Verse 32 is one of the most well known verses in the Bible…but how I wish more religiously-minded folks were as aware of the previous verse! If more people who professed to be Christians took verse 31 to heart and obeyed it willingly and completely, not only would they truly find salvation…but the sinful division of denominationalism and sectarianism would be dealt a fatal blow! (1 Cor. 1:10-13; Phil. 2:1-2; John 17:20-23)
How DOES one come to know the truth? How DOES the truth set one free? Jesus tells us in verse 31-32: “…If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Think about this, friends. How do you know that you are REALLY a disciple of Christ? Abide in the words of Jesus, obey them completely…and you really will be a Christian in the eyes of God (Matt. 7:21-27; Heb. 5:9; John 14:15, 23-24; 15:10, 14; 1 John 2:3-6; 5:3). But how does one abide in his word? That requires that one first know his word through daily study (Ps. 1:1-3; 1 Tim. 4:13, 15-16), which is how you will come to know the truth which will set you free from the slavery of sin (John 17:17; Rom. 6:17-18).
Many disagree with this, thinking that all that is required of them for salvation is to believe in Jesus. However, notice that Jesus spoke these words to “the Jews who had believed in him” (v. 31a). Thus, faith by itself is not enough; it must be accompanied by works of obedience to the Word of God (James 2:14-26).
As with anything that is done with regularity, it can be very easy for “familiarity” to “breed contempt” with some, and more likely the thoughtless apathy of neglect with others. Each Sunday, thousands of Christians will break off a piece of unleavened bread and drink a small amount of fruit of the vine…just like last week. For some, there is not much time between their sip of the cup and the time when they know the offering plate will be passed around…and so now’s a great time to get that check ready. Everything’s usually very quiet during this time…what better time to get the kid’s snacks and coloring books ready before the sermon starts? Plus, that cute baby in the row right in front of you is grinning at you…surely it would be harmless fun for you to play “Peek-a-Boo” with her for a bit before the next prayer!
Most or all of us – myself included – have been guilty of offering to God the meaningless worship which consists of doing what he requires of us in praise to him on the surface while our hearts and minds are thousands of miles away (Matt. 15:7-9). We need to remember that God requires and is looking for spiritual worship based in truth (John 4:23-24). Are we really any different from the one who habitually forsakes the assembly (Heb. 10:25) when we are present in body and action but absent in mind and spirit?
For this reason, the abuse of the Lord’s Supper by the church of Corinth (1 Cor. 11:17-33) is a worthy topic for our consideration and study. Paul’s rhetorical question about them having houses to eat and drink in if they were hungry (vs. 22, 34) implies that they were looking at communion in the same way as they would an ordinary meal, something easy to start doing when partaking of it on a weekly basis. Thus, they were “digging in” without even waiting for all of their brethren to assemble (vs. 20-21, 33), leaving nothing…save humiliation…for those who came afterwards (v. 22). In this way there were despising God’s church for which his Son died (v. 22; cf. Acts 20:28) and were not worthy of Paul’s commendation (v. 22).
There was another reason they were despising the church and worship of God, the same reason they had started treating communion like a common meal. They had forgotten the true purpose and meaning behind it. This is why God inspired Paul to remind them by talking first of the circumstances surrounding its institution by Christ, that it had begun on the night Christ was betrayed, the night before he died (v. 23). He then reminded them that the bread represents his body “which is for you” (v. 24), given to go through the horrendous pain and humiliation of scourging and crucifixion so that we would not have to pay the penalty for our sins (Rom. 5:6-11; 6:23; 1 John 2:1-2). The cup represents “the new covenant in my blood” (v. 25), the new covenant which does what the first could not: grant us forgiveness of our sins through the blood Christ freely shed on that cross (Heb. 8:7-12; 9:11-15; Eph. 1:7; cf. Acts 22:16; 1 John 1:7-9).
We are to remember these things – all that Christ accomplished for us by his death – when we partake of communion (v. 25). By doing so, we “proclaim” the great significance of the Lord’s death until he comes again (v. 26). Of course, a failure to remember the eternal significance of the Lord’s sacrifice shows that one considers that sacrifice to be “a common thing” (Heb. 10:27), a mindset that leads to willful sin that makes that sacrifice of no benefit to you (Heb. 10:26-31). This is why God considers those who partake of communion “in an unworthy manner” – i.e., without remembering his death and the significance of it – to be guilty of basically crucifying his Son again (v. 27; cf. Heb. 6:4-6). This is why we are to examine ourselves when we partake (v. 28; cf. 2 Cor. 13:5), in order to discipline ourselves to put our focus where it needs to be (1 Cor. 9:25-27).
Communion is the Lord’s supper, not ours (v. 20). Literally, it “belongs to the Lord.” When we forget that, we forget to discern the sacrifice of his body which that bread represents…and as a result we become spiritually weaker and sicker until God brings the judgment of the second death upon us (vs. 29-30; cf. Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8). We need to be reminded of this, because oftentimes we do not look at what we do the way God does (v. 31; cf. Is. 59:2). I hope that my comments on these Scriptures will give us the proper discipline and motivation we need in order to no longer neglect the Lord’s Supper so that we will not be among those whom God condemns in the end (v. 32).
Tomorrow is Election Day in America. As we pick the new leaders of our country, we need to remember that “the Most High rules the kingdoms of men and gives it to whom he will” (Dan. 4:32; cf. Rom. 13:1). God is in control, and whoever is placed into office, whether it be the Oval Office or the mayor’s office, is placed there ultimately by God.
So as the election nears, what should Christians do? I believe that we should pray (1 Tim. 2:1-2), and we should preach (2 Tim. 4:2). We should pray for leaders who will promote godliness and righteousness, because righteousness will make our nation greater (Prov. 14:34). We should preach righteousness (cf. 2 Pet. 2:5), the righteousness of God’s Word (Ps. 119:172).
Some are against this, thinking that when we preach about subjects which the world has deemed political we are in truth not preaching for God but for a party instead. Well, Christians who preach God’s Word are not preaching for a political party, whether it be Republican, Democrat, Tea, Green, Libertarian, or any other party. We are Christians. We belong to Christ. We don’t belong to the Republican or Democrat party, so we don’t have a “R” or a “D” after our name.
We are Christians. We belong to Christ. We have a “C” after our name.
So we preach Christ, his will, his worldview. We, like Noah, preach righteousness. Is this right that we do so? Is it right that we preach righteousness when it comes to the direction our leaders take our nation? Certainly so, because righteousness exalts nations (Prov. 14:34).
God’s Word gives us guidance concerning the choices we make should we choose to vote tomorrow. For example, God’s Word tells us that our leaders must be truthful. Such men were recommended by Jethro to Moses to help him lead Israel (Ex. 18:21), and such men are promoted by God to sit in the throne (Prov. 16:12). Rulers are not to listen to falsehood (Prov. 29:12), but are to be honest, truthful men and women.
We need leaders who are hate covetousness as well, who would never rule for sheer money alone (Prov. 28:16; 29:4). In America (and in other countries as well, I’m sure), we have a problem on both sides of the aisle with this. Many politicians vote the way they’re told to vote by whoever contributes the most money to them. We need people in power who don’t care about special interest groups, men and women of integrity who will vote for what is moral and right no matter how much money they’re offered to do otherwise.
We hear so much about how the economy is the most important factor in this election…but is that really true? To the one who puts a “C” after their name rather than a “R” or a “D,” the primary issue behind their vote is not the economy. People who put a “C” after their name would rather live in a nation that had a little wealth alongside great amounts of righteousness than live in a nation with great revenues alongside great ungodliness (Prov. 16:8). Solomon brought Israel so much wealth and prosperity, the most she would ever have in her history (1 Kings 10:14-29)…but he turned to idolatry and thus did evil in the sight of God (1 Kings 11:1-6). He led Israel into ungodliness (1 Kings 11:7), and is it any coincidence that the nation’s economy got worse and worse over the years until it finally split apart? (1 Kings 12:1-20) What’s even more important, however, is that because of Solomon’s ungodliness, the Lord “voted him out of office” (1 Kings 11:9-14). So which was more important to God? The fact that Solomon made Israel richer…or the fact that Solomon was immoral?
Why must we look for those who respect human life? Because of the One who gave it (Ps. 139:13-16). When we kill the innocent, we are telling God, “You’ve made something that doesn’t matter to me, that I can discard whenever I want.” Every election nowadays has the issue of abortion come up as a major issue when it comes to whom we will cast our vote, and many believe that they can…and should…make a distinction between their loyalty to God and their loyalty to the one for whom they vote. However, such is not the case. Long before politicians grabbed hold of the abortion and marriage issues, God had already legislated on these matters. It’s not fair and right for someone to say, “Now that a political group has taken this and turned it into a political football, we Christians are now muzzled and can’t talk about it because that would be bringing politics into the church!” No, what has really happened is that politics took God’s issue and tried to make it theirs, and they can’t do that. God spoke on this before any political party thought to, and those who put a “C” behind their name will stick with God.
Are voters who put a “C” behind their name going to purposefully give their support to someone who says that the murder of these innocents should be allowed to continue? Are we going to give our support to people who say, “If you elect me, I’ll see to it that this DOES continue”? Are we supposed to look the other way and stick our heads in the sand and say, “Well, if I vote for them anyway, maybe somehow and someway these abortions will just stop happening”? Are we supposed to know that these babies are being murdered…and yet it’s not supposed to matter when we’re in the voting booth? How can a Christian cast a vote for a politician who has blatantly promised to perpetuate that which God has called an abomination? How can he do it? Would any of us vote for any candidate who stood outside our voting booth and showed us pictures of aborted babies and then said to us, “Now, if you vote for me, I promise you that I’m going to see that this continues”? How could we do that?
Concerning God’s plan for the home, we all know that it’s politically incorrect to condemn homosexuality and same-sex marriage these days. How sad that we’ve come so far in the wrong direction as a nation! Our very first presidents and congressmen would have all unhesitatingly condemned homosexuality as sinful if asked about it, whereas these days any politician from any party would be crucified if they quoted what the Bible says about homosexuality and gave their support to Scripture. Many scream, “How dare you bring religion into politics?” concerning this issue…but I think a better question would be, “How dare we throw God’s Word out the window and put our own, flawed wisdom in its place and tell each other that we can’t preach the truth about this?!” Well, I can still preach this and I will continue to preach this until the day I die…and you can too. We must not be ashamed to preach Leviticus 18:22, Matthew 19:4, and Romans 1:26-28.
We are living in times when owners of a private company can be crucified by the media simply for agreeing with the biblical definition of marriage…and it’s time for a change. If those who put a “C” behind their name know for sure that a candidate is promising us, “If you elect me, I will try to make same-sex marriage legal in this country and promote it,” then how can we know that this is a promise that a politician has made and then go in and vote for that person and act like they never said it?
It was not a Republican or a Democrat who died for our sins (1 John 2:1-2), and it will not be a Republican or Democrat who will judge us on the last day (John 12:48). If there is a politician who has a moral stance on marriage and abortion and whose party are trying to do moral things concerning these issues…and yet he happens to have a “D” after his name when I would rather it be a “R” (or vice-versa)…should I ignore where he stands on God’s issues and vote for him simply because he has a “D” or a “R” after his name? Whatever happened to seeking God’s righteousness FIRST (Matt. 6:33)? Doesn’t that also apply in the voting booth? Yes, it does…and that’s why we as voters must have a “C” after our name. We most vote for the candidate who is closest to righteousness.
The Republican party doesn’t own us, Christians. The Democratic party doesn’t own us. Christ owns us. We were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20). We belong to Christ. That’s why allegiances to political parties must never override allegiance to Christ. Instead, everything we do or say must be by his authority and bring glory to him (Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 10:31). That includes what we do in the voting booth.
Jesus Christ loves righteousness (Heb. 1:9). We love Jesus Christ. Righteousness exalts a nation (Prov. 14:34). So if we choose to vote, let’s vote for righteousness. Let’s vote for the candidate and/or party, regardless of their stance on the economy, who is closest to the righteousness God promotes in his Word.