Holy Eucharist

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Anamnesis: A Fresh Experience of the Cross of Christ

Posted by on 02 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: Holy Eucharist, John Stott

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

Luke 22:19

Remembrance is the Greek word, anamnesis. Anamnesis does not only mean memory by mental recall, but the fresh experience of a past event by reenactment. This mysterious work of the Holy Spirit brings the evening of the Last Supper forward in order that the people of God may experience the crucified and resurrected Christ afresh.

At the Last Supper, the apostles enjoyed all the benefits of the Cross before Christ actually died. Similarly, when we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, we encounter afresh all benefits of Christ work on the cross after he died: liberty, forgiveness, renewal, healing, etc.  These benefits and more are imparted to us at the moment we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. All that Christ was, all that Christ did, and that Christ is today is communicated afresh to us when we partake of Holy Eucharist.

It is highly significant that the only regular ritual act instituted and commanded by Jesus sets forth supremely his death. It is his *death*, his body given and blood shed, which the bread and wine were intended to signify. In issuing the command to ‘do this in remembrance’ of him, he intended that his atoning death should be kept before every generation, indeed ‘placarded’ before their very eyes. This according to Paul is the function of preaching. It is one of the functions of communion also.

The ministry of both Word and sacrament makes Christ’s death contemporary, presenting it anew not to God (for the sacrifice itself was offered on the cross once for all) but to men (for its benefits are always freshly available).

John Stott, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1970), 119.

Eucharistic Love

Posted by on 02 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: Holy Eucharist, Roman Catholic Church

Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

John 6:54-56 ESV

The Apostle Paul describes the Eucharistic meal as a koinonia (1 Cor. 10:16).The Greek word, koinonia, has a great depth of meaning: sharing, partaking, fellowship, communing, and unifying participation in the life of God. When we drink the Blood and eat the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ: we commune with Christ, we share in his resurrection, we partake of his grace, we fellowship with God and his saints, and we are brought into union with his heart and will. In short, we become partakers—people who share in the very life and love of God. Whenever we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we experience Christ’s Eucharistic love.

This God adored by multitudes of angels comes to me as love, the redeeming One, the eucharistic One to give me everything, to fulfill me abundantly. To delight me with himself so that even I, so much immersed in this world, do not want anything else, but only His eucharistic love.

Tadeusz Dajczer, The Mystery of Faith: Meditations on the Eucharist (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2009), 10.

The Error of Eucharistic Adoration (Updated)

Posted by on 25 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: Holy Eucharist, Roman Catholic Church

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God.

Exodus 20:4–5 ESV

Definition

Eucharistic adoration is a sign of devotion to and worship of Jesus Christ, who is believed to be present in the consecrated host. The consecrated host is the physical presence of Christ in the sanctified bread and wine which Roman Catholics, and Anglo-Catholics, believe to be the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Transubstantiation

The consecrated host is placed in a monstrance and stationed on the altar for viewing at regular times during the week. The devotional and worship practice of adoring and praying to the consecrated host is practiced in local parishes, shrines, and monasteries. The belief that Christ is physically the wafer as displayed in the monstrance and is present in the midst of the congregation is a theological extension of the doctrine of transubstantiation. With some exceptions, those Roman Catholic, and Anglo-Catholic, churches who endorse Eucharistic adoration accept as true the doctrine of transubstantiation.

The doctrine of transubstantiation is the belief of the Roman Catholic Church that the outward (accidents) appearance of the bread stays the same after consecration, but the host’s inner nature (substance) is changed into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. These categories of accidents and substance are the thought of Aristotle not the theological workings of the ancient fathers of the Church or the biblical teaching of Jesus Christ and Paul the Apostle.

Medieval Development

Eucharistic adoration is not an ancient practice; it began in Avignon, France on September 11, 1226. Public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament began as a thanksgiving celebration for the victory of France and the Roman Catholic Church over the Albigensians in the later battles of the Albigensian Crusade. King Louis VII desired that the sacrament be placed on display at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The multitude of adorers brought the local diocesan bishop, Pierre de Corbie, to suggest that the display continue indefinitely. With the permission of Pope Honorius III, the idea was approved and adoration continued mostly uninterrupted until the French Revolution.

Genuine Catholicity?

Eucharistic adoration is not encouraged in the Orthodox churches of the East neither has this form of worship been practiced everywhere for all the time by all churches. For a practice or doctrine to be considered orthodox: it must have been received by the undivided Church (East and West), stood the test of time, and agreed upon by the consensus of the early fathers. This triple test of ecumenicity, antiquity, and consent is called the Vincentian canon and it is the overarching test for genuine Catholicity. In my view, the practice of Eucharistic devotion, that is displaying a monstrance containing a consecrated host for worship and prayer, does not pass the test of the Vincentian canon. Therefore, Eucharistic devotion does not meet the criterion as an acceptable practice within the Great Tradition and is not to be considered a theological conviction of the ancient faith.

Russian Orthodox theologian, Alexander Schmemann, states that Eastern Orthodoxy does not practice the elevation of the bread and wine for special adoration.

The Purpose of the Eucharist lies not in the change of the bread and wine, but in the partaking of Christ, who has become our food, our life, the manifestation of the Church as the body of Christ. This is why the gifts themselves never became in the Orthodox East an object of special reverence, contemplation, and adoration, and likewise an object of special theological “problematics”: how, when, in what manner their change is accomplished.

[Alexander Schmemann, The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom (Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary, 1998), 226.]

Eastern Orthodoxy’s Eucharistic focus is not on the change in the elements, but on the presence of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the mystery of faith encountered in the ancient liturgy. Eastern Christians do not adore the consecrated bread outside the sacred liturgy.

The Reformation

As would be expected, the Evangelical Reformers of the sixteenth century had grave doubts about the practice of Eucharistic adoration. They decried its use, discouraged participation, and condemned its practice within Roman Catholic Church. John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli and their colleagues in Geneva and Zurich, respectively, issued a statement as to their common agreement concerning the nature of the Lord’s Supper. The document, Heads of Agreement on the Lord’s Supper, was written after the failure of the Marburg Colloquy.

The Marburg Colloquy was an attempt to achieve a concord between Martin Luther and Zwingli over the nature of the Eucharist. Luther believed in real presence of Christ and Zwingli declared the elements of bread and wine to be merely symbolic. Luther and Zwingli’s disagreement was volatile and very public. Their discord was rending  the Protestant movement at its very heart.

John Calvin felt that Protestantism needed at the very least to declare its unity on some matters regarding the Lord’s Supper. Article Twenty-Six states Geneva and Zurich’s condemnation of Eucharistic adoration:

If it is not lawful to affix Christ in our imagination to the bread and the wine, much less is it lawful to worship him in the bread. For although the bread is held forth to us as a symbol and pledge of the communion which we have with Christ, yet as it is a sign and not the thing itself, and has not the thing either included in it or fixed to it, those who turn their minds towards it, with the view of worshipping Christ, make an idol of it.

The English Reformers agreed with Calvin and Zwingli writing in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Faith, “The sacraments were not instituted by Christ to be gazed at or carried about, but to be used properly” (Article XXV, updated language). With a few exceptions, Evangelicals continue to reject the use of a monstrance, they feel that confining God to an object is a form of idolatry.

Idolatry

Many Roman Catholic, and Anglo-Catholics, are sincere in their desire to dwell in Christ’s presence, but it takes very little effort on the part of the Enemy to turn a sincere devotional activity into idolatry. Roman Catholics describe the consecrated host as “the physical body of Jesus,” thus the presence of the host in the monstrance is said to increase the anointing of the Holy Spirit in the sanctuary. It is said, if the monstrance is removed, God’s presence is removed. If “the host and precious blood” are returned to the sanctuary, Christ’s presence has returned.

To state that God’s presence is contained or limited within a physical object is a form of idolatry (Exodus 20:4-6). Idolatry reduces God the Creator to a material object of creation thereby limiting his attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. The Lord is no longer Spirit, but an object which can be controlled by human beings (Isa. 40:18-23). It grieves me as a believer, pastor, and theologian, that God’s precious gift to us of Holy Communion has been twisted and made into an object. I have no doubt that that the adorers are sincere in their desire to be in the presence of Christ. However, it will not take long for the flesh, or the Enemy, to bring misunderstanding about the nature of salvation causing much personal sorrow and emotional pain to all involved. Arguments that Eucharistic adoration is a blessing to parishioners by increasing the presence of God in the church building is experiential and subjective without basis in scripture or tradition.

The Ancient Liturgy

Instead of the Table of the Lord being a place of participation in Christ, it becomes a night stand for observing God from a distance. Adoration confuses the physical object with its Author, and the location of God with a material entity, and limits God’s attributes to a place and time. Alexander Schmemann’s main criticism of Eucharistic adoration is that the practice isolates the Eucharist from its purpose: communion with God (pg. 227). The Eucharist is removed from its context in the liturgy as the communion of the Church with Christ and places Christ at a distance, objectifying the Eucharist in a manner not consistent with the whole meaning of the Lord’s Supper.

Holy Eucharist is intended to be place of an encounter with the living resurrected Christ. In Scripture, seven theological images or truths of the Eucharist are revealed: remembrance, communion, forgiveness, covenant, nourishment, anticipation, and thanksgiving. These truths cannot be experienced if we are watching instead of participating.

Summary

Eucharistic adoration as a belief and practice is erroneous: it does not reflect the teaching of the Bible or life of worship found in the Ancient Church. The practice is not promoted in the Orthodox East and is not consistent with full and complete participation in the Holy Eucharist.

Caveat: The views expressed in this blog post are entirely my own and are not necessarily the views of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, Southeast Archdiocese, or the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (C.E.C.).

Eating and Drinking With God

Posted by on 31 May 2011 | Tagged as: Holy Eucharist, Robert E. Webber

The Covenant Meal

And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence!

Ex. 24:11 NLT

Holy Eucharist is the act of giving thanks through the partaking of the Lord’s Supper: each believer commemorates the death of Christ by receiving the elements of bread and wine. At the table, the resurrected Christ meets the people of God as the heart of God makes known the love of God in bread and wine.

Christ is present in the bread and wine of Holy Eucharist, he is present in the congregation, and he is present in the faith of each believer. This meal of the Lord renews within us the power of the Cross, the security of the new covenant, and love for Christ and one another. Through prayer; we are nourished by His presence. Through faith; we are strengthened by His grace. Through receiving; our intimate relationship with God is renewed.

The Lord’s Supper is precious: an encounter with the living Christ. Grace is poured forth, faith renewed, spirit-encouraged, healing released, and hope restored at the table of the Lord. We eat and drink with the living resurrected Christ.

Eating and drinking at the Lord’s Table is an experience of God’s work of salvation in Jesus Christ. It proclaims the Gospel through dramatization. It enacts the death and resurrection of Christ in such a way that the senses are engaged [as] the worshiper . . . sees, tastes, smells, and experiences the symbol of Christ’s death in the bread and wine. In this way, Christ is communicated to the whole person, bringing healing to body, soul, and spirit.

Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1992), 79.

HT: Webber Quote of the Week

 

Too Precious

Posted by on 01 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Holy Eucharist, Robert E. Webber

Frequent Communion

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11:26 NRSV

The Lord’s Supper is precious: an encounter with the living Christ. Grace is poured forth, faith renewed, spirit-encouraged, healing released, and hope restored at the table of the Lord. At the table, the resurrected Christ meets the people of God as the heart of God makes known the love of God in bread and wine.

We do not receive these things as common bread or common drink, but as Jesus Christ our Savior who became incarnate by God’s Word and took flesh and blood for our salvation.

Justin Martyr, Apology

It’s silly to think that at one time we thought that if we took communion on a weekly basis we would somehow take it for granted, and the experience would become routine, even mundane. Yet, the opposite occurred, the more we partook of the Body and Blood of Christ, the more we yearned for his intimate presence, the more precious the receiving became. At the Lord’s Supper, we met the living Christ who was never boring, but was always a grace-filled God encounter.

Like many others, I had grown up with the idea that bread and wine, Communion, taken too frequently would grow old and become a mere ritual. But personal experience has proven just the opposite. I have found the Table, like the Word, to be a satisfying means of nourishment and spiritual growth. Far from becoming routine, it has become like an intimate relationship.

Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1992), 53.

HT: Robert Webber Quote of the Day

 

Flee to the Eucharist

Posted by on 16 Feb 2011 | Tagged as: Holy Eucharist, Robert E. Webber

Finding Rest and Peace in the Sacraments

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8 NLT

The Apostle Paul describes the Eucharistic meal as a koinonia (1 Cor. 10:16).The Greek word, koinonia, has a great depth of meaning: sharing, partaking, fellowship, communing, and unifying participation in the life of God. When we drink the Blood and eat the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ: we commune with Christ, we share in his resurrection, we partake of his grace, we fellowship with God and his saints, and we are brought into union with his heart and will. In short, we become partakers—people who share in the very life of God. Whenever we share in the life of God, we are encouraged to trust Christ, to love others, and to hope in God (1 Thess. 1:3).

I am continually comforted and ministered to by Christ at his Table. I often counsel students and friends who are facing difficult times in their lives to “flee to the Eucharist.” Bread and wine are God’s signs . . . of grace and love toward us. . . . [Those] who have taken this advice have talked to me later about the healing they experienced through these symbols of God’s ministry.

Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1992), 11.

HT: Webber Quote of the Week

Eucharist on a Handkerchief

Posted by on 03 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: Fr. Walter Ciszek, Holy Eucharist, Liturgy, Roman Catholic Church

Jesus in the Bread and Wine

When he [Jesus] was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

Luke 24:30-31

Fr. Walter Ciszek was truly a saint of God. Called by the Holy Spirit to be a missionary to the Communist state of the Soviet Union, Ciszek deliberately entered Russia for the purpose of reaching prisoners with the gospel of grace. From 1939 and 1963, he toiled in various prison camps of the Gulag. Ciszek’s memoir, He Leadeth Me, was my Lenten reading two years ago, it is a book I will read again and again.

The quote below is a beautiful depiction of Holy Eucharist being provided in the most difficult of circumstances to prisoners who count the Body and Blood most precious.  No beautiful vestments, no towering cathedrals, no gorgeous vessels, etc.,  just the precious presence of our Lord and Savior in the bread and wine.

When I reached the prison camps of Siberia, I learned to my great joy that it was possible to say Mass daily once again. In every camp, the priests and prisoners would go to great lengths, run risks willingly, just to have the consolation of this sacrament. For those who could not get to Mass, we daily consecrated hosts and arranged for the distribution of Communion to those who wished to receive. Our risk of discovery, of course, was greater in the barracks, because of the lack of privacy and the presence of informers. Most often, therefore, we said our daily Mass somewhere at the work site during the noon break. Despite this added hardship, everyone observed a strict Eucharistic fast from the night before, passing up a chance for breakfast and working all morning on an empty stomach. Yet no one complained. In small groups the prisoners would shuffle into the assigned place, and there the priest would say Mass in his working clothes, unwashed, disheveled, bundled up against the cold. We said Mass in drafty storage shacks, or huddled in mud and slush in the corner of a building site foundation of an underground. The intensity of devotion of both priests and prisoners made up for everything; there were no altars, candles, bells, flowers, music, snow-white linens, stained glass or the warmth that even the simplest parish church could offer. Yet in these primitive conditions, the Mass brought you closer to God than anyone might conceivably imagine. The realization of what was happening on the board, box, or stone used in the place of an altar penetrated deep into the soul. Distractions caused by the fear of discovery, which accompanied each saying of the Mass under such conditions, took nothing away from the effect that the tiny bit of bread and few drops of consecrated wine produced upon the soul.

Many a time, as I folded up the handkerchief on which the body of our Lord had lain, and dried the glass or tin cup used as a chalice, the feeling of having performed something tremendously valuable for the people of this Godless country was overpowering. Just the thought of having celebrated Mass here, in this spot, made my journey to the Soviet Union and the sufferings I endured seem totally worthwhile and necessary. No other inspiration could have deepened my faith more, could have given me spiritual courage in greater abundance, than the privilege of saying Mass for these poorest and most deprived members of Christ the Good Shepherd’s flock. I was occasionally overcome with emotion for a moment as I thought of how he had found a way to follow and to feed these lost and straying sheep in this most desolate land. So I never let a day pass without saying Mass; it was my primary concern each new day. I would go to any length, suffer any inconvenience, run any risk to make the bread of life available to these men.

Walter Ciszek, S.J., He Leadeth Me (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995).

HT: America

A New Reality

Posted by on 15 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: Gospel, Holy Eucharist, Kingdom of God, Lesslie Newbigin

His Seal Makes a New Community

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal (Greek: arrabōn) on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

2 Cor. 1:21-22

Bishop Lesslie Newbigin is one of my favorite figures in church history (1909-1998). You may not have heard of him: bishop in the Church of South India, street preacher, theologian of the post-modern age, lover of the sacraments, Holy Spirit led and directed, and missions pioneer.

Gratefully, I had the opportunity of meeting Bishop Newbigin about year before his passing. I attended a special missions conference held in Newbigin’s honor at Beeson Divinity School. This conference would be his last formal speaking engagement before his passing. In our conversation, Newbigin was gracious, unusually anointed of the Holy Spirit, and a fine conversationalist. Officially, he spoke twice that day and continued to be a powerful preacher of the Word though blind and weak.

This quote is a little longer than I normally post, but these thoughts from his seminal work, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, are quintessentially Newbigin.

This presence of a new reality, the presence in the shared life of the Church of the Spirit who is the arrabōn of the kingdom, has become possible because of what Jesus has done, because of his incarnation, his ministry as the obedient child of his Father, his suffering and death, his resurrection, his ascension into heaven, and his session at the right hand of God. When the apostles are asked to explain the new reality, the new power to find joy in tribulation, healing in sickness, freedom in bondage, life in death, this is the explanation they give.

It follows that the visible embodiment of this new reality is not a movement that will take control of history and shape the future according to its own vision, not a new imperialism, not a victorious crusade. Its visible embodiment will be a community that lives by this story, a community whose existence is visibly defined in the regular rehearsing and reenactment of this story which has given it birth, the story of the self-emptying of God in the ministry, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Its visible centre as a continuing social entity is that weekly repeated event in which believers share bread and wine as Jesus commanded, as his pledge to them and their pledge to him that they are one with him in his passion and one with him in his victory.

Instead of the celebration of the sabbath as the end of God’s old creation, they celebrate the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, as the beginning of the new creation. In this they find enacted and affirmed the meaning and goal of their lives as part of the life of the cosmos, their stories part of the universal story. This story does indeed lead to a glorious end and is therefore filled with meaning, but the end is not some far distant date in terrestrial history. The end is the day when Jesus shall come again, when his hidden rule will become manifest and all things will be seen as they truly are. That is why we repeat at each celebration of the Lord’s Supper the words which encapsulate the whole mystery of the faith: “Christ has died, Christ has risen: Christ shall come again.”

Lesslie J. Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989), 120 [paragraphing mine].

HT: Euangelion

“Both Convey the Same Christ”

Posted by on 25 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: Holy Eucharist, Sacraments

Word and Sacraments

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

John 6:51

The Lord’s Supper is precious: an encounter with the living Christ. Grace is poured forth, faith renewed, spirit-encouraged, healing released, and hope restored at the table of the Lord. At the table, the resurrected Christ meets the people of God as the heart of God makes known the love of God in bread and wine.

This same renewal occurs in the hearing and receiving of the Word of God. In the Word, we are drawn to Christ: faith received, hope renewed, obedience empowered, and hearts healed. The Word and sacraments work together: the sacraments portray to our eyes the written truth of God’s promises.

The sacraments are visible means through which we and Christ commune. They encourage us to be like Christ in all His holiness. The grace received through the sacraments is no different from that received through the Word. Both convey the same Christ.

Joel R. Beeke,  Feed My Sheep, ed., Don Kistler (Soli Deo Gloria Ministries, 2002), 121.

Thus does God make known His secret purpose to His Church: first he declares His mercy by His Word; then He seals it and assures it by His sacraments. In the Word we have His promises: in the sacraments we see them.

John Jewell cited in Philip E. Hughes, Theology of the English Reformers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 189.

Security Like No Other

Posted by on 13 Jun 2010 | Tagged as: Covenant, Holy Eucharist, John Piper

The Covenant of Joy

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

Hebrews 7:22

Next week will be my fifteenth anniversary as an ordained presbyter in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (C.E.C.). I have been blessed by God to preach most Sundays during those same years. I love preaching and one of my favorite topics is the blessings of the new covenant (Heb. 7:22). The New Covenant gives me a unsurpassed security in my relationship with the Lord: I do not have to fear being rejected, discarded, or ignored by God. The new covenant gives me and you a security that no other person, document, or event can provide.

What makes the New Covenant better than the Old? The New Covenant secures the promise of an indwelling Holy Spirit who by his mighty power will produce an obedient and holy people of God. In the New Covenant, God promises that he will keep us by his divine power, therefore we need never to fear losing our salvation (Eph. 1:13-14).

The new covenant is an eternal binding promise that God in Christ will love each believer and never let them go (John 10:25-30, Isa. 49:15-16). The new covenant is God’s promise that he will pursue us and woo us and guide us and change us so that we as believers will follow him all the days of our lives (Jer. 32:38-41). Not only does God commit himself to keep us, but he places his Holy Spirit in us as a seal to the deal. The Holy Spirit becomes a deposit guaranteeing our final salvation upon the Second Coming of Jesus (2 Cor. 1: 18-22). Therefore, we need no longer to be sin-conscious, self-conscious, or performance-conscious, we are now free to be fully conscious of Christ and all the benefits he has provided for us in the Cross (Eph. 1:3).

Here we have arrived at the central mystery of living the Christian life. Christ has died for our sins and risen from the dead. Because of his blood and righteousness we are forgiven and counted righteous by God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9; Rom. 5:19). Therefore, Christ has become the Yes to all God’s promises (2 Cor. 1:20). Everything promised by the prophets for the new covenant has been purchased for us infallibly by Christ. These new-covenant promises include, “The LORD your God will circumcise your heart . . . so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart” (Deut. 30:6); and, “I will put my law within them . . . on their hearts” (Jer. 31:33); and, “I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezek.11:19); and, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes” (Ezek. 36:27).

All of these new-covenant promises have been secured for us by Christ who said at the Last Supper, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). The blood of Christ obtained for us all the promises of the new covenant. But look again at these promises. What distinguishes them from the old covenant is that they are promises for enablement. They are promises that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We need a new heart to delight in God. We need the Spirit of God whose fruit is joy in God. We need to have the law written on our heart, not just written on stone, so that when it says, “Love the Lord with all your heart,” the Word itself produces the reality within us. In other words, we need the gift of joy in God. Left to ourselves, we will not produce it. That’s what Christ bought for us when he died and shed the blood of the new covenant. He bought for us the gift of joy in God.

John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 52.

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