a renewal of the covenant made with it (ex. drunk/high, fridge, paycheck, success, relationship, looking at porn, etc)
26 “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Mt 26:26-29
Second, the Lord’s Supper has been practiced since the early church.
Third, the Lord’s Supper is meant to remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice in our place.
3 Views of “this is my body” (Mt 26:26)
Roman Catholic: Transubstantiation. According the the Roman Catholic view the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ. Technically, this happens moment priest says “this is my body” during mass. This is something that only the priest can do. Because of this, for many centuries the church did not allow average person to drink from cup of Lord’s Supper b/c they were afraid Jesus’ blood would be spilled. Additionally, because of this, they believe that Jesus is sacrificed again during mass, for forgiveness of sins.
We don’t agree with this view for three primary reasons:
First, it misses the figurative language that Jesus was using when he said “this is my body”. He also said, “I am the vine”, “I am the door”, “I am the good shepherd”, “I am the way, the truth and life”. Clearly the disciples did not think that Jesus was saying the bread was his body. Rather, he was saying, in the same way this bread was broken, my body will be broken.
Second, the idea that Jesus must be offered over and over again for sins is unbiblical.
Heb 9:26 Jesus appeared “once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (9:28, 7:27)
Third, all believers are priests. 1 Peter 2:5,9 “holy” and “royal priesthood” There is no special class of people who mediate for us. We all have equal access, approaching God together.
Lutheran. Consubstantiation. Here, the elements do not become Jesus’ body/blood. Rather, Jesus is physically present with, under, beside (ex. sponge). Only problem? Not taught in the Bible. He said “this is my body” not “I and the bread are one but different”.
Rest of Protestantism. (Calvin)
We believe in the symbolic and spiritual presence of Christ.
Q: How do we rightly practice and enter into the Lord’s Supper?
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died…33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 1Cor 11:23-30,33
Four-directional practice of entering and rightly partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
- Looking back // “Do this in remembrance of me….you proclaim the Lord’s death” vs24,26
- Looking ahead // “you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes…” vs26
- Looking in // “Let a person examine himself” vs28
- Looking around // “wait for one another” vs33
Prayer (“the prayers” 2:42)
Similarly, prayer is given to us by God to express and cultivate love and worship of Him.
What Christian prayer is not:
- NOT about eloquence, unbending faith, perfect accuracy. Illusion. These were people like us.
- NOT about twisting God’s arm w/ an extra super holy voice, being good, saying the right things.
What prayer is…talking to your perfect Father.
SIX Framing principles:
- Believe Gospel. Forgiven. Cleansed. Loved. Graced. More you realize he has done, more you will love
- Pray to God as a person, not an abstraction.
- Make God the focus, not praying.
- Pray as a child: messy, hopeful, real, honest, dependent, “try to get it right”.
- Start by carving out some time every day. You don’t create intimacy w/ God, you make room for it.
- KEY! Helplessness is key to prayer. If you feel you are alright, you will not pray.
Survey of Prayer in Acts
- Prayer was foundational for early church (1:14,24;2:42;3:1;9:11;10:2,4,9,30,31;11:5; 22:17)
- Prayer was the source of their spiritual power. (4:31; 9:40; 28:8)
- Prayer was a priority of the leaders (6:4)
- Prayer was integral to identifying and commissioning new leaders (6:6; 13:3; 14:23)
- Prayer was vital for seeking forgiveness and change of heart (8:22,24)
- Prayer was central to enduring hardship (12:5,12; 16:25; 27:29)
- Prayer was a significant ministry to one another. (20:36; 8:15; 21:5)
- Pray scripture.
- Use someone’s words for your prayers (e.g. Valley of Vision, Book of Common Prayer, etc)
- Notebook. Write out your prayers.
- Different postures
- Pray out loud
- Pray with and learn from others
- 3×5 cards.
- Helpful books. A Praying Life, Paul Miller.
Ways to pray for DCC right now:
- Praying for more and more people to meet Jesus.
- Praying for more leaders and future deacons and pastors.
- Pray for God to give the leadership team wisdom.
- Praying for a new space.
- Praying that we’ll become financially self-supporting as soon as possible.
Jesus does not merely want to influence us, but to rescue us; not just to inform us but to heal us; not just to give us something to think about, but to be our life; not just an appendage, but your primary object of worth, chief object of your desires.
Q: Do you love him? Worship him? Hunger + thirst for Him? Want to know Him? This is the true test of whether you’re truly Christian.
This morning the call for all of us is to leave the self-absorbed, dehumanizing, cul-de-sac of idolatry and enter his bigger, better freeing story. True XN’ty is an invitation to true humanity found only in a deep, joyous love for Jesus. Make him the consuming passion of your life. Let’s let our love for him bubble over as we pray and share the Lord’s Supper together.
“Worship is an act of understanding, applying itself to the knowledge of the excellency of God, and actual thoughts of his majesty…It is also an act of the will, whereby the soul adores and reverences his majesty, is ravished with his amiableness, embraces his goodness, enters itself into an intimate communion with this most lovely object, and [places] all his affections upon him.” – Stephen Charnock, Works, I:298 (as quoted by JI Packer, A Quest for Godliness, 251)
“Humility is the exact opposite of modern self-confident men and women who stand on their feet and are sure they know what they are doing. They do not pray. Why not? They do not need any help – they can do it all themselves! That is why prayer is such a test of our profession of Christianity. When people are born again they realize their ignorance and are afraid of it. They realize their own unworthiness, their own uncleanness.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Authentic Christianity, 167
“American culture is probably the hardest place in the world to learn to pray. We are so busy that when we slow down to pray, we find it uncomfortable. We prize accomplishments, production. But prayer is nothing but talking to God. It feels useless, as if we are wasting our time. Every bone in our bodies screams “Get to work….in the broader culture and in our churches, we prize intellect, competency and wealth. Because we can do life without God, praying seems nice but unnecessary…our trust in ourselves and in our talents makes us structurally independent of God.” – Paul Miller, A Praying Life, 15,16