>"The Communion Feast of Peace" – Leviticus 7.11-38 & 1 Corinthians 10.16-18

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Yesterday was my first official Lord’s Day at Reformed Presbyterian Church, though I will not be ordained and installed until this Friday (d.v.).  One of the things I enjoy about this call is that RP practices weekly communion.  As a means of grace, the Lord’s Supper is vital to the life and health of the Christian pilgrim.  As citizens of heaven who still find themselves on earth–Christian pilgrims find themselves needing nourishment and refreshment for enduring the hardships of the desert pilgrimage.  The sin of this world and the ongoing sin in the pilgrim can become a choking dust in the throat of the traveler, and as the psalmist says, the effect of this sin can make one feel like his/her “moisture is dried away.”

For the church who finds herself living between God’s advent in Christ and entrance into the fullness of our promised inheritance of heaven–we are like the church of the OT who found herself living between the advent of God on Mount Sinai and entrance into the promised inheritance of the land of Canaan.  To sustain his people on that journey, God provided the means of grace of the peace offering.  A meal that both portrayed and conveyed the very peace God would accomplish for them–not through the substitutionary sacrifice of an animal through the mediation of the Aaronic priesthood, but through the mediation of the priesthood of Jesus Christ who not only mediated the once for all sacrifice, but who was himself the substituionary sacrifice.

As the people would feed on the sacrifice as a portrait of the peace achieved for them by another, they simultanesouly experienced that peace when they ate by faith.  The point:  as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10.16-18,

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?

Just as they partook of the benefits of the altar, we too, partake of the benefits of Christ when we eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lord’s Supper.  Although the Lord’s Supper is a beautiful picture of the grace of the gospel, it does more than merely portray that grace–it conveys it when received by faith.

What we have in the Lord’s Supper is nothing less than a communion feast of peace!  So are you feeling weakened because of the ongoing pilgrimage and struggle with sin–then get to the table and feed on your savior, so that as your moisture dries up, you may be replenished!

You can read the entire sermon here.

>2009 Reformation Sunday Sermons

>Last month I had the privilege to fill the pulpit for Covenant OPC in New Bern, NC on Reformation Sunday. So for my two sermons I chose to look at the two foundational principles of the Reformation: the formal principle and the material principle. The formal principle of the Reformation, or sola scriptura, teaches that the scripture alone is the sole authority for the faith and practice of the church, while the material principle, or sola fide, teaches that the justification of a sinner before a holy God is received by faith alone.

These principles are not extra biblical ideas that have been used for understanding the Bible, rather they come from the Bible itself. And one place where you see these two principles working hand in hand is in the first chapter of Leviticus.

For the morning service, I preached on Leviticus 1.1-3 & John 1.14-18 “Sola Scriptura: The Formal Principle of the Reformation.” You can listen to it here.

For the evening service, I preached on Leviticus 1.1-9 & Romans 3.21-26 “Sola Fide: The Material Principle of the Reformation.” You can listen to it here.

The main content of the sermons comes from sermons I preached last year while in Leviticus 1-7, but they have new arrangements to fit the special occasion.

"The Communion Feast of Peace" – Leviticus 7.11-38 & 1 Cor 10.16-18

I enjoy preaching from the Old Testament, especially from texts like Leviticus that don’t seem to get much attention. Here is a recent sermon I preached for a church that was observing the Lord’s Supper, so I chose to preach from Leviticus 7.11-38 and 1 Corinthians 10.16-18, “The Communion Feast of Peace.” Everyone was extremely encouraging and mentioned that they enjoyed hearing a sermon from Leviticus, let alone seeing how it taught them about Christ and the Lord’s Supper. I am waiting to receive an audio copy of the sermon and when I have it I will post. For now, you can read the sermon if you’re interested.

>Images of the Savior from Leviticus 1-7 (Introduction)

>For the past couple of months I have been preaching through the first seven chapters of Leviticus. It has been an amazing study; I have enjoyed it and been blessed by it immensely. I have decided to put together a series of posts that will summarize the highlights of my study.

But before I begin the Levitical slide show, I think it would be helpful for me to put my “hermeneutical” cards on the table. Leviticus 1-7 contains ritual law. As such, it can be intimidating reading. In fact, how often have we known a friend (its always a friend and never ourselves!) who began a Bible reading program only to get thrown off and quit once he or she got into Leviticus! The strange and difficult details and rituals can be difficult to understand.

But let not your heart be troubled, for although “all things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them,” (WCF 1.7).

The scripture itself is so completely sufficient as “the only rule of faith and obedience,” (LC, 3) that it even provides us the proper interpretive method that is to be used in reading it, “the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly,” (WCF 1.9).

So, how is Leviticus to be read? It is to be read in light of clearer portions of scripture that help us to understand it. The first clear text that I would suggest helps us to understand the ritual law of Lev 1-7 is Luke 24.27. In this section of Luke 24, Jesus is walking with a couple of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples are dejected and forlorn over the crucifixion of Jesus, their shattered hope for the redemption of Israel, and that Jesus’ body is missing from the tomb. Jesus then helps them to understand that the promise of the Kingdom has not failed, but has been achieved through the Messiah’s death and resurrection according to the promises of the Old Testament. He then began with Moses and all the prophets and interpreted the Old Testament scriptures to reveal that they speak about him. According to Jesus, correct interpretation of Moses’ literature must seek to understand that Moses is speaking about Christ. So in my look at the ritual law of Moses, I approach the text Christocentrically–it witnesses to us about the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The writer of Hebrews has also provided Holy Spirit inspired interpretation and interpretive model for understanding the ritual law in Leviticus 1-7. Throughout Hebrews but especially in chapters 7-10, the writer interprets the ritual law in light of the Christocentric approach noted above. A good summary of his conclusion is found in 10.1, “the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities. The writer provides three central truths that help us understand the ritual law, and therefore must be utilized to correctly interpret the ritual law. For the sake of space, we will focus on Hebrews 9-10.1.

First, in chapter 9, the writer explains that the forms of worship of the ritual law are temporary, earthly and inadequate. He says in 9.9b-10, “the gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.” The last portion of verse 10 can also be translated as, “imposed until the time of the new order.” From the rest of the chapter we find that this “reformation, or new order” arrived when Christ appeared. With his appearance, he has inaugurated a new covenant through his shed blood to accomplish what the old covenant could not. Now, because of Christ, the temporary, earthly and inadequate has given way to the eternal, heavenly and fulfilled. So, the shadows and types of the ritual law are anticipations of the person and work of Jesus Christ in history. The old points forward to the new.

Secondly, the writer of Hebrews helps us to understand that not only do the shadows and types of the ritual law direct us forward in redemptive-history as anticipations of the person and work of Jesus Christ, but they also direct us upwards to heaven itself. In 9.24, the writer tells us that the old covenant types and shadows were copies of the true things, which are in heaven. The Greek word behind “true” can also be translated as “real, genuine.” So the point is not that the old covenant types and shadows were false instead of true, but that they were representations on earth of what was real in heaven. The old also points upward to heaven.

Third, the writer tells us at the end of the chapter in 9.28 that with Christ’s accomplished work, it has not yet been consummated. What Christ accomplished in history through his death and resurrection in his first advent will be consummated in a second coming at the end of history. At the second coming, those who have believed in Christ by faith will receive their eschatological salvation. The new covenant, which was inaugurated with Christ’s work in history anticipates the consummation of that work when Christ returns with heaven with him. So, the new covenant is not only the fulfillment of the old covenant, but it is also an anticipation of a greater fulfillment to come. The new fulfills the old while also pointing us upward to heaven. So, the old and new point us forward and upward to heaven.

To summarize:

  1. The ritual law anticipates the future person and work of Jesus Christ in history at his first advent.
  2. The ritual law anticipates the consummation of Christ’s work in heaven.
  3. The New Testament fulfillment of the ritual law in the person and work of Jesus Christ anticipates the consummation of his work in heaven.

Therefore, as I have studied the ritual law in Lev 1-7, I have studied it Christocentrically, semi-eschatologically (already/not yet) and eschatologically. The ritual law teaches us about Christ and his work in history, and both old and new together teach us about the consummation of Christ’s work in heaven. My approach, then, has been nicely summarized by Andrew Bonar, “The one great principle of interpretation which we keep before us is apostolic method and practice,” (Leviticus, 8).

Hence, let us look at the ritual law of Lev 1-7 and gaze upon the images of the Savior it portrays.

>Faith OPC in Indiana, PA

>Yesterday, Christy, the girls and I had the pleasure of traveling to Indiana, PA to worship and fellowship with Faith OPC. As part of my internship at Grace, I get to travel periodically to other OP churches in the Presbytery of Ohio to see how other congregations do things and to spend the day with the pastor.

Yesterday was a true blessing. The church there is full of warm and kind-hearted people who made us feel very welcome and loved. I got the privilege of speaking with the adult Sunday school class about my pilgrimage into the OPC and about my thoughts on my internship experience, as well as, the OPC’s internship program.

After addressing the Sunday school class, I had the privilege of leading them in worhsip through the proclamation of God’s Word. The church was observing the Lord’s Supper, so I chose to preach from Leviticus 7.11-38 and 1 Corinthians 10.16-18, “The Communion Feast of Peace.” Everyone was extremely encouraging and mentioned that they enjoyed hearing a sermon from Leviticus, let alone seeing how it taught them about Christ and the Lord’s Supper. I am waiting to receive an audio copy of the sermon and when I have it I will post. For now, you can read the sermon if you’re interested.

If you know of anyone living near the Indiana, PA area that is looking for a Reformed church, then tell them to check out Faith OPC, or to contact Pastor Doug Snyder, snyder.1@opc.org.

>Pittsburgh OPC Rebuilding

>This morning I had the privilege of filling the pulpit for a sweet group of people on the east side of Pittsburgh, PA. They are an old, new group who are rebuilding its seventy-year presence in the Wilkinsburg area with a Bible study and Sunday morning worship. If you know of anyone on the east side looking for biblical, reformed worship, and would be interested in an OPC mission work, please contact Rev. Larry Oldaker at oldaker.1@opc.org.

My sermon, “The LORD’s Presence and his Word,” came from Leviticus 1.1-2 and John 1.14-18. Many have recognized that the ritual law in Leviticus is an anticipation of the work of Christ, but Christ is revealed in the beginning of Leviticus before the ritual law is even prescribed!

Leviticus 1.1 provides a beautiful picture of the necessity of God’s self-revelation for his people’s atonement and acceptance. And not only is the content of God’s self-revelation necessary and important, but so also is the mode of his self-revelation.

In Leviticus 1.1, the reader finds God dwelling with his people with his glory veiled behind layers of animal skins in the tent of meeting. By dwelling in a tent like his people, we see God in a state of humiliation and identification with his people. And he doesn’t speak directly to his people, but through the mediation of his prophet Moses.

God dwelling in skin, in a state of humiliation and identification with his people, speaking his word through the mediation of human speech and a human mouth . . . hmmm . . . sound familiar?

You can read the sermon to get the full story.