For Lord’s Day, February 1, 2015
Led by the Westminster Larger Catechism in the evening sermons, we have been considering the need to examine ourselves and prepare our hearts for proper worship and partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Elder Renner and I recently were reminded of what that needs to “look like”, as we often say, while we were on a hike together.
Notice in the photo above from our hike alongside some farmland in Escondido the different colors of different sections of ground. The light part on the right is what had not been turned over yet. It was hard and dry and covered by weeds. The dark part on the left and in the background is the earth that was recently plowed by the tractor in the distance (top right). It is broken and moist and ready to take in water and grow tomato plants. This contrast is a good illustration of what we learned in the sermon a while back on how to listen to a sermon per Westminster Larger Catechism 160. Entitled, “Be Good Listeners”, the sermon took us through Luke 8:1-18 and the Parable of the Sower, where we learned that the distinguishing difference of the people who received the Seed of God’s Word and thus had it grow within them and produce fruit in the world were those who had “good ground”, that is, self-cultivated hearts. Christian hearts are ground that has been turned up and over so that it is ready to be planted. So the Prophet preaches:
… thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. (Jeremiah 4:3)
Fallow ground is not ground that has never been plowed, but ground that hasn’t been plowed in a while and thus needs to be broke open again so God’s Word can be sowed into in it and so it can receive rain from heaven to nourish growth and fruitfulness. The light ground in these pictures was clearly plowed last year. But for a new season of sowing and harvesting, it needed to be plowed again. So too, beloved, do we always need to freshly cultivate our hearts for worship and the Lord’s Supper to see God produce new fruit in us and in our fellowship.
I will leave you with some thoughts on self examination before the Lord’s Supper that I trust you will take to heart in preparing your hearts for worship tomorrow and Communion after the evening service. In his book, The Lord’s Supper is a Celebration of Grace, Rev. Gordon J. Keddie writes in the chapter on self-examination:
The emphasis here [2 Corinthians 13:5], as in 1 Corinthians 11:28, is not on whether or not they are Christians, but whether or not they are actively living as Christians who are heart and hand ‘in the faith’. Are they living the Christian life? In other words, it is not the question of assurance of faith that is in view, but living in faith, daily, practically and consistently …
His question is not, ‘Am I a believer?’, but ‘How am I doing as a believer?’ or, putting it another way, ‘Am I recognizable as a believer?’
… If we approach the Supper thoughtlessly, carelessly, with unrepented sin, abusing the symbols of Jesus’ death, we in effect treat Christ lightly, if not even contemptuously … The English Puritan Thomas Doolittle highlights the seriousness of this matter in a most searching manner when he says, ‘I think a man who is not fit to die is not fit to receive [the sacrament]. A man should sit down at the Lord’s Table with as great care as he would lie down in his grave. He should be as serious for his soul at this ordinance as he would be upon his dying bed. You should go to the Lord’s Table as carefully as if you were going into another world.’
May these words stir you and I up to turning up tomorrow having turned over the earth of our hearts anew for a new season of personal and corporate growth.