In the latest edition of The Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry, Dr. Andy Naselli has what looks like an outstanding article on parental discipline called “Training Children for Their Good.”
Kosmosdale Baptist Church now takes the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis. We were doing it the first Sunday of each month, but there are biblical and theological reasons for increasing the frequency.
- The early church had the Lord’s Supper with their meal together, and they gathered each week to do so (cf. Acts 20:7; 2:42, 46; 1 Cor 10:16; 11:20, 23-24).
- Paul said we proclaim the Lord’s death whenever we partake of this ordinance, so wouldn’t we want a weekly proclamation? (1 Cor 11:26).
- It is a visual aid for the Gospel. The bread represents Christ’s body, and the cup represents his blood. Body broken, blood shed–that’s Gospel content.
- It maintains the distinctiveness of God’s people. The Lord’s Supper isn’t for unbelievers, so the weekly partaking of that ordinance serves as a reminder of God’s people being set apart through their faith in the Savior.
Usually pushback comes in a couple ways:
- Won’t a weekly Lord’s Supper make the service longer? I don’t think this is a good objection. After all, omitting an offering, excluding a public reading of Scripture, dropping some of the worship songs, and cutting the sermon in half would all make for a shorter service, but is that really what we’re after? No, of course not. The Lord’s Supper might add a few minutes to the service length, but if you start on time and do announcements efficiently, you might not be able to tell at all. In the end, don’t you think we should seek to conform the content of our worship to the practice of the early church as much as we can discern it?
- Won’t a weekly Lord’s Supper become void of meaning? This objection doesn’t stand either. The content of a worship service shouldn’t be defined by what we find maximum meaning in each week. That measuring stick is too relative. Not everyone finds the sermon as compelling each week. Not everyone is equally moved by the songs chosen for worship. Probably not everyone will give rapt and total attention to the public Scripture reading. Nevertheless, churches do weekly things in a worship service that may not always be exciting to every person every time. Our subjective enjoyment in an element of worship does not determine whether it should or shouldn’t become a corporate and frequent practice. Rather, I think we should consider the pattern of the early church and seek to follow their lead. And if it is correct that the early church took the Lord’s Supper each week, then they apparently didn’t believe the frequency nullified the meaning of the ordinance.
Jesus told his disciples, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20), and beginning in Matthew 5:21 he illustrates what he means. The Pharisees had an external “righteousness” (if it can be called that), but Jesus shows that a deeper righteousness is what sets his people apart. His people know that their relationship with God and others is fundamentally a matter of the heart.
In Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus talks about six subjects of great moral and practical consequence: anger (5:21-26), lust (5:27-30), divorce (5:31-32), oaths (5:33-37), retaliation (5:38-42), and love (5:43-48).
Only the first and fourth sections begin with the full phrase “You have heard that it was said to those of old” (Matt 5:21, 33), which indicates that the six subjects divide into two triads: anger, lust, divorce, and then oaths, retaliation, love.
The second and third subjects are related because of the themes of sexual immorality and adultery (see Matt 5:27-28, 32). The fifth and sixth subjects are also related because of the themes of loving and responding to an evil person (see 5:39, 44).
The last verse of the whole section (Matt 5:21-48), “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48), sums up all of 5:21-48, not just the sixth subject of love.
Throughout Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus is showing what he means by his earlier claim, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (5:17). If his hearers don’t understand that real discipleship must start in the heart, they may conform only to the deeds of scribes and Pharisees and thus never enter his kingdom.
If the heart is neglected, God is not fooled, and we will not love others as we should.
An island comes through the surface of water, but the visible land is not all there is; more is underneath, supporting the island, giving it shape. In Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus takes subjects which, on the surface, seem clear and easy enough to obey. But as he brings them up, he points to what is underneath. He is after the attitudes that hold up and give shape to acts of righteousness.