A Seat at the Table

Throughout the Scriptures, the “table” is a picture of God’s blessing and provision.  The Israelites during their wilderness journey complained, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?” (Psalm 78:19).  The answer of course is, “Yes, He can!”  And God did prepare a table full of manna and quail for the children of Israel.

Elsewhere in the Psalms, we have this reassuring word of blessing and provision.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:5-6).

Fast forward to the new covenant introduced by Jesus and we have another table of blessing and provision; something we commonly call the Lord’s table.  “And when He had taken some bread and 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.’  And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood’ “ (Luke 22:19-20).

Christ’s body and Christ’s blood are the provision that took away our sin.  And the resurrected Christ now living in us is the blessing that carries us forward in this world.  Where are you experiencing the table of new covenant provision and blessing in your life today?

Imagine, if you will, a castle sitting on a high hill.  In the magnificent dining hall, your heavenly Father sits at a great table that is covered with a scrumptious feast.  You enter gingerly.  Yes, you are in awe of the Father as you should be.  But you are also a little frightened to be there.  You have been taught by the traditions of men that even though you are a believing child of God, there is a separation between you and the Father because of your sin, your doubt, your fear, or your shame.  Maybe you feel this separation right now.

A voice breaks the silence.  Your Father calls out, “Raise your head, My child.  Get up!  I have a seat here at the table just for you.  This feast has been set for you.  You are a child of glory.  Better yet, why don’t you climb up on the lap of your Abba Father?”

Friend, can I encourage you?  You are, right now, that close to the Father.  There is no separation.  When you believed the gospel message of Jesus Christ, your separation ended FOREVER.  “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Come to the table with the assurance that we talked about last time, “We have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19).  You belong here.  The table is set for you.  The Father is waiting.

Arrogance or Confidence?

We wrote last time that there is no place for arrogance in our understanding of Christ making us glorious.  One of the unseen but incredible facts of our new birth is that “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).  The love of God has so filled us that the love of God is what comes out when we share our lives together.  And the love of God is love without arrogance.

The apostle Paul explained this God-love that is to flow from us in the beautiful love chapter of I Corinthians 13.  And one of the hallmarks of that love is a very simple phrase, “Love is not arrogant” (I Corinthians 13:4).  How is it even possible to express that humble kind of love?  We can only do it because Jesus is loving through us, Jesus is living His resurrected life through us.

There is no place for arrogance in the Christian life.  The New Testament writers often compare and contrast the humility we are to practice and the selfish ambition we are to put off.  But God would not ask us to do something that He has not provided the means to do.  Our new life in Christ is what frees us from selfish ambition.

But there is a gift we receive that can sometimes look like arrogance.  That gift is confidence.  There is no room for arrogance in the Christian life, but there is a wide space opened up to us for confidence.  “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-20).

We have confidence to enter the very holy place of God.  We have confidence to enter God’s presence.  We have confidence to jump into our Abba’s lap.  We have confidence to walk with Jesus, our brother.  And all of this was provided for us by the death of Jesus; washed as we are by the blood that flowed from His flesh.

And this confidence is activated by our faith.  Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”  Our assurance that we are even allowed to “draw near” comes from our faith in the promises of God.  God said you are His precious child.  Do you believe it?

A proper understanding of grace keeps our arrogance in check (God did it, not you!) and allows our confidence to soar (God did it for you!).  Do not let your confidence become arrogance.  But likewise, do not downplay your confidence as some show of false humility, refusing to receive the new identity He gifted to us.

You are a child of God.  “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).  “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are !!!” (I John 3:1).  This is where our confidence finds its home and its power.  You are a child of God.

You are Glorious!

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). 

This familiar verse has a clear message.  Prior to our salvation, we were all unredeemed sinners and fell short of the glory of God.  But I have always wondered, “Why did Paul make a connection between unredeemed sinners and falling short of God’s glory?  After all, even after we are saved, aren’t we always falling short of God’s glory?”

Even as a youngster, this connection confused me.  By God’s grace and later in life, He awakened me to the true connection.  And the implication of this understanding is huge.

You see, I had always seen “glory” as something only associated with God, never with us humans.  But Jesus, in His prayer to the Father, says about the disciples, “The glory that You have given Me, I have given to them” (John 17:22).  Jesus has given it, past tense.  It has happened.  Jesus gave His glory to the disciples because they believed in Him.

Likewise, this message is for all of us who would believe in the name of the Son.  God has given His glory to us!  As former sinners who have been redeemed, we carry God’s glory in us!  YOU ARE GLORIOUS!

That is the connection of Romans 3:23.  Only unredeemed sinners fall short of God’s glory.  We who have believed in the Son are enveloped with God’s glory.  The glory of God shines upon us.  In fact, God’s glory upon us is what is transforming us.  “But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror (that is you in the mirror, my friend) the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:18).

We are carriers of God’s glory.  Have I said it yet?  YOU ARE GLORIOUS!

And finally, there is no pride or arrogance in this reality.  Only gratitude.  Only faith to believe it.  Only humility because God alone accomplished this for you and me.  YOU ARE GLORIOUS!