“Remember Your Sin…And Christ’s Work”
May 29, 2016
Many years ago I called a friend and when he answered his cell phone, he was noticeably quiet and subdued. So I asked him, “Are you ok?” “Yeah — I’m in D.C. on a business trip this week and I’m at the Vietnam Memorial, and it’s sobering; can I call you back a little later?”
I had never been to either that memorial or D.C., so while I tried to empathize with him, I didn’t understand the weightiness. Then a few years ago, Raye Jeanne and the girls and I went to D.C.; I attended a conference while they saw the sights. I had one afternoon off and so they took me to the highlights of what they’d seen that week; one place they said I had to go was the Vietnam Memorial. I really don’t have any significant memories of the war from Vietnam; I didn’t know anyone at the time who served there. But of all the things I saw in D.C. that day, that memorial was the most impactful for me. I felt very much like my friend from years earlier — sober, quiet, overwhelmed, and humbled. There were so many who gave up so much for our country and for freedom.
In a similar way, a few years ago, I had the privilege of going to Germany with my dad to teach the book of Matthew, and while there we took a day-trip to Wittenberg to see the place where the Reformation was birthed. We went to the Wittenberg Church where Luther regularly preached and I was able to climb into the pulpit and stand where that great man of God stood and expounded the Scriptures for his people, 500 years ago (next year is the 500th anniversary of his posting of the 95 theses on the Castle Church door). Again I was overwhelmed, humbled, and silenced by the sacrifices made by this man and the work that God did through him.
Good memorials, and memories thought of in right ways, will do those kinds of things for us — they will remind us of the good that has been accomplished in the past on our behalf. And in the church we have one great memorial that is used to remember the greatest good accomplished on our behalf — and that is communion. This ordinance isn’t just a tradition that we add onto the end of a service once a month; it is foundational to our faith, to keep us focused on the work of Christ that has been accomplished for us.
In 2 Timothy 2, Paul said it most simply — “Remember Christ Jesus, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel…” (v. 8). Remember (continually) that Christ was resurrected as a sign of his victory over sin and death and remember that He was able to be resurrected as the Messiah because He was the fulfillment of the promise to David, and that He is the gospel message to all me for all time.
We must remember the person and work of Christ. His life and death are the basis for all that we are and will be. With Him we have everything; without Him we have nothing and are nothing (except damnable people). So this morning we come to the communion table, and specifically, we come to remember Him.
As we come to Ephesians 2:11-13 this morning, I want to do two things for us:
- I want us to remember Christ.
- I want us to remember Christ as those who were outsiders — the “uncircumcised” — and then next week begin connecting that to what Paul is teaching in Romans 2.
These verses are in a magnificent section in Ephesians where Paul is reminding his readers of all that they have and are in Christ because of their salvation. In chapter 1, he particularly focused on the Triune work of God to produce salvation: the Father (vv. 3-6), the Son (vv. 7-12), and the Spirit (vv. 13-14). And in this chapter Paul has revealed how that salvation was actually done (vv. 1-10), and for whom it was done and what effect that salvation had in putting together two distinct groups of people into one unified church (vv. 11ff). It is in that section that we find ourselves this morning; in these verses, Paul exhorts us to —
Cultivate gratitude by remembering what you were and are spiritually.
Specifically, a godly memory will be cultivated by meditating on three realities about your life —
- Remember God Made a Promise (v. 11)
- Remember You Were Outside God’s Promise (v. 12)
- Remember You Were Brought into God’s Promise (v. 13)
Download the rest of this sermon on Ephesians 2:11-13.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.