Tag: new testament

Is Christ Divided? Why are there so many denominations? Part 3

Denominationalism had received acceptance by the late 15th century.  Luther’s ideas had not been championed by Melancthon, Luther’s second in command (who later had come all the way to the New Testament position on most subjects but did not have the generalship to lead) and the gaffe left, gave rise for the world to have another who could decipher his beliefs from the inspired Word of God and tell mankind what God intended to say by His apostles in the Bible but was unable to articulate.  Among those most famous in this area was a French lawyer named John Calvin.  Born in the late 15th century, Calvin left Roman Catholicism while a young man and went to an area around Geneva, Switzerland.  The world now had two reformers of German descent, but that was about the only thing they had in common (Martin Luther had also aspired to be a lawyer).  When the Pope called on Charles V (a defender of the faith) to condemn Luther, Calvin was not going to risk such insult.   Invited to Geneva by the city fathers to reform the church, Calvin found his Jerusalem.  What had started out as a desire to restore the church of the New Testament in doctrine and practice soon became a climb to fame and fortune.  He forgot God and became god.   In Geneva, Calvin found the opportunity to preach the old Augustinian doctrine of predestination and write his catechism, called the Prayer book.  He eventually took the power of the government and in the first five years of his power executed 58 people and exiled another 75.  His boldest move was the execution of a Spanish doctor turned preacher, Servetes, in 1553, which they burnt alive atop his own written books that had come to Geneva to debate Calvin in public discussion.   He seemingly took no interest in his own native country of France but sent missionaries and preachers to her for years.  His doctrine came to England through one of his converts, John Knox, then to Scotland.  Calvin taught that God had chosen a select “elect” and nothing good or bad they might do would change their eternal destination, but, and if you were chosen to be eternally damned, there was nothing you could obey, do, or believe that would change your eternal consequences.  He sided with Zwingli on the Lord’s Supper and for this reason could not be a Lutheran.  His unearthly cruelty was evidenced in many ways.  He is said to have starved to death his oldest daughter for disobeying him.

No one had ever heard of the Presbyterian Church until John Calvin started it.  If she is the select of God, what happened to all those who lived and died before John Calvin was born? I guess it is alright to be “predestinated” to eternal life and not know about it, but what about being “predestinated” to eternal damnation and never having a chance? The Calvinist think the better they live, the more proof they are “predestinated” to eternal life, but if you NEVER knew you were “predestinated” to eternal damnation, it would be a little raw to wake up in Hell having lived all your life being an exemplary student of the life of Christ and not know you could never have been anything but LOST!!

Other doctrines the “lawyer from France” did not check with the Word of God about were “inborn sin” (called hereditary total depravity) and sprinkling for baptism.  I have often wondered why every Presbyterian has their children baptized (sprinkled) when one of them might be hereditarily totally depraved?  Maybe the doctrines of penances of Roman Catholicism was error, Mariolatry was sinful, and transubstantiation was completely absurd, but the idea that once you are in a certain family God would select you because of your parents church affiliation for eternal life seems a little profound.

At the same time in history King Henry VIII of England decided to divorce his wife and marry Anne of Boleyn.  Henry, being King, thought nothing of doing everything his way.  When he received word the Pope had decided to excommunicate him, Henry flew in a fury and started his own church which in the American continent is called the Church of England.  This church did not start as a reform movement, it started over who was the “guilty party” (whatever that is, I have never read this verbiage in God’s Word).  Not being among the reformed movements, it still spawned another of the modern day denominations called the Baptist Church.  Henry passed the decree that no one worshipped God in England in any other church than the Church of England, or be killed.  So corrupt she became in a short time that there arose a “separatist movement” that was a reform effort called, in mockery, the Baptist Church, started by a minister of the Church of England in 1602, John Smythe.

Is Christ Divided? Why are there so many denominations? Part 2

Europe had grown tired of the Roman Pontiff by the 14TH CENTURY.  The Papacy continued to increase, BUT a secret lust in the bosoms of Protestants for ecclesiastical power and patronage worked in the members of the Protestant Popes, who gradually assimilated their new church to the old.  Creeds and manuals, synods and councils, soon shackled the minds of men, and the spirit of reformation gradually forsook the Protestant church or was supplanted by the “spirit” of the world.

Luther was not alone; there were other “giants” in religion which appeared on the scene.  Erasmus and Zwingli.  Erasmus was the son of a protestant preacher out of wedlock and Zwingli was the scholar from Switzerland.  These two men helped set the minds of men looking toward the writings of the apostles and them alone.  Erasmus (who had personal conference with Luther) wrote: “the Roman Catholics have cultivated a religion of external acts and substituted pilgrimages, indulgences, and relics for true faith.”  Erasmus wrote:” the source of doctrine MUST BE the Bible, not the church; we have too long drunk from the fountain of the Papacy rather than through the word of God, and now we are in the troubled streams of traditions of men.  We must exalt the Bible above the church as the source of doctrine.”  Reading the writings of Zwingli on the Lord’s Supper one will think he is reading from a learned member of the Church of Christ, today.

Then appeared John Calvin, a very cruel man (it is recorded that he literally starved his oldest daughter to death to punish her for disobedience).  Calvin renewed the speculative theology of St. Augustine, and Geneva in a few years became the Alexandria of modern Europe.  The power of religion was soon mugged in debates about forms and ceremonies, in speculative opinions.  Fierce debaters were more interested in burning heretics than seeking truth.   Still, the wound inflicted upon the “man of sin” would never heal, it was incurable, his day of sole ruler in Europe, was over.

Reformation became the order of the day; and this, assuredly, was a great matter, however it may have been managed.  It was a revolution, and revolutions seldom move backward.  The example that Luther set was of more value than all the achievements of Charles V, or the literary and moral labors of his distinguished contemporary, the erudite Erasmus.

It is interesting how extremes begat greater extremes in every step of the reformation cause, to the dawn of the present century.  The penances, works of faith and supererogation, of the Roman church drove Luther and Calvin to the ultraism of “faith alone”!  Churches that started in European states HAD status and were THE religions of those states in which they began.  What saved Luther’s life on many occasions was the only fact that he was before a German court and Germans!!  I am told that still today, the Germans pay a tax to keep the Lutheran church buildings operating!

In debating, the Protestants had lost all affection for truth, and would as soon have “communed in the sacrament” with the Catholics as with one another; speculative abstracts of Christian Platonism, the divine mysteries of Egyptian theology, became alternately the bond of union and the apple of discord, among the fathers and friends of the Reformation.

The five great dogmas of the Geneva reformer (Calvin) were carried to Amsterdam, and generated in the mind of James Arminius, in 1591, five opposite opinions; and these at the Synod of Dort, in 1618, formed a new party of Remonstrants.  (Some new names you are not familiar with have disappeared but were the leading denominations of the day.  They did not survive the 100 year mark, but they were extremely important at that time).   This is JUST 500 years, ago.  Has your church been mentioned?

Into Britain came Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Arminianism!  Like all raw material, they were introduced, were immediately manufactured anew.  There were extortions, but the beggarly elements of opinion flourished more than on their own native soil.  Abroad it was no better.  The Saxon reformer had his friends; John of Picardy lived in the grateful remembrance of the Geneva family; and James of Amsterdam speculated in a very liberal style among all the Remonstrants at home and abroad.  See! you have never heard of some of the “greats in religion” of the 16th century!!   And Jesus prayed that we would “all be ONE.” The Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostals and more, have not historically arrived, yet!!

 

Is Christ Divided? Why are there so many denominations? Part1

Since the full development of the great apostasy, foretold by the Prophets and Apostles, numerous attempts at reformation have been made.  Three centuries, carrying with them the destinies of countless millions, have passed into eternity since the Lutheran effort to dethrone the “Man of Sin.”  In this period many great changes took place in our world.  Nations composing the western half of the Roman Empire greatly benefited by adjustments and no person acquainted with either political or ecclesiastical history can reasonably doubt man is now better.  Time, that great arbiter of human action, the great revealer of secrets, has long decided that all the reformers of the Papacy were public benefactors in all the states/countries in which they were welcomed.  The Protestant Reformation has proved to have been one of the most splendid eras in the history of the world, and must long be regarded as one of the most enlightening interpositions in the behalf of the human race.

We Americans owe our national privileges and our civil liberties to the Protestant Reformers.  They achieved not only an imperishable fame for themselves, but a rich legacy for their posterity.  When we contrast the present state of these United States with Spanish America, and the condition of the English nation with that of Spain, Portugal, and Italy, we begin to appreciate how much we are indebted to this faithful intelligence evidenced by Martin Luther and his heroic associates which began the reformation in 1519.    Mr. Luther restored the Bible to the world A.D. 1534, and boldly defended its claims against the impious and arrogant pretensions of the haughty and tyrannical ‘See of Rome.’  In a moving debate in defense of his life, Luther declared the now famous words: “Here I stand, I will not move, so help me God!”  Unfortunately, at his death, there was no Joshua to lead the people, who rallied under the banners of the Bible, out of the wilderness in which religion, and the spirit of reformation that he had flamed, to the “promised land of the New Covenant.”  His “back to the Bible” was soon quenched by rival political interests.  A secret lust for power and ecclesiastical supremacy was seen in the bosoms of Protestant churches.  The “new” movement was gradually assimilated back to the old.  Creeds, manuals, synods, and synods soon shackled the minds of men, and the spirit of reformation gradually forsook the Protestant church.  They became just the second act of error that had followed the Papacy.

Calvin, renewed the speculative theology of St. Augustine, and Geneva in a few years became the Alexandria of modern Europe.  The Spirit of Christ was soon merged into political burnings of heretics; the honorable debate in the arena of ideas was lost.  Still, however, in all these collisions much light was elicited; and had it not been for these extremes, it is problematical whether the wounds upon the “Man of Sin” would have been as incurable as it has since proved itself to be.  With Calvin’s staunch, unflinching demeanor, his followers, the Presbyterians, gained great foot holes in the minds of the seeking, intelligent that for the first time actually had a copy of the Word of God in their own languages and in their own houses of worship!

Reformation became the order of the day; and this, assuredly, was a great matter, however it may have been managed.  It was a revolution, and revolutions seldom move backward.  The example that Luther set was of more value than all the achievements of Charles V., or the literary and moral labors of his distinguished contemporary, the erudite Erasmus.   The long-seeking freedom in the political arena found its new home in the new denominations that were springing up all over Europe.  Some came into being without even confirmed beliefs.  The Baptist (Separatists) for example existed 80 years, from their inception in 1603 A.D., before they ever decided on the mode of baptism they would have in their churches.  First called Anabaptist, the other sect were called Pedobaptist.  Neither sect had the power to enforce their definition of baptism, which the Holy Spirit had already decided some 1600 years earlier.  Penances and works of faith drove Luther and Calvin to their “faith only” doctrines, not the Bible!

 

 

Breaking Bread- The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper Part 17

The “Amen, the faithful and true Witness,” has invited all who are a part of His Bride to a table.  In Revelation 3, He speaks to an unfaithful assembly, Laodicea.  She was lukewarm, neither hot nor fervent in devotion nor did she in lowliness acknowledge herself to be cold; neither having fervent hearts in holy affection nor consciously lacking holy fervor and confessing it, she was in a deceived state. This deceived state receives the severest rebuke from the Lord, the ever “True One.”  This was an affluent assembly that seemed “dead while she seemed alive.”  There was no antagonism towards religious error neither was there any heart for contesting false teaching.  Open hostility to the truth is better than being lukewarm, ignoring error.  “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”  This is very scary—what about those who were in the assembly He DIDN’T LOVE?  Jesus had said; “you are either for Me or against Me.”  Churches that seemed not to care either way are sick assemblies and those of us who participate in a sick assembly die from malnutrition!!  They have a condition called “rickets.”  This is a disease that does not have enough strength in their bones to stand up on those bones.  The numbness of spiritual indifference is the worst kind of sickness; it is a hopelessness that is worse than toleration of false doctrine.

Usually, this occurs in assemblies that think they are already “safe” from any kind of activity Satan will throw at them.  It is possible that dead assemblies are the results of the absence of feeling any need for fire (hard positive preachers and preaching of the gospel) that puts out the sin of laziness in defending the truth and stomping out the error of denominational doctrines, feeling they are safe from any harm from them!! It reminds one of the rich farmer of Luke 12.  He had so-0-0 much of the world’s goods and was so-o-0 safe within himself, he could not think of anything to do but to “tear down his old barns and build bigger ones.”  What did Christ say to him?   “Thou fool, this night your soul is required of thee, then whose shall these things belong to??”  You can watch this kind of assembly, they have the white gloves when they partake and when they break the bread or partake of the contents of the cup, and they have no movement on their heart monitors!!  They are not happy WHEN they partake nor do they feel any loss WHEN they miss the next time the supper is served and they are not there!!  If you check their pulse, there is no reading!!  Laodicea is typical of congregations that have a baptistery with no water in it and no one can remember the last time someone was baptized, there!!

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcome, and am set down with My Father in His throne.”  Laodicea was about 20 miles from Colosse.  In this city in the fourth century there was a council held in the fourth century, now it lies in ruins.  The Amen, One that is steady and unchangeable in all His purposes and promises, which are always “yea, yea and amen,” whose testimony from God to men was always faithful and true, who was the head of the Body, the firstborn from the dead, who raised Himself from the dead by His own divine power, raises up dead souls to be in a living temple and church.  He who adds, puts saved souls in what meant everything to the Son of God, the Church of Christ, cries out; “why halt you between two opinions,” from His servant Joshua, “if God be God, follow Him; if Baal (be God), follow him.”  There is NO ROOM for neutrality.  An open enemy shall have a fairer quarter from Christ than a disgusting neutral; and there is more hope of a heathen that one who will not declare his or her faith in Jesus Christ because she or he is afraid to offend the lost one.  It is a nauseous thing the Christ of God cannot tolerate!!  Isaiah cries out: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1-3

Imagine, Christ knocking at the door of His purchased Bride!!  Here, He stands using all the proper means to awaken us from sleep, He knocks by the impulses of His Spirit on our consciences as we partake of this bread and cup, invites us to commune with He and the Father—and each other.  Correction and instruction is a blessing from our Master, and all we who partake of this bread and fruit of the vine are being judged as we partake; for as promised to His disciples before He suffered; “I will drink it anew with you, in the Father’s kingdom,”  “the Lord omnipotent reigns, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready.  Blessed are they who are called to the Supper.”

Breaking Bread- The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper Part 16

Of all the apostles to have written of this great Table, the one who was not present at the last Supper wrote the clearest and most about the introduction!  As the apostle Paul was the apostle from whom Luke received the message, Paul tells us things not mentioned in either of the other Old Testament epistles.  Christ was crucified on the evening of the Passover.
The year seems to be settled as A> U.C. 783, A. D. 30, he sixteenth year of the Emperor Tiberius.  In this year, astronomers tells us, the 14th of Nisan fell on a Friday; and as for typical instruction at least, we should expect that Christ would die at the hour when the paschal lamb was slain, we at once see the fitness of this date and day, if they can be safely maintained.  It is incredible that the events immediately preceding and accompanying the execution of Christ should have occurred on the actual feast day; it is also incredible that, as some suppose, the Pharisees altered the legal day in order that they might be free to accomplish their wicked design.  Christ died the hour the lambs were legally slain. John 13:1;29;18:28; 19:14; 19:31.

The apostles were with Him when, in the “large upper room,” the twelve sat down, or rather reclined on the couches covered with carpets, the tables before them laid with the dishes peculiar to the solemn Passover Supper, each dish telling a peculiar story of the great deliverance from Egypt.  There was the lamb the Paschal victim, and the bitter herbs, the unleavened bread and the reddish sweet conserve of fruits—commemorating, it is said, by its color the hard labors of brickmaking, one of the chief burdens of the Egyptian bondage—into which the Master dipped the sop, gave it to the traitor, John 13:26, as the Lord began to transform this into the new supper He would introduce as they proceeded in such a way as to change it into the sacred Supper of the New Testament. ”With desire” is a strange and peculiar expression evidently a reproduction of the original Hebrew.  It described an intense longing to keep this last Passover, first, as a dear Friend who would make this the solemn last farewell.  Do we not all, when we feel the end coming, long for a last communion with our dearest friends?  Secondly, the Master would gather His deepest teaching from this last meal.  Next, as the founder of a great religion, He purposed, on this momentous occasion, to transform the most solemn festal gathering of the ancient Jewish people, which commemorated their greatest deliverance, into a feast which should commemorate a far greater deliverance, not of the old chosen race, but of the new race which would be born from heaven.  It had to be introduced early for on the morrow, when the people eat their Passover, it will be too late for us, before I suffer.”   There was yet another reason for His deliberate actions on this night.  For so many centuries the central act of the ritual observance under Moses would be superseded by a new and yet more solemn religious exercise.  He was announcing the end of the old supper and the beginning of another and far more spiritual banquet in the heavenly realm, which not only the Redeemer, but also His redeemed will partake.  He promised NOT to partake UNTIL He would partake it again with them IN THE FATHER’S KINGDOM.  A promise which He has not fulfilled IF the Kingdom has NOT come into existence as pre-millennialist teach.

This partaking is the solemn declaration publicly made by the communicant as a deliberate wish that those who see and know of our partaking, believe that King Jesus lived, died, and rose again.  It is a fervent expression of belief that strength will be surely given him, “that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith,” Galatians 3:26, asserting that a blessing too great for us to measure by earthly language, too deep to fathom with human inquiry, and too rich, unless measured by life, is the benediction of Christ work on this earth.  To serve this Supper and envelop it in a shroud of mist and cloud, thereby diming it, as with a veil, that we might not see its glory, will keep us from this simple rite, more awful in its grandeur, more Divine and far-reaching in its promises to the faithful believer, and more strengthening than language can describe; is a crime denominationalism has faithfully delivered and preached.  This, the traitor Judas Iscariot was not privileged to remain as a spectator.

“For I have appointed you a kingdom,” to appoint was to dispose by will, make a covenant by entering into a covenant with those to whom one is speaking, for the Passover draws nigh that all Jews partook and the disciples of Christ were the only ones who had already partaken, ready to suffer.

Breaking Bread- The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper Part 15

Reading the book of Esther, entrance to the king stuck me as what we should envision when we come to the Supper of our King!!  As you have read, when Esther went into the presence of Ahasuerus, had he not held out his scepter to her (a sign she was welcomed into his throne room and presence), she would have been slain. Esther 4:11 We often do not imagine the same in invitation of our Lord and King.  We assume we are invited, “we have been baptized,” we say to ourselves!!  Esther was queen and if she had not had the golden scepter held out to her, she would have been killed.  Do you think she did not believe this?  Like Esther, some do not think they have been “called” into the inner court but at their convenience.  We come when we want and stay away when it is not convenient, or when we can blame it on the kids, or lack of gas money.   Her entrance continued the Jewish nation; their existence DEPENDED on her entrance! “Think not with thyself that though shalt escape in the King’s house, more than all the Jews.  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed.” Esther 4:13-14   The dangers of not attending reach beyond our souls to the soul and spirit of those whom we have brought into this world!!  We had all better seriously think and think long who have the tendency to “forsake the assembling of ourselves, together.” Hebrews 11:25   Maybe you had better go back and read Esther 3 and 4 and see where Satan has you and your children.

Imagine, being invited into the presence of God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit!!  The angels that hover as guardians over the mightiest Beings that never began and will never cease to be are there with wisdom that will never allow them to be jealous or envious of our presence, yet have never received such invitation for themselves.  We have come to remember the great plan of the ages, often called the “Mystery of the Ages.”  Into this realm of glory we come with all the attributes of humanity odorously emanating from our presence.  Most come into this regal splendor supposing it is something owed us or something gained because of our self-worth, but never with fear or concern from not being allowed, in!!  Like the old boy with a plug of tobacco in his mouth, we saunter into the holiest of holies with everything but thanksgiving on our minds for the death that set us free from sin.   No one ever looks to see if the scepter has been held out!!  We have been told that eating and drinking of this memorial holds death for us if we do not partake “in the proper manner of reverence and respect,” but here we come, some thinking we are doing God a favor for showing up this Sunday morning having left that pillow still soft and warm!!

We come to “share” something with Deity.  Of all the memorials offered by man, to man; nothing has ever made us think of what we share with God.  We remember WHY HE DIED, not in sadness, but in great thankfulness.  He who died, present with the scepter in His hand, “takes bread.”   Notice, nothing is said by Him.  When God makes a covenant with man, and chooses to use as a remembrance of his covenant, it “requires no language.”  All who assemble recognize and understand just what the bread represents or they have been debarred from this spiritual meal, for the scepter is recognition and respect for what the bread represents.  To mock Him whose body this represents, in His presence is something rare, even for man, yet some of our race have so done.  So, because of our indifference and disrespect, we eat to our death, the scepter did not leave His side!!  In the same state of mind, we drink of contents of the cup, for the contents, not the cup itself, represent the blood shed “before the foundations of the world.”  (Some have tried to argue about the cup, whether it is one cup or many cups-it is neither, it is the contents of the cup that Christ shed, not some chalice!! Don’t find yourself standing in the presence of the Being who shed this blood arguing about the container which holds that which He shed!!)  Our spirits sore within us as we, as quickly as we came, leave this room!  “Oh! What a fellowship, oh! What a joy divine; for we have leaned, for a moment, on the everlasting Arm,” but someday will stay, forever!!  Often, we never show the quiet-tude of respect and reverence deserved, nor does sadness grip our hearts. We have not reckoned where we have been and what we have lost in a fleeting moment that, in the future, will be ours for eternity. We awake in understanding, still in fellowship with the representatives of They whom we have left behind, till next week!!

Breaking Bread- The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper Part 14

What a shame and disgrace for the Church of Christ at Corinth to have come out of destitute circumstances in heathen temples and come into the most vaunted place earth could house, the Church of Christ and starve some who had not; yet this is exactly what they were doing!!  The richer members of the Church were disjoining themselves from the poor members who “had not houses to eat in, or despise you the Church of God and shame them that have not?” 1 Corinthians 11:22  It would shame the Christian community, and quite undo its quickly won reputation for brotherly love and charity, were its members observed  begging for daily bread on the streets.  It was equally unseemly for the rich to accept and for the poor to be denied the meal furnished at the expense of the Church. No quality, of the Church of Christ, was more her own, than charity and no duty more incumbent or lovelier than to feed the hungry, it could not dishonor the Church to spread in it a meal for whosoever should be in need of it, and that she did.

The cup and its significance are now sought in meaning.  This is denominationalist have so sadly been remiss in their understanding.  The Church of Rome has influenced her offspring, the denominational churches which sprang from her, to the extent that the custom of the day prevails to allow the communicant to eat of the bread, but not of the cup.  One of Rome’s authorities has written that “it is well known that this custom was not first established by any ecclesiastical law; but, on the contrary, it was in consequence of the general prevalence of the usage that this law was established.  A pious dread of desecrating, by spilling and the like, even in the most conscientious ministration, the form of the most sublime and holiest whereof the participation can be vouchsafed to man, was the feeling which swayed their minds.”  One cannot but regret that this reverence for the purpose of partaking did not take the form of a humble acceptance of it, in accordance with its original institution; and one cannot but think that the “pious dread of desecrating” the purpose would have sufficiently prevented any spilling of the wine or other abuse, or have sufficiently atoned for any little accident which might have occurred. It is definite that the apostle by inspiration did never insist that such a piety would have never given place to the observance on a more infrequent basis to avoid such a mistake of human frailty.

One of the main arguments used by men is that the frequent observance breeds undue familiarity with holy things and a profane carelessness in handling what should only be approached with the deepest reverence.  That familiarity breeds contempt, or at any rate heedlessness, is hardened by frequentness of observance.   The medical student who faints or sickens at the sight of blood the first time he sees the operating theater soon looks with unflinching face on wounds and blood.  And by the same law it is feared, and not without reason, that if we observed frequent communion, we should cease to cherish that proper awe, and cease to feel that flutter of hesitation, and cease to be subdued by that sacredness of the observance which yet are the very feelings through which in great measure the attendance to the command influences us for good.  We think it would be impossible to pass every week through those trying moments in which the soul trembles before God’s majesty and love as exhibited in the Lord’s Supper: and we fear that the heart would shrink from faithfulness, and that the emotion in partaking would cease. That Paul, as directed by the Holy Spirit, sought to restore reverence in the Corinthians not by prohibiting frequent observance, but by setting more clearly before them the facts which underlie the partaking.  They had a bused not the oftenest, but the purpose for partaking.  In presence of these facts every worthy communicant is at all times living; and if it be merely the outward equipment and presentation of these facts which solemnize our hearts and quicken our reverence, then in this itself is rather an argument for the weekly celebration of the Supper.  We are not governed by instinct, but by command.  We have not been advised by humanity as to the oftenest of observance, but by God.  We have never to fear that since God made us, it is He who could have prevented the frequency from making us lose our reverence for the partaking.

The key to proper observance is not frequency but preparedness.  Our hearts must enter this precious observance not as a religious duty, but in sufficient gratitude for the forgiveness of sins it pictures!

Breaking Bread- The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper Part 13

“Heresies” come from the Greek word which did not mean erroneous opinions but it means party factions.  The word soon acquired a bad sense as in referred to in Acts 5:17; 24:5; Galatians 5:20 and many other places. The primary meaning in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church of Christ was that of “division.”  The mutually railing factions, which in their factions bandy about their false and rival charges of “heresy,” are illustrating the virulence of their sin they are professing to denounce; the “sin of factions.”  “That they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”  1 John 2:19; 1 John 2:10, speaks of the aberrations of false teachers as destined to prove that they did not belong to the true Church.  It is not questioned whether they were eating where they assembled, it was stated.  For some to convince themselves that they were not, shows they have not read the text.

These brethren were “coming into one place.”  Wonder what “place” they coming to?  As of yet, the church did not have a place to meet, that would force us to understand that they were meeting in private houses: “for in your eating, every one-all who had contributed a share of the meal-were abusing the connection of the “agape supper,” or love feast, or social gathering, with the Lord’s Supper.  These “club fests” (eranoi in the Greek) were making a distinction between brethren.  “One is hungry.”  The poor saint who has been unable to contribute to the meal, looked on with grudging eyes and craving appetite, while the rich had ample.  They, who were rich, “were drunken.”  Many of the heathen converts were unable to at once break the spell of their old habits, and few modern Churches present a spectacle so deplorable as that which we here find in the apostolic Church at Corinth.  Discipline had to be forth coming.  It is unbelievable how fast Satan had moved in such a short time.

The “club meal,” often called the agape meal was something higher than a mere gratification of appetite.  Though not a symbol of Christ death and suffering, it was an accompaniment of the Lord’s Supper and had to enhance the Lord’s remembrance and not detract from it.  This was not happening.  Paul continues; “have you not houses (of your own) to eat and drink in.”  Those who were coming with the food and drink were pointed out.  They were making mockery of the Church of Christ.  Paul affirms: “despise you, the Church of God?”

“Despise you, those that have not.”  It would have been natural for members of the Body to supply “houses.”  Paul ask the question, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for they seemed to have forgotten that slaves at any rate could hardly be said to have “houses of their own,”  and that not a few of the Corinthian Christians were slaves.  For this, Paul writes, “I praise you not.”  As in verse 17 of the same chapter this is an instance of what is called litotes, which is a mild expression suggesting a meaning much stronger than the words themselves allow.

“For,” Paul is about to give to them the reason for thus strongly blaming their irregularities, “I have received of the Lord Jesus. “  He had reference to the revelation to some special time, and this seems to point to the conclusion that he is not referring to any other account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, which may have been given him by Peter or one of the twelve, but to some immediate revelation from Christ, Himself.  The terms in which Paul describes the institution of the Lord’s Supper is similar and most nearly those of that of which he gave in the book of Luke with which he penned the account like that of Matthew and Mark. Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:22-25  “When He was betrayed;” rather than was being betrayed.”

“When He had given thanks.”  The same word for “thanks” is used in Luke, and is the origin of the name Eucharist.  Mark, perhaps Matthew have “having blessed it” which is the word eulogesas. What Paul received was a Supper of thanksgiving, opposite to what many have conceived of as being a Supper of pain and anguish from the Lord.  Christ was expressing thanks for the betrayal, not anguish of heart!!  For this reason, we celebrate this Supper as a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.”

“Partake” or share in this thanksgiving, as expressed by our Lord, and “remember” this is how it is to be observed!  “This do” is also in the gospel of Luke but not in Matthew and Mark.  This variation shows that it was the essential main fact.  “In remembrance of Me” may also be rendered” to bring Me to your remembrance.”  Sadly this seemed not the purpose for which “they had come together.”

Breaking Bread- The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper Part 12

The congregations of Corinth met every Sunday, the first day of the week, “to show forth the Lord’s death till He come again.” 1 Corinthians 11:26   Let all be cognizant of the fact that Paul had also commanded the membership of Christ to contribute according to his ability.  No religious institution of denominational bearing rejects this “receiving the offering every Sunday!”   All agree and none dissent for it proves the weekly meeting of the saints.  With this concession in mind, we have only to notice what is said in 1 Corinthians 11:20: “When you come together in one place, that is, every week at least, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.”   When they gathered together there was a stated purpose, to remember Christ and His death that each communicant shared.

It was common in Corinth and the other cities of Greece for various sections of the community to form themselves into associations, clubs, or guilds; and it was customary for such societies to share a common meal once a week, or once a month, or even, when convenient, daily.  Some of these associations were formed of persons variously provided with the world’s goods, and one of the objects of some of the clubs was to make provision for the poorer members in such a manner as to subject them to none of the shame which is apt to attend the poor being without.  All members had an equal right to present themselves at the table; and the property held by the society was equally distributed to all.  This custom, not unknown in Palestine itself, had been spontaneously adopted by the primitive Church of Jerusalem and was a natural outgrowth of their “coming together.”  The Christians of those early days felt themselves to be more closely related than the members of any trade guild or political club.  If it was convenient and suitable that persons of similar political opinions or belonging to the same trade should, to some extent, share with their community a common meal, it was certainly suitable among Christians.  Quickly, it became a custom for Christians to eat together in their common meals, after remembering the Lord.  These meals were called agapae-love feasts and became a marked feature of the early Church, by custom, not command.  On a fixed day, the first day, marked by purpose, each, which could, would bring a contribution to the feast.  It began by partaking of the consecrated bread and wine.  Some Churches of Christ today, do not have fellowship meals and do not know WHY!

The manner of celebrating the Lord’s Supper was recommended by its close resemblance to the original celebration of Christ and His disciples at the close of the Paschal Supper.  The Paschal Supper was meant to satisfy hunger for the long trip ahead.  It was for the Exodus.  Our Lord took bread and broke it.  He sat with His disciples as one family, and the meal they partook of was social as well as religious.  In Corinth, when the Lord’s Supper with its remembrance was ended, and Christ’s presence was no longer felt at the common table, the Christian love feast was corrupted.  The wealthy took the best seats, kept their delicacies, and, without waiting for any common distribution, each looked after himself and went on with his own supper, regardless of the fact that others at the table had none.  “Everyone takes before other his own supper,” so that, while one is hungry and has received nothing, another at this so-called common love feast has already taken too much and was intoxicated.  The rich had houses in which to eat, but brought their food for the sake of appearance, brought their contribution to the meal, but consumed it themselves.  The results were what Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11.  So Paul cries out: “What, shall I praise you in this?  I praise you not.”  The resulting consequence was that from being truly love feasts, exhibiting Christian charity and temperance, these meetings became scandalous as scenes of greed, selfishness, and excess.  But what is interesting is this: Paul did command the whole assembling disbanded, and even though the rich had changed the drink to fermented wine (which they now had an excuse to partake), Paul’s recommendations is that those who had houses “eat at home” so the solemnity of the assembling be put back in the purpose for which they assembled!!  Even though the command to feed the poor is to be remembered by the Church; the dishonoring of Christ became a result the Church was spreading in its meal, weakening the faith, and stopping the very purpose for which they were coming together!!  The Roman Catholics still show signs of this debauchery and went further than was demanded, they allow only that the communicant partakes of the bread, but not the wine, blaming it on the fear of “spilling” the blood.

Breaking Bread- The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper Part 11

Paul and his company arrived at Troas either on the evening of the first day of the week, or on Monday morning at an early hour; for he departed on Monday morning at an early hour; for we are positively told he tarried seven days at Troas.  Now, had the disciples been Seventh Day observers, or observed the seventh day as a Sabbath, and broke bread on it as the Sabbatarians do, they would not have deferred their meeting till the first day of the week, and kept Paul and his company waiting, as he was evidently in a great haste at this time, to get to Jerusalem, for the Pentecost.  His tarrying seven days, and his early departure on Monday morning, corroborate the evidence as proof, that the first day of the week was the fixed and stated day, for the disciples to meet for this purpose.

From the second of Acts, then, we learn that the breaking of bread was a stated part of the worship of the disciples in their meetings; and from the 20th chapter of Acts we learn that the first day of the week was the stated day for those meetings; and, above all we ought to notice that the most prominent object of their meeting was to break bread.  Other corroborating evidences of the stated meeting of the disciples on the first day for religious purposes are found in the fact, that Paul says he had given orders to all the congregations in Galatia, as well as that in Corinth, to attend to the fellowship, or the laying up of contributions for the poor saints in Jerusalem area on the first day of the week.  “On the first day of the week, let each of you lay somewhat by itself, according as he may have prospered, putting it into the treasury, that when I come there may be no collections not received.” 1 Corinthians 16:1-2

There be some who defer this example to say that the breaking of bread was not for EVERY first day!  This argument is fallacious in that they “take up” the offering EVERY Sunday when they come together in every denomination.  In the Old Testament, the Jew was commanded by Jehovah to “keep the Sabbath day, holy.” Exodus 20:8    Nehemiah 9:13-14 and Ezekiel 20:10-12, the same is stated.  “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And made known unto them Thy holy Sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses Thy servant.” Nehemiah 9:12-13.  “Moreover, also I gave them My Sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that thy might know that I Am the Lord that sanctifieth them.”  Ezekiel 20:10-12   “Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.  And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments which if a man do, he shall even live in them. “I Am” the Lord your God; walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them; And hallow My Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you that you may know that “I Am” the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:19-20    If this is not enough to convince even the gainsayer, you will notice, in all three places cited, none say EVERY SABBATH.  My question to you is: did Israel understand it was EVERY Sabbath they were to keep?

The congregations in Corinth met every first day of the week.  They met to “show forth the Lord’s death, till He come, again.” 1 Corinthians 11:26   When Paul mentions this observance in the 20th verse, Paul states the purpose of their assembling.  “When you come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.”  They were acting “unworthy” of the purpose for which they had come together!!  Declaring the “proclaiming the Lord’s death, till He come, Paul is declaring the purpose of their assembling.  When the teacher reproves his pupils for wasting time, he cannot remind them more forcibly of the object of coming to school, nor reprove them more strongly with the point, than to say, “When you act thus, you are not assembling to learn.”  By the Corinthian brethren disrespecting the body and blood of Christ, they were mocking the purpose for assembling.

We have seen, then, that the saints met every first day in Corinth; and when they assembled in one place, it was to eat the Lord’s Supper, a declaration of the practice of the primitive assemblies as explicit as could incidentally be given, differing only from a direct command in the form in which it is expressed!! To add emphasis, when Paul arrived in Troas, he stayed over one full week just to partake!!