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Catechism Class. Lord’s Day 21C Q55

30/08/2022

Catechism Class. Lord’s Day 21C Q55 –

The Communion of Saints

We are looking at Lord’s Day 21, Q.55. What do you understand by the communion of saints?  The answer we ought to give is First, that believers, all and everyone, as members of Christ have communion with him and share in all his treasures and gifts. Second, that everyone is duty-bound to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the benefit and well-being of the other members. So, what is a saint, what is communion, and how does it affect us?  

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Let’s tackle this issue of ‘saints’ first.  When our catechist asks what we understand by ‘the communion of saints’ he answers his own question by referring to these ‘saints’ using the term ‘believers.’  A saint is just a believer in Christ. When Paul wrote to the churches, he frequently addressed the Christians in those churches as saints. Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:  Saint is ἅγιος (hagios) – holy, and separated – people who are called out of the world, a separated people, separated unto God.  

Now, every single one of those believers, has fellowship with, – a relationship with Jesus!  1 Corinthians 6:17 What is a relationship like?   Our catechist tells us that all of us who know Christ as our Saviour – each and every one of us are ‘members of Christ!’ Paul alludes to this also, when he teaches us that we all are members of Christ’s body, the church. READ: 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 The Bible teaches us that God made Jesus to ‘be sin’ for us, that we might be made the perfect righteousness of God – in Him. READ: 2 Corinthians 5:21  Think of my sin as an overdue account, every sin adding to that account, – an account so large that I could never ever pay it off.  But Jesus is sinless, for he perfectly fulfilled God’s law, so His account is totally clear – he has no debt to pay. At the cross, my sin is laid to Christ’s account, and he paid for it, – my debt is cancelled! At the same time, His perfect righteousness is granted (the proper word is ‘imputed’) to me. I am IN CHRIST – clothed in his righteousness.  READ   Isaiah 61:10 Before we go further, let’s praise God in Psalm 122:3-9, the tune is Sussex:

3 See, Jerus’lem, like a city 
built compactly, close and strong.
4 That is where the tribes assemble, 
tribes which to the LORD belong.

To the LORD’s name praise they offer, 
as for Israèl decreed.
5 There are set the thrones for judgment, 
thrones of David’s royal seed.

6 Pray for Zion’s peace and safety: 
“May your friends securely dwell;
7 Peace within your walls continue, 
strength within your citadel.”

8 For the sake of friends and brothers, 
“Peace be in you,” I will say.
9 For the sake of our God’s temple, 
I seek your prosperity.

Now this common ‘membership of Christ’ that we all have bestows great benefits upon us.  The catechism tells us that we all have two particular types of benefit, firstly, we have ‘treasures.’ All those spiritual blessings which Christ bestows on every believer, and ‘gifts.’ – that we all have in common as Christians, – God’s grace and mercy, his love, his goodness, his lovingkindness, – salvation and the forgiveness of sins. Many more wonderful, undeserved gifts, given to every believer. John 1:16, Romans 8:32  

Yet there are gifts that are given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, which are NOT common to all believers, – particular gifts, given to individual Christians. READ 1 Corinthians 12:4-7  But what for?  This is where the second part of our catechism question and answer helps us. When God gives gifts to a believer, over and above the graces and gifts that are common to every Christian, he does so, so that that believer can use those gifts to bless the rest of the fellowship.  READ Romans 12:4-8  So the catechist insists that everyone is duty-bound to use his gifts readily and cheerfully for the benefit and well-being of the other members.  READ 1 Peter 4:10  

Actually, I think that applies to both types of spiritual gift, not just those particular individual gifts, but the common gifts of grace that Christ gives to all of us, should be shared, – we are part of the Fellowship of Saints, to share our mutual interest in Christ, and our love for him and for one another. 1 John 1:3 

Two things remain to be said.

Firstly, because all the gifts that are given to us by our Saviour are to bless others as well as ourselves, the purpose of our fellowshipping together becomes clear.  We meet together to give, not to get! READ, Philippians 2:4-8   There is no room whatsoever for individualism in the body of Christ. Romans 12:5  We are all gifted, in some way – and we are given those gifts to bless others. The real question for you and me, personally, is whether this attitude of service for others is characteristic of my Christian life? Is it evident in my church, in my fellowship?

The second issue, is that we sometimes think of ‘Communion’ as synonymous with The Lord’s Supper. Some churches speak of this sacrament as ‘Holy Communion.’ It is, – it is symbolic of our union with Christ, as we witness the elements, – bread and wine, speaking to us of his body and his blood. We commune with the Lord and with each other. But it would be wrong to think of the Lord’s Supper as the full extent of our fellowship – it is much more than that. Our fellowship is a living relationship, – fellowship with Christ and fellowship with each other, in Christ. 

What a fellowship! What a joy divine. 

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