Monday, February 15, 2016


    This Sunday was communion Sunday at our church. When I celebrate communion, I like to take the time my church sets aside for self examination and use it to refresh the story of the gospel in my mind, mostly because that is, in my opinion, the means God uses to allow His body and blood to minister to us through the week. This rehearsal of the gospel in my mind and heart is what refreshes me in the Lord and redirects my focus from my own works and thoughts back to their proper place on Christ and His work.

    I won't say anything you don't already know tonight. I just want us to take a moment and ponder afresh the gospel and its depth and richness. It's a story we've all tuned out before on Sunday afternoon when we're hungry or sleepy or just bored. It's not new information. It's nothing original or new, but it should remain mind boggling.

    Before time was, before the world existed, God knew me. I italicize it because it means more than what we commonly associate with "knew". To us, that means anything from acquaintance or a familiar face to bosom friend and deepest confidante. When the Bible speaks of God "knowing" us or "foreknowing" us, the idea is not simple knowledge. The idea is intimate knowledge of details, an intimate acquaintance with and familiarity with every facet. When it says that those who God justified and redeemed were those whom He knew in Rom. 8, the "knew" is not mere facial recognition or recognition of our cosmic name tag. It was deep, abiding knowledge of who we would be.

     So before time was, before any concept of matter or energy or mankind existed, God was intimately knowledgeable of every detail of my life. He knew me, in the deepest, most real sense of the word. His knowledge of me walks hand in hand with His choice of me. This choosing is not the result of the knowledge, but a truth that walks hand in hand with the knowing. Just as God knew me, He chose me.

     Apart from any goodness or redeeming quality in myself that would earn my favored status with God, God chose to set His love upon me, to redeem me, not because of me or anything beautiful in me, but in spite of the evil stain that permeated every part of me. He chose to take what was imperfect and make it perfect, what was evil and make it good, what was ugly and make it beautiful, what was garbage and make art. It wasn't because of my wisdom, my goodness, my beauty, my innate desirability, but only the mercy of God.

     As I partake of His body and His blood symbolically through the communion table, we reflect on the truths of who I was and who I am, what I did and what God did. My vast contributions to salvation consisted of my sin and my own insufficient works. My only part in salvation was my sin. Everything great in my life and everything beautiful in me comes from the greatness of the God who chose me and the glory of His grace.

     The last thing I want to consider is why He did this. Every week, we are confronted with people's opinions of why God chose to show such extreme grace to rebels. Some say so that He can enjoy our free love, as if He was some lovesick benefactor in the sky wanting appreciation. Some say that He was lonely by Himself and created man for companionship, again, as if the God who breathes out stars and creates galaxies with words feels compelled to turn to man for companionship instead of in His own complex unity of three persons in one identity.

     But instead, we see in Col. 1 that all things were made for Him. We were made for His glory. The entire gospel plan does not end in our salvation but in God's ultimate self glorification. He receives glory and honor through the proclamation of His attributes, His grace and mercy on those He has chosen and His justice and wrath against those who have rejected Him. His attributes perfectly point to His character, pointing all the world to the recognition of His greatness and His worthiness.

      When the Lamb is declared worthy in Revelation, He is declared deserving of all praise and glory and honor. Through His revelation of Himself through the gospel, He is declared to be worthy to receive every honor and every glory possible to bestow on Him! This is the gospel. This is what we remind ourselves of every time we take the cup in our hands. This is what our self-examination drives us to consider.

    Our consideration of our own failure drives us to see the sufficiency of Christ and be awed anew by the magnitude of His mercy. Communion offers us yet another timeout to observe and reflect on the reality of the gospel, this beautiful art that displays God's attributes in their blinding ferocity and awe-inspiring greatness!

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