Just about everything that we do that’s important in this life includes a meal. Birthday celebrations, graduation parties, weddings, anniversary dinners, retirement celebrations, memorial banquets. The same is true at church, we recognize our missionaries with a mission’s dinner, we honor our seniors with a special dinner, we just had our annual church picnic, and soon we will have an ice cream social and a harvest dinner yet to come. God created us not just to eat and drink but to enjoy eating and drinking. Food is one of His gifts and being able to enjoy food is another one of His gifts. It is in keeping with the nature of God to establish a meal for us in which we commemorate something He never wants us to forget, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of all our sins. This supper reminds us that God’s righteous wrath against the world has been appeased, atoned for, paid in full. But just how big a deal is this sacrament to us today? There was a time in history when what people thought about the Lord’s Supper was a matter of life and death. In England from 1555 to 1558 during the reign of the bloody Queen Mary 288 Protestant Reformers were martyred by being burned at the stake. Why? In large part because of their views on the Lord’s Supper. There was a time in history when the meaning of the Lord’s Supper was so important and highly regarded that some thought it was worth dying for and others thought it was worth killing for. I hope we will not think of the Lord’s Supper as no big deal, something we can take or leave, something people shouldn’t fight over. We come this evening to the longest article of the Belgic Confession, a very carefully worded and extensive treatment of this very important sacrament. We do well to heed the warnings and take to heart this excellent instruction concerning this gift given to us by Jesus through which we participate and share in the body and blood of Jesus. But how can we do that if what article 35 says is true, that these things are beyond our understanding and incomprehensible to us?
All these definitions, characteristics and cautions will be on the church web page tomorrow afternoon, or just ask me for a copy and I can e-mail one or print one out for you. Keep a running tab as we go through these, yes, maybe, no, and at the end see if any stand out. These nine gifts “serve” the church or enable God’s work by providing structure, organization, and support in both spiritual and practical areas. Many of them are about putting others first or meeting the needs of others so they are free to exercise their spiritual gifts. There is some similarity and overlap, but I will try to distinguish between them. Also remember that many of these gifts are commanded of all of God’s children. The difference for some is they have a special enabling or anointing and do their gift above and beyond what is normally expected, or more freely or more frequently or more effectively than the rest of us.
We are talking about the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To all who have claimed Jesus as their Savior from sin and their Lord for life, to them He has given the Holy Spirit. And to all to whom the Spirit has been given, to them the Spirit gives at least one spiritual gift and usually two or more as a manifestation of His presence and power for the common good of the body, for the benefit of the whole church. Lists of Spiritual Gifts. There are at least four chapters in the NT that give partial lists of spiritual gifts. No chapter has them all and each has some that others leave out. Our texts are from three of those chapters. In I Peter 4:10 Peter seems to give us a summary way of thinking about all the Spirit’s gifts. Peter divides the gifts into two categories, the speaking gifts and the serving gifts. That’s how we will consider them with the addition of a third category, the sign gifts or those extraordinary gifts of healings, miracles, tongues and interpretation. This morning we will consider the speaking gifts first. And low and behold, it’s another miracle, there’s a list on the back of your bulletin. Wonders never cease. Maybe an old dog can learn new tricks. Only time will tell.
The story is told of King Louis IX who reigned over France from 1226 to 1270. He was a godly king often referred to as Saint Louis. The city St. Louis is named after him. He was asked what was the greatest day of his life. Expecting him to say the day of his coronation at the age of 12 or the day of his marriage to princess Margaret, he surprised everyone when he answered, “The day of my baptism.” How many of us if asked that question before today would have ever thought to answer, “The day of my baptism.”?
The Belgic Confession recognizes we are all like children in our understanding. God recognizes our crudeness and weakness, our need for visible, tangible pictures that appeal to our senses. We come this evening to consider the second of the three marks of a true church. Remember the three marks, the true and faithful preaching of the Word of God, the true and right administration of the sacraments, and the faithful exercise of church discipline to bring to repentance those who are living in sin or error. Three lengthy articles are devoted to the sacraments in the Belgic Confession.
In my last sermon I gave ten truths about spiritual gifts. I said that only those who are spiritual have them, meaning Christians. Every Christian has at least one and no one has them all and no single gift is given to every Christian. We can’t earn them, and the Spirit decides who gets which ones. This morning I want to give six things spiritual gifts are not or are not to be confused with. All of this is in an effort to help us not be uninformed or ignorant about spiritual gifts. I Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.
Well, what are you seeking for; what is your desire & determination & delight to do in life? or to put it as someone says, “What is your quest? [For] without a quest, life is quickly reduced to a bleak black & wimpy white, a diet too bland to get anybody out of bed in the morning. A quest fuels our fire. It refuses to let us drift downstream gathering debris. It keeps our mind in gear, makes us press on.” th'fore, we all need to be on a quest for someone or something to make life meaningful. But, you see, to find genuine, everlasting happiness & peace, satisfaction & success & security, we must never try to seek in the wrong ways the world gives us. it will never be found by seeking them just through higher education or a good paying job. 2 o or by owning a lot of clothes & cars, a big home or a large bank account. o nor by a chemical dependency, or substance abuse, or by a 1 night sexual affair. that's because all these possessions & pleasures don't last. o &, if these temporal things of life are only the gods we love & live for, then at death we are going to be left without anything, not even God, for eternity. And so there’s a lot more to life & living to be able to experience true, eternal joy & well-being. & that is, that, above & beyond & besides all the other good quests in life, we must engage in the greatest quest of all. we must do what Isa.55:6 & 7 commands: “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” (OVER) Today then, we want to look at that passage & what is to be OUR GREATEST QUEST in life. 1st, the godly object of that search. &, 2nd, the necessary manner in which we must carry out our quest.
You know Bible uses many names to describe the being & behavior of an authentic Christian. we are called God's sheep. o we are also called a tree or a branch, a soldier, a body or a temple, & the like & these names bring us much comfort & encouragement, as well as remind us of the serious responsibilities we have as those who believe & belong to Jesus. Well, there is another name Scriptures give to Jesus’ followers to inform & instruct & inspire us about who we must be & how we must live as true Christians. & that name is: THE WAY. & it is 1 of 2 names there were not given to Jesus’ followers by themselves. But the name, the Way, & the other name, Christian, were given to the early believers by the people & the enemies around them. probably as a way to mock them. but they do tell us something about those followers of Christ. o that they were living in such a distinct way for Lord that those who lived around them saw they were different. o they saw Jesus, the Way, in their lives so that called them Christians, or little Christs & the Way. Now it is only the name, Christian, that has remained as a honorable & popular title. but, sad to say, it has lost its true meaning & significance so that almost everybody calls themselves a Christian today, & it brings no opposition as it did in NT. o although, if you watch today’ news the opposition to Christians is on the rise. still, as whole, being called a Christian can mean anything today. o & it is quite a popular name people call themselves even if they believe Bible is a man-made product, & even live a deviant lifestyle.