Lord's Day Liturgy

Raising a Flag

Paul told Timothy:

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 ESV)

This “good confession” wasn’t when Timothy admitted his guilt, but it isn’t disconnected from owning up to his sin either. “Confession” is ὁμολογία, related to the verb in 1 John 1:9 about confessing sin. While it could be, and often is, broken down into parts, homo = same and logo = word/logic so something like “be of the same mind,” it is more positive. A confession is perhaps less an admission and more a profession, it’s a statement of allegiance. It’s less getting something off one’s chest and more raising a flag.

Both parts belong with worship. Both belong with the gospel. For twelve years (to the day tomorrow) we’ve been making this confession.

When John Newton (pastor in the late 18th century, who wrote “Amazing Grace”) was dying, a friend visited him, and some of Newton’s last words were:

“My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.” (quoted in Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., 401.)

When we confess our sins to Christ and believe that our sins are atoned for and forgiven by Christ, we are making both confessions. We are denying any allegiance to sin and declaring allegiance to Jesus. Turning our back toward sin we tune our hearts to sing of His salvation.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Love Practice

Liturgy shapes how we live. The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of truth that we think about and that we practice. This practice reminds us of other ways we must hold and embody the truth.

In John 15, after the message about abiding in the vine for sake of fruitfulness, Jesus told His disciples, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13). Jesus said this the night before He laid down His life, so we’re both surprised and not surprised when Jesus said in the next verse, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). What did He command? Love. What does love look like? He was about to put it all out on the table.

This is also why John 13:1 opens his record of Jesus’ last evening: “when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” He took up a towel to wash their feet. Then He took up His cross to forgive their sins.

At the Lord’s Table we eat and drink in remembrance of Him. The bread and the wine are tokens of His flesh and blood, and it is a feast of love. Jude referred to “love feasts” (Jude 1:12), and while a communal meal, it is the ordinance of communion. We commune because of and in Christ’s love. There is no greater love, which shapes our liturgy and our love for one another.

Lord's Day Liturgy

As a Man Scrolleth

What are you thinking about? There’s an old saying that a man is what he thinks. It’s not just old, it’s Solomonic, it’s scriptural. The context in Proverbs 23:6-7 counsels the wise to be careful what they consume from the hand of an apparently generous person. Watch out for the stingy man, the one with an “evil eye.” “‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you.” The ESV starts verse 7 with “he is like one who is inwardly calculating,” but the KJV makes it more general, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Your thoughts are your character, stingy or not, regardless of what you spread on the table.

This exhortation isn’t about stinginess, but about Scripture. We are what we think, what we do and say comes out of the heart (Matthew 15:18-19), at least eventually. What are you thinking about? What mental marinade are you soaking your soul in?

There are so many goads in God’s Word about the profit of consuming God’s Word. Psalm 1 pronounces blessing on the one who delights in and meditates on the law of the LORD. Big tech has an evil eye, “Scroll and scroll,” Elark Zuckermusk says to you, but his heart is not with you. So many free things aren’t free, the price is our attention/minds, our affections/delights.

On New Year’s Day you’re not too late to start a Bible reading plan; a verse a day, a chapter a day; listen, read, both. In addition to another Bible-in-a-year reading plan, I am budgeting minutes for myself to memorize the Pastoral Epistles.

You are what you think about, and you are like a green and fruitful and blessed tree planted by streams of water when you think about whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable (Philippians 4:8). Think on the Word, and the Lord will give you understanding and success (2 Timothy 2:7; Joshua 1:8),