Summary: This sermon examines the institution of the Lord’s Supper and discusses its importance as a concrete reminder of the basics of Christianity which we must never, never forsake or forget.
Lest We Forget
January 20, 2002
When I was growing up in West Texas cicada (pronounced sikad) “locusts” like the one pictured on the screen filled the giant elm trees at times. During the heat of the summer the shrill buzzing sound of their mating call filled the air. To this day anytime I get in dry, hot weather I remember that buzzing sound.
On the tree trunks we would find the empty shell of the living organism – a dead, dried out, fragile exoskeleton that retained the form of the locust. Life was gone. The locust itself was no longer in the exoskeleton. But there its lifeless claws held to the trunk of the tree. As kids we would pull the empty shell off the tree, drop it to the ground and listen to it pop as we crushed it with our feet.
In II Timothy 3 Paul talks about another lifeless form – those “…having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof…” Follow with me as we read II Tim. 3:1-5.
Here is a powerful prophecy concerning spiritual conditions during the last days. What could cause a condition in which people are “…having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof…”? There are a number of factors we could talk about – a persistence in sin, a love for the world, a neglect of the disciplines of the faith, a failure to abide in Christ – all these and more could contribute to such a decline.
This morning I want to focus on one particular trend that can lead to the kind of deterioration Paul is describing in II Timothy 3- the forsaking of fundamental truth that our faith is built upon. For the last couple of weeks my theme has been “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I continue with that theme this morning. Without an on going, solid commitment to the basics, to the cross, to the Christ Who gave Himself for us; without that foundation in place any group of people can slide off the slippery slope of human wisdom and human activity.
In I Corinthians 3 Paul warns us, especially ministers, to be careful how we build ministry. Then he makes this dogmatic statement in I Cor. 3:11 “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Church, we begin with Jesus Christ and Him crucified, we continue with Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and we conclude with Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And nothing must ever take the place of that foundational message. We preach Jesus- our Savior, Healer, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, and coming King! We don’t just preach about salvation. We don’t just preach about healing. We proclaim Jesus and all that He is to us.
Any church or group of people who abandon, forget, or neglect that which is central to our faith, that church will become a dead, lifeless form just like that locust’s shed exoskeleton I talked about earlier. It may look something like a church. It may retain the outward form of godliness, the appearance of Christianity. But the life of God will be gone. Only an empty reminder of what once was will be left.
This morning hundreds of groups like ours are meeting across this city. They all call themselves “church.” In many cases these churches are filled with people who love God, worship the Lord in spirit and truth, and enjoy His presence like we do. I don’t even think God sees the denominational name on the building. He sees the hearts of people who might disagree with us on a number of things but love Him just as much as we do.
But there are other churches that are nothing but a religious shell. The form of Christianity may seem to be there. But God’s not there, the conviction of the Holy Spirit is not there, the refreshing of the Holy Spirit is not there, the power of God is not present to heal and to save. It’s a dead shell clinging to where it was when it died.
What happened? In many cases they abandoned the essentials of the faith for what they considered to be more interesting, more practical, more helpful, more acceptable to visitors. For example, the Unitarian church claims to be Christian but in reality denies the Lord, denies the power of the blood. Their message is not “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Their message is how to succeed in life and have it your way.
“Jesus Christ and Him crucified”, the death and resurrection of Jesus, that is the main thing. And as others have so aptly put it-“the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.
That is the primary reason Jesus established two ordinances for the New Testament church: the ordinance of water baptism and the ordinance of communion. Both ordinances are designed to keep ever before us the essence of Christianity.