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Almost All Christian Churches Practice Communion

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  (1Co 11:23-25 ESV)

The above verses, among others, are commonly read before the practice known as Holy Communion in many churches. (Like Baptism there are a couple exceptions – see Neither Baptism Nor Communion Services for Quakers and the Salvation Army)  The setting for these verses is known as the Last Supper. Luke, chapter 22: 1-38, tells us that the Passover feast was drawing near, and Jesus gave instructions to prepare for the Passover meal to his disciples, who then made the preparations, and we see in the verses that Jesus ate a final meal with his disciples at that time, and he taught a number of things. it was the first Communion service.

There are a number of truths in the above verses:

  1. Communion is a practice commanded by Jesus Christ himself. (Jesus said the words.)
  2. We are to practice communion to remember Jesus and what he has done. (“Do this in remembrance of me.”)
  3. Jesus Christ’s shedding of blood – literally giving his life for us – brings us a new covenant with God. ( “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”)
  4. It is to be done as a practice. (“Do this, as often as you drink it.”)

Lets look at what Jesus was referring to above in speaking about a new covenant. Jeremiah prophesied about a new covenant:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  (Jer 31:31-34 ESV)

If Jesus’ death brought a new covenant what was the old covenant? It was the agreement God made with Israel in the time before Christ. It included the law of the old Testament. The law was a system where people knew what do by the system of rules and regulations about life. It was the 10 commandments, but also so much more. There were feasts to be observed, sacrifices to be made, tithes to be paid, rules on what to eat and what not to eat, how to treat different individuals and so much more.

Jeremiah says that the new covenant will no longer be a written law ouside the body but an inner knowing of the Lord. That is what Jesus brought. Communion remembers Jesus’ sacrifice and celebrates that his death allows us the internal access to the Father that we receive when we accept Jesus as Lord.

August 14th, 2017 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments

Almost All Christian Churches Baptize

From the very first the church has baptized;

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
(Act 2:38-41 ESV)

The book of Acts is loaded with references to baptisms. About 3000 people were baptized on the original day of Pentecost. The book of Acts also enumerates the baptisms of Philip, Simon, Saul, Lydia, the household of Cornelius, Apollos, and Crispus along with many Corinthians. Not that that there aren’t discussions and arguments over baptism, but we will discuss that in other articles. (See Baptism, Universally Accepted, Widely Disputed for more about that.)  For now we will just focus on core Christian beliefs that seem to be taught by everyone in Christianity.

All Christian theologians point to this same verse in the book of Romans as to the meaning of baptism.

We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. Rom 6:4ASV

All groups say that baptism is being buried with Christ, and being raised with him in newness of life, just as the words in the book of Romans say here. This is the core teaching of the meaning of baptism, right out of the letter of Paul the apostle to the Romans.

There are a few other nuggets that Paul incorporates into his epistles.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1Co 12:13 ESV)

In baptism we become a part of the body of Christ which is the whole group of believers who partake of that Holy Spirit that is given to each of us and that we share.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Gal 3:27 ESV)

When we are baptized we are changed. We no longer are just earthly creatures, animals who can talk and reason. In baptism we are clothed with Christ, giving us access to the Father and to the power that Jesus Christ made available by dying for us on the cross.

Still, there are exceptions to the practice of baptism, the Salvation Army and the Quakers. See (Neither Baptism Nor Communion Services for Quakers and the Salvation Army for more on this.)

Again, there are numerous points of contention on the details, but for now, let’s just celebrate this area of commonality, that in baptism we were buried with Christ unto death, and raised again with him in newness of life.

 

 

August 2nd, 2017 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments

The Christian Creed – Now and Then

In the first century there wasn’t any New Testament. There weren’t any gospels, epistles, or book of Revelation. For gosh sakes, the original believers still went to Temple. But they lived together, ate together, and fellowshipped together around a simple faith based on what they had seen in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now churches and ministries have statements of faith that are sometimes pages long. But in the first century it was such a simpler time. Now there are verses that some point to as the original creeds in the New Testament. One creed in the book of 1 Corinthians is this:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ASV)

Its simple, elegant really.

Christian radio is a ministry that reaches out to all Christians and so by nature it has to stick with the basics of the faith common to us all. And there is a song on the radio that I think epitomizes the real Christian creed that carries forth to this day. It is the refrain for the song We Believe by the newsboys, and it goes like this:

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He’s comin’ back again, we believe

Two thousand years later that is still what we all believe. Amen, brothers and sisters, that is what we believe.

May 19th, 2014 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments