Reformation OPC: A Congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids, MI

Please join us this Lord’s Day for the worship of the living God. We meet at 10:00 am for our morning study and at 4:30 pm for our worship service. Both the study and the worship service will be held in the Willow East Room of the Prince Conference Center at Calvin College.

The Lord’s Supper will be administered this Sunday, God willing, by Rev. Dr. Stephen Myers. Communicant members are encouraged to meditate on the following words from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

96. What is the Lord’s supper?

The Lord’s supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.

97. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s supper?

It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.

The law of God recited responsively this week is adapted from Matthew 5:

 

You have heard that it was said to those of old, 

‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother

will be liable to judgment;

whoever insults his brother 

will be liable to the council

and whoever says, ‘You fool!’

will be liable to the hell of fire.

 

These are sobering words: judgment, fire. J. Gresham Machen once commented that no one spoke of hell and judgment more than Jesus Christ. Why? God is concerned not just with what we do, that we do not take someone else’s life. He is also concerned about the attitude of our hearts and the words on our lips. Christ the great lawgiver did not come to lower the standard of righteousness, the moral law, which He together with his Father and the Holy Spirit, one God in three persons, had established in the very nature of things (Proverbs 8, Romans 2.14ff.) and summarized in the moral law of the Ten Commandments. The sermon on the mount from which these words are taken explains how Christ is one greater than Moses, the prophet for whom Moses waited (Deut. 18.15). Jesus never preached the abolition of the law, the notion that God’s righteousness can be ignored, but the fulfillment of the law. So he says: “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.” (Matt. 5.17). What do these words mean? It means that he teaches that our standard of righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if we are to attain eternal life. When Christ came he raised the bar of righteousness, so to speak, far above the foolish traditions and misunderstandings of the people and their leaders, who had obscured the meaning of the law by adding to it. He showed that only a perfect, perpetual, and personal obedience could satisfy the God who is a consuming fire. And after he had kept the law perfectly, he laid down his life to meet that standard for us.

How can we escape “the hell of fire”? If we trust in ourselves we are lost. Maybe you have never taken someone’s life, never committed murder with bloodshed. I have not. But I suspect you have been angry with your brother, your sister, mother, your father, your roommate, your husband, your wife, probably in very recent memory. I certainly have. Angry words, insults, calling people fools, sometimes these are like the air we breathe. We are foolish and weak, harboring all manner of shameful things.

But praise be to God, no hell of fire waits for us. When it says in the Creed that Jesus “descended into hell” it means that he faced the torment and the punishment due for our sin.  “You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt 1.21). “God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become his righteousness.” (2 Corinthians).

Come worship with us this Lord’s Day. Sit with us under the teaching of the word, as we hear the sweet promises of Christ and see them displayed in bread and cup, as we listen to the voice of the everlasting Father from the pages of Scripture, and as the Holy Spirit confers upon us all the benefits of Christ’s redemption through that word, sacraments, and prayer.

May God be pleased to strengthen his church here at Reformation OPC and gather in his elect.