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COMMUNION AT CHRISTMAS!
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (I Corinthians 11:26).
Tonight is Christmas Eve. We are gathered here at church to remember the birth of Christ. There are those who say we are wrong to do that. They say that Christmas is a Roman Catholic holiday. But I have always felt they are mistaken. The Bible has a great deal to say about the birth of Christ. I find nothing wrong with taking one day out of the year to remember His birth. Dr. John R. Rice wrote a wonderful little book on that subject called I Love Christmas. You can order it from the Sword of the Lord at Sword of the Lord Publishers - Books and Pamphlets. Dr. Rice answered the objections raised by those who say we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. The difference between Catholics and Baptists does not lie in the celebration of an external holiday. The difference lies in the wide world of separation between salvation by the “infusion” of grace through sacraments, and the “imputation” of Christ’s righteousness by faith in Him alone! Unless that fundamental Protestant doctrine is understood we are divided over window dressings.
I think we ought to make Christ central in everything that we do at Christmas time. The passage of Scripture Dr. Chan read a moment ago gives us the Biblical message of the Lord’s Supper. And I believe it is appropriate for real Christians to take the Lord’s Supper at Christmas, as well as other times during the year. The Lord’s Supper gives us the main reason Jesus came to earth. In one of his beautiful songs, which Mr. Griffith sang a moment ago, Dr. John R. Rice said,
Jesus, Baby Jesus,
There’s a cross along the way,
Born to die for sinners,
Born for crucifixion day!
(“Jesus, Baby Jesus” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).
“Born for crucifixion day”! Jesus was born to die on the Cross for our sins. Seven hundred years before He was born, the prophet Isaiah said,
“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
The first point of the Gospel was given by the Apostle Paul, when he said,
“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures”
(I Corinthians 15:3).
The suffering of Jesus began in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there that God laid on Him the sins of the whole world. It was in Gethsemane that Jesus’
“…sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
The prophet Isaiah said,
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows”
Soldiers came and arrested Him while He prayed there in the Garden. They took Him and beat Him in the face, plucking out patches of His beard, and flogging Him half to death with a cruel whip. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, Jesus said,
“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).
They dragged Him to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. The governor questioned him. Jesus answered, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (John 18:37). He was born to suffer and die, and shed His Blood, to atone for our sins!
They placed a heavy wooden cross on His bleeding shoulders. He bore that cross through the streets of Jerusalem to a hill called Calvary. They nailed His hands and His feet to the cross. He hung there bleeding and suffering to pay the price of our sins. God the Father turned away from His beloved Son. Jesus cried out,
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
The Apostle Peter said He
“…bare our sins in his own body on the tree”
(I Peter 2:24).
“It is finished” (John 19:30),
and died on the Cross.
When the great English preacher Spurgeon was dying, he said to a friend, “My theology is found in four little words: ‘Jesus died for me.’” They put the dead body of Jesus in a tomb and sealed it with a huge stone, leaving Roman guards to keep watch.
But that’s not the end of the Gospel! They couldn’t keep Him in that tomb! On the third day Jesus rose physically, flesh and bone, from the dead!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The three sad days have quickly sped;
He rises glorious from the dead;
All glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!
(“The Strife Is O’er,” translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).
That is the second point of the Gospel! That is the good news! That is the true meaning of Christmas! The eternal Son of God came into the world, died for our sins, and rose again from the dead!
And when we come to take the Lord’s Supper we are remembering all that. We are remembering that He suffered and died in our place, on the Cross, to pay the full penalty for our sins. We are remembering that He shed His precious Blood to cleanse us from our sins. The Apostle Paul said it all:
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come”
(I Corinthians 11:23-26).
Strangely, a few modern preachers, like John MacArthur, are telling us that Paul was wrong in this passage of Scripture. These men are now telling us that the death of His Body and His Blood are the same thing, that His Blood is simply a “metonym” (another word) for His death. Yet I Corinthians 11:23-26 plainly tells us that they are two separate elements. The bread represents the death of His Body to atone for our sin. The cup represents the Blood He shed to cleanse our sin. Things that are different are not the same! That is an essential teaching of the Gospel, which is brought out every time we take the Lord’s Supper. The bread reminds us of His crucified body. The cup reminds us of the Blood He shed. Both are different. Both are necessary for our salvation.
But you cannot be saved by taking the Lord’s Supper. You must come to Christ. You must trust Christ. You must receive Christ by faith. The Bible says,
“As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).
When you come to Jesus, resting in Him alone, you are born again by the grace and power of God. Jesus Himself said,
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
It is our prayer that you will come under conviction of sin, and that you will come to Jesus Christ and experience a real conversion! And be sure to be in church every Sunday! Make the local church your second home! Amen.
(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”
Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I Corinthians 11:23-26.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, Baby Jesus” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).