Joyful Remembrance

Steve Viars July 25, 2009 1 John 1:

- at our church, we believe the Scripture teaches us to practice “2 ordinances” as a church family…

- ordinance – “an outward practice commanded by Christ and perpetuated by the church as a visible symbol of a spiritual reality.”

- now, each piece of that definition is important…

- we are very interested in learning as individuals and as a church what Jesus commanded us to do – He’s the Lord of the church, He purchased us with His own blood, and the Christian life is all about knowing Him, and loving Him, and serving Him, and glorifying Him, and joyfully participating in the accomplishment of His mission…

- two of the most powerful words in the Scripture are the words “in Christ…”, or “in Him…”

- we also want to study what the Scripture tells us about the way the early church functioned…

- in many ways, they are our blueprint…our model or our standard…

- now we have to be careful about that because the book of Acts is clearly a book of transition as the New Testament Scriptures are being completed…

- but the issue of – was that outward practice also perpetuated by the early church

- the last issue is equally important…is it a visible symbol of an outward reality?...

- in other words, is there a particular truth pictured by that outward practice?...

- of course in Bible times that was especially important because such a large percentage of the culture was illiterate…

- so communicating by stories or pictures was especially important for the retention of core ideas of the Christian faith…

- of course in our day and time…symbols or pictures are important because there’s such a lack of emphasis on reading…we are a visually oriented culture if there ever was one…

- so an ordinance is an outward practice commanded by Christ and perpetuated by the church as a visible symbol of a spiritual reality.

- now, our understanding of Scripture is that there are two ordinances outlined in God’s Word…believer’s baptism by immersion, and communion, or the Lord’s supper…

- please think with me about that second one for a moment…the Lord’s table…

- was that commanded by Christ?...

- sure, recorded in places like… Matthew 26:26-29 - While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

- Luke 22:19-20 - And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood…”

- the disciples took that to mean that they were to continue this practice in the early church…which is why we would read a passage like 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 - For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

- so clearly it was commanded by Christ and it was also perpetuated by the early church…what about the issue of it being a visible symbol of a spiritual reality?

- no doubt about that – but here’s the key question… what does the ordinance symbolize?...what are we supposed to remember?...

- is the answer – our great value?...would you agree with these authors, during the height of the self-love, self-image, self-esteem craze?...

-“The fact that God gave His Son to die for you proves how eternally valuable you are” (J.W. Jepson – Don’t Blame It All On Adam, p. 85)

- “Of course, the greatest demonstration of a person’s worth to God was shown in giving us His Son.” (Donna Foster, Building a Child’s Self-Esteem, p. 6)

- “It is as if Christ had said, ‘You are of such great worth to me that I am going to die; even experience hell so that you might be adopted as my brothers and sisters.” (William Kirwin, Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling)

- you see the commonality…the death of Christ proves our value?...

- is that what the Lord’s Table is supposed to symbolize?...is that what those elements point to?...is that what we’re supposed to think of/to remember?...is that our definition of grace—God was obligated to act in a certain way toward us because of our inherent value?...

- no, just the opposite…The Lord’s table points to:

1. The enormity of our Sin -- Matthew 26:27-28 - Drink from it, all of you;for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

- the fact that someone had to die in our place because of the enormity of our sin is not a compliment…it says nothing positive about our worth [in fact the Scripture speaks about is in our unregenerate state as enemies of God, separated from in because of our sin, rebels, aliens, people who are dead in trespasses and sins]…the cross says nothing positive about our inherent worth, but instead speaks volumes the worthiness of our Savior…otherwise His grace would not be particularly amazing…

2. The perfection of our Savior’s body -- Hebrews 4:15 - For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

3. The power of our Redeemer’s blood-- 1 Peter 1:18-19 - knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

- that is why the words engraved on the front of our communion table are similar to churches around the world…do this in remembrance of me…not our inherent value, but His

- The Lord said it this way to the children of Israel…

- Deuteronomy 7:7-8 - The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

- “God…has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature as conditions or causes moving Him thereunto: and all to the praise of His glorious grace.” (Westminister Confession of Faith – 3:5)

- here’s the point, at the Lord’s table, the symbol of the body and blood of Christ would be meaningless apart from also remembering the reason his body and blood were necessary…that means that an important aspect of living for Christ and growing in Him is Joyful Remembrance…

- with that in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible to I John chapter 1…[page 185 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…]

- we’re coming down to the end of our study on Growing from Your Past…we hope to land this plane next Sunday…

- here’s a quick overview of where we are…- in this series we are trying to construct a biblical theology of the past…drawing together all that the Word of God would say about this subject…

- one of the primary points we’ve tried to make is – your past is not one big lump…

- biblical theology allows us to sort or categorize things that truly differ…

- so we’ve posed 2 clarifying questions:

1) Was this particular event initiated by your own sin, or by the sin of a particular person/or simply the pain of living in a sin cursed world?...

-so are we talking about something from your innocent past…a time where you were sinned against, or your guilty past---a time when you sinned and that’s what initiated the event?

2) How did you respond to what occurred?

- that’s how you get from 2 to 4 buckets…

- the innocent past where you responded well

- the innocent past where you responded poorly

- the guilty past where you responded well

- the guilty past where you responded poorly

- perhaps this chart will help us organize this…

 

Understanding the Buckets

 

 

 

In what occurred, you were…

 

 

Innocent

Guilty

You responded…

Well

Bucket #1
The innocent past when you responded well

Bucket #3
The guilty past when you responded well

Poorly

Bucket #2

The innocent past when you responded poorly

Bucket #4
The guilty past when you responded poorly

 

- the last couple of weeks we’ve been reaching into the buckets…we said that, bucket #1 requires…Authentic Suffering  [click through the steps on the power-point slide]…

- last week we dealt with bucket #2…and we said events that fit in that category require Humble Analysis…[click through the steps on the power-point slide]…

- this morning we want to study how to handle bucket #3 – those times in the past where you blew it…but you turned it around…you didn’t compound the problem by responding sinfully…

- now you might say – well, then, why would this bucket even exist?...why is it necessary?...

- some people struggle with this – but I don’t really feel forgiven…

- I did something wrong, I asked God’s forgiveness, but I’m not sure He forgave me…we need to talk about that…

- others think – I don’t need to ask forgiveness for the ways I sinned each day, my sin was completely covered by the blood of Christ when I became a Christian and whatever I did wrong after that does not have to be acknowledged or dealt with in any way – that’s a different issue – but that one has to be addressed as well..

- then there’s the person who sinned, and asked forgiveness, but then who keeps wallowing around afterward…bringing their failures up repeatedly and then beating themselves over the head with it…

- last there’s the question of how our union with Christ should impact the way we relate to events in this bucket…so this morning we’re working on Joyful Remembrance – Reaching into Bucket #3

- so with the time we have left, let’s think about 3 steps that need to be taken after you have confessed a particular sin in the past.

- for the first one, let’s review this great passage in 1 John chapter 1…

I. Choose to Believe God’s Promise to Forgive.

- this is yet another one of the primary reasons some people are stuck in the past…

- I did something wrong – I asked forgiveness, but I don’t feel forgiven…

- this text would help us see that the issue isn’t how we might feel at a given time, but rather whether we believe God is capable of keeping His promises to us…

- every second we spend doubting His willingness or ability to do so is a second that could have been focused on rejoicing in the great forgiveness we have in Christ…

- now, let’s back up for a moment and think about…

A. God’s desire to forgive.

- you may know that Jesus made several statements while He was dying on the cross..

- Luke 23:34 - But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

- isn’t it amazing that even while He was dying for our sins, His focus was still on forgiveness and redemption…

- now, does that mean that every person within the sound of His voice was automatically forgiven and would be on his/her way to heaven?...

- no, this passage is sometimes misused in ways that can be very detrimental to how a person handles their past…

- but the point here is, even on the cross Jesus’ focus was on revealing His Father’s forgiving character…

- Matthew 23:37 - Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

- 2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

- after you’ve asked forgiveness for a particular sin, let the party begin…rejoice that God is a God of grace, mercy, patience…because He loves to forgive those who come to Him in repentance and faith…

- now, some people say---but I believe God forgave me completely the moment I was saved of all sins past, present, and future…so I don’t have to ask God’s forgiveness on a regular, ongoing basis…

- any person who has that view will also be stuck in the past…

- and here’s the crux of the issue…if you know Christ as savior and Lord…you have both a judicial and parental relationship with Him…in other words, you have a relationship with Him as both your judge and your heavenly Father…

B. God’s willingness to forgive judicially.

- on the day the church was born, the Day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2…Peter gave a great sermon about the reality of the resurrection and when he was finished, the people were “pierced to the heart” and they said, what shall we do?...

- Acts 2:38 - Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

- that verse trips some people up because they think, do you have to be baptized to be saved, or be baptized to have your sin forgiven…

- no, the little word “for” can also be translated “in demonstration of”…that would certainly be consistent with everything else Scripture says about salvation and baptism…

- in other words, when you repent and place your faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as your only hope of heaven…your sins are forgiven judicially…you trusted Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…

- Romans 5:1-2 - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

- well, then why would you ever have to ask forgiveness of any subsequent sin you committed as a Christian…why can’t you let them pile up in your “Christian past”?

- for one thing, we’re clearly commanded to…the Lord’s prayer was given to believers…people who had been judicially forgiven…but who were still commanded to pray…

- Matthew 6:12 - ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

C. God’s willing to forgive parentally.

- “God doth continue to forgive the sins of those who are justified…because they fall under His fatherly displeasure.” (Westminister Confession of Faith)

- so let’s bring that back around to the main point…what do we do with these events from bucket #3?...

- you sinned, but you confessed it to God and asked His forgiveness…but for whatever reason, you just remembered that event again…what should you do next?...the answer is to practice joyful remembrance…just like we do at the Lord’s table…the focus isn’t on us…it’s on Him and His precious and amazing grace…

- it’s like God said of his relationship to the captives in Babylon…

- Jeremiah 33:8-11 - I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against Me and by which they have transgressed against Me. It will be to Me a name of joy, praise and glory before all the nations of the earth which will hear of all the good that I do for them, and they will fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it.Thus says the Lord, ‘Yet again there will be heard in this place…the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, “Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, For the Lord is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting”; and of those who bring a thank offering into the house of the Lord. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were at first,’ says the Lord.

- now that leads us to a question, doesn’t it?...how frequently do you practice joyful remembrance?...how amazed are you, and how thankful are you…for both the judicial and the parental forgiveness that is available to you in Christ?...

- now, here’s the second step that needs to be taken after you’ve confessed a particular sin…

II. Avoid the Tendency to “Wallow” in Past Sins.

- we’re familiar with that term here in the heartland, aren’t we…just like a pig wallows around in the mud…you can wallow around in your past sins in the sense that you bring them up repeatedly and beat yourself over the head for your failures, even after you sought forgiveness…

- now, why might a person do that?...

A. A lack of genuine repentance.

- Paul explained that to the believers at Corinth…

- 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 - I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

- the word repent means “turn around”, go the other way in your mind, in your heart, in your thinking, in your words, in your actions…

- it’s a completely different orientation to that particular sin that you once committed…

- the opposite of that is what Paul describes here as “worldly sorrow”…an shallow substitute…

- that’s like the person who’s sorry because he got caught, not sorry because he offended God…

- he’s sorry he’s not going to be able to get away with it anymore…

- or sorry he’s not going to be able to enjoy the pleasure of that sin any longer..

- people like that wallow in their sin in the sense that they replay the event over and over and wish they could find a way to do it again…

- in fact, that’s the crux of the issue…if you had the opportunity to sin in that way again, would you?...

- and if the answer is “yes”, then true repentance has not yet occurred…

- and that was one of the problems with the Corinthian church, they had a lot of teaching and a lot of showy gifts…but there was a shallowness to their faith that resulted in carnal living and broken relationships and powerless ministry…

- and thankfully now, after a series of letters Paul has written to them, in some cases very direct and even stern…a change is beginning to take place…

- there is sorrow to the point of repentance…

- if you don’t get to that place…you can’t get out of bucket #3…

- now here’s an entirely different reason people wallow…

B. Pride

- Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.

- here’s how pride fits into this discussion…please tell me if this sounds familiar…

- responding to a sin in the past with the words…I can’t believe I did that…do you ever use that one?...

- do you realize it’s just a short hop from that to…I can’t believe a wonderful person like me did that…

- the truth of the matter is, the more we understand the depth of sin that resident in the human heart, what ought to be more amazing to us isn’t that we occasionally sin, but that we occasionally get it right…

- there is no value in going over and over and over that event once you’ve handled things with God and man…

- morbid introspection and perfectionism are two very quick ways to mire you in the past…

C. Fear of man.

- Proverbs 29:25 - The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.

- some people who have sinned, even after they’ve asked forgiveness, are looking all around wondering who might know about what they did…

- who’s saying what?…who knows what?…etc.

- all of that is a focus of self…that hinders you from rejoicing in the forgiveness of Christ…

- and I realize that you might say – well, but what if other people know…assuming they are individuals you did not directly sin against and therefore you don’t need to ask their forgiveness…then don’t worry about what other people think of you…or are saying about you…

- there’s all kinds of people in this world who love to get their noses in everybody’s else’s business…[inquiring minds like to know]…and a few of those kind of people occasionally fall into the doors of the church-house…they’re busybodies and gossips…

- that’s why we have these big light poles around here, so we can hang people like that up by their thumbs…[not exactly]…

 

- and you may be here today and perhaps you come to church, and are marginally involved…but you aren’t going to take that any further because you’re afraid that if you get close to people, or let others get to know you…they might find out something out your past…

- friend, that is a terrible way to live…and we are trying to do everything we can to be a forgiving community… Ephesians 4:32 - Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

- and I realize we don’t do that perfectly…but the level of community outreach we’re involved in ought to communicate some kind of a message…anybody is welcome here, regardless of their past, as long as they want to learn how to know Christ and grow in Him today….

 

D. Unwillingness to forsake.

- Proverbs 28:13 - He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

- it’s not just a matter of confessing what you did that was wrong…it’s also a matter of taking concrete steps to distance yourself from that sin in the future…

- for example, if you say – you know, I’ve had a critical tongue and I have destroyed a lot of relationships over the years because of that---but now I’ve asked God’s forgiveness and forgiveness from the appropriate people…great, but have you taken steps to forsake that habit?...

1. Maybe for you that means receiving some counseling to think through the issues of the heart that led to that kind of use of the tongue…

2. Maybe it means jumping in a men’s or ladies small group Bible study to get some accountability going…

- so you have some people regularly asking you about it…

- not to rub your nose in it forever, but just to be sure you’re putting distance between you and the sin…

- the overall point here is – the reason some people are stuck in their past even after they confessed a particular sin is that they are still wallowing around…for any number of reasons…

- the point is – after you’ve sinned and asked forgiveness from God and the appropriate people, it’s not time to look back to see who might know…or to look around to see who might be talking…or to look in and practice some sort of morbid introspection…

- no – now it’s time to look up…and be amazed at a God who forgives…

III. Rejoice in Your Union with Christ’s Resurrection.

- we said earlier that two of the most powerful words in the Bible are the words “in Christ” or “in Him”…

- and the beauty of this is that if you have come to Christ in repentance and faith…you have been united with Him…in his death, burial, and resurrection…

- two phrases that are connected to that are the phrases “gospel indicatives” and “the sustaining gospel.”

- here’s what that means…gospel indicatives are what the Bible says about who you are in Christ…what happened to you and in you the moment you believed…

- then there’s gospel imperatives…what you are supposed to do because of who you are in Christ…those are the commands we’re to follow…

- if you think about a book like the book of Ephesians, it’s neatly divided up where the first three chapters speak about gospel _________ [indicatives—who you are in Christ], while chapters 4-6 speak about gospel ________ [imperatives—what you are to do because of who you are in Christ]…

- the problem with some of us is, we try to keep the imperatives without understanding, focusing on, or benefitting from the indicatives…

- we try to obey Ephesians 4-6 without understanding Ephesians 1-3…

- that’s where the phrase “sustaining gospel” comes in…

- the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ isn’t simply something we believed in the past, or we hope to get us to heaven in the future…it’s something we live every day…

- and bucket #3 is a great place to grow in our understanding of what that means…

- because after you’ve sinned and handled it properly…you can take great hope because you’ve been united with Christ’s resurrection – therefore you don’t have to keep sinning in that way over and over…

- consider these verses…

- Romans 6:4-5 - Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,

- Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
 

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video