• Pastor Ron Johnson

Communion Meditation Notes 11/1/20

Communion Meditation Notes

by

Pastor Ron Johnson

Grace Reformed Baptist Church (Meeting House)

November 1, 2020


My memory being like a sieve, I know I have mentioned this to others privately but I am not sure if I have ever mentioned this publicly before. But when I come to try to rightly divide a verse or verses of Scripture I take a while deciding on the way that I am going to try and open it up. Now I hope to do it correctly and in a way that the ultimate author of the verse, the Holy Spirit, can use it to the benefit and blessing of those listening as with the text I have reached before this table of remembrance: Hebrews 13 verse 15:

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”


The words "…giving thanks to his name." could also be woodenly translated, i.e. following the exact order of the Greek words, - “confessing the Name of Him.”- the name being Jesus, is seen by going back to verse 12 of this last chapter of Hebrews:

“12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”

Giving Thanks to His Name” - Jesus!


So, as I have done over many years, I have used the book of Hebrews to focus our minds on the truth and blessing of this table of remembrance having reached this 15th verse of this thirteenth chapter of Hebrews. And I have found it fascinating, and dare I say, at times, it causes me to tremble, to see how the verse I have reached speaks to even the times we are living in and the circumstances we are facing. I think back to the verse I was at when this Covid trial struck the churches of Christ. But as I thought on this particular verse three things came to my mind regarding this table of remembrance and this verse:

  1. The first is the time I am using it;

  2. The second is What's in a Name;

  3. Third, and, excuse the length, - Is the difficulty believers have had, and even continue to have, in doing this in remembrance of Him i.e. Jesus because we have not been doing what this verse says before coming before this table.

Now, first, what do I mean by the time I am using it? Today is one day after the anniversary of a day that changed world history. I am referring to the historical date of October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Meeting House. The impact of that event is still with us today - The Protestant Reformation. But there were others associated with this deliverance from the false teachings of Rome: Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin. And the interesting thing about these three Reformers is, although they all agreed with the Papacy being the anti-Christ, they all had differing understandings of how this table was to be understood - a disagreement that goes way beyond this brief meditation. Although I would trust that they all understood that this is a table where we do not come to confess our goodness, since we have none, or our righteousness, because Jesus would have not called all men to repentance and faith in Him if there were any such men. There are none. For all our righteousness's are as filthy rags; we do not come to confess our goodness or our righteousness but our personal need of the finished work of the One Mediator between God and sinful man, the man Christ Jesus.


The difficulty of laying hold of this truth by faith is something that has a long pedigree going all the way back to the Reformers and probably before this, in light of the amount that has been written on it. Listen to this paraphrase of something John Calvin taught:

In seeking to prepare for eating the Lord's Supper worthily, men have often dreadfully harassed and tortured consciences. They have said you must be in a state of grace and they have interpreted being in a state of grace to mean being pure and free from all sin. But by this definition all the men that have ever been, and all who are on the earth now are barred from this table of remembrance: For, if we are to seek our worthiness from ourselves, it is all over for us, only despair and fatal ruin await us.


But in addition to this, the battle with remaining sin is a real battle and the Devil has no problem in using this real battle with sin, and the real guilt over it, to make a confessing believer think he or she should not partake. Which leads me to my next two points:


Second: What's In A Name? For the verse I am at in Hebrews 13 says:

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

Whose name? - Jesusname. Remember biblical names mean something! But what does His name mean? What does the name Jesus mean? Answer: “He will save His people from their sins.” What are we confessing again before this table? The truth of His Name – “He will save His people from their sins.”


Third: A reason believers have had trouble remembering this because they have forgotten to apply the blessing of this verse 15 of Hebrews 13:

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”


And as I said at the beginning, the words "giving thanks" could also be translated: "confessing the name of Him,” i.e. Jesus. It is the same word used in Romans 10:9-10

9 ”That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”


But friends, what does verse 15 of Hebrews 13 say: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” When do we offer this sacrifice of praise, giving thanks to his name? Continually!”


Believer, you need to remember continually the truth of what the name Jesus means and praise and thank God for what His name means! - If I dare put it as simple as this - how many have heard of the expression “Keeping short accounts with God?” - When you sin and are convicted of it you confess it:

1 John 1:8-10

8 ”If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”


Also, and this is so important and such a blessing -that you apply the truth of this verse continually when you are convicted of whatever that sin is - giving thanks to His Name!


So, coming before this table of remembrance is simply doing what you have been doing to the praise of His Name privately every time you apply the truth of this verse before you come to this table of remembrance! You don't say I'll try harder, LORD! And what believer has not had the Devil assault them with that lie?! What believer has not felt the hate-filled breath of the Devil after some besetting sin – “You wretch?! You will never be good enough for God!” You are cast down and crushed for as long as the Devil can deceive you! NO! “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” You confess the truth of His name continually! You don't listen to the Devil's lie saying: "Now I am good enough" or "Now I have been sorry for my sin long enough to come before this table."


Believer, you will never be good enough to come before this table of remembrance! We don't come before this table to remember our goodness. We don't come before this table to remember our badness! We come to remember Jesus – the One who saves His people from all their sins.


This table is what believers do together publicly to remember the One they are praising and thanking God for, continually, privately.


Friends, I began this devotion saying there was something I can't remember. Friends, I can't remember all the times I have come before this table of remembrance since the Lord in His amazing mercy and grace saved me over 40 years ago and I can't remember what all my thoughts were when coming before it! Could I have come before it thinking that I was not worthy to partake?!


Friends, since I have been battling the devil for 40 years I would not be surprised that, at times the Devil has deceived me! But not today! Not today! I forget how many times I may have correctly or incorrectly come before this table but I say to you that I am coming to remember Jesus today - the One who saves His people from all their sins - even the sin of not seeing this table of remembrance correctly, and coming before this table and not remembering Him, and Him alone!


May this be your desire as well - giving thanks to His Name because Jesus saves His people from all their sins!


Let us do this in remembrance of the One who gave His sinful people this table to remember Him and Him alone.


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Ron Johnson, Pastor

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