“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #144
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:12-14).
Paul then comes to introduce his central illustration for the use of spiritual gifts, which is the illustration of one body with many different organs. He says, first, the body is one, but the one body has many members. He then comes from the opposite direction, and says that there are many members, but they are all part of one body. This is the way Christ is, because this is the way the body of Christ is. Christ has one body—His church—and this one body has many different members.
The apostle tells us that every time we come to this Table we do so in order to make a proclamation. Every time we eat and drink here, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Now this proclamation is something that occurs among the Lord’s people, for we are the ones invited to this Table, but the proclamation is meant to be heard by all that has breath. Every living thing is invited to worship the Lord.
We don’t need to know how God arranges for nonbelievers to hear this proclamation, or how they come to learn of it, but fortunately, we don’t have to. All we have to do is eat and drink with sincere love for God and for our brothers and sisters. God takes care of the rest. He is the one who called it a proclamation, and who called all of us His messengers.
We have been considering how best to glorify God in our planned building endeavor. We want to glorify God with timber, and brick, and mortar, and stones. And speaking of stones, we should pay very close attention to a juxtaposition that the Lord placed between some stones in very different situations.
“And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out . . . And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:40, 44).
If stones can speak in a way that glorifies God, they can also be cast down and crushed into pebbles in a way that glorifies God. If stones can speak, then stones can have a heart, and if they have a heart, then God requires the externals of that architecture and the internals of that architecture to be saying the same thing, with the same motive, in the same love. Isaiah warns us in this way:
“Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Is. 29:13).
In order for the stones to cry out rightly, the heart of the building must consist of living stones that also cry out rightly. And in order for us to be those living stones, the sovereign God must take away our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. He must make us alive. He quickens the stone by taking away the stone. And when He does this, we are then able to quicken the stones by gathering as living stones to worship the Lord God of all Israel. So let the stones cry out.
“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #143
“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor. 12:8-11).
Paul’s point here in this passage is to point out the fact that multiple workings are all proceeding from one source, which means that these multiple gifts are all meant to work toward one unified purpose or end. He does this by saying the Spirit does x, the same Spirit does y, and the same Spirit does z.
As you have been told a number of times, this is not a Table of introspection and morbid confession. Confession is relevant to what we do here, but it should not be what we do here. You wash up before you come to the Table, but the Table is not the designated place for washing up. Of course, if the Spirit brings something to mind while you are here, simply confess it and return to the subject at hand. But don’t go hunting for things to confess. You are not to be curled up in an introspective ball, but rather singing to the Lord, looking around at your people, the people you love.
As we marshal our resources, as we count our shekels, we want to remember what the biblical definition of prudence is. We want to be prudent in our how we raise money for our sanctuary, but we don’t want to be so prudent that we are tempted to think we could do something like this apart from God.
God is in the business of doing for His people beyond what they could ask or think. But He does this for His people who are walking by faith in the light of His Word. He does not do it for those vain daydreamers who build sky sanctuaries in the clouds.
So let me begin my comments about Son of God, the Movie by saying that there are tons of evangelicals who are excited about this movie because of the evangelistic opportunities it represents. Their motives are pure and happy, and I wish everybody well. I hope that lots of people who are given pre-bought theater tickets pray the prayer.
Let me also begin these comments by saying that I will do my level best to keep the Second Commandment out of this. This not because the Second Commandment is irrelevant — indeed, that commandment lurks in the background of all Jesus movies, as the great unspoken explanation for why these movies are so consistently lame. It might help you follow these comments if you know that my general outlook on these things is akin to the views of the Scots Covenanters, and my idea of an ecclesiastical relic is a Claymoor hanging in the narthex. So you will have to grant me some leeway on the subject.
That said, and judging by the trailer — which is what they want us to judge by, right? — we have yet another Jesus who perpetuates our perennial and mule-headed idea that holiness consists of one part anemia, one part effeminacy, two parts stoner-mystique, and one part slight constipation, this time with a British accent. But I don’t want a Russell Brand Jesus.
The Lord’s first command was “follow me,” and so why do we always get these guys that you wouldn’t want to follow for ninety seconds on an escalator?
When King of Kings first came out several generations ago, one insightful lady of the English aristocracy wrote that if Jesus really had been like that, she would have been among those who were crying out, “Give us Barabbas!” Flipping this observation around, as a friend of mine recently did, we should be able to tell that a Jesus movie had been really successful in portraying the Lord if half the crowds in the theaters wanted to crucify Him — and not for being such a milksop either, but rather because He was a dangerous firebrand. A really good Jesus movie would have a bipartisan bill denouncing it — called Save the American Dream Act — passing both houses of Congress handily in a rush to get it to the president’s desk.
But alas. And if you ask me why I am not holding my breath, I would simply say that we really do need to have a thoughtful discussion of the Second Commandment, one that gets past — har, har — surface appearances.
In order to build a sanctuary in which to worship the Lord, we have to face the question of ownership. One of the reasons why property rights (which are actually human rights) are under assault in our day is that we have refused to acknowledge that God owns absolutely everything. We function as stewards, under the authority of His Word. If we deny the foundation, then we will have trouble keeping the house standing.
Now for the church to build a building, we need to own land, and buy brick and stone, and hire architects, and so forth. This means that we must have money, and we must have enough of it.