How the Sin Argument Can’t Work

This meal is a meal of all grace. When we shrink back from it, we do so (most often) because of our sins. But because it is a meal of grace, all the arguments we might construct out of our sins do not and cannot work. This is because grace is there because of our sins, it presupposes them. Just as a bath presupposes someone in need of a bath, so also the blood of Jesus Christ here presented is the blood that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The body of Jesus Christ here presented is the body that was broken on account of all unrighteousness. What argument fashioned from sins can you bring to this Table that is not quickly, thoroughly, and wonderfully refuted? There is a convoluted way to turn a table of grace into a table of judgment, and some have done it, but they have only succeeded in doing it by ignoring almost everything that is said about it. Some have gotten sick and died because of how they approached the cup of blessing, but their mistake was not a minor one, and … [Read more...]

Those Darts Are Doubts

This meal is offered to you as a means of grace. It is one of God’s great instruments for building your faith, for encouraging you in your walk, for establishing your assurance. Ah, there’s the problem, some of you might be saying . . . assurance. If only I had it. You think you need assurance to come to the Table, when actually you need to come to the Table for assurance. We do not come to this Supper because we have achieved something, but rather to receive something. But should you not have assurance? Of course you should. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). This is why God offers to give it to you . . . by various means. The gospel preached, the gospel enacted, as here, the gospel embodied in the fellowship of the saints – these are all ways that God gives you assurance. But, you might argue, if you were a true … [Read more...]

Some Kind of Zen Presbyterianism . . .

I received a good question from a friend about yesterday's post concerning Rachel Held Evans and communion, a question that had to do with how we fence the Table. In order to be able to get at the issues involved, let me remove it entirely from this dispute about RHE so we can grasp the general principles that apply. First, let me state how we fence the Table and why. In our printed weekly bulletin, we have a separate box with the heading " May I Come to the Table?" That question is answered affirmatively, provided the reader has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and is not under the discipline of the church. But this brings up two wild cards -- first, there are people out there who have been excommunicated who shouldn't have been, and there are also a bunch of people who haven't been who should have. What do we do with them? With the former, we assume the legitimacy of the discipline, seeking to honor the authority of a sister church. At the same … [Read more...]

If You Start Purple, Finish Purple

Today Rachel Held Evans tweeted that despite her disagreements with him, she would be happy to come to the Lord's Table with John Piper any time. No matter what, he's a brother. A brother who creates a big-time abusive environment for blaming the victim, but still a brother, right? Sorry, but it doesn't work like that. I read a book years ago on the writer's craft by James Kilpatrick (sorry, forgot the title) and some of the best advice I have ever received was this. If you start purple, finish purple. There are three ways to relate to fellow Christians when it comes to the Lord's Table. One is when a professing brother is living in a way that denies the gospel, and this is something that can be amply demonstrated in a competent jurisdiction. When this happens, it is an occasion for church discipline. … [Read more...]