Posted in: A Closer Look at Corporate Worship
Let us also ask this important question: what does God want? Let us look beyond our own wants and needs.
The function of communion and baptism are different. They are both sacraments but they do not have the same participation requirements. Baptism is administered even to infants on the basis that they should receive the sign of covenant inclusion as was the pattern in the old testament. There is no cognitive requirements for receiving baptism. However, participation in communion requires that one "discern the body" (1. Cor. 11). Certainly someone must be able to do that. People can tell horror stories about how they spent the whole week in fear "examining themselves", but the fact is that the Bible says that this must be done. Communion is a sign of participation in the body and shed blood of Christ, and someone who cannot examine themselves and who does not comprehend the atoning work of Christ is someone who cannot partake in the Lord's supper. Baptism marks inclusion in the visible church. Communion is a sign of personal participation in the atoning work of Christ. There is a big difference.
I appreciate your response. Since the apostle exhorts that a person must examine him or herself before partaking, that must be done. An infant cannot do this. A toddler cannot do this. Maybe an exceptional 8 year old can do this. It is probably to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Some 8 year olds have a good understanding of the work of Christ and wish to serve Him. I would have a hard time saying that such a child cannot partake just because they are only 8. What I am against is the idea of babies and toddlers who have no conception of faith being given the elements basically in some superstition that they work ex opere operato. Of course, baptists would say that we do the same thing with baptism - but then of course we must realize that the two sacraments serve different functions. One is a sacrament of admission, the other of participation. I agree with you that taking communion is essence a profession of faith. But we have to ensure that we don't simply administer it to someone on the basis of the fact that they are baptised - they must also profess faith. How that profession looks is another matter.
I'm not supporting it, because it isn't a biblical concept.
Good distinction Eric. I have no problem with women leading many things in the church - just as long as they are not elders, deacons, or ministers - in keeping with the requirements of the scriptures.
By merging the two (women in office and women leading other things), the proponents of the traditional (biblical) view are indeed painted as misogynists who just can't stand to have women leading anything. Such is not the case.
If there is a gifted woman who is recognized by the elders as fit for the role of leading children's ministry, or ladies bible studies, or certain mercy ministries - just to name a few - I have no problem with that, so long as those things are under the authority of the elders and deacons of the church, who should be male as per the creation order.
This article is not intended to critique those who both love their neighbour with both word and deed. This is intended to critique an imbalanced approach. What do you believe about Mark 8:36? What if someone is provided for in every way and yet does not understand that they are at enmity with God? Is that conveyed in our churches? Is it conveyed that those who do not know Christ are, even now, at enmity with God? If all we do for these people is give them food and shelter, all we do is make them a little richer before they go to hell. It is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi the saying "preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words". I don't know if he in fact said that, but regardless, it is one of the most unbiblical sayings I have ever heard. The gospel is news, period. The church holds the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of heaven is opened and shut through the preaching of the gospel, not through giving people bread and shelter, as important as those things are.
If we want to see societies changed for the better, people need heart transplants. Do you want to see less corruption? Preach the gospel. Do you want to see less hatred? Preach the gospel. Evil hearts at enmity with God are the source of all these evils we see in society. The gospel is not an action. It is news. It is the news that God is reconciling man to himself through his Messiah, Jesus, who died and rose again. This is what Paul describes as "of first importance" in his letters. When hearts are changed, societies change.
Secondly, I believe that prophecy from Isaiah that Jesus fulfilled has to be interpreted in the light of other scriptures as well. When Jesus quotes this, we must also consider that he says "what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" You can give as much food and shelter as you like, but if a person dies without knowing Christ as saviour, that person is lost, period, and all the nice things we gave to him mean absolutely nothing.
Thank you Ken. I suspect it is less well understood than you think. Of course this is hard to prove, but it is a sense I get from observing the denomination in a broad way.
I also affirm that we not only affirm the needs of the soul, but also provide mercy when called to do so. We cannot however, forget the primacy of the soul - that is the real point of the article.
With all due respect, If the doctrine of "common grace" teaches that the Holy Spirit is "shining through in other religions", then I am afraid I do not believe in common grace. The Holy Spirit is not a force or a emanation - the Holy Spirit is a person, and he communicates to us the "way, truth, and life" through the Word and Sacraments - outside of these things, there is only darkness.
Jesus said: "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad."
Paul teaches: "As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed."
There is indeed a sharp divide between believer and unbeliever, between the way of truth (believers in the Triune God through Christ) and the way of lies. There is no light in the darkness, and there is no darkness in the light:
"This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)
Roger, are you a Christian? If not, what is your goal in commenting on this article? I fail to see the purpose in this.
You talk about how Christianity makes no sense, must be taken on faith, is superstition etc. yet you spend a lot of time commenting on Christian articles on a Christian website?
I know for a fact that you were once ordained in the CRC. What happened?
Eric - I am sorry to hear that.
Roger, it seems as though we are having an interfaith dialogue at this very moment. It is apparent that you know your theology quite well, so all I can really say is this: God is compassionate and gracious, willing to forgive - but there is no salvation outside of his son. Yes, that comes from special revelation - the Bible - but is also confirmed in the sacraments - where God preaches to us a visual sermon about the atoning death of Christ. Of course you know all this but I would just encourage you to cry out to God to give you eyes to see, ears to hear, to help you to believe. "Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief". I will be praying for you.
Some probably do not share Jesus out of embarrassment. Some do not share him out of a lack of conviction in the reality of it all. Some do not share him due to fear of being rejected. Some do not share him because they are not confident in their ability to present the gospel coherently and respond to objections with intelligent responses. I have been guilty of all of these things at some point in my life. I do not share the good news of Jesus as I should, to my shame. Yes, it is easy to speak of Jesus in a Christian setting compared to a hostile one. It is much easier to speak in front of a body of believers than in a shopping mall, or from going door to door. However that does not mean that the message is not true because it is easy in one context to say it and hard in another - that simply does not make logical sense. In years gone by scientists may have felt that it was easy to talk amongst themselves about the earth being a sphere, but amongst the unbelieving masses they felt that it was hard to do - the point is, that whether it is easy to talk about or hard to talk about is irrelevant when we are evaluating a truth claim - each claim must be evaluated on its own merits.
You assert that those in the church have taken the "Jesus pill" whereas those outside the church have clear heads and recognize that the gospel does not stand up to reason. Let me emphasize that the Bible did not drop from the sky like the Quran supposedly did. When we proclaim Jesus and him crucified, we are giving the testimony of the apostles who "did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty". When we proclaim Jesus, we are proclaiming a real person - yet more than a person, but one who walked and talked in real space, and real time, 2000 years ago in Palestine - not a Jesus who makes my life nice and helps me get a nice job and have a good marriage. When we proclaim Jesus we are proclaiming what the Christians in the 40s, and 50s of the 1st century proclaimed when they said "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 by Cephas, then by the twelve."
Finally, you confidently assert that you are "good with God". Let me simply ask - how do you know that? You certainly don't believe that about yourself because you read it in the Bible, so what is your source for that information? How do you know that you are good with God?