Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Spirit-filled life is M.O.R.E about Jesus

1 Corinthians 11:23 "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which 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.”

The Lord's table urges the church of the living God to be more about Jesus Christ. In the last several posts we have labored to show how the Spirit-filled life is connected and portrayed by the Lord's supper - being that such a life is necessary to live out all that is communicated in that covenant meal. The historical Christ is commemorated by the elements of bread and fruit of the vine and the prophetic Christ is looked forward by the same. When it comes to the present reality of Jesus Christ in the life of the Christian, the Holy Spirit's work in uniting us to Him in and amplifying our experience of Him in His filling ministry are all included in the significance of the meal. 

Paul's letter to the Corinthian church was written to a group of believers who across the board were more worldly than godly and more carnally minded than spiritual. The reinforcing of the Lord's table in 1 Corinthians 11 reminds the reader that it is for all true Christians. Even if a Christian has been carnally minded, He is bid to come and surrender Himself to His Lord at the table and ask the Spirit of God to renew him to a fresh love for Jesus and His people. Today's post is designed to close out this series of posts on the relationship between the Spirit-filled life and the Lord's table. Like the Lord's table, the Spirit-filled life is about the Holy Spirit getting more of you and me so that we can desire more of Jesus Christ. Below we will use the acrostic M.O.R.E in unfolding what is entailed in being filled with the Holy Spirit, as well as seeing the table of the Lord as the ideal setting for such.

The Spirit-filled life involves the following components:

1. Meditating on Jesus in the Word. 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
As Paul relays to his readers the basis for his giving to them the Lord's table, he writes: "For I received from the Lord". When Jesus Christ delivered these instructions and recollections of the night in which He instituted this ordinance, He was doing so in a post-resurrected, post-ascended state. The words that Jesus spoke to Paul are nearly identical to those we find in Luke 22:19-21. The Holy Spirit's work enabled Paul to interract with the ascended, exalted Jesus. Jesus met Paul on the basis of the Word, which in turn prompted Paul under Divine inspiration to include instructions on the Lord's table.

Meditating on scripture is a must for anyone desiring to be Spirit-filled or Spirit-controlled. When we look at the instances of filling of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, some sort of mediation or time spent in the Word was included. Paul purposefully wants his readers to reflect back on Jesus and to think about what He is doing currently in their lives as they approach the table. Meditating on the scripture positions us to be ready to receive the supper and to be Spirit-filled. Colossians 3:16, which tells us to "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly" is worded similarly to Ephesians 5:18 - which tells Christians to be "filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Obedience to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
As we continue to focus briefly on 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, we find that by being a set of commands from the Lord Jesus, obedience is expected. Jesus plainly said that the way to show love to Him is to obey His commands (John 14:21). Obedience to the Lord is another pre-condition to the filling of the Spirit. Acts 5:32 states - "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” When we as believers partake of the Lord's supper, we are doing so in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Obedience and a right heart are so central to how we approach and partake of the meal. In Baptist churches (and most fellowships), believer's baptism is a pre-requisite, along with saving faith, in the partaking of the table, since a willing obedient heart is a receptive heart to the authority of Jesus Christ. Spirit-filled living must have obedience, just as an electric circuit needs wiring. Meditating on the scripture and obedience are both activities that require the Spirit's power to make them genuine expressions of love to Jesus. Just like the Lord's supper, the Spirit-filled life is more about Jesus in meditating on the scripture, obeying the Lord and thirdly.....

Rejecting the self-life. 1 Corinthians 11:27-34. 
1 Corinthians 11:29 states - "For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly." Many people wonder what this stern command means. It could include the idea of how we approach the table - say in a flippant manner, or in terms of how we approach Jesus and His accomplished work. The main idea seems to be in regards to how we regard fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Whenever you read the earlier context of 1 Corinthians 11:17-22, the Corinthians were essentially placing themselves above one another and back-biting one another. Such activity will never lead to the Spirit-filled life, but only a self-led life. A few verses will prove this point.

Galatians 5:13-16 "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do notturn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Or consider Ephesians 5:18-19 "
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." Self is the twin enemy of the Christian life - the other being our Adversary, the devil. The self-life rears its ugly head whenever the cross is put forth. The Lord's table places the cross front and center. At the Lord's table, we are called to die to self, consider others more important than ourselves and serve one another in love. To not die to self is to constrict the flow of the Spirit's power and to limit one's experience of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. We must meditate on scripture, obey and reject self. However there is one more component necessary for the the Spirit-filled life that the Lord's table gives us opprotunity to receive....

Empowerment of the Spirit. 
Whenever we come to participate in the Lord's supper, the entire church body is present and waiting to receive the bread and fruit of the vine. Nothing resides in those signs. The signs of the bread and fruit of the vine point to the reality of He who resides in us by the Holy Spirit - namely the Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever we partake of that covenant meal, the presence and power of Jesus Christ is made more clear in us and through our collective presence. We wait on each other and wait for the meal to be served. Waiting is such a vital part of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Perhaps a better word is positioning.

Acts 1:8 has Jesus telling His disciples - "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” When God's people gather together to celebrate the Lord's table, it ought to be, next to the exposition of scripture, the center of spirituality in the Christian life. We in the Evangelical church world have down-played the place of the Lord's supper too much. In our efforts to stress it's symbolic nature, we have went too far and have opted to making such an observance optional and then gradually non-observed. Inasmuch as the Lord's Table is a symbolic meal containing signs pointing to Jesus, it is not just a bare symbol only. 

Unless the church corporately has regular opportunity to meditate on Jesus Christ in the scriptures, obey and die to self at the table, no power of the Spirit can be expected to flow. When we take the Lord's table and the celebration thereof more seriously, a renewed passion for the cross and the Gospel will result. Holiness and Godly living will be held at a much higher premium. How we treat one another will be viewed much more importantly - resulting in a proper atmosphere for the Spirit of God to truly move. 

Closing thoughts
Today's post closes out what has been a series of posts tying together two major Bible truths - the Lord's table and the Spirit-filled life. The Spirit-filled life and the Lord's table have as their common goal in partaking of and enjoying more of Jesus. We used the acronym m.o.r.e to express in outline form through 1 Corinthians 11:23-33 how the Lord's supper calls us to a deeper walk with Jesus. In this acronym, we saw the need to meditate on Jesus in the scripture, obey, reject the self-life and empowerment from the Spirit to do the first three. The Lord's supper calls Christians in the local church to do such things, and the Spirit-filled life is the only life that can heed such a call.

The Spirit-filled life is at the heart and core of such a call, being that the Holy Spirit is the One who ministers Jesus to the believer in the partaking of Him in daily life and more specifically in their enjoyment of Jesus' presence with fellow Christians in partaking of the symbols of bread and fruit of the vine. We concluded today's post by noting how the Lord's supper is needed as a necessary ingredient in the spiritual renewal of God's people.

I will close with a quote from The Spiritual Awakening Specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Dr. Gregory Frizell, who writes the following in his book: "The Lord's Supper - A Covenant of love and surrender", pages 3-4: "It is my firm conviction that Lord's Suppers can (and should) be a powerful experience of repentance, restored unity, renewed joy and love for Jesus. Such renewal is the very essence of revival!" 

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