Intro: The first big evangelistic crusade happened on the day of Pentecost ten days after Jesus was taken up to heaven. About one hundred twenty believers were gathered and all received the Holy Spirit inside them at the same time. Then Peter the spokesman of the group stood up with the eleven to address the crowd of Jews from different countries who were still in Jerusalem. But it is no longer the same Peter who denied Jesus for fear of being arrested but a transformed and courageous follower of Christ to stand and boldly preached the gospel. And with many words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save your-selves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:40-41
In an instant the believers numbered 3,120 and became the first Christian mega-church in Jerusalem and in the world. What did they do after that? “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
The New Testament was not yet written at that time but since these were all Jews they had already the basic knowledge of the Old Testament. The twelve apostles now had their hands full of new converts to disciple. The apostles, again twelve because Judas was replaced by Matthias, were now responsible to teach them what Jesus had commanded them to do. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20
They had more than three years to be with Jesus and have been taught all of Jesus’ commands and saw how Jesus lived. They received them firsthand from Jesus. So then, is it possible for them to remember all the commands in order to teach what they were taught? They were not just taught but also witnesses of all that Jesus did and what Jesus claimed who He was. Here’s why they were able to remember. “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:25-26
That’s how they taught the new believers with the teachings that Jesus gave them. They had the truth and authority to teach by the Holy Spirit in them. When they came together for the apostles’ teaching they also had fellowship. We do this too. “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47
So they were having Bible study and having fellowship and breaking bread as part of our worship and prayer. Jesus said this on the night before He was crucified.
“What Unites Believers With Christ?”
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matt. 26:26-19
After he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
There are two very important elements in the observance of the Lord’s Supper, the body which is represented by the bread and life which is represented by blood. The blood is the life of every person for without blood we die. And Paul summarizes the purpose why believers are to observe this ordinance the Lord Jesus left for His disciples to observe. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Cor. 11:26
Jesus gave His life once for all and never to be repeated. Christ’s death is the most important factor in man’s redemption from sin. So when we come to the Lord’s Table, do we sacrifice Jesus? No more! We proclaim His death and what that means to us is the gospel. How should the gospel apply to us and our response when we are reminded of what Jesus did? Let’s re-state the gospel to personally apply to you and me. “Christ died for “my” sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” How then should we come before Him as we remember what Christ died for and for whom? Thankful and Grateful!
But have we committed sins against God recently that dishonored Him and defiled us? How should we come before His holy presence? Confess our sins with repentance! Why did we sin? We did not avail of His power to resist temptation. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Rom. 1:16-17
The gospel is not only to save us from the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin, and when we die from the presence of sin when we are in heaven. So then, how do we avail of the power of the gospel after we are saved? If Christ died for your sins and mine, what are we going to do with sin? Do we still love it? Do we really hate it? But I still have my sinful nature and still alive within me? And what do you and I have now that we did not have before we got saved? We have now this new life, my spirit is alive with a new nature – God’s divine nature. Paul also experienced the same struggle with his sinful nature, and admitted that though he wants to do right, sin was right there to make him sin. God revealed the solution. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Rom. 7:24-25
Notice that Paul says in his mind and not in his heart. How many evil thoughts cross our minds every day? I don’t keep track of the number of times but they come many times during the day. When you watch television or your devise how does the social media affect your thinking? I hope nobody watches pornographic materials anymore. This will drive your mind to go wild. What are we to do? “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5
The mind is the entry point of temptation and when allowed to go down the heart we sin. Here’s how we can avoid this in our minds caused by our sinful nature. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom. 12:2
We need to saturate our minds with the Word of God. So before you look at your I-phones or lap top fill your mind with the Word of God so the world’s thinking will be blocked from coming in. Then apply the gospel in your life for the day. Since Christ gave His life in love to die for our sins, what should we give to Him out of gratitude? Shouldn’t it be to love Him with all our heart and mind? Here’s what we need to commit daily to our Lord’s invitation and to experience the power of God. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
This is the decision in total submission to Christ, He being our Lord every day. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in this body I live by faith in the Son of God, who love me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
Crucifying one’s self means that you consider yourself dead to sin but alive to Christ and for Christ. If Paul said Christ lives in him, can He live in us? Absolutely! This is the will of God and this is how we experience the gospel’s power. Jesus did not remain dead but is alive and interceding for us. The Holy Spirit who is God lives in us as Christ’s substitute with divine power. So when we come today and partake in the Lord’s Supper, we affirm our faith, trust and devotion to Christ as His body united with Him and with one another. Then we have fellowship with the Father and His Son and with the members of His body.
Jesus prayed this for His disciples even now for the members of His body today. “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:22-23
We are united today with Christ through the gospel by the blood of the New Covenant that Christ shed and gave His life that we will live for His glory.
Before we come to partake of the Lord’s Supper, let’s examine ourselves as Paul admonishes us whether we are in the faith. This means that if anyone of us here is not saved by Christ through the gospel, please do not take the elements for now because you will come under God’s judgment. For the believers the Lord says, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.” 1 Cor. 11:27-29
The one who can truly examine our hearts is God Himself. Let’s pray this… “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thought. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:23-24
Jesus is inviting you to His Table. Come…