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The Covenant Meal and Covenant Renewal Ceremony

August 8, 2010 Pastor: John Fonville

The Covenant Meal and Covenant Renewal Ceremony

Text: Selected Passages

July 25, 2010

 

Introduction:


Why do we go to church?

 

Lesson:

 

I. The Covenant Renewal Ceremony

 

A.            Conditional covenants (based on man’s merit and faithfulness, e.g., the Mosaic Covenant)

B.            Unconditional covenats (based on God’s grace and faithfulness, e.g, the Abrahamic Covenant). 

 

II.            The Covenantal Meal

 

Why is it important that God’s actions and not ours confirm His promises?

 

“You cannot love God if you are under the continual, secret suspicion that he is really your enemy! You cannot love God if you secretly think He condemns and hates you. This kind of slavish fear will compel you to some hypocritical obedience- such as what Pharaoh did when he let the Israelites go against his will. However, you will never truly love God if you are compelled only by fear. Your love for God must be won and drawn out by your understanding of God’s love and goodness towards you- just as John testifies in 1 John 4:18-19: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear consists in torment; the one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because He first loved us.” You simply cannot love God unless you know and understand how much He loves you,” (Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, p. 31).

 

“Commonly, when they would prepare men to eat worthily, they have tortured and harassed pitiable consciences in dire ways…They said that those who were in a state of grace ate worthily. They interpreted “in state of grace” to mean to be pure and purged of all sin. such a dogma would debar all the men who ever were or are on earth from the use of this Sacrament. For it is a question of our seeking worthiness by ourselves, we are undone; only despair and deadly ruin remain to us. Although we try with all our strength, we shall make no headway, except that in the end we shall be most unworthy, after we have labored mightily in the pursuit of worthiness.

By its immoderate harshness it deprives and despoils sinners, miserable and afflicted with trembling and grief, of the consolation of this Sacrament; yet in it, all the delights of the gospel were set before them. Surely the devil could find no speedier means of destroying men than by so maddening them that they could not taste and savor this food with which their most gracious Heavenly Father had willed to feed them. In order, therefore, not to rush headlong to such ruin, let us remember that this sacred feast is medicine for the sick, solace for sinners, alms to the poor…Therefore, this is the worthiness- the best and only kind we can bring to God- to offer our vileness and (so to speak) our unworthiness to Him so that His mercy may make us worthy of Him; to despair in ourselves so that we may be comforted in Him; to abase ourselves so that we may be lifted up by Him; to accuse ourselves so that we may be justified by Him,” (John Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.41-42).

 

© John Fonville

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