Truth Warrior

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Second of Two Ordinaces: Communion, Part 2

With the background of the Jewish celebration of Passover in mind, please consider the following: Jesus Christ was born and lived under the law. Christs ministry on earth occurred during the dispensation that began with the Mosaic Law on Mount Sinai. The Old Testament dispensation ended after Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Therefore, Jesus observed the yearly Passover required in the law.

The Lord Jesus Christ took bread and broke it, sharing with his disciples.

On a side note: Among the many symbolic aspects of the Passover, is the eating of the “Aphikomen.” Early in the meal, the papa takes the middle matzo of three unleavened cakes of bread, breaks it, and after pronouncing a benediction, distributes half among the family. The second half is hidden until the end of the meal. The first child who finds the “Aphikomen,” gets a present and this is thought of as a great privilege. To this day, Jews use the word “Aphikomen,” the only Greek word in the entire celebration. When they hide this piece of bread, it could symbolize that the gospel is hidden from their eyes, due to their pride in religion. A good knowledge of the passover and its traditions will deepen one's appreciation of the Lord's table. I encourage my readers to learn more about this. The Gospel in the Feasts of Israel by Victor Buksbazen is a greatly beneficial book for this.

The red wine on the Passover table brings to memory the blood of the lamb whereby the children of Israel were saved from death. This puts His statements regarding the bread and the cup in the context of a substitutionary death that brought deliverance. On the night of the Passover celebration, in the midst of the meal, Jesus must have startled His disciples when He took the bread and broke it. Obviously, observing plain normal hermeneutic, He was not saying that this bread was His body. He was giving us a symbol to remember Him and what was to happen in His body.

“…the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he broke 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 show the Lord's death till he comes.” (1Cor. 11:23-26)

Baptists believe that the two ordinances of Baptism and Communion are symbolic or pictures of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. I personally feel that Communion should be practiced once a week, but with large congregations, this is just not practical. The Bible doesn’t specify how often, but it does say that as often as we do this, to remember.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Second of Two Ordinaces: Communion, Part 1

“…the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he broke 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 show the Lord's death till he comes.” (1Cor. 11:23-26)

On the night of the Passover celebration, in the midst of the meal, Jesus must have startled His disciples when He…

Wait! Let me back up. Perhaps you are asking, “What’s the Passover celebration?” Some of my Gentile readers may not understand our rich Jewish roots … so please, be patient as I lend a little background. For those of you who are familiar, and have heard this over and over, I’m not trying to drill you, so I hope you won’t get bored! (For any reader, I recommend the animated film, “The Prince of Egypt.” The first Passover is dramatized in this production, but you’ll want to view it with the Book of Exodus in mind or close at hand.) The Passover celebration is an important event on the Jewish calendar because it is a living memorial of an historical event at which time God brought His chosen people out of the land of bondage, out of the land of Egypt. Read about it in Exodus 12 (BTW … methinks this is why the Book is titled Exodus. Does it sound like “exit?”)

In brief, the Passover was a time when God commanded Israel and Egypt to take a young lamb into their homes. Then, after several days, they had to slaughter the lamb, and put the blood on the lintel and doorposts so the death angel would regard it, and pass over that house. On Passover, Jewish families have a celebration to remember this historical event. There are many symbols that they use to remember this time. Among them is Matzo bread that is said to have come from the original lump of unleavened bread that was commanded to Moses … and red wine to symbolize the blood of the sacrifice lamb.

The only thing missing is the lamb. Passover without the lamb is like a wedding without a bride. What modern Jews celebrate today is not the Passover, but the feast of Unleavened Bread. Nevertheless, people rejoice remembering how God delivered them from enslavement, making them a new people and bringing them into the promised land.

Passover is the story of deliverance. How, you may ask, does this relate to communion? I will explain further in the next post. (Coming VERY soon!)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Believers’ Baptism (Acts 2:41-42)

Baptists hold to “Believers' Baptism.” I will try to answer the questions: “What is it?” “Who is it for?” and “What does it mean?”

The New Testament was originally written in the Greek language and eventually translated into English. The word “baptize,” however, is an exception. So interesting ... it is not translated into our English Bibles! Instead, it is transliterated … which basically means English letters were used in place of the Greek letters. According to Spiros Zodhiates, a scholar of biblical Greek (who also happens to be Greek), the word “baptize” means to immerse, submerge, or dip. It seems to me, and I am no Greek scholar, that if the word “baptize” was translated into English, one of the above words would have been employed. I wonder how much controversy that would have caused back in the day? After looking at these facts about the word “baptize”, there seems to be only one conclusion: real baptism IS immersion. Sprinkling or or wiping water on the forehead might be less messy, but it isn’t baptism. Let me quote what brother Bobby Grow, a fellow blogger, has pointed out:

It's interesting in the Didache, an early church document (50 yrs within the time of the apostles) which served as a "commentary" on various church practices such as baptism … the preferred methodology was indeed immersion…” (also cf. Matt.3:6,16; Mark 1:10; John 3:23; Acts 8:38-39)

BTW the Greek word for sprinkling is rhantizo, and it has been correctly translated into English in our NT, one place is Heb.9:13 you’ll want to read this in the context.

Who then is to be immersed? I divided a washboard into two columns. Column #1 was “NT persons baptized after trusting Christ for salvation.” Column #2 was “NT persons baptized before trusting Christ for salvation.” I asked my Adult Bible Fellowship to look up verses on baptism. As they read them out to me, I asked the class if they belonged in column #1 or #2. I’ll give you the Scriptures and you may look them up and tell me what you came up with. They are Acts 2:41; Acts 8:12-13; Acts 16:14-15, 31, 33; Acts 18:8. The result in class was quite revealing. You may find some other Scriptures you want to share on this topic, in this post. Participation is encouraged. In our ABF class, we concluded that NT persons baptized after trusting Christ for salvation won the contest. There were none listed in column #2.

One of my favorite preachers used to say, (in a southern drawl) “All the water in the world can not wash away your sins!” I would agree with a hearty, “Amen!” (we do that sort of thing in a Baptist church). Just when you could hear a pin drop, he would lower his voice a bit and say, passionately, “Only the blood… only the blood of Jesus can save you… wont you trust Him… wont you trust Him now?” Once you have, my friend, you’ll want to obey Him and get baptized (immersed), to be identified as a Christian. This ordinance is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and a “showing forth” that you trust in this. It is the initiation into the local church. It is an outward public declaration of what has already occurred in your heart when you were born again.

After a candidate for baptism would tell their story of saving grace, Pastor Edward Fuller would put his right hand above the head and say, “[Tom] upon your profession of faith alone in our Lord Jesus Christ, I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Then he would put his hand on the back of the neck in a fatherly manner and the candidate would cling on to Pastors left hand and as he was lowered into the water, Pastor would continue, “…dead to sin…” then as the new member of our local body came up out of the water, Pastor concluded “…and raised to newness of life.” It was all very clear that this was a living testimony of an historical occurrence.

There are some problematic texts on this issue. Perhaps I will circle back to this at some later date … unless some wish to challenge (with chapter and verse) my thinking on baptism or anything that can be remotely related to this post. I now commit these thoughts to your scrutiny.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Two Ordinances

For our study about the biblical distinctives of Baptists, the acrostic B A P T I S T S has been employed for our outline. We now come to the letter “T” which stands for the two ordinances of Baptism and Communion.

It is important at the start, to point out that there is a difference between what is meant by an ordinance and what is meant by a sacrament. Biblical Baptists hold that baptism and communion are ordinances, NOT sacraments. In fact, this blogger is unaware of any biblical or Baptist “sacrament.” An ordinance is an authoritative rule, law, decree, or command. In the Christian context, an ordinance is a symbolic act or ceremony. The two ordinances (and only two) that biblical Baptists practice, have their separate meanings. In contrast, a sacrament symbolizes and/or confers inward grace.

Some religious institutions sprinkle water on a baby’s head and teach that this act, when performed by a duly appointed “priest” removes original sin and regenerates the baby (the baby is said to be born-again) into a possible position of not having to go to hell if he or she should die before being conscience of personal sin. Others are immersed into water and believe that this is an act of salvation. These beliefs/practices are both referred to as “regenerational baptism.” To other groups, the sacrament of infant baptism indicates that the child is a part of the “Christian” family. This is said to be a counterpart to the circumcision of eight day old males in the Jewish nation, and allows Christian participation in the covenant nation of God, Israel. For an example of this I will refer to the baptismal certificate I received, March 1961, at Rosewood Presbyterian Church. It says:

“God the father, who has redeemed us by the sacrifice of Christ, is also the God and Father of our children. They belong, with us who believe, to the membership of the church through the covenant made in Christ, and confirmed to us by God in this Sacrament, which is a sign and seal of our cleansing, of our engrafting into Christ… This sacrament marks the reception of a new member into Christ’s Church. As a child of the covenant, he has been born into the household of God;”

According to this certificate, by virtue of my parents “Christianity”, I too became a member of this covenant community…but…God does not have any grandchildren! One can not be born again by the will of one’s parents (cf. John 1:13).

There are all kinds of ideas about baptism and communion, but what does the Bible say? Remember, for the biblical Baptist, it is the Bible that is to be our rule and authority in every matter for which it speaks!

The first ordinance we will consider is baptism. This is the initiation into a local church. Then, we will put communion under the spotlight of God’s Word.

By the way, I want to thank my readers for their patience with me, as the busy-ness of life and my lack of typing skills have collided at a high rate of speed resulting in slow posting.


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