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Serving Christ For His Glory… What Does “His Glory” Mean?

SIH STSTA ICONINTRODUCTION:

From the pulpit, from the classroom, and from the mouths of most Christians, we hear the instruction to “serve the Lord for His glory”… unfortunately, this phrase can be very confusing for each one of us due to the variety of teachings about the Lord’s glory found in the Bible.

Many times, when the Bible describes God’s glory (as in Exo 24:17), it is speaking of a bright manifestation of the very presence of God.  This meaning of the phrase reveals to us that God’s glory “appears” (Exo 16:10), “can be seen” (Num 14:22) and is “revealed” (Isa 40:5) to us.   When we tell others to “serve the Lord for His glory” are we telling them to serve our Lord in the hopes of seeing His presence revealed as a bright, overwhelming light?  I think we all understand this is not the case.

In at least three different occasions (Job 40:10, Psa 93:1 and 104:1-2), God’s symbolic clothing is described as his glory.  If we use this Biblical definition then we are to serve Him to receive a vision of the symbolic clothing that He is said to wear.  Of course this is not the meaning of “for His glory” that is to motivate us to service for Christ.

The Bible also describes His glory as being revealed in a thunderstorm (Psa 29:3).  Does this mean we serve Him so that we will see lightning and hear thunder roll?  We can all agree, this is not the case.

The list goes on and on.  When God’s glory is described it can be revealed to man in many, many different ways.

So what is “God’s glory” and how is it shown to mankind when we serve Him and bear his fruits in our life?  In other words, what is the Scriptural motivation for our service to Christ?  These questions are what we will be seeking to answer in this Bible study.

 

TODAY’S TEXT:

Matt 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

1Co 10:31 – “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

 

TODAY’S LESSON:

To come to an understanding of our motive for service (as we serve Christ “for His glory”, we need to understand the definition of the term “glory”.  The word glory is translated from several different words in the Bible.  In the Old Testament, it is translated from these Hebrew words and their forms:

  1. kabowd – weight, splendor, honor
  2. paar – to gleam or boast
  3. hadar – ornament, splendor
  4. halal – to shine, flash forth, boast
  5. shabach – laud, praise, command
  6. tipharah – beauty, boasting
  7. howd – splendor, majesty, vigor
  8.  addereth – mantle, garment, robe
  9. tohar – brightness
  10. yeqar – wealth

 

In the New Testament, it is translated from these Greek words and their forms:

  1. doxa – dignity, honor, praise, worship
  2. kauchema – to  cause to boast
  3. kleos – praise, respect

 

As we can see, in both the Old and New Testaments, the most basic, shared meaning behind all the words translated “glory” involves a revelation of the Lord’s excellence.  Whether it be speaking of the bright light like fire that appeared over Mt Sinai, the Lord’s clothing being symbolized as a bright light or His voice thunders and “is full of glory”, we can see that the Lord’s greatness is being described.

Excellence, or the Supremacy over all others, is the central theme we can see in all the above words translated “glory” in the Word of God.  To put it very simply, the phrase “the glory of the Lord” is describing a revelation of the Lord’s greatness.

When we are told to “serve the Lord for his glory” we are being told to serve the Lord motivated by the desire to reveal His Greatness to others.  This should be the motive and goal in all of our ministries and in everything we do…

1Co 10:31 – “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

 

We should never seek to exalt ourselves or others around us, our one purpose of ministry is to allow the greatness of Christ to be displayed in us.  This is symbolically like Christ’s glorious light that shines forth from us revealing our Savior to the world around us….

Matt 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

 

As you can see from the above passage the way that Christ’s light shines forth from us is through the fruits of the Spirit which we possess within us.  When we bear these fruits the end results are good works which exalt Christ.

This is the true meaning behind the phrase “we are to serve the Lord for His glory”.

 

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Let’s close our study this morning by asking a few very simple questions….

Why do we serve the Lord and live our daily lives for Him?

Is the end result of our ministry His glory, our glory, or a combination of both?

May we all seek to have Jesus glorified in everything we do!

 

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Cremation Or Burial: What Does The Bible Say? (1)

SIH STSTA ICONFor the Christian, the responsibility to do ALL THINGS in a way that honors and glorifies our Lord is no small issue.  As a matter of fact, this one, basic, responsibility given to us by our Lord should be the central motivating force behind all that we do…

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:  Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.    (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)

This responsibility touches every aspect of our life upon earth, even the final event of this earthly life, our physical death.    (The only exception to this is for the remnant of saved individuals who will be alive at the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.)

Many times, it is during a funeral that we can reach others for Christ that we could not reach in any other way.  Because of this, I ALWAYS share the gospel message when I am doing a funeral service.  Everything done at a funeral, to the best of our ability should be done with the intent to honor the Lord and share Him with others.  There could easily be lost loved ones present who will never “darken a church door”, but they will show up for a funeral.  So, in my way of thinking, our testimony during the funeral and disposition of the body is important as well.

The necessity of the death of our body, and its use to honor and glorify the Lord, is an issue for which we all should be prepared.  This would include the testimony that we display during the events leading up to our passing, as well as the funeral service and disposal of our body   After all, our physical bodies are a wonderful gift from the Lord of which we are to use for His glory in every way possible…

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

I have said all of this to simply explain the importance of the issue we will be studying today.  It is the issue of the burial of our body versus the cremation of our body.  Do either of these dishonor our Lord or harm our testimony before Him?

THE STUDY:

In my way of thinking, one reason why there is so many questions about cremation versus burial of the body is because there is no “thus saith the Lord”.  To my knowledge, the Bible does not clearly state a position on this issue.  It is an issue that will have to be decided based upon a variety of Biblical principles instead of a clear Biblical declaration.

Keeping that in mind, I would like us to look at some Biblical principles that we can prayerfully consider…

1. The Stewardship Principle (this lesson)

2. The Example Of Bible Characters (see lesson 2)

3.  The Symbolism Of Fire And Burial (see lesson 2)

 

The Stewardship Principle

To begin, let’s look at a text we have already mentioned in our introduction:

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Here, we find that the Apostle Paul clearly explains that the physical body that we possess was created, redeemed, and then set apart for the use of God as the habitation of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  When we consider the importance of our body to the workings of the Lord in our lives, we can easily see the need to ALWAYS treat it with appreciation, respect and honor.

The need to care for the body properly is one of the major reasons for the creation of the marital union.  Without marriage, based upon our desire for physical intimacy, we would commit the sin of sexual fornication which is a sin involving the misuse of our bodies …  “ Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body”  (1 Corinthians 6:18)

Paul then teaches us that the proper way to fulfill our desires for physical intimacy is found in the marital union…

“Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”  (1 Corinthians 7:2)

So how important is it that we care for our physical bodies and use them in a proper way?  It must be very important because the marriage union was created by God, in part, to give us a way to escape sinning against our bodies through their misuse.

(By the way, misusing our bodies is not limited to sexual misuse.  In actuality, any action that brings harm to our bodies, or takes honor from the Lord through its use is a sin.  This would also include taking anything in our body that harms it, using our bodies in any way that breaks the laws of God or puts forth a bad testimony, and using it to harm others through our speech or actions etc etc.)

If we understand this principle, we can understand why, throughout the ages, the proper care of the body of the deceased was considered a sign of respect for the deceased.  Note how the bodies of the deceased were given great care prior to their burial…

And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound [weight].  Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.(John 19:39-41)

Although Christ’s body was the one being prepared, His body was being treated in the same way as the body of other deceased Jews.    Keep in mind, a greatest of disrespect was shown through the delay or lack of a burial.  This was because of the great abuse the body would then endure at the hands of nature and the elements…

A Psalm of Asaph. O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.  The dead bodies of thy servants have they given [to be] meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.  Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and [there was] none to bury [them].  We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.”   (Psalms 79:1-4)

If a man beget an hundred [children], and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also [that] he have no burial; I say, [that] an untimely birth [is] better than he. (Ecclesiastes 6:3)

Although, we are not specifically told in the Bible, we need to consider if the burning a body akin to other abuses that can be brought upon a body.  Perhaps this is the case.  It is a matter open for each believer’s consideration.

 

Also, the Bible, relates the burning of the body with disrespect for the lawless…

And it shall be, [that] he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel…

And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.  And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day.”  (Joshua 7:15, 25-26)

The children of Israel, under the direction of the Lord cremated Achan following his stoning to illustrate God’s displeasure with Achan and His wrath being poured out upon him.

And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that [were] there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned [them] upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words.  Then he said, What title [is] that that I see? And the men of the city told him, [It is] the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Bethel.  And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria.  And all the houses also of the high places that [were] in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke [the LORD] to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Bethel.  And he slew all the priests of the high places that [were] there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem.  (2 Kings 23:16-20)

In this case, Josiah, cremates what is left of the bodies of the buried idolatrous worshippers as a public display of God’s enmity against them and the pollution of their idolatrous altars upon which they worshipped.

Based on the principle of stewardship, we should desire to treat the body of our deceased with respect and honor, recognizing the Lord is its Creator, Redeemer and Indweller.  The best way to accomplish this task would seem to be through burial of the body as opposed to cremation.

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

In this section of our study we have seen the importance of glorifying God even after our death.  This  involves the proper treatment of our body as an act of stewardship over the temple of the Holy Spirit.  One way in which a body can be mistreated (and disrespect shown to the deceased) is by leaving the body open to corruption by the forces of nature.

At the least this emphasizes the need to treat the body properly following death… at the most, it is possible we can include fire as a type of force of nature that can bring the body to ruin.  So far in our study, we can see that, without doubt, burial is a proper way to dispose of a body, as it shows great respect for the deceased as well as proper stewardship of the body.

However, the use of fire is certainly a questionable way of disposing of the body because, perhaps, it can be looked upon as abuse of the body.

First things first….

The greatest consideration for us all is not the condition of our bodies following our death, but the condition of our souls now.  Keep in mind, one of the supreme goals of a Christian’s service to the Lord is to see the salvation of those who are lost.  For the Christian, are we certain our hearts are right with the Lord?  Likewise, are we living a life that glorifies and honors Christ?   Furthermore, are we using the opportunities the Lord has given to us to witness to and pray for the lost around us?  All of these things are of utmost importance.

For those who are lost, have you ever experienced the Lord’s saving grace in your life?  Have you ever seen that you have sinned against the Lord and, apart from His gracious intervention in your life, you can do nothing to gain forgiveness from Him?  Have you come before Him humbly, turning form those sins and trusting in Him to save you from those sins?  Have you ever experienced a change within you that results in recognizing Christ as your Lord and seeking to live your life for Him?

These are the marks of genuine salvation and the most important consideration that lies before us…

 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:  Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.   (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)

 May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek His truth.

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May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The Church Universal, Local, Or Both? #3

SIH STSTA ICONNow unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,  Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

(Please note: I apologize for the length and detail of this series, and to be honest, I realize it will not be easily consumed by some of its readers.  I normally do not post articles of this length or depth, but I feel obligated to write this posting based upon feedback I have received from the Importance Of The Local Assembly series that was recently published.  So for the many who have shown interest and/or curiosity on this subject, here is the information you have requested.  My apology to those who lack interest or the time to read this study.  It is understandable.)

Facts about the word “church” as used in the King James Version of the Bible….

1.  The word “church” is not used in the Old Testament.
2.  The word “church”  is used in 111 verses in the New Testament.
3.  Every occurrence of the word “church” is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia”  in the NT.

In this study, I would like to study the definition and contextual usage of this Greek word “ekklesia”, with the intent of answering the following questions…

“When the Bible speaks of a “church” is it referring to an invisible, universal assembly made up of all believers in Christ;…. or, is it referring to visible, local assembly whose membership is limited to baptized believers;…. or, does the Bible speak of both types of “churches” that are differentiated by the context in which they are used?”

Let us all ask the Lord for grace, a spirit open to truth, clarity of thought, and accuracy as we work our way through the Holy Scriptures…

THE SCRIPTURES:

 

A.   (Matthew 16:16-20);
B.   (Act 2:42-47); (Act 7:37-41); (Act 12:1-4); (Act 15:1-4); (Act 19:29-34); (Act 19:35-41); (Act 20:17-28)
C.   (Romans 16:21-24)
D.   (1 Corinth 6:1-5); (1 Corinth 10:24-33); (1 Corinth 11:19-24); (1 Corinth 12:27-31); (1 Corinth 15:1-11)
E.   (Galatians 1:11-13)
F.   (Ephesians 1:16-23); (Ephesians 3:8-12); (Ephesians 3:14-21); (Ephesians 5:22-33)
G.   (Philippians 3:4-6)
H.   (Colossians 1:14-29)
I.   (1 Timothy 3:14-16); (1 Timothy 5:9-16)
J.   (Hebrews 2:10-13)
K.   (James 5:12-18)
L.   (3 John 1:5-10)

 

THE STUDY:

 

A basic principle used in this study:

 

You must take the normal, usual usage and meaning of a word unless the context CLEARLY DICTATES ANOTHER MEANING is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

This is the core principle upon which this study is based.  Both the details, and conclusion, of this study rest heavily upon this principle. We will be finding the common, basic usage and definition of “ekklesia” as found in the Scriptures, and then attempt to consistently apply that meaning to each text.

 

The common definition of the word “ekklesia”:

The basic meaning of “ekklesia” is “called out from”, or “to separate by summons”.

Therefore, based upon the definition of “ekklesia”, we find no indication of which type of assembly we are speaking of whenever we find the word being used.

However, this is only half of our “equation”.  Next we have to look at the USAGE of the word “ekklesia” in the Holy Bible.

The common usage of the word “ekklesia”:

I am forced to conclude that the common usage of the term in the NT is “local visible assembly”.  This definition clearly applies in at least 80 verses (that’s over 70 percent of the time) the word is used.  There was only, at the most, 32 verses that it could mean a invisible, universal assembly (that’s less than 30%).

Therefore, for this study, we will be using THE COMMON DEFINITION OF “EKKLESIA” WILL BE “A LOCAL VISIBLE ASSEMBLY”.

Based upon our earlier discussion under the heading “A basic principle used in this study”   This will be our process…

1.  We will look at the context of each of the 32 Scriptures where “ekklesia” could mean an “invisible universal assembly”.
2.  We will see if each one could allow us to use our common definition a “local visible assembly” .
3.  If the context allows “ekklesia” to hold to its common definition, that will be the definition we assign to that text.
4.  If the context forbids that the common definition of ekklesia can be used, we will then attempt to determine the definition of “ekklesia” for that text.

For more detailed information on the above sections, please see part one of our study…

A verse by verse study of the “questionable” texts that use the word “ekklesia”:

 

Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.  I Tertius, who wrote [this] epistle, salute you in the Lord.  Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you all. Amen.

(Romans 16:21-24)

 

The exposition:

Paul is writing on behalf on several different Christians (Timotheus, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Tertius (as penman), Gaius, Erastus, and Quartus.  Paul goes further and speaks on behalf of the local assembly at Corinth.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Could Paul speak on behalf of all the believers everywhere on earth?  I think not.   Note the phrase “whole church” is used elsewhere to describe local assemblies (Acts 15:22 – at Jerusalem; 1 Cor 14:23 – at Corinth)

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?  Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?  Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.  I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?”   (1 Corinthians 6:1-5)

 

The exposition:

Paul, here is encouraging believers who are involved in a dispute to allow the local assembly to make a judgment and not to rely upon the world’s judicial system.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Would it be possible for the universal, invisible church to make a judgment about saints’ disagreements?  I don’t know how that could ever be done.  Would Christians be able to bring their disputes before a local assembly for judgment…. Absolutely.  It could be easily done.

Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s [wealth].  Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, [that] eat, asking no question for conscience sake:  For the earth [is] the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.  If any of them that believe not bid you [to a feast], and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.  But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth [is] the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:  Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another [man’s] conscience?  For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:  Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:24-33)

 

The exposition:

Paul gives a listing or areas of concern for the Christian desiring to possess a proper public testimony for Christ. This involves care concerning covetousness, eating habits, hospitality and social behaviors, limiting our Christian liberties for the sake of others, honoring God in all things that are done, then he makes the statement…

Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.

In other words, we are to take care not to offend those around us.  This includes being a good testimony to both Jew and Gentile.  Also, it includes being in proper submission to the local assembly and not offend them, it is the local church whose responsibility it is to take the gospel to the lost world.

Whatever church we are a member of, we should be in submission to their authority helping them to fulfill the Great Commission through our life testimony.

By doing all of these things, we are exhibiting a humble attitude of a life lived in ministry for the good of others.

The usage of “ekklesia”

Church is used in the generalized sense.  Whatever church we are a member of, we should be in submission to their authority which enhances our testimony and the unity of the church as it takes the gospel to the world.Again, this makes perfect sense, and therefore we have no need to seek another definition.

 

For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.  When ye come together therefore into one place, [this] is not to eat the Lord’s supper.  For in eating every one taketh before [other] his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.  What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise [you] not.  For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread:  And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

 (1 Corinthians 11:19-24)

The exposition:

Here, Paul is giving the local church at Corinth instructions on how to observe the church ordinance of communion.  By partaking of the supper in a selfish fashion the church member is despising the local assembly who holds authority over the ordinance.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

Contextually, it is quite clear Paul is instructing a local assembly that has the authority to observe the Lord’s Supper.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where [were] the body? But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.  For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:  That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.  Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

 (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

The exposition:

Paul is addressing the local assembly at Corinth.  He is describing them as the “body of Christ”.  This teaches us that the local church although made up of many different members is to work together in harmony to do the bidding of its head, Jesus Christ.   Paul describes the offices of the local assembly and some of the gifts the Lord placed within that assembly for its spiritual growth and accrediting. Finally, to emphasize the need for selflessness and unity, he reminds them to earnestly desire to exercise the “best gifts”… ie the gifts most needed by the assembly.

 

Also, if you notice in vs 13 membership in this assembly is gained by the Holy Spirit leading us to be baptized in water. (The word translated “by” is also translated “through” in Greek).  This is saying that…

“Through (the leadership of) the Spirit, we are all baptized into one type of body.” (It is a local assembly that declares God’s truths and fulfills the Great Commission.)

This membership is offered to both Jew and Gentile, slave or master.  There is no difference between a local church filled with Gentiles and a local church filled with Jews. Nor is there a difference between the membership of the rich and the membership of the slave. They hold to the same set of doctrines and have the same mission…. The Great Commission.  No matter what their nationality and social standing each member has the same privileges and responsibilities of membership.

 

The usage of “ekklesia”

The church is being described in the generalized sense here.  Only a local assembly could accomplish what Paul is describing in vs 13-31.  It is impossible for members of an invisible worldwide body of believers to work together in harmony and meet each other’s needs as being described in these verses.

Once again, as in every text so far, there is nothing in this text to dictate that the “church” that is mentioned cannot be a local assembly.  Therefore, there is no need to search for another meaning.

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:  And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.  For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace [which was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.  Therefore whether [it were] I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

 (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

 

11) But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12) For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13) For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

 (Galatians 1:11-13)

 

 

The exposition:

Here, Paul is sharing the details of the gospel message, in the context of his personal testimony to the local church at Corinth, and the local church at Galatia.  He is emphasizing proofs that the gospel message is true, the great number of witnesses to the resurrection and the changed life he experienced after his receipt of the gospel by faith.

As a part of his testimony, Paul describes his past life (prior to his salvation) which included the persecution of members of the local church at Jerusalem.  This is described in Acts 7:54-8:5 – this account includes the martyrdom of Stephen, and other believers living in the confines of Jerusalem.  There is no reason to believe these were not members of the local church at Jerusalem)

 

The usage of “ekklesia”
There is no reason why the “church” mentioned in Paul’s testimony was not the local church at Jerusalem.  No need to look further.

We will continue our study of the questionable texts in our next posting.

 

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The Importance Of The Local Church -1: “The Nature Of The Church: A Local Visible Assembly”

SIH TOA ICON“…The house of God, which is the church of the living God,

the pillar and ground of the truth.”   (1 Timothy 3:15)

As we begin our study of the importance of the Lord’s local assemblies.  It is vital that we understand what we mean by the title “the Lord’s church”.  In this first installment of our study, we will be examining the words translated “church” in the KJV Bible to come to a definition of “the Lord’s church”.

 

 

THE STUDY:

To begin our study of the Lord’s church it is important that we understand the meaning of the word ”church” as found in the KJV of the Holy Bible.

The word “church” is not found in the Old Testament Scriptures.  However, it is found over 100 times in the New Testament and, every time, is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia”.

The usage of “Ekklesia”

“Ekklesia” is translated into English using the terms “church” or “assembly”.  The word is used in several differing contexts with one basic similarity.  “Ekklesia” always refers to a visible assembly of people.  The different assemblies described by the term “ekklesia” (with one example of each usage) are:

1.  A political assembly of people in Acts 19:32,39,41;
31) And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring [him] that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.
32) Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
33) And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people.
34) But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great [is] Diana of the Ephesians.
35) And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, [Ye] men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the [image] which fell down from Jupiter?
36) Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
37) For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
38) Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.
39) But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
40) For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
41) And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.
(Acts 19:31-41)

2.  The physical nation of Israel in the wilderness in the OT in Acts 7:38;
37) This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
38) This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
39) To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust [him] from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
40) Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for [as for] this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
41) And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
 (Acts 7:37-41)

3.  Local assemblies of worship on earth – Acts 8:1,3;
1) And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
2) And devout men carried Stephen [to his burial], and made great lamentation over him.
3) As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed [them] to prison.
 (Acts 8:1-3)

4.  The assembly of saints gathered in Heavenly Jerusalem throughout eternity – Hebs 12:23
22) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23) To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24) And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.
 (Hebrews 12:22-24)

By seeing the contextual usage of “ekklesia” we can see that IT ALWAYS SPEAKS OF A LOCAL, VISIBLE ASSEMBLY (more on this in later sections of our study).

1.  As a local assembly, the church was created to especially minister to those who are around us.  It is local in nature, each one established in a different area of the globe to minister to those in their geographic area.

46) And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47) And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48) And ye are witnesses of these things.
49) And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50) And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51) And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
(Luke 24:46-51)

2.  As a visible assembly, we can see that the Lord’s church was formed to be a public, visible display of His love, care and grace towards those in that local community.  The community would be watching the church as an assembly and individual members to see if they “practiced what they preached”.

10) Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12) For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13) Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for [your] liberal distribution unto them, and unto all [men];
14) And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
15)  Thanks [be] unto God for his unspeakable gift.
 (2 Corinthians 9:10-15)

31) Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
32) Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
33) Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.
(1 Corinthians 10:31-33)

Please Note: The testimony of a local church is so important, the Lord has given clear instructions for disciplining those who are members of His assembly that are living in habitual sin….

15) Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16) But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17) And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
 (Matthew 18:15-17)

The of definition of “ekklesia”

The Greek word “ekklesia” contains two basic parts:

1.  The first part is the prefix “ek” which means “from” or “out of”.
2.  The second part is the root word “kaleo” which means “to call”, “to summon”, “to urge”, or “to incite”

The definition of “ekklesia” teaches us that the church is a group that has been “summoned out” or an assembly that has been “called out”.

This calling out from the world is a call to holiness.  Our Lord’s church should be a holy body that is dedicated to glorifying God through submission to His ways and declaration of His truths…

13) Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14) Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:13-16)

Putting the principles of the usage and definition of “ekklesia” together, we can see that:

The church of the Lord is A LOCAL, VISIBLE ASSEMBLY OF SAINTS THAT HAS BEEN SUMMONED BY GOD, MAKING IT UNIQUE FROM ALL OTHERS ASSEMBLIES IN THIS WORLD.

Its uniqueness is displayed in four ways: its founding, its purpose, its benefits and its accreditation. We will be looking at all four of these areas of uniqueness in later segments of our study.

THE SUMMARY:

Based on our studies so far we can see that the nature of the Lord’s church includes:
1.  An assembly of individuals
2.  A local assembly
3.  A visible assembly
4.  A called our assembly
5.  A unique assembly

Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church?  It is an assembly personally called out by God which separates it from all other assemblies on earth.

May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.

 

For a free study guide for this series in .pdf format:

https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lordsassemblyprotected.pdf

For a free study guide for this series in .docx format:

https://settledinheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lordsassemblyprotected.docx

 

What Must We Do To Be Saved? Part 6 – What about the Lord’s Supper?

SIH STSTA ICONTHE most important question that anyone can ask is the question posed by the keeper of the prison in Acts 16:30… “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”.

The answer to this question is more valuable than gold, silver and all the wealth this world has to offer.  This answer will reveal to us the path that leads to the forgiveness of our sins, the receipt of the indwelling Holy Spirit, fellowship with the Only True and Living Creator, and eternity in paradise with God Himself.  Our very spiritual life and  eternal destiny rely upon finding the answer to this question.

This question is of such importance we will be taking several blog entries to carefully  answer this question…

Blog Entry #1 Salvation

Blog Entry #2 Repentance

Blog Entry #3 Faith / Belief

Blog Entry #4 What about good works?

Blog Entry #5 What about baptism?

Blog Entry #6 What about the Lord’s Supper?

Blog Entry #7 What about church membership?

We now begin our study with blog entry #6…. What about the Lord’s Supper?  ….

THE SCRIPTURES:

Matt 26:26-29 (KJV)

26) And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed [it], and brake [it], and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

27) And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28) For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

29) But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

 Mark 14:22-25 (KJV)

22) And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake [it], and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

23) And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave [it] to them: and they all drank of it.

24) And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

25) Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

 Luke 22:17-20 (KJV)

17) And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide [it] among yourselves:

18) For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

19) And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

20) Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

 1Cor 10:15-17 (KJV)

15) I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

16) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

17) For we [being] many are one bread, [and] one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

 1Cor 11:23-34 (KJV)

23) For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24) And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25) After the same manner also [he took] the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me.

26) For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

27) Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup.

29) For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

30) For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

31) For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

32) But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

33) Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

34) And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

 THE STUDY:

Continuing with our study to find the answer to the question “What must I do to be saved?”, we now turn our attention to the church ordinance of “the Lord’s Supper” or “Communion”.   These are the only two Scriptural names for this ordinance.  We find the title “communion” given to this observance in 1 Cor 10:15-17.  We find that the Lord personally instituted this observance in Matt 26:26 and Mark 14:22, hence the name “The Lord’s Supper” (ie The Supper Began By the Lord).

What is “Communion” or “The Lord’s Supper?  It is when a local assembly of believers partakes of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine.  As they are partaking of this “supper” it is being used as a reminder of Christ’s sufferings, His shed blood, and His death for the sins of His people.  It also is a reminder of the promise of His second coming. (1 Cor 11:26)

Other observances SIMILAR to that of the Lord’s Supper are commonly called “The Eucharist”, “The Blessed Sacrament”, or “The Sacrament of the Altar”.

A common teaching existing throughout the ages is the need to partake of this observance to gain, or keep, salvation from our sins.  Let’s take a moment to see if this belief has Scriptural foundations.

The historical accounts of the institution of the supper…

Matt 26:26-29 – And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed [it], and brake [it], and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

 Mark 14:22-25 – And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake [it], and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.  And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave [it] to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.  Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

 Luke 22:17-20 – And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide [it] among yourselves:  For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.  And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.  Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

 1Cor 11:23-26 – For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the [same] night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also [he took] the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me.  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 

 In the above four texts, we find the origins of the Lord’s Supper.  All four are very similar in their accounts of the supper.

When Christ served the bread, He referred to the bread as “my body”… “Take, eat; this is my body” and “ This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me”.  Likewise, when serving the fruit of the vine he described it as “my blood” … “ For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins”, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.”, and “This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. “

When Christ described the bread and fruit of vine as “His body” and “His blood” respectfully, what did He mean?  Did He mean that they mysteriously, literally, became His body and blood?  Or did He mean that they symbolized His body and His blood?

Both Christ and the Apostle Paul help us to come to answer these questions:

Note that Christ used the phrase “this do in remembrance of me.”  Here, we are clearly told the motive of our taking the supper is not to partake of His literal blood an body but to simply remember what He has done on our behalf.

In 1 Corinthians 11:, Paul described the observance of the supper in this way… “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”

Here he says the observance is to “shew the Lord’s death” which should continue until Christ comes at His second coming.  In other words, Paul’s emphasis in on the public declaration of the death of Christ that the supper produced.

Please notice, in both examples… neither Christ, nor Paul said anything about the act causing a gain of, or a retention of salvation. Both clearly declared that the Lord’s Supper was a symbolic act.  It was done to remember and declare what He has done for us through the use of symbols.

When the bread (a symbol of His body) was chewed it symbolized the abused and mistreatment that the body of Christ suffered.  His beatings, plucking His beard, being spat upon, the spear piercing His side, the nails being driven in His hands and feet; all of this abuse is pictured by the biting, chewing and tearing apart of the unleavened bread.

When the fruit of the vine (a symbol of His shed blood) was poured from the cup and running over the lips, gums and throat, it symbolized the blood pouring from His body and running down His body, and the cross.

This entire process of His physical abuse and His shed blood resulted in His physical death.  In this way, the supper declared and symbolized His death.  This is what Christ and the Apostle Paul were speaking of.

When Christ described the elements of the Supper as “my body” and “my blood”, He was referring to their symbolic significance, not any literal transformation that took place.

Paul continues in 1 Cor 11:27-34 – Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.  Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.  And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

 These verses help us to understand the need to understand and prepare ourselves properly for the observance of the supper.  Paul makes it plain that the proper observance of the supper is A BIG DEAL.  Paul explained that if an individual, or the church as a whole, observed the supper in an unworthy fashion they could suffer sickness or even death.  Contextually, observing the supper unworthily involved not recognizing the proper symbolism of the supper by “not discerning the Lord’s body”.  The word for “discerning” carries with it the meaning of “to discriminate, understand, or separate thoroughly”.

In other words, if those partaking of the supper fail to understand it’s symbolism or purpose, they are abusing the supper and therefore, symbolically, guilty of “the body and blood of Christ”.

In Hebrews 10:10-13, Paul emphasizes that the sacrifice of Christ’s body was a one time event. It was not only unneeded, but actually, heretical, to speak of a need to be continually sacrificing His body for the forgiveness of sins.  This is another reason why we know that the bread does not mystically become His body, nor is it offered continually for the forgiveness of sin… Heb 10:10-13 – By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all]. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

 In John 6:32-51 we find Christ as the Bread of Life being discussed.  In verses 53-58  we read… Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

Is this teaching us that we must literally partake of His body and blood for salvation? If so, then the obvious reference must be understood of the partaking of the Lord’s Supper and the mystical transformation of the bread and fruit of the vine into His literal body and blood.

 To fully understand these verses, we must see the context in which Christ was speaking… John 6:28-31 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.  They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

 Contextually, Jesus is answering the question “What shall we do to work the works of God?”  He then clearly explains that the work of God that is man’s responsibility is to “believe on Him, whom He hath sent”.  In other words, it is to believe on the Messiah, the Lord, Jesus Christ.

The hearers then desired proof that Christ was the One they were to believe upon… they point out to Christ that God was able to perform miracles in the desert, assuring the Israelites He was with them.  One of those miracles was the miracle of manna from heaven.  If Christ was truly the Messiah, surely He could do miracles as well and prove His claims.

Christ then uses the picture of the manna and the partaking of it to symbolically help them to see the need to BELIEVE in Him for spiritual life.  He was the bread sent from God.  They were to turn to Him, in faith, and receive Him into their life, just as the Israelites of old, had turned to the bread and received it as their source of physical life from God.   We see this teaching summarized in vs 57 –  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.  This is why Christ used the symbols of bread and eating to describe securing salvation through belief in Him.  It was a continuation of a subject brought up by the HEARERS who was seeking authentication of His person and message.

Before the subject of eating manna was brought up to Him, He described the act as “believing”, however, once the hearers brought up the subject of the OT manna from heaven, Christ simply turned the OT account of the manna into a wonderful lesson of our need to receive Him (the wonderful manna from God) into their life, and in doing so, secure their spiritual life.

Finally, we will take a quick look at 1Cor 10:15-17 – I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.  The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we [being] many are one bread, [and] one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

Here, we are told that partaking of the Lord’s Supper is an act of communion with Christ and His work on the cross.  The word communion carries with it the idea of “fellowship, association, and relationship”.  In other words, when we observe the Lord’s Supper we are associating ourselves with Christ and His work.  We are saying that we have a relationship to Christ and His work on our behalf.   It is much like the public declaration of faith that we make when we are baptized.

SUMMARY

In this blog entry we have seen the clear Scriptural declaration that the Lord’s Supper is a very important way to remember Christ’s work on our behalf and make a public profession of our faith in Christ.  However, the Lord’s Supper is not necessary for the receipt of salvation.  The Lord’s Supper should always follow salvation.

In the following blog entries we will continue to study, in detail, the answer to the question “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

If you have any questions about your condition or the salvation that the Lord so graciously offers,  you can look to several sources for further information:  A local Bible-teaching church in your area, or you are welcome to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com, or you can refer to my blog page entitled “How to have a relationship with God” for more teachings on the subject of salvation.

 May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

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My Main Blog “Settled In Heaven” (updated twice weekly) – https://settledinheaven.wordpress.com

The following are other places you can find “Settled In Heaven” blog (updated once per month):

www.settledinheavenbibleblog.posterous.com

www.settledinheavenblog.blogspot.com

To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Halloween Part #5 – The Series Summary

With the Halloween holiday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take time to study the history and characters surrounding the holiday.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to…

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:21-22)

So with this as our motive and the desire of our hearts, let’s end our 5 part series on Halloween:

  1. A Study of The Halloween Celebration (All Hallows Eve)
  2. A Study of The Death Symbols – Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Frankenstein, Vampires, and Bats
  3. A Study of The Sorcery Symbols – Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons
  4. A Study of The Necromancy Symbols – Séances and Ouija Boards
  5. A Summary of Our Study On Halloween

May the Lord be glorified in our study….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2Co 6:14-18)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:1-2)

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  (Jas 1:27)

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1Pe 1:13-16)

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (1Co 8:7-13)

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (1Co 10:31-33)

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Php 4:6-9)

THE STUDY:

In our previous studies we have seen 4 basic principles concerning the Halloween festival:

  1. The festival of Halloween’s history is connected with the belief that the spirits of dead men walk the earth, it was observed in preparation for the worship of “the Lord of Darkness”,  it was held to appease and secure peace with these spirits for the upcoming year.
  2. The death symbols of Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Vampires, and Bats all were connected to the spirits of the dead which did not immediately go to their eternal state, but were able to dwell on the earth, avoiding the judgment they were facing and wreaking havoc among earthly beings.
  3. The sorcery symbols of Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons were related to  the casting of magical spells and incantations that affect mankind.   Also, the worship of false gods through idols derived from God’s creation (moon, planets, etc) was associated with these symbols.
  4. The necromancy symbols of Séances and Ouija Boards has the purpose of communicating with the spirits of the dead.

 

The Halloween festival, its related characters, and their connection to the occult, are very important considerations in the examination of our level of participation in the holiday.

Some areas of our examination should include:

  1. Are we properly separating ourselves from the sin of this world by participating in the Halloween festival?  (2Co 6:14-18)
  2. Is our level of involvement in Halloween considered “conforming” (molded into the shape of) or “fashioned” to this world? (Rom 12:1-2)  (1Pe 1:13-16)
  3. Is the Halloween celebration “spotting” our testimony for the Lord? (Jas 1:27)
  4. Is our participation in Halloween causing our weaker brothers to “stumble” in their walk for Christ?  In other words, are they encouraged to make bad life choices based on the example we are setting? (1Co 8:7-13)
  5. Can our participation in Halloween be done for the Lord’s glory? (1Co 10:31-33)
  6. When we are participating in this celebration can we be having our minds on that which is true, honest, just etc.? (Php 4:6-9)

Over the years, I have seen four basic “levels” of participation in Halloween by God’s people:

  1. A total participation which involved decorating and dressing up with any of the symbols our study has examined. Along with participation in trick or treating and other exclusively Halloween activities.
  2. A participation that involves decorating and dressing up but avoiding demonic images and using only more benign symbols like princesses, cowboys etc. while still participating in trick or treating etc.
  3. A participation in “Harvest” or “Fall” parties on a date other than Oct 31st that totally exclude the Halloween title and avoid all aspects of the holiday (no trick or treat, no costume wearing etc.)
  4. No celebration of any type.  No decorating, no costumes, no parties. They treat the holiday just like any other day.

Which do I believe is the proper approach?

  1. First, let me emphasize that every Christian must decide for him/her self as to the level of participation in Halloween activities.  There is no ‘thus saith the Lord’ on the subject.
  2. Remember, participation in Halloween is NOT participation in the sins it represents.  In other words, you can participate in Halloween and not be guilty of the sins of necromancy, the casting of spells etc.
  3. The question for the believer is … by participating am I appearing to condone these activities that Halloween symbolizes?  Am I placing upon myself the appearance of approval or indifference to those activities? By participating am I saying…. “Hey its no big deal” ?
  4. So what do I think?
    1. Please remember, it really doesn’t matter at all what I think, all that matters is what God’s Word says.  However, for the sake of you who are reading this, I need to take the time to explain what I believe…I think a full participation in Halloween, with costumes and decorations that include the occult symbols is a very questionable stand for a Christian to take.  My feeling when it comes to my service to the Lord is …”it is always better to be safe than sorry”.  If you have a question about an action.  Don’t do it!
    2. By removing the occult symbols out of the Halloween celebration is certainly a big step in the right direction. “The appearance of evil” is basically being removed from the issue. However, the activity of trick or treating and wearing of any costume does have less obvious occult implications.  But certainly, this is a far better than our first option. Also, by participating in trick or treat, it opens the opportunity for witnessing by distributing tracts and pocket sized Bibles with the candy that is passed out to children who come to your door.  The Christian considering this option will have to weigh the gospel going out against the indirect occult association of Halloween.  For me, this is a very difficult decision to make.  I can easily see both sides of this option.
    3. I see no problem at all with the last two options of a harvest party or no celebration at all. Both are totally benign options that have no occult connections whatsoever.

If you would like to have more information about the proper Christian role in Halloween please take a look at: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/1126.  This is a link from Bro John McArthur’s website and well worth our time to read it. (A special thanks to Sharon A. for sending me this link, it’s a good one!  It is much appreciated.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

So let me end this study as I began this study by saying can we, as Christians, say our participation in Halloween aligns itself with (1Th 5:21-22) “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

May the Lord lead each of us to an understanding of His will and an attitude of understanding and temperance towards other Christians.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

The greatest need that we all face in our lives is the need for the forgiveness of our sins.  We all have sinned and come short of our Lord’s expectations for us.  If you have never been saved, Halloween should not be your main concern, but concern about your sinful condition should take priority.  How do we find forgiveness of our sins and peace with our Lord?

The Lord gives us clear teaching on the way of salvation:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (Joh 14:6)

 

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Act 4:10-12)

 

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1Pe 3:18)

 

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (Rom 5:1-2)

Turn from your sins and come before the Lord, and trust only in Him for your salvation.

If you would like further information about salvation please refer to the page on my blog entitled “How to have a relationship with God”.

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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