The Lord’s Supper

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 28

75. Question: How does the Lord’s Supper signify and seal to you that you share
in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross and in all His gifts?

Answer: In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup in remembrance of Him. With this command He gave these promises:[1] First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely was His body offered for me and His blood poured out for me on the cross. Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the minister and taste with my mouth the bread and the cup of the Lord
as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely does He Himself nourish and refresh my soul to everlasting life with His crucified body and shed blood.

[1] Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19, 20; I Cor. 11:23-25.

76. Question: What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink His shed blood?

Answer: First, to accept with a believing heart all the suffering and the death of Christ, and so receive forgiveness of sins and life eternal.[1] Second, to be united more and more to His sacred body through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us.[2] Therefore, although Christ is in heaven[3] and we are on earth, yet we are flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones,[4] and we forever live and are governed by one Spirit, as the members of our body are by one soul.[5]

[1] John 6:35, 40, 50-54. [2] John 6:55, 56; I Cor. 12:13. [3] Acts 1:9-11; 3:21; I Cor. 11:26; Col. 3:1. [4] I Cor. 6:15, 17; Eph. 5:29, 30; I John 4:13. [5] John 6:56-58; 15:1-6; Eph. 4:15, 16; I John 3:24.

77. Question: Where has Christ promised that He will nourish and refresh believers with His body and blood as surely as they eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup?

Answer: In the institution of the Lord’s supper: The Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, 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.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (I Corinthians 11:23-26). This promise is repeated by Paul where he says: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread (I Corinthians 10:16, 17).

Prayer Journal: Week 28

Prayer does not enable us to do a greater work for God. Prayer is a greater work for God.
(Thomas Chalmers)

This Week’s Scripture

·         1 Samuel 16:1-13
·         Psalm 23
·         Ephesians 5:8-14
·         John 9:1-41

Adoration

Psalm 23:1-3a
     The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3     He restores my soul.

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (verse 1)
All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all.

(Edward Perronet)

Take time now to offer God your praise and worship.

Confession

Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. (Ephesians 5:8b-13)

Merciful Lord, deliver me from idolatrous love of created things or beings. Keep me from loving anything of this world except in service to my love for you, and only as far as love for you will allow. Above all, my God, deliver me from an idolatrous love of self. I know that you made me to do your will, not mine, and to love myself, as all other created things, only as it serves love for you. Amen. (John Wesley)

As David did in Psalm 139, ask the Lord to search you and know you through and through. Confess the sins God brings to mind, knowing you are forgiven and that He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Thanksgiving

My Lord and Shepherd, thank you for providing for all my needs, and even lavishing upon me green pastures and still waters. You have restored my soul and you continue to lead me down the right path for the sake of your glory. For that, dear God, I thank you. I am humbled that even in the valley of the shadow of death, I do not have to fear, for I am under your protection and loving care. In fact, more than that, you offer your good gifts to me even in the midst of trials and tribulations. My cup surely overflows. Thank you, O God, for the abundant life you have given me in this world and for the promise of an eternity in your unveiled presence. In the name of the Shepherd and Lover of my soul I pray. Amen. (based on Psalm 23)

Spend some time reflecting on the prayer of thanksgiving above and then thank God for who he is and the many ways he has poured out his goodness and grace in your life.

Supplication (Petitions – prayers for yourself)

·         Spiritual Warfare
·         Growth in Christlikeness
·         Increasing faithfulness in the spiritual disciplines
·         My health
·         For my ordinary appointments and activities to become divine appointments and activities.
·         Other needs

Supplication (Intercession – prayers for others)

·         My Family
·         Mercy for those who are poor and hungry
·         Justice for those who are oppressed and persecuted
·         Peace for those in the midst of war, crime, and violence
·         Other needs

O God, may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord.”
(The United Methodist Book of Worship)

A Wonderful Grown-Up

Another offering by my daughter Natalie.

A couple of weeks ago I rewatched one of my favorite movies, the 2015 animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella “The Little Prince.” It’s an unspeakable tender film, dealing with themes of grief, memory, imagination, love, and the achingly bittersweet journey from childhood to adulthood. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’ll give you a brief synopsis.

Instead of only using the Little Prince novella as its plot, being as brief a story as it is, the film places the story into a larger narrative. On the outset, a little girl (who is given no other name, hence why I’ll only refer to her as “the little girl”) and her mother have just moved into a new neighborhood to be in closer proximity to a prestigious prep school. The two are kind and love each other very much, but are intensely driven and plan to squeeze every ounce of their summer in preparation for the school year ahead. The mother creates a whole “life plan” for her daughter, telling her warmly that she’s “going to make a wonderful grown up.” However, a wrinkle in their plan appears in the person of their neighbor, an eccentric old man. In a neighborhood of identical gray modern homes, the man lives in a peculiar three-storied house bedecked with trailing ivy and complete with a precarious, perch-like wooden balcony for his telescope. The little girl avoids the old man at first, suspicious of his antics. But after receiving small installments of a story about a Little Prince via paper airplanes, the little girl becomes curious, and eventually befriends the man who is both an aviator and the narrator of the Little Prince. And thus the story of the Little Prince and our larger story of the little girl are interwoven through the film.

The Little Prince brims with scenes that both pull on your heartstrings and make you think. But on this viewing, I was struck most by one of our antagonists, the Businessman, who counts and owns the stars, eventually housing them in an enormous domed glass bell jar. He explains to the little girl that he’s finally found a way to make the stars “useful,” and the film shows how he crushes and converts stars into electricity for the whole city. The Businessman is our obvious enemy in the movie, turning bicycles into paperclips and tyrannically running a colorless planet.

We can clearly see that the Businessman is wicked, so we’re predisposed to think that his actions are evil. So I thought to myself, setting aside his selfish motivations, what is the true evil of capturing the stars as he does? After all, he certainly demonstrates how, in a strange way, it helps the planet. Well it strikes me that the Businessman’s problem, intertwined with his greed and endless quest for gain, is that he fails to recognize the Beauty of the stars. He only lives to see what might be gained from them. He has no use for the awe they inspire, only the energy they create.

And oh, what a mirror: how quickly we fail to relish Beauty. This scene made me ask perhaps not a preposterous question: Would humans turn from admiring stars to commodifying them if we could? If we could capture them, would we try and find their utilitarian use?

While I watched these scenes, I kept thinking of Walt Whitman’s poem, “When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer”

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

It’s a simple poem, one with meaning easily grasped, I think. Whitman writes a brief but poignant vignette of how the study of the natural world can often be devoid of wonder. The “Learn’d Astronomer” has come to mind many times when I think of how we race forward with technology but don’t seem to have a proper sense of what it means to be human. To what end are we racing forward? Mere understanding? Convenience and ease? The Little Prince sees the Businessman counting his stars and asks, “what good does that do you?” I think Whitman’s narrator asks the same: What good is it to know all of the charts and figures of stars but to forget what it is like to be dumbfounded by their glory? To be stilled by their brightness?

~~~

The morning after I rewatched the film I awoke to gray skies and the promise of a storm, and I sat by my window to read St. Augustine’s Confessions, which I have been slowly pacing through this month. And would you believe it, I began book 5 where Augustine laments all the brilliant, leaned philosophers who study the stars and yet do not know or praise their Creator. This felt like such an obvious wink from the Lord, bringing together a children’s movie, a poem, and the writings of a 4th century Church Father. Augustine recognizes what little good our knowledge does for us apart from the One who gave us our capacity to know in the first place. He writes to God, saying, “You draw near to none but to the contrite in heart, nor are you found by the proud, no, not even if by cunning skill they could count the number of the stars and the sand, and measure the starry regions and trace the courses of the planets” (70).

And I thought of the Businessman as Augustine made this following observation: “They did not know this way and fancied themselves exalted among the stars and shining, and lo! they fell to the earth, and their foolish heart was darkened. They say many true things concerning the creation; but Truth, the Architect of creation, they do not seek reverently, and therefore do not find him” (71).

There are so many good quotations from this section of the book that I could drop in here. I’ll refrain, but allow me just one more: “Even so, a just man to whom all the world of wealth belongs, and who, as having nothing, yet possesses all things by holding fast to you who all things serve, though he does not know even the circles of the Great Bear, is doubtless in a better state than the one who can measure the heavens, number the stars and weigh the elements, *but is forgetful of who you made all things in number, weight and measure”* (72). Forgetful. That’s a word worth stopping on. Augustine reminds us that we’re a forgetful people, and we forget our Creator. We forget that He spoke the world into being and sits enthroned above it.

~~~

Perhaps the most memorable quote from the Little Prince comes when the old man gives the little girl advice as she fears the idea of growing up. He tells her, “Growing up is not the problem, forgetting is.” But in that precise moment, he doesn’t name the object of our forgetfulness; what are we prone to forgetting? Wonder? Beauty? Awe? I think any and all of those suffice. I’m glad Augustine reminds us of the One who inspires those things.

Towards the end of the Little Prince, we have a teary-eyed scene in which the old man tells the little girl, repeating the phrase from the beginning of the movie, “You’re going to make a wonderful grownup,” and even with few words, it’s clear what he means. The little girl will be a child who grows up and remembers. She will not lose sight of the beauty of the world and the ones she loves. And I just love the word choice here: wonderful, full of wonder.

The movie ends with a shot of the little girl and her mother star-gazing with the aviator’s telescope. I love the very minor detail of how the mother cannot see anything until her daughter removes the lens cap. Her child helps her behold wonder. And I sit there, reminded to keep my child-like faith, and holdfast to my Creator.

Lord of All: Introduction

I thought I would share the chapters of my new book, Lord of All, with you. Each chapter (or, lesson) also has in-depth Bible study questions at the end. You can buy the book/study guide by clicking here. I hope you’ll check it out.

Also, you can click here to listen to an interview I did with TM Moore and Rusty Rabon at The Fellowship of Ailbe.

Here’s the Introduction…


The Center of Christianity

Christianity is a revealed religion, centered on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Thus, theologians call the Christian faith, “Christocentric,” or a Christ-centered faith. If you remove the real, historical, and supernatural Jesus from the equation, all you are left with is generic monotheism or perhaps an ethical system with a few moral platitudes sprinkled about. Thomas Jefferson tried this by literally cutting out all allusions to the supernatural in the New Testament. Removed were references to the miracles of Jesus Christ, including his deity, atoning death, and resurrection.

However, that form of “Christianity” is not really Christianity at all. It is not the faith once delivered to the saints, the faith that has been passed down from one generation to the next for two thousand years (Jude 3). That is not the faith and worldview that reconciles sinners to God and transforms individuals, families, communities, and even nations, for such a faith does not have the power to do so.

And yet, every Advent and Christmas season, every Lenten and Easter season, there will inevitably be magazines in the checkout lines at grocery stores or documentaries on cable channels that will have a “hot new take” on who the real Jesus Christ was. But it’s never a new take. It’s almost always a variant of an old heresy paraded out for a new generation. It’s presented as cutting-edge research, the kind your pastor and church don’t want you to learn about, but nothing new is ever said. It’s all there in the history books, along with the plentiful amount of evidence for why none of these “hot new takes” on Jesus holds water.

Purpose of This Study

I wrote this Bible study for a few reasons. First, there is no more important topic for a Christian than the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. As I’ve already said, he stands at the center of our faith. While we are a trinitarian faith, worshiping the Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one God, the story of redemption stands or falls on Jesus. There is no Christianity without him. Long after we have moved on from our present cultural moment with all its attending ethical debates, our dependence on Jesus Christ and his redemptive work on our behalf will remain central and of primary importance.

My second reason for writing this is to build up and strengthen the faith of Christians. Some friendly advocates, as well as critics of Christianity, have said that the church today is three thousand miles wide and two inches deep. And while I would be the first one to say a person does not need a PhD in theology or biblical studies to be a Christian or to go to heaven, thriving in the abundant life Christ desires for us does mean knowing him. And knowing him means vastly more than “just having a relationship” with him. That’s because it’s hard to have a meaningful relationship with a person you don’t know anything about.

Jesus said eternal life was to know God and his Son, Jesus Christ (John 17:3). This is intimate, relational, and experiential knowledge to be sure. But that knowledge presupposes a growing and deepening understanding of our Lord – who he is, what he taught, why he came, and what it means to love, trust, become like, and follow him daily. Whether through personal reading or with a small group of Christian friends, I pray this study will help you learn who the true Jesus of Holy Scripture is. More than that, I hope it will lead you to want to get to know him better, relationally and experientially, as well as what it means to follow him practically.

My third reason for writing this is for evangelistic purposes. I suspect most who read this material and discuss it with others will already be Christians. And as I’ve said, I hope it strengthens your faith. But I also hope it equips you and gives you confidence to speak to others about this Lord and Savior you love, trust, and follow. When someone asks a Christian about who Jesus is and why they should consider placing their faith in him, we ought to be prepared to give them a good reason for doing so (1 Peter 3:15). In fact, we are commanded to. We must do better than replying, “it works for me.”

If Jesus really is who he claimed to be and truly did what Christians believe he did, then only Jesus can meet the deepest desires and needs of a person, whether those needs are temporal or eternal, or both. Whether you use this Bible study to strengthen your own faith, or to share with another person, I pray God will use it in your life to reveal the beauty and glory of Jesus Christ, which leads me to my last reason for writing this study.

I believe this is the most important purpose. I hope this study will lead to the increased worship of Jesus. Jesus was not merely a man or good teacher. He was, and is, the Holy One of God and is therefore, worthy of our worship. To be sure, we are called to know, love, and follow him here and now. But ultimately, our chief purpose is to worship him, beginning now and lasting for all eternity.

In-Depth Bible Study

I have included an in-depth Bible study at the end of each lesson’s reading. I have provided it for you to investigate for yourself what the Bible has to say about Jesus. The questions provided are there to help you reflect on the most important questions about life and how Jesus Christ is the answer to those questions. In Acts 17, the church at Berea was complimented for examining the Scriptures, to see if what Paul had been teaching about Jesus was true. That’s what I hope you will do with the Bible study portion that follows each reading. Don’t simply take what I have written as true. Instead, dig deeply into the Bible and see what it says for yourself.

A Presupposition

On that note, a working presupposition for this study is that the Bible is the living Word of God, divinely inspired, and therefore authoritative and sufficient for faith and life for those who follow Christ. Because this is the working presupposition of this study, I will not be spending time defending the historical reliability of Scripture and related topics. There are many fine books that go into depth about such things, and I would encourage you to learn more about the trustworthiness of God’s Word by reading them.

Therefore, for those who are not Christians and who may not believe the Bible is authoritative for their lives, I want to say to you, that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see you enjoy the abundant and eternal life that is available to you through trusting in Jesus Christ. However, my more modest desire for you is simply to help you understand why Christians believe what they do about Jesus, whether you agree with the Christian view or not. For Christians, I hope this working presupposition will bolster your faith and give you confidence that Jesus really is who he claimed to be, and that he truly accomplished the great work he came to do, as recorded in the pages of Scripture.

May God richly bless you throughout this study. I pray you will encounter our Lord in a wonderful way and that you will join me in declaring that there is no one else like Jesus!

Soli Deo Gloria,
Dale Tedder

Baptism

The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 27

72. Question: Does this outward washing with water itself wash away sins?

Answer: No, only the blood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sins.[1]

[1] Matt. 3:11; I Pet. 3:21; I John 1:7.

73. Question: Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the washing of regeneration and the washing away of sins?

Answer: God speaks in this way for a good reason. He wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ remove our sins just as water takes away dirt from the body.[1] But, even more important, He wants to assure us by this divine pledge and sign that we are as truly cleansed from our sins spiritually as we are bodily washed with
water.[2]

[1] I Cor. 6:11; Rev. 1:5; 7:14. [2] Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3, 4; Gal. 3:27.

74. Question: Should infants, too, be baptized?

Answer: Yes. Infants as well as adults belong to God’s covenant and congregation.[1] Through Christ’s blood the redemption from sin and the Holy Spirit, who works faith, are promised to them no less than to adults.[2] Therefore, by baptism, as sign of the covenant, they must be grafted into the Christian church and distinguished from the children of unbelievers.[3] This was done in the old covenant by circumcision,[4] in place of which baptism was instituted in the new covenant.[5]

[1] Gen. 17:7; Matt. 19:14. [2] Ps. 22:11; Is. 44:1-3; Acts 2:38, 39; 16:31. [3] Acts 10:47; I Cor. 7:14. [4] Gen. 17:9-14. [5] Col. 2: 11-13.