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The Precious Human Life #3: God’s “Image” and “Likeness”

SIH TOTT ICON

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

 

This is part of a series that is looking at the preciousness of life and the need for a more serious examination of the Scriptural validity of taking a human life under any circumstance.  Folks, our world has devalued the taking of human life to the point the loss of human life is “no big deal” and “JUST a part of the world in which we live.”

By God’s grace, as we continue through this series, my prayer is that the Lord would open all of our spiritual eyes and come to a more complete realization of the great value of human life.  Also, we need to carefully consider the results of our actions, and the circumstances surrounding the taking of human life, making sure that in each situation, the taking of life is Biblically justifiable and absolutely necessary.

Our devotional series will contain six daily devotions, all of which will emphasize the wondrous nature of the human creation and the loss inflicted upon mankind when a human life is taken from their midst…

  1. Thou Shalt Not Kill (Exo 20:13)
  2. The Glory and Honor Of Man (Psa 8:4-6)
  3. God’s Image & Likeness (Gen 1:26-27)
  4. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (Psa 139:14-16)
  5. The Minister and Witness Of These Things (Acts 26:16-17)
  6. Prepare To Meet Thy God (Amos 4:12)

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

God’s Image & Likeness (Gen 1:26-27, 5:1, 1 Cor 11:7, James 3:9)

Genesis 1:26-27 KJV –
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Genesis 5:1 KJV –
“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;”

1 Corinthians 11:7 KJV –
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”

James 3:9 KJV –
“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.”

In the above verses, we are told that man was made in God’s “image” and “likeness” and “similitude”.   This helps us to understand that man reveals God, His character and His nature.

 

  1. Man made in God’s “Image”

In the Old Testament man is said to be made in the “image” of God, the Bible is telling us that man was formed by God as a “resemblance” or a “representative figure”.  The New Testament reaffirms this principle when it states that man was made “after the similitude of God”. By “Similitude” is meant “a favorable comparison” or “a similarity”.

Both statements simply teach us that Man resembles God.  Man was made to resemble God and therefore, be a representation of God in the midst of God’s creation.

 

  1. Man made in God’s “Likeness”

The Bible goes further and helps us to understand the way in which man resembles God in the midst of creation.  “Likeness” comes from a Hebrew word that means “to be shaped like”, “to be a model of”.   God formed, shaped, or modeled, man after Himself.   Mankind was meant to be a model of God in the midst of His creation.  Much like looking at a model reflects truths about the subject of the original, so too man reveals much about the God who made all creation.

In what ways is man a model of God?  Man resembles God (as a model of God) in many, many ways.  A few of these include:

  1. Man has three parts (body, soul, and spirit) this mirrors the three persons of the Godhead.
  2. Man is an everlasting being (one who will never go out of existence), God is also eternal (having no beginning and no ending).
  3. Man is possesses and exercises delegated dominion over creation, God holds the ultimate dominion over all creation
  4. Man is a moral being capable of understanding and choosing right and wrong. God is the Supreme moral being, Who developed and produced the perfect standard of morality based upon his very being.
  5. Man if saved, at the receipt of the “new man”, exhibits righteousness and holiness following the character of the perfectly righteous and holy God.

I am sure there exists many other ways that the being of man models truths about God.  The revelation of God found in mankind’s model of God far excels any the revelation of God that we might find in other parts of nature.

 

Please note, based on the above list, that even a very wicked man can, in many ways, present truths about God to the world.  EVERY human life is precious and valuable as a model of truths concerning God to the world.  There is no excuse for the dismissive taking of human life simply because the one who is killed was a “bad man” or “a trouble maker”.

 

Certainly, death is an appropriate punishment for grave sins that are specifically listed in the Bible, however then it is to be done under the authority of the human government following an exhaustive investigation and ample proof of the guilt of the one being put to death.   Just because a man is found to be an habitual law breaker does it give the executive branches of government, or other groups, or individuals, the allowance to take life without the proper Biblical prerequisites.

Man being made by God the “image” (“similitude”) and “likeness” of Him is another reason why the taking of human life is such a very sobering act.  When a man’s life is taken, an image of God given to mankind is silenced and, in actuality, destroyed.  

 

The casual taking of physical life can be an act of rebellion against the Lord, and a reflection of mankind’s attitudes towards the Lord (His person and His characteristics).  In some cases, men are reminded (through man’s existence) about a God that they hate. It can be much like looking at a picture of one that is hated.  What is a natural response to seeing the picture of the hated one?  Simply taking the picture and breaking it.

These are all reasons why the taking of human life is defined as a very grave in God’s eyes and is one of the very few sins that are punishable by death in the Bible…

Genesis 9:6 KJV –  “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

 

In our next devotional, we will be being looking at the preciousness of human life by examining man, who was fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

 

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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 -3 “The Nature Of The Church: The Lifespan of The 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)

In this third lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will begin looking at the church’s promised span  and purpose of existence in this sin darkened world.

 

THE STUDY:

Our Lord has clearly shown us the “lifespan” of His local assemblies on earth… 

1. The Lord’s church began with the call of His disciples to form an assembly of followers: 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-20

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 12:27-31)

Here, we are told that the first members of that the Lord called into His assembly were His apostles.  In the beginning times of the Jerusalem assembly, you have the Lord as the Pastor/Teacher of the assembly with the other apostles making up the membership of the church. The only other office that was existing in the beginning days of the church was the office of Treasurer into which Judas was placed (John 13:29).

Keep in mind, all of the Apostles, as well as Christ Himself, had been baptized by John the Baptist. This baptism followed the apostles’ fruits of repentance and made them eligible to obtain church membership (Mark 1:4). This is one aspect of John the Baptist’s ministry of which it was said that he was to “prepare the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:2), by making them eligible for membership in the Lord’s first assembly on earth.

The actual beginning of the Lord’s church is described for us in detail in two passages that describe the same historical event..

And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth [unto him] whom he would: and they came unto him.  And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:  And Simon he surnamed Peter;

17) And James the [son] of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:  And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the [son] of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.”   (Mark 3:13-19)

In these verses, we can see that the Lord chose these original twelve apostles to fulfill specific duties, one of which was to BE WITH HIM.  In other words, they were chosen to accompany Him and be pastored by Him.  Christ fulfilled His role of pastor to them as He led them, taught them, and protected them.  All of this was done to prepare them for their future, permanent, ministries that would begin at Pentecost (the EMPOWERING of the local assembly for ministry in Christ’s absence by the Holy Spirit) (Acts 2:1-36).

 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  And when it was day, he called [unto him] his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;  Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,  Matthew and Thomas, James the [son] of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,   And Judas [the brother] of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.  And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;  And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.  And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed [them] all.  And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed [be ye] poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.   (Luke 6:12-20)

The Lord began His church by choosing, and assembling His apostles (here they are called “his disciples”), who are separated from the crowds that had gathered. Then they rejoined the crowds and ministered to them.

Following their ministry to the crowds, the LORD BEGAN TO TEACH HIS CHURCH (ie His disciples) as He shared with them the Sermon on the Mount.  This is clearly seen by Him looking directly on His disciples as He taught.   In other words, when the Lord taught the Sermon on the Mount, He was teaching His disciples (ie His church, His apostles) as the crowds looked on.

2. The Lord’s church will continue to exist on earth until He comes back at His second coming: Matthew 16:16-20, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Corinthians 11:25-26

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.  And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.”   (Matthew 16:16-20)

In the above text we can see that the Lord is making a clear promise that the His church will not be overcome, die a slow death and go out of existence.  Not Satan, not the powers of darkness, NOTHING will gain a lasting complete victory over all of His assemblies on earth.   Individual church assemblies may come and go, but there will always be at least one of the Lord’s churches in existence to minister to His people and the lost world around it.

Also note the phrase “will build”.  This phrase is translated from a Greek word that means “to strengthen”, “to edify”, “to add to”.  This is teaching us that, at the time Jesus spoke this, the church was already in existence and He is promising He would strengthen it, prepare it and “build it up” to be able to exist until His second coming.

He did this in many ways… His personal teaching during His earthly ministry, His completion and accreditation of the inspired Word and ministry of the church of God by 100 AD, the giving of the Holy Spirit to empower His assembly at Pentecost, the establishing of other offices that would be used to further “build up” the assembly, the adding of believers to the first assembly at Jerusalem and the sending of the gospel to (and establishing His churches) throughout the Gentile world.  All of these strengthened the Lord’s assemblies which enabled them to exist in His absence and in the face of all types of opposition.

(There will be much more about the “rock” being mentioned in this text in the next section of our study.  For now, the only important point to be seen is that the church will not die and go out of existence.)

The Lord also explains the event that will cause His churches to go out of existence… it would not be the opposition of the powers of darkness, but the end of the current age. This will take place at His second coming….

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.”   (Matthew 28:18-20)

 

A part of the Great Commission that the Lord delivered to His local assembly was the promise of His continuing accompaniment with His churches until the “end of the world”.  The term “world” was translated from a Greek word that means “age” or “specific time period” or “period of duration”.  This is teaching us that the second coming of Christ, which will bring about the end of the current age in which we are living, will also bring an end to the existence of the Lord’s churches on earth.

This same principle is also supported in 1 Corinthians 11:25-26…

 

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.”   (1 Corinthians 11:25-26)

 

The ordinance of the Lord’s supper is a church ordinance, therefore, it is under local church authority and is to be observed, and controlled by His local assemblies.  Here, we are told that His churches are to be observing His supper consistently until He comes back. For His churches to be able to keep this command, His churches must be in existence until His second coming.

The Lord’s church, which started with Christ’s call to assemble given to His Apostles, will exist until the second coming of Christ.

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

In the second part of our study we saw that the church, as an assembly offers to Christians the three-fold blessing of:
1.  the teaching of God’s Word – to strengthen, mature and ground them.
2.  the care and fellowship of other believers
3.  opportunities of service to Christ.
4.  enriched worship of the Lord through the observance of the ordinances and enhanced prayer effectiveness.

In the third, and last part of our study on the Nature of the Church, we can see that:
1.  The Lord’s church began with Christ’s call for His Apostles to assemble and to accompany Him.
2.  The Lord’s church would go out of existence during the age in which we live
3.  The Lord’s church will not be overcome by the powers of darkness in this world
4.  The Lord’s church will cease to exist at the end of this age, brought about by the second coming of Jesus.

Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church?  It is promised to remain in existence until Christ comes again, therefore it can be a consistent source of instruction, fellowship, worship and opportunities of service as we live our lives 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

 

 

The Importance Of The Local Church -2: “The Nature Of The Church: The Benefits Of The Assembly”

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

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

In this second lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will begin looking at the church’s four part role in the lives of those who have been saved by God’s grace by supplying care, the opportunity to serve, fellowship, and encouragement.

THE STUDY:

In our previous study we found that the Lord’s churches on earth can be defined as “A LOCAL, VISIBLE ASSEMBLY OF SAINTS THAT HAS BEEN SUMMONED BY GOD, MAKING IT UNIQUE FROM ALL OTHERS ASSEMBLIES IN THIS WORLD.”

As our study continued, we saw that the church, being a local body, helped us to understand that it was established to minister, first and foremost, in the local area in which it is situated.   Then we also learned that because the churches of the Lord are visible, they were meant to be a public, visible display of His love, care and grace towards those in that local community.

In today’s study we will be looking at the church’s characteristic of being an “assembly of saints”.  Please note that the Lord’s church is a group that is made up of individual members that have trusted in Christ as their Lord and Savior, and have professed this faith publically through the ordinance of baptism.

41) Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.  42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  (Acts 2:41-42)

Please notice in the above text, we find a clear order to events that result in church membership…

1.  The people “gladly received the word”, this is the acceptance of the truths of the gospel message resulting in belief in Christ as Lord and Savior.
2.  They “were baptized”, following their salvation they were in submission to the will of God by publically confessing their faith by being baptized.
3.   Following their baptism, we find them uniting with the local assembly “added unto them about three thousand souls”
4.  Their newly experienced church membership resulted in them being taught “they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine”; enjoying fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ “fellowship”; communal worship enhanced through the observance of the Lord’s supper “in breaking of bread” and joint prayers “prayers” .

Using this as the basic outline of our study, let’s begin looking at the church’s benefits that are offered to the saints of God:

1.  The Teaching Of God’s Word: Ephesians 4:11-16

11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  13) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  14) That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  15) But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:  16) From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.   (Ephesians 4:11-16)

The Lord gifted the men found in verse 11 to reveal the Word to believers through the ministry of His churches.  The apostles were inspired to reveal the NT scriptures.  The prophets were inspired to reveal the OT words of God.  Once the OT and NT were completed, the ministry of these offices were brought to an end.  Now the Lord uses evangelists (missionaries), pastors, and other teachers of the Word to teach the completed Scriptures to those who are members of His assembly.

The purpose of all of these men’s ministries is to teach His Word in an understandable fashion so the members of His church so that they can become mature Christians, equipped for service and able to discern true teaching from error.

2.  Fellowship and opportunities of service for Christ: 1 Corinthians 12:20-31

18) But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  19) And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?  20) But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.  21) 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.  22) Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  23) 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.  24) For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:  25) That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another.  26) And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.  27) Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.  28) 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.  29) [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles?  30) Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  31) But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.   (1 Corinthians 12:18-31)

Please notice the opportunities to serve the Lord in His assemblies are implied throughout this passage.  All the opportunities that open to us to support, help and share in the lives of other church members. All of these are opportunities of service to Christ.

The offices of service mentioned in verses 28-31 were given to the local assemblies to reveal God’s Word, teach God’s Word and accredit the church and her message. Most of these offices no longer exist in the local assembly to day (see vs 8-11 for a complete listing of the gifts that no longer exist), as they came to an end at the completion of the revelation of His Word to man in approximately 100 AD.  (more on this later in our study)

3.  Enriched Communal Worship: Ordinances (Baptism, Lord’s Supper) and Enhanced Prayer

Baptism

18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.   (Matthew 28:18-20)

The ordinance of baptism is given to the local church as a part of the great commission.

Lord’s Supper

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.   (1 Corinthians 11:23-34)

The responsibility of observing the Lord’s Supper is expounded by the Apostle Paul to the local church at Corinth.

Prayer

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.  18) Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  19) Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.  20) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.   (Matthew 18:15-20)

In the context of church discipline and local church authority, we are told that no matter how small an assembly of believers, when they are gathered and in prayer making requests according to His will great things can take place and Christ is in their midst.

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

In the second part of our study we saw that the church, as an assembly offers to Christians the three-fold blessing of:

1.  the teaching of God’s Word – to strengthen, mature and ground them.
2.  the care and fellowship of other believers
3.  opportunities of service to Christ.
4.  enriched worship of the Lord through the observance of the ordinances and enhanced prayer effectiveness.

Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church?  I supplies to us the teachings of God’s Word, fellowship with believers and enriched worship.

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

 

 

The Observance Of The Lord’s Supper

SIH STSTA ICONTo those who have requested this information, I hope it helps…This is a typical Baptist church service in which we observe the Lord’s Supper…

The Message: 1Cor 11:20-34 (KJV)

20) When ye come together therefore into one place, [this] is not to eat the Lord’s supper.

Although they were claiming to meet with the intent to glorify God by observance of His supper…

21) For in eating every one taketh before [other] his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

22) 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.

They could not have been meeting with the right motives in mind for the supper.

Their actions clearly revealed this… each selfishly ate without consideration of the others.  They brought their own suppers to church to eat in front of others.  Some ate to fulfill their own fleshly desire of hunger, others drank to excess causing drunkeness.  In both cases, this was selfish behavior not behavior that desires the Lord’s glory.

Desires and Intentions are very important in the observance of the Lord’s Supper.  Our motives should be:

vs 23-24 – To remember His physical suffering for us

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.

Paul’s instructions were based upon the example that Christ Himself set as He led the first observance of the Lord’s Supper.

The bread is symbolic of the body of Christ (His sufferings on the cross).  As we chew the bread it is a picture of Christ’s body being abused, torn and broken on our behalf.  As we swallow the bread it is picturing that His work has been applied to us.

vs 25 – To remember His shed blood for us.

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.

Paul’s instructions continue …

The fruit of the vine is symbolic of His shed blood (His life given on the cross – the life of the flesh is in His blood).  His shed blood is the basis of the convenant of salvation by grace that the Lord has given to us.  As we pour the fruit of the vine from the cups to our lips it pictures the His blood being poured form His body.  As we swallow the fruit of the vine, we are picturing His blood being applied to us.

vs 26 – To remember His death and His second coming.

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

Paul now summarizes what he has covered so far….

A combination of His body being abused, torn and broken along with His blood being shed is symbolic of the process of death that He went through on the cross.

4.  vs 27-34 – To drink of it worthily  

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.

Paul gives ample warning about the need to take care in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper.  To eat of it in an unworthy fashion is sinful and, therefore, makes one guilty of the body and blood of Christ.  He suffered to pay the price for our sins.  Some of those sins He died for were the sins of partaking of the Supper unworthily.

How do we eat of it unworthily?

  1. Selfishly partaking of the Supper by having the wrong desires and motives for partaking of it. (context above)

2.    Selfishly partaking of the Supper by having known, unconfessed sin in our lives, those sins have caused His death and suffering.  Lord sent sinful away before eating.  (John 13:18-30)

  1. a.    Jesus at sop (before Lord’s Supper) says that one will betray Him’
  2. Disciples ask Him who it is…

John 13:26-30 (KJV)

26) Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped [it]. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave [it] to Judas Iscariot, [the son] of Simon.

27) And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.

28) Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.

29) For some [of them] thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy [those things] that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.

30) He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

Therefore, we are to take time to give all opportunity to examine ourselves to be sure we have right motives and desires in the supper and that we have no unconfessed sin in our lives.

By partaking of the supper unworthily, we are harming ourselves and may face sickness or even death.  This is a big deal, no small issue.

  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.

 How do we avoid this type of judgment, by taking the time to judge ourselves and take care of our known sins, our desires and intentions in observing the supper.

 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.

 Therefore, we are to make sure we give all the needed time to examine our lives and to prepare our hearts properly for the supper.  No selfishness by hurrying the self examination or fulfilling hunger.

 The Observance of the Lord’s Supper

 

  1. Message
  2. Invitation and Time of      Examination combined
  3. Uncover Table
  4. Read :

1 Cor 11: 23 – 24) 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. Prayer For Bread
  2. Distribute Bread
  3. Hold Up Bread and      Read:

1 Cor 11: 23 – 24) 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. Eat Bread
  2. Read:

1 Cor 11: 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.

 

  1. Prayer For Cup
  2. Distribute Cup
  3. Hold Up Cup and Read:

1 Cor 11: 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.

 

  1. Drink Cup
  2. Read:

Matt 26: 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.

1 Cor 11:26) For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Matt 26: 30) And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

 

  1. Closing Prayer of      Thanksgiving
  2. Sing      Closing Song
  3. Dismissal      – Everyone quietly leave church

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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