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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 11:25-26

15/07/2012

The New Covenant 

1 Corinthians 11:25-26   

After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

 

Let us remember our progress so far in this chapter.  Let us not forget that this section of the book, teaching about the regulation of worship in the church, began with teaching on headship in the church.  This is important, for Paul will return to this subject at the end of chapter 14.  It is as if the whole context of Paul’s teaching on worship is encapsulated within this doctrine of headship.  The headship and authority of Christ over His church is the very foundation of the worship of His church.  It is because the doctrine of headship is misunderstood, or worse still, ignored in the church, that modern worship has become man centred, instead of Godward.  Christ is the head of His church, and we must obey Him, whether that offends our natural instincts and desires or not.  Indeed, to fail to obey Him is sin, and in a Christian, who knows to do right, and who fails to do it, it is WILFUL SIN!  Obedience to Christ is NOT NEGOTIABLE for the Christian.  He demands it from us!  Within this theological parenthesis of headship falls Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians regarding the Lord’s Supper, Spiritual Gifts, order and reverence in worship, and the supremacy of Christian Love.   It is important that we understand why Paul is doing this, for it will underlie again what we say in this study!  Our worship ought to be an expression of our obedience to God!  So Paul reminds us, in his teaching on the Lord’s Supper, of the Covenant which binds us to the Lord.  Our part, in the maintenance of the Covenant is OBEDIENCE!

The next stage in Paul’s teaching on communion is concerning the wine, or rather the Cup, and he reminds us of the importance of understanding and obeying the covenant into which God has entered, with His elect redeemed people. Let us see:-

The Prominence of the Covenant in the Scriptures!

This cup is the new testament.  The idea of a covenant between God and man runs through the entire Bible.  A covenant is an agreement, or a pact.  In the Bible, a Covenant is a bond between God and man.  It is not an equal bond, for man cannot ‘negotiate with God on equal terms!  For many years, modernistic theologians said that the idea of a covenant was for too advanced for the early Old Testament characters.  This theory was of course false, and its falsehood was proved by archaeology, when the Hittite Treatise was discovered.  It was a form of agreement between certain Hittite kings and their subjects in conquered states.  The King states his kinship, and details his acts of beneficence toward the vassal.  He then sets out a list of requirement, or stipulations, which the vassal must obey in order to remain within the king’s favour, and he then details the punishments, which will occur if the vassal disobeys.  Now, strictly speaking this bears little relationship to the Biblical idea of Covenant, where God voluntarily chooses a people for Himself, out of His own sovereign love, and with no merit on their part, and bestows His blessing upon them.  But it told the world that such covenants did exist in the ancient understanding, and it helps us to understand the fact that in the Covenant with God we are not equal parties.  In the Savoy Declaration of Faith we read, “The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.”  God is King, and we are His servants.  In the OT we see a number of progressive Covenants, and every time the covenant is renewed or refined, we see the development of God’s plan of redemption with His people.  Briefly:-

  • The Covenant with AdamSavoy states, “The first covenant made with man, was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.”  So we call this covenant, the Covenant of Works.  We know the result.  Adam was given the free choice to obey God or to sin, and he chose to sin, he fell from grace, and sin entered into the world.
  • The Covenant with Noah.  Following the Flood, God established a Covenant with Noah, and promised that He would be the God of Noah and his seed, and that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood. As a sign of the Covenant He placed a bow in the sky.  Genesis 9:1-17
  • The Covenant with Abraham.  In this Covenant God again promises to be a God to Abraham and His seed, who will be many nations, and will have the promise of a land of their own.  The sign of the covenant was circumcision.  Genesis 15-17.
  • The Covenant with Moses.  Moses went up into Mt Sinai, and received the Law of the Lord.  It is in the form of a Covenant.  The law was the list of stipulations by which a member of God’s people could live a life that is pleasing to His Sovereign Master.  Exodus 20  (the Law was not a saving ordinance!)  The sign of circumcision remained.
  • The Covenant with David.  In 1st Chronicles 17, we see the details of God’s covenant with David, in which God promised David that his seed would have a throne, established forever!
  • The New CovenantSavoy, “Man by his fall having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the Covenant of Grace; wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.”  Jeremiah heralded the coming of a new covenant.  The people refused to obey the Lord, and walk in accordance with His Covenant.  So there would be a new Covenant. Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Up until the time of Christ, the Covenant was a matter of outward obedience of the Law.  Now there is a change.  The Lord changes our hearts, so that we are predisposed to obedience to the Lord! Although this covenant hath been differently and variously administered in respect of ordinances and institutions in the time of the law, and since the coming of Christ in the flesh; yet for the substance and efficacy of it, to all its spiritual and saving ends, it is one and the same; upon the account of which various dispensations, it is called the Old and New Testament. (Savoy)

The Passion of the Covenant – in Our Salvation!

 in my blood 

Now Paul makes an important theological statement regarding the New Covenant.  It is, ‘In Christ’s blood!”   Here we see the necessity for the shed blood.  What does He mean?  The word covenant is the Greek word diaqhkh, (Heb. Berit) and it can be, and often is interpreted, TESTAMENT.  A testament requires a TESTATOR!  For you to hear someone’s last will and testament, someone has to die.  Hebrews 9:16-17 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. For you to enter into this covenant relationship with God, Jesus had to shed His blood and die! This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in the Scripture by the name of a Testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed. (SavoyAt Calvary, Jesus became the sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament.  Their sacrifice was imperfect, and so needed to be continually offered.  But Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect, and so was made just once!

Not only do we see here the necessity for shed blood, but we are reminded of the history of the shed blood.  There was an Old Testament precedent; a ‘shadow’ or type of what was to come.  In  Exodus 24:8   we read, “And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.  Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” The Covenant was sealed in blood!

Notice also the importance of the shed blood. As Christians, we cannot simply dispense with the BLOOD of Christ, despite the fact that people will accuse us of bloodthirsty religion!  1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:  Col. 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself.

Despite all the above, as evangelicals we must always loudly proclaim the efficiency of the shed blood.   What did Jesus’ shed blood do at the Cross for fallen sinners?  This is very important.  We know that on the Cross, Jesus took our sin, and thus assuaged the anger and wrath of God upon sin.  (The sins of those who would come to Him, not the sins of everyone, or else everyone would be saved)  But something else happened.  On the Cross, Jesus died FOR ME!  Reformed theologians call this doctrine PARTICULAR REDEMPTION.  On the Cross, He took MY SINS, and HE CLEANSED ME FROM MY SIN!  He has washed away my sins in His precious blood!  1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

 

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

 

The Pledge of the Covenant is Our Symbol!

this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup ye do shew the Lord’s death.  Now, you will remember that I have mentioned that the sacraments are a sign of the Covenant.  But there is another reason why these ordinances are laid down in the church.  They are also the SEAL of the Covenant.

  1. A Pledge in Baptism! Look at Romans 4:11 And he (Abraham – in the giving of the covenant) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.  That is Covenant theology in a nutshell!  Particularly in relation to baptism!  Abraham received a PLEDGE or a SEAL that God would honour His Covenant promises.  Abraham was to circumcise male children, in FAITH that God would keep His promise!  So with Baptism, we baptise believers and the infants of believers, urging those parents to have faith that God will honour His promise, and bring them to faith in Him, that righteousness might be imputed into them.
  2. A Pledge at Communion!  Just as baptism is a pledge that God will honour His Word, so is Communion!  God loves you, and He sent His Son to die for you!  Communion is the pledge of that love!  Every time you take communion, God says to you I LOVE YOU!  He guarantees His Love to you will continue, and you pledge your love for Him!

A woman once asked her husband if he loved her!  He replied, “I told you I loved you on the day we were married.  If I change my mind I’ll let you know!”  There’s not much assurance in that relationship!  But wait!  On the day he married her he gave her a ring!  Here is what he said, “I give you this ring as the token of the covenant made between us this day, and as the pledge of our mutual love.”  Every time she looks at that ring, she remembers the day of her marriage, and she is reminded of his love for her, until death do them part!  It is the pledge of his love for her!  That is the perfect illustration!  At the end of the  marriage ceremony, we come to the part where we have said the word, made the commitments, entered into the new relationship, declared our love for each other, but now we DO something!  We exchange those rings.  They are a pledge forever more that our love is true and will never waver!  Something to remind us, whenever we are apart, that we are bound in a loving relationship with another person.  So with Communion!

The Lord’s Table is the ongoing pledge that we are in a Covenant relationship with God which cannot be broken.  It reminds us that we are Christ’s and Christ is ours!  The old Scottish Paraphrase reads,

 

“My blood I thus pour forth He cries,

To cleanse the soul in sin that lies;

In this the covenant is sealed,

And heaven’s eternal grace revealed.”

The Perpetuity of the Covenant is Our Security!

till he come.  Our pledge of a lasting relationship with Christ will continue until Christ should come, or call!  The Lord’s Supper reminds us of two great Christian facts regarding the future:-

  1. The Lord is coming back again!  I remember an old Christian used to pray, “We come around Thy Table, one more time and yet one less time!”  Every time we meet around the Lord’s Table we are reminded that Jesus is soon coming!  It should challenge our lives!  We should rise from the table determined to serve Him better, to redeem the time!  To work while it is still day!  To rescue souls while we still have opportunity!
  2. We are safe and secure in His keeping!  There will be no communion service in heaven, for there our communion with Christ will be complete, and will need neither a sign of His Love nor a Seal.   Until that day let us remember that our continuance in the faith, and our safe arrival on heaven’s shore does not depend upon our strength or our own abilities.  The pledge of His love reminds us that he who saved us will also keep us!

So, you see, the Communion Service is rich in meaning and significance.  It simply cannot be treated lightly, or abused in any way.  It cannot be celebrated in a carnal, worldly manner; such as it was at Corinth.  It was a sign and seal of God’s Covenant, and our part in that Covenant is to follow and obey our King, our Lord, and our Head.  To approach the Lord’s Table with unrepentant sin, or wilful disobedience is to court God’s displeasure.  In our next study, we shall see just how serious the results of this displeasure can be!

From → Sermon Notes

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