Christ Exposes Spiritual Hypocrites, Part 2 (Matthew Sermon 118 of 151)
March 21, 2010 | Andy Davis
Sanctification, The Law of God, Works of the Flesh, Assurance of Salvation
Do you think that you would be able to spot an impostor who has skilfully disguised himself at a key moment? Would you be able to do it, do you think? Especially if the future of a kingdom depended on it? Now, there's some key moments in church history, in which that is precisely what happens. A thousand years ago, Christian settlements of Northern Europe were being terrorized by one of the most fearsome bands of warriors that this earth has ever seen. I speak of the Vikings, who were able in their sleek low-draft boats suddenly to appear at any moment and terrorize Christian monasteries and Christian communities with a bloodshed and a slaughter that reached up to Heaven.
One of the most incredible and encouraging stories in the advance of the Kingdom of Christ is how these fearsome warriors, these Vikings, were brought to faith in Christ. And a key individual, a key figure in that history is a man named Olaf Tryggvason. Now, Olaf was himself a raider, he was a Viking. He was a pagan and a godless man, but in 986 AD, Olaf and his ships were harbored along some islands named the Scilly Islands, a group of about 100 islands near England, and he had heard of a Christian hermit, a man who was a Christian who had it seems extraordinary powers of discernment, even the ability to know the future. And what man doesn't wanna know the future, especially an ambitious young man, like Olaf was.
And so he wanted to hear this man out, and so he actually dressed one of his men just like him, put him in his own clothes and sent him to this Christian hermit. And this Christian hermit took one look at this impostor and instantly recognized him to be an imposter and sent him back to his master with some words. Well, at this point, Olaf is impressed and curious. So he goes himself; he went in person to see this Christian hermit, and the hermit spoke of his future. He said that Olaf would become a Christian, and that he would lead many of his own people to faith in Christ and destroy paganism. And to prove the truth of these long-range prophecies, the hermit gave him a short-range prophecy, and that is that he would return to his ships and some mutineers would attack him and wound him severely, badly enough for him to die, but that he would remarkably recover in seven days.
And that is precisely what happened. Olaf went back to his ship; some men fought against him. He was wounded. He was carried off on his shield, and seven days later he was amazingly healed. And he became a Christian after that. And you can well imagine the power of these prophecies. And he went on to become the King of Norway and really just severed the root of paganism in that land and led many to faith in Christ. And all because this one Christian hermit could recognize an impostor.
A little over four centuries later, the same thing happened again with Joan of Arc, when she felt led by God to lead France against some English invaders. She had no standing whatsoever; she was a peasant girl but already some amazing things had happened. And there were some questions. The Dauphin, the future king of France, Charles VII, wanted to find out if she was the genuine article, and so he invited her there and she came and he disguised himself as a regular nobleman and stood amongst his other noblemen. She walks right up to him and begins to talk to him as the Dauphin, as the future King of France, and to say that she would fight the English wherever she found them. And to tell him and whispered to him, something that only God could have told her. He was immediately convinced, and the history went on from there.
Let me ask you a question. If a Christian hermit on the Scilly Islands can recognize an imposter, if Joan of Arc can recognize an impostor and disguise, do you not think the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is able to do so? Can he not expose an impostor, and conversely can he not recognize the genuine article when he sees it? And so at the end of John chapter 1, when Nathaniel comes to him, he says, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.” He's not a deceiver; he's not an impostor. He is what he claims to be, a genuine Israelite. “How do you know me?” Nathaniel asked. And Jesus said, “I saw you while you were sitting under the fig tree.”
Jesus has that ability to just look at an individual and see them right through to know what they really are, to know who they really are. There's no way to be an imposter in front of Jesus. And then at the end of the second chapter of John, Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover doing many miracles and it said, “Many of the people there saw the signs he was doing and put their trust in Jesus, but Jesus would not entrust himself to them.” It says at the end of John 2, “For he knew all men and he did not need man's testimony about what was in a man, for he himself knew what was inside a man.”
And so later in John chapter 6, when many of his false disciples went away from him after Jesus taught, “Eat my flesh and drink my blood,” and they couldn't handle that teaching. Jesus said to the 12, “You don't wanna go away too, do you?” Peter answered, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Then Jesus said, “Have I not chosen you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” It is impossible to deceive Jesus.
The Danger of Hypocrisy
And I think as I look across the Scriptures, I think there are few passages that bring me the same feeling of fear and concern as does Matthew chapter 7. I know we're preaching on Matthew 23 this morning, but in Matthew chapter 7, Jesus says these words in the Sermon on the Mount, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father, who is in Heaven. Many” - Feel the weight of that word, dear brothers and sisters - “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles.’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you, away from me you evildoers.’”
Can we even measure that moment of shock in that category of people who looks up at Jesus in his glory and says, “Lord, Lord,” and they're excited to see Jesus and they think he's equally excited to see them. And they're about to get the shock of their eternity, that he never knew them and that they're going to have to spend eternity away from him, eternity in Hell. Now I think they should not be shocked. Jesus, in Matthew 7, says, “Away from me, you evildoers.” There was evidence. It's not like there's no way to know, it's just a crap shoot, maybe the Lord will know you, and maybe he won't; we just have no way of knowing. The Lord is not that way.
You know what the Lord does in Matthew 23, he gives a category of impostors a very clear warning that they're going to hell, if they don't repent. He doesn't send them to Hell. He gives them a warning concerning Hell. “How will you escape being condemned to Hell?” he says. “What are your plans?” We'll talk about that verse next week. But he gives them a warning, and do you not see the grace of God in that? Do you not see the kindness and mercy of God in that? You heard in my prayer this morning, my desire is that if you are in fact a Gospel hypocrite, if you have been playing a game, if you have been deceiving your neighbors, deceiving even your own family, and deceiving yourself, I'm just pleading with you on the basis of Matthew 23, drop the robes of hypocrisy and come to a genuine faith in Christ.
Do you not realize how merciful and gracious he is to give you this warning? Do you not see his kindness in showing you the genuine article and pleading with you and saying anyone who comes to me I will in no way drive away, but I will give them eternal life? But this is for you the day of salvation. It doesn't really make a difference if you've been playing a game up to this point. If today you hear his voice and you came to faith in Christ, all your sins will be washed away, all of them. And you'll be welcomed on that final day. The question is, “How can I know if I'm an impostor?” And I'm also gonna speak a word to Christians. I don't believe, and I thought this through this morning, I came to this conclusion this morning. I don't believe every Christian is a hypocrite. I don't think that's true. I think at that point the word disappears, doesn't have any meaning.
I think a hypocrite is someone who makes a claim to be something that they're not. Was the Apostle Paul a hypocrite? I think not. In Romans 7, he said, “I have a bitter struggle with sin every day. Pray for me; pray that I'd be delivered. Pray that I might preach the gospel boldly as I should.” He's not an independent, holy, perfect, individual. He said, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ,” but he acknowledged that he had an indwelling warfare with sin; he wasn't a hypocrite. And I think it's possible for Christians to live in such a way that they are not in any way, shape, or form hypocrites. They give God all the glory for their salvation; they say “He is my righteousness.” They are honest about themselves; they acknowledge indwelling sin, and they fight it every day.
But I do believe there are some Christians that are hypocrites, that are coming far short of the sanctification God would have for them if they would just be honest about certain indwelling patterns that they have, certain struggles they have. If they would just be honest and if they would deal forth, look forth rightly, they would make a quantum leap ahead in their Christian walk. So I'm addressing you today as well, and I'm asking that you would pray that there's not a person here that would walk out of this room a hypocrite. Maybe they walked in a hypocrite, but no one would walk out an actor anymore, an actress concerning the things of God.
It's just too important, because someday we're gonna stand before the one who speaks these words, and we're going to give him an account for our lives, and there'll be no fooling him. And there'll be no fancy lawyers that can get you off at that point; there'll be no way to deceive. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight; everything's uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.” And that's Jesus. And so hear his Word and allow his Word to search you; allow his Word to do its work in you.
Overview of Christ’s Condemnation
Now last week, we began looking at these seven woes. Jesus is speaking to the scribes and the Pharisees. Just a very brief word about them. The Pharisees were a sect of Judaism, a sect of the Jews who believed that their right standing with God was on the basis of their obedience to God. That's the definition of legalism, I think it's a good one. To think you can pay for your sins by future obedience, present and future obedience, that's the essence of legalism.
And these Pharisees were the essence of the legalists. This is what they did. And they didn't follow the law of Moses, they followed human traditions based on the law of Moses and thought that they had it all figured out, the Pharisees. The Scribes were professional copyists of the Scriptures, who stood at desks all day long and copied the laws of Moses, and who thereby gained an education in the Laws of Moses, not available to the common populace. And therefore, I think, felt prideful toward this rabble, this mob that knew nothing of the law, and were arrogant and therefore in every way, very much like the Pharisees. And therefore Jesus just links them together.
The Seven Woes
The seven woes he speaks. Some have noted this number seven is the number of perfection, the prophetic number of completion. And the word “woe” is a prophetic word of warning, of impending condemnation and judgment from God. And therefore a seven-fold woe from the final Word of God to the human race. God the Son speaking to them saying, “Woe unto you,” seven times. In effect saying, “You are in a completely dangerous situation, you must repent.”
Woe for Shutting Seekers Out of Heaven
And so we saw last time the first woe in Verse 13, “Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the Kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter.” Do you not hear the danger of those words? “You are not entering the Kingdom of Heaven, and nor will you permit those entering who are trying to.” You are ministers of hopelessness and you're on a road to Hell. Woe number one.
Woe for Making Hellish Disciples
Woe number two: Woe for making hellish disciples. Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert. And then when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Hell as you are.” In other words, if you enroll in the school of the scribes and Pharisees you're going to end up in Hell; they do not lead to Heaven. He calls them blind guides. The second woe.
Woe for Being Blind Guides
The third woe, here, you get these legalists, who wrote the fine print in the contract, and then got out of the contract. They have this whole thing about oaths. They say, “Yeah, I swore by the temple, but I didn't swear by the gold of the temple. You didn't notice that, did you? So I don't need to keep my oath.”
“Oh, you heard me swear by the altar. Well, I didn't swear by the gift that was on the altar. I don't know if you know this, because I spend my whole time studying the law. And if you swear by the altar, now it means nothing, but if you swear by the gift on the altar, now that's a binding oath. And you probably didn't notice I didn't swear by the gift on the altar, and perhaps you didn't notice that I didn't swear by the gold of the temple.”
Jesus sweeps it all away. “He who swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it. And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it.” Shall we not think about God when we speak words? God created the heavens and the earth by the word of his power. Everything he says is true; all of his promise as he keeps, all of his warnings he makes good on. This is God; this is the way that God deals with words. So don't shirk your oaths and your vows. Simply let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no,” “no” in the fear of God. That was last week.
Woe for Inverting God’s Priorities
The fourth woe is in verse 23 and 24, look at it. “Woe to you teacher of the law, you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices - mint, dill, and cumin, but you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former. You blind guides, you strain out a gnat, but you swallow a camel.”
Now Jesus is here dealing with the fact that the Pharisees in their blindness could not see what was the centerpiece of the law and what the law was about. And so, they go off to the periphery of the law and they find this issue of tithing, and I'm not saying tithing is not important. Jesus implies it is important here, but they take the tithing regulation and they go to the nth degree. Picture them there in their kitchens, the Pharisee and his wife.
“Did you buy any spices today?” “Yes, I bought some spices.” “Well, let's sit down and work on it. Have you got any mint?” “Yes, I've got some mint.” “Okay, let's get going.” And so they get out a little scalpel perhaps, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine for me, one for God. And so they go, nine leaves for me, one for God; nine for me, one for God. And then later they have a chance to boast about it. “I give a tenth of all that I own, and I fast twice a week.” They get to boast in front of God.
Now, at one level can I say there's nothing wrong with being attentive to details? I think details are important. And so does God. Jesus said in Luke 16, “He who is faithful in a very little will be faithful in much.” You prove yourself for future great ministries by being faithful in little ministries now, and if you're faithful in what seems to others to be little he'll give you more to do. And if you're not, he won't.
And so, I think little things do matter. Jesus himself said, “Even a sparrow doesn't fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” He knows that little things matter; he knows better than we do. He is very attentive to details. And on judgement day, we'll have to give an account for even the careless words that we've spoken. Details actually do matter.
But the issue here isn't so much the details. Jesus assents to the fact that it's right to give a tenth of the spices; there's nothing wrong with that. He says, “You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former.” Go ahead and give a tenth of your spices. But clearly there are different levels of priorities in God's law, and you missed it; you missed what the law is about.
The law is about justice; not your justice initially, but God's justice. And that teaching that the laws about God's justice should crush you and crumble you and bring you to the second point of the law which is mercy, that God might have mercy to you, a sinner, and that you trembling for mercy may actually obtain it. That you might receive mercy having been crushed by the justice of the law, that you might receive mercy. And having received mercy, then what are you going to do? You're going to be merciful to other sinners around you. And faithfulness, that God is faithful to keep his promises to save a single broken-hearted sinner that comes to Jesus Christ. Christ came and he suffered and he shed his blood that sinners like you and me, hypocrites like you and me, people just like you and me can be saved.
The justice of God brings us to the cross, and there at the cross we find the mercy of God, and the mercy just flows all over us. Oh come to Christ, trust in Christ, I'm pleading with you. Come to Christ while there's still time. This is the judge of all the earth speaking these words to us, and he's saying “The law was about justice, and mercy, and faithfulness. And I will give you life. I'll keep all of my promises to you, if you'll just come.”
But the scribes and Pharisees, they missed it all, and so they were themselves corrupt because they didn't see the beauties of these attributes in God. They didn't have them in their own lives at all. They were inequitable, they were unfair, they were unjust, they were unmerciful, they were brutal, they were unforgiving, they were unkind, they were greedy, they were abusive of others while they're giving the tenth of their spices. So Jesus sums it up perfectly. “You strain out a gnat, but you swallow a camel.” What an image that is. You missed the big picture.
Woe for External Cleanness But Internal Greed
Fifth woe: Woe for external cleanness but internal greed. Look at verses 25 and 26, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they're full of greed and self-indulgence. The next two woes have the same thing in common, a good outside show, but corruption on the inside.
Scribes and Pharisees live for the external show. They had abundant intricate washings of pots and cups and dishes and all kinds of stuff. At one point in Jesus' ministry, they really get on Jesus for this, that he doesn't fall into all the rules and regulations of the washings. Now, I believe such rituals could be symbolic of the purity that God desires, but let me ask you a question. If you could only have one of the two, a clean inside of the cup or a clean outside of the cup, what would you choose?
Imagine if you go to a tea house or a fine restaurant and it's sparkling on the outside, but there's some kind of stinky rancid grease on the inside. And it's just wafting with an aroma on a hot August day, and there's no air conditioning in the place. And you're like, “Could you please bring me a clean cup?” That is, if you even stay at the restaurant, dear friends. My goodness.
How can it be that you work so hard on the outside and there's nothing done about the inside. Look what Jesus says, “On the outside it looks so good, but on the inside they're full of greed,” literally the word is robbery. And another verse in Luke 20, they devour widows' houses. They're actually using their position of power to take over foreclosures or something like that, and just move widows out who maybe can't pay their taxes or something like that. Some technicality of the law, and they take over widows' houses, and not just one or two, but they take over a bunch of them.
Greed, and Jesus says self-indulgence. Everything they do is for themselves; they're feeding their flesh. Greed and self-indulgence. And so for the fifth and last time in the chapter, Jesus uses the word blind to describe them. Look at verse 26, “Blind Pharisee! first clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will be clean.” Isn't that interesting? Isn't that interesting? Why is that? Well, in another place, Jesus said, “Make a tree good and the fruit will be good; make a tree bad and the fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”
Oh, dear friends, you clean the inside and the outside is gonna get clean. And by the way, that's a lifetime process. You know what I mean. Any of you involved in that beautiful ordinance called Christian marriage, you know that's a lifetime journey to get the outside looking good, but first clean the inside of the cup and dish and then the outside is gonna get cleaned.
The only problem is, you know what it is, we can't do it. You can't clean your hearts. You can't make your heart even a little bit cleaner. But Jesus can, dear friends. That's the good news of the gospel. Bring that dirty heart, that shameful heart, that wandering heart, bring it to Jesus. He is an expert at cleaning the inside of the cup and making the outside clean.
Woe for External Purity But Internal Pollution
Look at the sixth woe: Verse 27 and 28, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like white-washed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside, are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way on the outside, you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you're full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” It's just like the same woe we saw a moment ago.
David said in Psalm 51:6, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts. You teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” Man looks at the outward appearance, but it's God that looks at the heart. “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord, and who may stand in his holy place? He who has cleans hands,” yes, that's good to have clean hands but you also have to have a pure heart. And Jesus is teaching here, if you have the pure heart, your hands are gonna get clean. They just go together.
Woe for Honoring Dead Prophets While Murdering Living Ones
The seventh woe, woe for honoring dead prophets while murdering live ones. That's basically what's going on here. Look at verses 29-32, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! you build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ And so, you testify against yourselves that you were the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up then the measure of the sins of your forefathers.”
This is really quite revealing, it's more of a display of spiritual pride. You know they say hindsight is 20-20. And they're looking back in their own history. I'm speaking about Jewish history now and they acknowledge something that they notice there. “You know something? We don't treat prophets well; we tended to kill them.” Jesus had told a parable about that, the parable of the vineyard. And there kept being messengers and they kept getting mistreated and killed.
And so now this generation says, “You know, we actually acknowledge that, but we wouldn't have done it. I know that if we had lived back then, we would definitely have humbled ourselves at Elijah's fiery preaching. We would have said ‘The Lord, we're here to serve the Lord. We're not worshipping Baal.’ If we would have been there, we would have been the ones who stood up and we were on Elijah's side. No, we wouldn't have resisted Moses when he brought down the Ten Commandments and all that, we wouldn't have spoken of stoning him and wanted to go back to Egypt; we wouldn't have done that. We would have been among the righteous; we would have joined Joshua and Caleb and those that saw what God was doing and by faith were ready to enter the Promised Land. And in the days of Jeremiah, we would have been among those that saw the Babylonians as our just punishment, and we deserve to be punished for our national sins and we would have joined with Jeremiah in preaching against that wicked nation, and we would have joined Jeremiah and gone out to the Babylonians and joined with the Babylonians. We would have listened to Jeremiah in those days.”
Oh, what deception. Wouldn't it be better to say, “If I had lived back then, like I'm living now, I would have been just like my ancestors. Wouldn't have been any different. I would not have been any different.” That’s why as Stephen said, so plainly, “You always resist the Holy Spirit,” always, speaking to the Jewish nation. Generally, the tendency naturally, if we can speak this language, the tendency is to shoot the messenger. Have you ever noticed that? To shoot the messenger. Don't shoot the messenger, dear friends. Listen to the message, listen to the message.
It's a rare man, when the prophet of God is standing in front of you with his finger extended pointing right at your chest, saying, “You are the man.” It's a rare individual who gets down on his face before the prophet and says, “You're right. I have sinned against the Lord.” Like King David did. It's a rare individual. Jesus says “That does not characterize your nation, and it doesn't characterize you. And to prove it, what's gonna happen is you're gonna kill me, and then I'm gonna send you prophets and righteous men and teachers of the law and they're gonna preach the gospel and you're gonna kill them too.” “Fill up then the measure of the sin of your forefathers,” Jesus is saying.
Discovering and Killing Our Own Hypocrisy
Now dear friends, for three weeks, we have looked at the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees and by now, I'm certain you're saying, “Boy, am I glad I am not a scribe and a Pharisee. Thank God I'm not a scribe and a Pharisee.” I hope you're not saying that.
I hope you were here the last two weeks and learned not to say that. “Thank God, I'm not like them.” Well, what lessons can we take from this?
The Danger of Gospel Hypocrisy… Means the Need for Self-Examination
Start with the 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves to see whether you're in the faith or not.” Test yourselves. Don't you know that Christ Jesus is in you, unless, of course, you fail the test. Now, that test needs to be a Biblical one. I'm gonna give you a few aspects of it in a moment. It is possible you'll pass the test. I do believe there are real Christians here on earth that God's spirit and God's Gospel has powerfully worked. Amen. And there's some genuine Christians even here in this room, praise God. And that you'll pass the test, but examine yourself anyway.
And when you find grace inside you give glory to the one who gave it, and you will not be a hypocrite. And just be sure you tell other people, “God did it for me.” And don't act like you're more righteous than you are. Or in a moment we're gonna go to the Lord's supper. It says, “You ought to examine yourself before you eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Then do it, examine yourself, and see if the Lord is at work in you.
Now, I'm gonna give you some questions to ask. And with that, I'm gonna close the sermon and we'll go into the Lord's Supper. How can you know if you're a gospel hypocrite? How can you know if the work in you is genuine or not? There are actually so many different answers that I've already given you some. If you're not sure where to look, look at the beatitudes.
John Flavel: Questions To Know Whether Or Not We Are Gospel Hypocrites:
But here, this is from a Puritan minister named John Flavel. Question number one: Do I make the approval of God or the applause of men the end and main design of my religious acts? Are you doing it for an audience horizontally, or are you doing it for the one who sees what is done in secret vertically?
Secondly: Am I more concerned with the trouble that my sin may cause me in this world, or with the dishonor that sin brings the name of the holy God? Does my sin trouble me relationally with God and with Jesus, or am I just concerned about what could happen to me as a result?
Thirdly: Do I rejoice from the heart over the success of God's work done in the world whether I'm involved or not, you're involved or not, whether you get any credit or not? Are you just happy when you hear of sinners brought to faith of the advance, of the gospel in some way, of a church growing somewhere that's not related to ours at all? Do you just delight in that, because it's the advance of Christ kingdom? Or do you personally need to be involved and get the credit?
Number four: Do I desire to do all of the duties and actions of the genuine Christian life, even though they may be costly and difficult? And when I find that I come short of them do I grieve over it and yearn for the gap to be closed so I live that genuine Christian life? Do you basically celebrate the pure, perfect Christian life you see in the epistles, and in the gospels, even if you can't quite attain it? Does it bring you joy and delight? Or as it says in Romans 7, “In my inner being, I delight in God's law.” Is that true of you?
Number five: am I sincerely resolved to follow Christ in holiness in all circumstances in my life even if it's unpopular with the surrounding culture, or do I hold back on Christ fearful of what other people will think?
And number six: Do I make no conscience of committing secret sins or omitting secret duties, or do I seek to carry out the secret aspects of my Christian faith, personal holiness in secret, as Jesus commands in Matthew 6?
What I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna close the sermon in prayer, and then we're gonna go to a time of the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is a great grace that God has given us, it's a foretaste of Heaven. It's a chance to look at what Jesus did on the cross. If you have come to saving faith in Christ already and you've testified to that by water baptism, you are welcome at this table. If you haven't come to faith in Christ, if you know that you're not a Christian, then don't come to the table but just accept Christ right now; believe in Jesus now. And in the future, you'll be welcome at the Lord's table. So prepare your hearts. If you've heard the Word, now examine yourselves and prepare to receive the gift and the blessing of the Lord's supper.
Let's pray. Father, we thank you for the ministry of the word that we've heard now. And Father, as we give our attention to the Lord's Supper, we think of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, the way that he shed his blood, and the way that he was raised from the dead, and the way that he now so very graciously invites former enemies to come and sit at table with them, as we heard in that song earlier. Thank you Jesus, thank you. And Lord, that this would be a sacrifice of thanksgiving. I pray that you would send forth now your Holy Spirit. Work conviction in us, work change in us, oh Lord, work conversion in some that may be here today. And Lord be here, Holy Spirit minister Christ to us now by these homely elements of the bread and the cup, we pray in Jesus name.