Beautiful in His Time is a participant in multiple affiliate marketing programs. The author of this blog may receive commission for purchases or clicks made through links on this website.
The calendar turns to 2021, and I am blessed and honored with my role as our main church pianist. With that role comes a new responsibility: playing the piano for the Lord’s Table.
This is not going to be just any (routine) Lord’s Table service. It will be the first service in over a year for the church, due to COVID.
It is also going to be held as a “kick off” to the Resurrection season, falling exactly one week before Palm Sunday and two weeks before Easter. There is also going to be a presentation that evening from Light of Messiah Ministries called Jesus in the Passover.
I feel a LOT of pressure. That’s when I text our music coordinator who is also one of my good friends:
My text begins, “Sooooo like Lord’s Table drama…”
I lay it all out to her: all “my spiritual hang ups that are really layered.”
She listens. She empathizes. She tells me her experiences. She gives me some spiritual truths I need to hear:
Her wise words remind me of a series of lessons our pastor taught a few years back entitled Seven Words That Can Change Your Life. This series (recently released in book format, now available on Amazon) drastically changed and deepened my understanding of what the gospel is and what Jesus did for me. The seven words are as follows:
- Righteousness (37 min)
- Propitiation (40 min)
- Redemption (42 min)
- Imputation (48 min)
- Justification (43 min)
- Reconciliation (38 min)
- Regeneration (46 min)
What do these seven words mean?
Righteousness: In sin, I was lacking in righteousness. God provided that righteousness to me through the death of His Son.
Propitiation: If God is God, He must oppose (stand against) and punish evil. That is why Jesus died, to absorb God’s “necessary wrath” for my sin and lack of righteousness.
Redemption: God has bought me back, investing in my redemption by making a way for me to receive the righteousness of Christ.
Imputation: God credited the full righteousness of Christ to my account. There is no more righteousness that I need to obtain by living a certain way. God has given it all to me.
Justification: God has declared me to be 100% righteous before Him, because He sees my righteousness – the full righteousness of Christ – in my life.
Reconciliation: I can now boldly draw near to God, in any situation and at any point. I have full access to my Father who longs to have a harmonious relationship with me and lavish me with His lovingkindness and favor.
Regeneration: I have been born of God. His seed – His very essence – dwells within me. I am a partaker in His Divine nature, and I have all things that I need to live life as His redeemed and righteous child, or, as 1 Peter says, “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.”
What was missing in my early life was this understanding of the gospel. It was always there, but somehow I missed it. I think the gospel as it was always presented to me focused too much on the death of Jesus to save my eternal soul and not nearly enough on the death of Jesus to change my here-and-now soul.
I’m a sinner. God can’t let me into heaven. Jesus died. Now I don’t have to go to hell, because God forgives me sins. Look how much Jesus did for me? Look how forgiving God is? Now I owe Him everything – so I’d better get busy being a good Christian because I’ll never repay that debt. My sin won’t send me to hell anymore, but it can keep God from hearing my prayers and can “hinder my fellowship” with Him.
Or, as the old guilt-inducing hymn says, “Jesus paid it all…all to Him I owe.”
The here and now was all about the work of “living the Christian life” under God’s thumb, to somehow show God I was thankful enough for everything Jesus did on the cross.
So when I began to learn about the gospel and what Jesus had done for me NOW, it was revolutionary.
I can know the mystery of His will.
I have obtained an inheritance.
I am sealed with the Holy Spirit.
I have access to His power.
I have been made alive!
I am raised up and seated with Christ.
I have been lavished with favor.
I am created in Christ, designed for good.
I have been brought near to God.
I have access to the Father.
My spirit is empowered by His Spirit.
Christ is at home in my heart and mind.
I experience the immeasurable love of Christ.
I am filled with all the fullness of God.
God is at work in me – able to accomplish beyond what I can imagine.
Statements based on Ephesians 1, from the sermon series In Christ: The Riches of His Grace by Dr. Rich Powell
“God does not operate in a quid pro quo universe. You are not in debt to God.” ~Rich Powell (09/10/17)
“God doesn’t want the things we do for Him. He wants you.” ~Rich Powell (4/22/18)
As revolutionary as these words and their corresponding concepts are, reprogramming my thoughts – deconstructing 25 years of focus on the wrong thing – has been a long process that’s still very much ongoing.
Righteousness. Propitiation. Redemption. Imputation. Justification. Reconciliation. Regeneration. The Lord’s Table is a pictorial manifestation of those seven words.
I’ve come to believe that sitting in a pew at a Lord’s Table service…racking my brain for any unconfessed sin so I can be worthy enough to draw near to God and fearing my own physical peril…is antithetical to what He desires for me. I think that of the seven words mentioned above, reconciliation captures the essence of what God had in mind for His followers.
When Jesus held the Lord’s Table (often known as The Last Supper) with His disciples, it was a gathering around the table with Him and His closest friends. Jesus was not the austere Eternal King (a claim He could rightfully make), holding out a scepter, daring anyone to draw near. No, he “sat at meat” with those around Him, lounging…serving, sharing a meal, telling a story, and teaching invaluable truth in a practical way.
~N. T. Wright