Do I need church?
Do you need church?
Some say they are Christians, but don’t need the church. They worship at home or commune with God in nature in the outdoors. They say they do not follow crowds.
I am not following a crowd either.
At the Communion rail at my church, I am following Christ whose Word grants me a part in the communion of his body, his blood, and his saints. The Holy Spirit grants me the faith to believe this Word. I hear all the Words of Institution. Though few and short, they embrace a complete preaching of the Gospel.
Look at these words especially: “Take, eat … for you,” and “Take, drink … for you,”
The Lord Jesus Christ, by the mouth of my Pastor, who Christ himself gave as a gift to me (Ephesians 4:11-12) says to me — and to you —
Take. A command. An invitation. An assurance. A consolation.
Eat. A Command. An invitation. An assurance. A consolation.
Drink. The grant of a testament. He said, “This cup is the new testament in my blood for the remission of sins.” A testament gives an inheritance. It is not a contract. It is not a two-way transaction. It requires no performance by me. It is a grant that, once the grantor has died, cannot be changed. That is how testaments are. (Jeremiah 31:27-34; Hebrews 8:6 to 9:27)
Christ has died. Christ shed his blood for the remission of sins. Then He said, “Take … drink … for the remission of sins … for you.” Would He shed his blood for the remission of sins, give me his redeeming blood to drink — his true blood with the wine — and yet, not give me with his blood what He shed it for, the remission of sins? No, of course not, and his Words, “Take … drink … for the remission of sins … for you” are his testament for me and for you.
Had it not been for these words, and had the Holy Spirit not granted me the gift of faith in these words, I could not be at the Communion rail, because my consciousness of sin would have had me in an unconsoled and inconsolable despair. The Words — they convince and console that this cup is his true blood, the new testament in his blood, shed for the remission of sins, shed for me and for many, and given with the command, the invitation, the assurance, and the consolation “remission of sins for you.”
The crowd has no magnetism to my soul, but the Communion rail does. The Word, the Spirit, the Sacrament, they draw me.
And thus, for just one reason among more, Luther teaches under the Third Article of the Creed, “In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.”