Sermon: He died for us!

Bible talk by Steve Millay

He died for us!
September 12th, 2013 4:52 pm     A+ | a-
(1 Th 5:9-10 NNAS) "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, {10} who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him."

This remembrance is the very center point of our faith. The external things are but tokens of something deeper and nobler. The material things are here to be seen, but it is our part not only to see them, but to see through them to the spiritual things.
But true participation in this bread and cup is more than eating and drinking. It would be a very poor thing if true participation was merely the devouring and digestion. But it goes far beyond that, or else Paul would not have written:
"He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself"
It is possible for a man to eat and drink and never to participate in the emblems. What is it then that constitutes true participation in this service?
True participation lies in the words: HE DIED FOR US. True participation is achieved if we can feel heartfelt gratitude for the gift. And notice that I said the word FEEL. And I stress the word FEEL because a moment is coming when we will have our heads bowed and it will be quiet, and we will be left with our own thoughts and feelings. What will we feel as we partake the emblems. Will it be thankfulness?
Being thankful is a personal thing. It is something that needs to be felt by each individual. The person next to you or next to me cannot feel for me, but only for themselves. Therefore, personal appreciation is feeling what the Father has done through his son for ME. Though Christ died for all men, the apostle Paul thinks of it in this personal way:
"He Loved Me, and gave himself for me".
Of course this is easier to say than to feel. At least I think it is. Do you find it difficult to feel this personal responsibility for the death of Christ? We certainly have sinned, but we've never wanted Christ to die and suffer because of it.
Suppose I were to say: All men are sinners and that includes you. You would not disagree with those words.
But suppose I say to one of you that YOU ARE A SINNER and I name a sin that you have committed. The chances are that your reaction will be very different. You may feel like telling me to mind my own business. You may feel annoyed. maybe angry.
But the difference in the reactions illustrates the difference between feeling one's self to be a sinner amongst millions of other sinners (which hardly means anything at all), and then, being aware of our own personal sin, being a real sinner. Now it is more personal.
And this same principle is true when we seek to appreciate the sacrifice of Christ. It becomes real when it becomes personal. Christ died for me. It was my sin, it was me that caused his death.
He died because of your sins. He died for us. But this is still a difficult thing to feel. We can say it, but to feel it to be true in our hearts, we cannot. It is unnatural. We might even deny it.
After all, it was Judas, not us, who betrayed him. It was Peter, not us, who denied him. It was Thomas, not us, who doubted him. It was another disciple, not us, who fled and left him alone. It was the priests, not us, who misrepresented him. It was the unknown witnesses, not us, who told the lies. It was Pilate, not us, who pronounced the sentence. It was a Roman Soldier, not us, who drove in the nails.
Yet, when we read the word of God we cannot escape the conclusion, that in some way, Christ felt the weight of our sin.
Judas, Peter, Thomas and the others were but enlargements of ourselves.
It was really hatred, jealousy, covetousness and prejudice, self-righteousness, envy, pride, selfishness which actually caused his death. And in so far as we have been a false friend, or a skeptic, or a cowardly disciple, or selfish, or indifferent, or unkind, or envious, or jealous, or have turned our back on those needing help
...then, to that degree, we have partaken in the forces which came against Christ.
There is not one of us who is not sinful. He died for us, because the sins we commit. He was bruised because of our iniquities. The Lord has laid upon him, the iniquity of us all.
By feeling these things to be true, our thanksgiving for these emblems is intensified. We have all come with our bruises and our weaknesses. And where sin has abounded, grace did much more abound.
We have come to a green hill, as men and woman who stand in the need of grace. If we do not feel that to be true, then we should not be here. But only when we seek the grace, only when we are thankful for the gift, when we feel the gratitude. Only then are we ready to eat and drink of this bread and cup. 

Steve Millay
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