Lord's Day Liturgy

Jesus and Us

Because of the Trinity, One God in three Persons, we can appreciate that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Our theology proper teaches us about God’s nature, so as His image-bearers we reflect God as we love Him and one another.

Because of the Gospel, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners, we can appreciate that such a sacrifice is how “God shows His love for us” (Romans 5:8). The center of history, the death of Jesus on the cross, demonstrates God’s love, so He calls us to love one another just as He loved us (John 13:34).

Because of our Lord’s command to remember His death in the ordinance of communion (Luke 22:19), and because our weekly liturgy as a church includes the sharing of the Lord’s Supper, we regularly eat and drink in remembrance of Christ’s love.

Doctrine/truth drives our doing/obedience. We love the truth about God’s love and the truth about His love continually works on us and in us and out of us into love for one another.

So individualistic communion is ironic at best and impious at worst. Though our salvation is personal, it’s not mostly about “me and Jesus” but about “Jesus and us.”

Eat and drink the signs of love. Put on the clothes of love, it binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14). Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Lord's Day Liturgy

The Essential Cup of Blessing

We do not know what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14), profit or persecution. Our plans must be put in perspective before God’s purpose and providence, so we ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” Amen.

And, if the Lord wills, we will not be submitting to rulers who say we cannot assemble as the church, and/or who say we cannot gather around the Lord’s Table and share the body and blood of Christ.

We listened to them and followed their directions in 2020 (not as long as others, but—knowing what we know now—also still too long). Thankfully they made their own hypocrisies known publicly and somewhat quickly. They said wine stores were essential, but they said believers were not allowed to participate in “the cup of blessing” (1 Corinthians 10:16). Our governors gathered without masks or distancing for their parties, posting pictures of themselves, while prohibiting us from gathering together for worship of God the Father in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

There are rumors of renewed (medically useless against coronaviruses) mask mandates and possible (authoritarian, as in anti-legislated) lockdown orders. And when we hear of wars and rumors of wars, we must not be alarmed (Matthew 24:6). We “do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1), and so we do not want to boast about tomorrow, nor boast about disobedience.

But as we’ve considered the purpose of government in Romans 13, and as we’ve tested and attempted to distinguish the solid food, we cannot submit on this point and agree to forsake our assembling according to their threats and brainwashing about viruses. They might try to shut us down, but we will not do it for them. Our Lord Jesus Christ has ordained the Supper, and we will eat and drink in obedience to Him.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Louder Than the Law

Liturgy is a way we learn through what we see not just through what is said. There doesn’t need to be competition or conflict between what is declared and what is done, though our consistent behavior is harder to ignore than our repeated words.

A civil authority is called a liturgos in Romans 13:6, a “minister” who performs public service. He teaches by what he does, or doesn’t, more than by what is on the books. So Solomon said, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11 ESV). The failure of the executive branch was louder than the verdict from the judicial branch (so to speak), and the public got the point. The liturgy was louder than the law.

Among the saints there are ministers (Paul used liturgos of himself in Romans 15:16 as a “minister of Jesus Christ”), we have religious services, and these services follow a liturgy. There is always a liturgy, a pattern and form, whether or not we’re conscious of it or consistent in it.

And if I were to put a spin on Solomon’s observation, I might say, “Because the Table of the Lord is not celebrated joyfully, the hearts of the children of God are left discouraged and anxious.” It doesn’t matter what merry language we use if our actual practice is to eat, drink, and be mournful. May the joy of the Lord be your strength, and may you truly, and loudly, rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, having been justified by the blood of Christ.

Lord's Day Liturgy


Maybe you’ve heard of doomscrolling. It refers to the act of repeatedly, even compulsively, scrolling through news and social media feeds and seeing negative or distressing information. Many of these scrolling cycles never get to the bottom, it’s never ending bad news or predictions of nightmares to come. A constant diet of this woe can increase feelings of stress and helplessness.

The term doomscrolling seems to have gained traction during the 2020 lockdowns, but there has been a regular source of anxiety-producing negativity long before that. It’s come, sadly and inappropriately, from the church. Let’s call it doomcommuning.

This is just another way to remind us of the purpose of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus did not institute this ordinance to increase anxiety. For sure, the Corinthians weren’t even paying attention, and Paul exhorted them to examine themselves (1 Corinthians 11:25). The Table is not a place for selfishness and division; the stakes of the Supper are serious.

But the whole point of the supper is the seriousness of salvation, not damnation. “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Romans 5:1), not panic before God.

Brothers, this is a meal of life, of joy, of hope. Now is not the time for for brooding, for glooming. Here is where God feeds our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not commune in doom. “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Come, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already atoned for what you’ve done through His Son (compare Ecclesiastes 9:7).

Lord's Day Liturgy

Ordained to Overcome

I really do get the huge and tangled implications for Christians as we think about God and government. I also really do think it’s important, relevant, and encouraging, for Christians to think about how God saved us. Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” and was “killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). When Jesus told Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11) Jesus was acknowledging His Father’s sovereignty in/through the abuse of human authority and His own unjust treatment.

Peter wrote “this is gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1 Peter 2:19). And then Peter gave us the WWJD passage:

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:21–24 ESV)

We would have no atonement for our sins, no Lord’s Supper, no celebration of our hope of glory, if Jesus had not suffered unjustly without sinning. Praise God that He ordains to overcome evil with good.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Not Laissez Faire Fare

Ironic or not, disappointing and yet divinely appointed, a lot of fellowship has been broken over communion. And really, don’t be surprised. Christ gave two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both of which identify His Body, the Church. So men ought to care, and while we ought to be more patient than some in church history have been, today we could probably use more of the type of conviction they had. The bread and the wine are not laissez faire fare, take-it-or-leave-it stuff.

One part that Christians have argued about is the presence of Christ. Transubstantiation claims that when the priest prays, the substance of the bread physically turns into Jesus’ flesh and the wine turns into Jesus’ blood, even if the elements still appear as bread and wine. Consubstantiation claims that both substances are together, physical bread and physical body. Others claim a spiritual presence.

Beyond philosophical and metaphysical speculation, we should give most attention to what Paul says. As often as we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the Lord’s death “until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). That means that the Lord is not physically here.

In His body He ascended to the Father. He sent His Spirit, and so He can say that He is with us until the end of the age, but that is a supernatural presence, not a physical one. In communion we remember our spiritual union with Him and with one another. And as good as it is, our very participation here proclaims that there is more than the present. He is coming again in His resurrected body and will give us the same.

Lord's Day Liturgy

No Lazy Zeal

Maybe you are feeling soul-dry, mind-distracted, bone-tired. Summer “schedules” have a temptation toward less structure and a looseness of purpose, while weeks during the school-year have a different problem of weariness trying to keep up.

As for living sacrifices getting up on the altar, we must not hold back. We are prohibited from a lazy zeal (Romans 12:11). And while that requires repentance, it also promotes prayer. Do you know who desires that you would run to win more than Paul (1 Corinthians 9:24)? It is the same One who hears, and delights to answer, prayers.

“This is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us” (1 John 5:14). Is it God’s will that you be zealous for Him? Yes. So ask, knock, seek, that He would continue working zeal into your spirit.

Even as we gather around the Lord’s Table, the Lord gives His people strength. He reminds us of Christ’s zeal in obedience and sacrifice, He encourages us with unity as Christ’s Body, and He equips us rejoice in hope.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Sharing in the From-Through-To-Him One

Not that we are surprised, but we should be encouraged, that Christ is the superlative example of all the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6-8. We considered that all the endowments are in Him, the “fulness” is His, but we can actually go item by item in the list.

Jesus is the great and greatest prophet (Luke 24:19). No one ever spoke like Him, or revealed the Father’s will like Him. Jesus Himself is revelation, the Word of God.

Jesus is the most humble and most loving servant (Philippians 2:7). He lowered Himself, He washed feet, He went hungry and went out of His way to do unto others what they could not do for themselves.

Jesus is the truth, and the most clear Teacher of the truth (John 3:2). As for exhortation, He urged men to repent and believe; He admonished sinners and disciples to obedience.

Jesus has spent more than any other, doing miracles to give bread, giving Himself to salvation, generous and lavish and uncontaminated. Jesus leads, He rules. His mercy is glad, and He does not make us feel bad that we need it.

He ascended to the Father, which is why we eat and drink “until He comes.” And He’s given gifts to the church, to His body, that each part would work properly and that the body would grow and build itself up in love. We share in the From-Through-To-Him One, the Head of the body (Colossians 1:15-18), who made peace by the blood of His cross, even at the Lord’s Table together right now.

Lord's Day Liturgy

No Measure to His Endowments

When Paul wrote about the many members making up one body in his first letter to the Corinthians, he started that instruction immediately after his admonitions about the Lord’s Supper. Communion implies sharing something in common, which implies that there is more than one to do the sharing.

We learn along with the Corinthians and with the Romans that not any individual has all the spiritual gifts/functions in himself. One part does not make a body (1 Corinthians 12:19), we are a body all together, and God has given us a measure, a portion, so that we can do our part.

This is not like Christ.

Commentators have properly called attention to the difference in respect of measure between Christ and the members of His body. He is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), it pleased the Father that “all the fulness should dwell in Him” (Col. 1:19), “in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”. There is no measure to His endowments. (John Murray, on Romans 12:3-5)

We cannot think more highly of Christ than we ought to think. He is the Head, and from Him all our nourishment comes (Ephesians 5:29-30). He is the fullness of God who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:23). And He is the one we share.

The cup of blessing is a participation in the blood of Christ, we who are many are one body who partake of the one bread, the bread of life Himself (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

Lord's Day Liturgy

Pleasing at Present

Of course the only way we can present our bodies as a living sacrifice is because Christ took on a body, in which He lived without sin and with the humility of a servant, and in which He gave Himself as a substitute for sinners. So our offering to God does not save us, it is only because we are saved. We do not atone for our sins, we do not redeem anyone else, but because we are united to Christ in His death and resurrection we present our members for righteousness as part of our worship.

This pleases God.

Jesus is the Son in whom the Father is pleased, and we come as those united to Christ, those who are “in Christ.” We remember and rejoice that God has highly exalted Christ Jesus and bestowed on Him the name that is above every other name, and with our tongues we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. With this God is pleased.

Though the ESV translates Romans 12:1 as “acceptable to God,” the word acceptable could be translated as pleasing to God. Living and holy sacrifices please God. So Paul prayed for the Colossians that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, “fully pleasing to Him.”

This is not just some future status, it is the present process of believing and bearing fruit, of giving thanks to the Father for redemption in His Son and for transferring us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. Come, eat and drink in fellowship with God who is pleased to welcome you.