Lord's Day Liturgy

In Uno Multis

The gospel is the news about One man, but in that One, many. Rather than e pluribus unum, “out of many, one,” the gospel is in uno, multis, “in one, many.” The lede in the story is that in the death of Christ many men died.

One has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14b–15, ESV)

The historical facts are the bookends: one “has died” and “was raised.” The sacrificial importance: one died “for all” and “for their sake.” The spiritual union: in one “all have died.” The saving consequence: “those who live” by the one. The new orientation: “no longer live for themselves but for” the one.

The newness is reiterated a couple verses later.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

We are baptized with Him into death (Romans 6:3). And as often “as we eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death” (1 Corinthians 11:26). This means we have every reason to think of our union with Him in communion. We can’t think about His death without ours. We rejoice that the bread and the wine are for our newness of life.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Trellis and Transplants

Charles Spurgeon once said that illustrations are like windows, they let light into the understanding. I’d add that like windows, illustrations are also easy to throw bricks through.

One of our favorite illustrations for church priorities is trellis and vine. It comes from a book by that name, and we employ the analogy. The church is the Christians is the vine, the living part, and the trellis is the programs and activities for the church, the visible parts that are passing away (see 2 Corinthians 4:18). Trellis is helpful as it serves the growth and health and fruitfulness of the vine. Trellis is a distraction when it becomes the focus, and in the worst case could cause damage to the vine.

Buying and owning (and fixing and maintaining) our own building is not really trellis, it’s like the plot of garden, or maybe the wall the trellis leans on. But especially during the days of preparation and the early days of transplanting, it’s easy to imagine how the vine itself could be neglected.

There’s no reason to throw out all the things we’ve learned. We’re not planning a return to dualism or pietism. If Jesus is Lord of it, then He cares about it, and if He cares about, then we can care about it. Jesus is Lord of loans and lighting, of parking lots and pews and paint colors, of sidewalks and sprinkler systems that cover every square inch. Jesus is also Head of the Body, and His provisions are for the building up of the body, and He has arranged the body so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16).

As the Sabbath was made for man, and home improvement projects are made for our people, so let us not lose sight of what the trellis is for: one another.