|Posted on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 4:07 pm: || |
I totally agree, "Uncle Milt"! Neither bapatism nor the lack of it has any bearing on our standing with Jesus. That is a done deal when we accept him! Praise God!
I also agree that, in relation to the anniversary metaphor, neither the exchange of gifts nor the lack of gifts has any bearing on the married status.
I use this metaphor, however, as a person who has experienced divorce and a second marriage, and my second marriage is the startling freedom of light after wandering in the dark. Both marriages have/had anniversaries and exchanges of gifts. But the difference between the two is unspeakable.
I have deep and abiding trust in Richard. The fact that he never forgets an anniversary of birthday is not an enhancement of our status as husband and wife. But when I realize that he has invested time and creativity and thought IN ADVANCE of our anniversary and has planned something that I neither suggested nor suspected, I feel cherished in a way that goes 'way beyond the fact that I got a gift or special event. He invests himself, and he invests creative energy in doing things that he know I'll likeˇnot just things that he'll like.
If Richard were to gradually cease to invest his energy and thoughts and time in me, I would gradually feel as if his attention were elsewhere. I would certainly not be less married or less committed to him. But the relationship would lack intimacy.
This example is related to how I see baptism and communion. (Yes, I understand the standing debate over whether the baptism commanded in the NT is the baptism of the Holy Spirit or water baptism, but I see enough evidence to suggest that Jesus asks believers to go through water baptism. It is not, however, in any way a requirement for being saved and for being part of the bride of Christ!)
I understand Jesus as asking his followers to be baptized and to celebrate communion not as ways of proving their status as his Bride, but simply as ways of building intimacy and trust with their Savior whom they experience deeply but whom they cannot see.
I do not see sacraments as mandatory parts of salvation or of our relationship to Jesus. But I do see them as events Jesus said he wants us to do as a way of creating points of remembrance and intimacy and public commitment to him. Since we are the bride of a living and ever-present bridegroom, our Lord honors these celebrations with him which we do because of our love and commitment. He blesses us with sometimes undefinable insights, closeness, assuranceˇwhatever is needed between us at those timesˇand in time ongoing.
I do not see sacraments as requirements or as works. I see them as things our eternal Lover and Savior has said will bring him special honor and will bring us real intimacy with him if we celebrate them with him.
But I'm also willing to say I don't feel as if you must agree with my point of view. We are accountable to Jesus alone, and our realtionships with him are as unique as are our personalities.
What matters is that we're all part of the same body; we are one in Christ. He has saved each of us, and we are equally loved and cherished.
|Posted on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 4:39 pm: || |
Your testimony about your marriage gives me a beautiful reminder of what Paul says in Romans 7, and here is an Miltonian (that's me) analogy:
Perhaps in the past you were married to the law.
It is not personal. It requires special dates only as an obligation. It does not committ to us and it is never satisfied! It enslaves us! It keeps us under condemnation! It does not give, it only takes and does it insatiably! It points to desperation and utimately death! It has been a teacher in the past, but now is only a shadow!
Now you're married to Grace!
The special dates are really special in the sense of what memories they bring. It is satisfied in giving and not in taking it away! It frees us! It lets us feel accomplished! It credits us for a righteousness that we do not possess naturally! It is the substance of all God's desires, the fulfillment of all God's plans and is constantly teaching us about it! And it is never tiring of pointing to us the way to life eternal!
Blessed be His name!
|Posted on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 4:58 pm: || |
Thank you for your Miltonian analogy, Grace Ambassador!
|Posted on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 5:58 pm: || |
In John, after washing His disciples feet, Jesus said that the disciples also should wash each others feet, which is why some churches including SDA take it as a command. But I consider footwashing to be an anachronism, and I beleive it was intended to be an example of servant leadership, not a sacrament. There is nowhere in the Bible where footwashing and the Lord's Supper are talked about together.
Cindy, your story gave me a good laugh, too!
|Posted on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 8:59 pm: || |
Actually, Darrell, it appears that Matt. 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 13 are interconnected, and the Lord's supper and footwashing were at the same time.
I have a question....the bread that they used for this ceremony would have been unleavened bread, correct? So is there significance in that still, and that is why we continue to use unleavened bread? Just wondering....
Also, anyone want to take a shot at explaining these verses: "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law." Luke 16:16-17.
|Posted on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 9:07 pm: || |
On no continual sacrifice, I disagree with partially. Hebrews 13:15, 16 "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others for which such sacrifices God is pleased."
Just a thought.
|Posted on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 9:29 pm: || |
Two ways I can see to explain this.
1)The law is eternal and nothing about it will change forever.
2)It is very difficult to get the pharisees and others who believe like them to accept that they no longer have to be imprisoned by the law.
Still looking(embarassment and chagrin),
|Posted on Monday, July 17, 2000 - 9:33 pm: || |
Talk about embarassing!!! My post above should be addressed to sherry 2 not cindy. Long day! Cindy knows what I mean about still looking tho'. I think I need sleep.
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 5:28 am: || |
Wendy, Don't worry, that's happened here before! And, yes, I know what you mean by still looking...
Blessings to you!
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 5:57 am: || |
Sherry2 I like what you wrote about the 'sacrifice of PRAISE'! Also in Romans 12:1
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as Living Sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."
A lot is said in this one verse!
I wonder how often feet were washed in Biblcal times...each time they ate? I appears to have been needed more than we need it now.
I had heard the reason for unleavened bread was because of not having time for it to 'raise' in the haste of the Exodus? So again, this continued practice now goes back to the Old Covenental way of looking at symbols.
I'm not really sure of this, but I do know there are specific guidelines in making Communion bread in the S.D.A. church. Usually, it tastes very bland to me...but I remember when we lived in Idaho one deaconess did not go by the standard recipe and made hers with cream, butter, and maybe even sugar! They were so good...I wanted to take any leftovers home and eat them MYSELF! (Not give any to my dog!)
BTW, Steve, my Cocker Spaniel is an unusually healthy and active 15 year old dog! Maybe there was a blessing in it for him... I really do love him. I thank God many times for creating such wonderful animals!! (Cats too, Maryann! ;-)))
I'm going to look more at that Luke 16 passage you quoted, Sherry2. I do know Jesus came and lived under the Law to redeem those under the Law; so the condemnation and full extent of the Law needed to be in place until Jesus fulfilled and incorporated the true meaning of it in His own Person and by His Death on the Cross. Only Jesus could completely do this.
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 6:10 am: || |
Colleen, I really like your analogy from your marriage. And because of your divorce and now much better marriage, you can really see a difference! I like the way you mention STATUS of being married versus the much better way of INTIMACY!
I enjoy communion usually because I do not think of it as obligatory... but I meditate on the Great News of Christ's Finished Work For Me at the Cross! It is a visual reminder of my Status as a already perfect child of God!
And yet, I can see how these symbols can get twisted to become more than they are....
May we all put our security and assurance of Any Righteousness in Jesus' work Alone! Always.
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 6:26 am: || |
I think your observation on Horton's and Matzat's comments was right. You wrote above: "You might find amusing an incident that I heard Don Matzat (a Lutheran radio personality in St. Louis and other cities) mention. He and Michael Horton were having a beer together. In their light-hearted spirit and laughter, they admitted to each other that there was no way either would take communion in the other's church! So there you have it. This illustrates more the arrogant nature of institutional churchianity than anything I can think of."
Yes, this does say a lot, doesn't it?
I've heard Michael Horton speak a number of times at PCRT conferences at Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia and also Don Matzat once. They are both very intelligent and humorous, entertaining speakers so I can imagine the conversation between the two of them... Even though I do not agree with everything they say, their emphasis on the Centrality and Nessessity of the Substitutionary work of Christ on the cross has been something I've loved!! The Theology of the Cross versus the Theology of Glory...!
I like what Matzat said once, "my Christian growth is not about ME getting better and better all the time, it's about my understanding of JESUS growing more and more..."
Possessing this Grace is no reason for moral superiority...it is still all about JESUS!! not about us.
Always in grace,
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 3:29 pm: || |
Sherry2, I'll take a stab at the Luke 16:16-17 passage. John the Baptist was the dividing line between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. John came proclaiming the Messiah whereas the prophets had simply prophecied that He would come.
The Law and the Prophets comprised the Torah (the Lawˇfirst five books of the OT) and the prophetsˇessentially the Old Testament. The enitre purpose of the OT was to tell the story of God's interaction with humanity from creation through the saga of Israel and to foretell the coming Messiah. In fact, the entire history of Israel became the backdrop for and the shadow of salvation through Jesus.
Until John, the Law and the Prophets were proclaimed because they told that the Messiah would come. Their prophecies and shadows gave people a reason to have faith, and the faith of those who had it was counted as righteousness.
When John came, he began proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven was "at hand". Jesus had come, and the era of shadows and prophecies was over; the reality of the OT shadows was now here! And Jesus said that the Kindgom of heaven is among you.
Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets in the tiniest details. Everything they pointed to, He fulfilled. His fulfillment did not destroy the Law and the Prophetsˇthey exist and continue to tell the story of how God provided a way for humanity to know they would have a Savior and that God loved them continually.
The New Covenant does not exist in a vacuum. All that God did through Israel is part of the rich foreshadowing of the Savior. In fact, according to the Scottish evangelical theologian Thomas Torrance, God hs revealed himself to the world in two significant ways: through his working in the people of Israel, and through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
The Law and the Prophets are part of God's Word to humanity, but they were fulfilled and superceded by Jesus himself. Remember the transfiguration? Moses (the law) and Elijah (the prophets) stood transfiugred with Jesus, and the prostrate Peter, James, and John heard God's voice saying, "This is my son; listen to him." When Jesus told them to stand up, Jesus alone was before them. The Law and the Prophets disappeared, and God's personal revelation of himself now stood before the men.
Remember what Jesus said to the three on their way down the mountain? "Don't tell anyone what you have seen until after my resurrection." Only after the resurrection would the sacrificial system be fulfilled. Only after the resurrection would the New Covenant be in place. Until Jesus' death, the Old Covenant was still operating. Jesus was actively fulfilling the Law and the Prophets during his lifetime, but his final fulfillment would not come until his resurrection.
When I read Jesus saying that the least stroke of a pen would not drop out of the Law, I read him saying that everything done and foreshadowed and prophecied in the Old Testament is from God. All of it was in place to prepare people for the Messiah. Jesus himself was fulfilling them, and people would forever be able to see that he had fulfilled the prophecies and shadows which still stand in history.
Jesus' coming did not destroy the past and start over. Rather, he redeemed and fulfilled the past. Our present reality in the New Covenant was foretold in the Old, and we will always have this amazing record to show us how, from the absolute beginning, God has been faithful in his love to us.
Now we do not live in shadows and prophecies. Those legal requirements which pointed to a coming Savior are completely fulfilled. We live intimately with the living Christ! And those shadows and prophecies have been realized and taken into the person of Christ. They exist, completed and fulfilled, in his amazing, victorious life.
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 3:55 pm: || |
Amen! (to all you wrote in the above post!)
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 5:02 pm: || |
What Colleen wrote is excellent.
The purpose of the Law will always continue. It will always point to Jesus. I have made the mistake many times of thinking the Law pointed to itself. But it doesn't. It points out that we are unredeemable, unless something very different from all we know or expect happens. And Jesus was and is different from all we know and expect. The Law points to the One who, against all that is in the Law, will redeem us IN SPITE OF THE LAW.
As Colleen says, they are shadows and prophecies. They have "been taken into the person of Christ. They exist, completed and fulfilled, in his amazing, victorious life."
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 8:03 pm: || |
Steve, I, too, thought the Law pointed to itself as the FINAL will of God! When you said that above it really made me think, yes...that's how I viewed it.
Even when I saw that the Law pointed to Christ, for a long time I thought Christ then pointed BACK to the Law--at least the literal Ten Commandment 'Moral' Law. I thought we needed it daily before us to live rightly. In this way the Law was actually given precedence over the Person of Jesus.
It seemed so much more secure to follow the letter of the 10 Commandments than to follow the vagueness of Jesus. Now I see the 10 Commandment Law as being so limited in scope and so much more fleshed out in Jesus' life and words!
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 8:57 pm: || |
Why I Reject Sacrament
Biblical language must be used to express the concepts of revelation. This is not the language of revisionists of the second, third, and every following century; but that of Christ and his apostles.
1. The New Testament does not use sacrament even though there were words available. Rabbinic Judaism, the Greek philosophers, priests, and poets do.
2. The proponents of ecclesiastical authority stole the concept from the above entities and tried to make it 'Christian'.
3. Even if we say that sacrament = covenant plus nothing, water baptism is never called a covenant in the NT. In any case, the equation will not stand up to the historical definition. It is of recent invention as a 'primary' definition. The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed tradition all call the sacraments a means of grace (not mere blessing). That is in line with the early 'church fathers' and bishops. Where did this word 'church' come from anyway?
4. The sacramental & privatistic 'snippet and sip' communion resembles the food and drink oblations of the pagan Greek religions; not that of the early Christian believers. Why should I be interested?
I am hoping that my friends above will not be offended by this certain conviction of mine: a gift exchange between husband and wife hardly resembles the NT concept of koinonia and the Lord's new-wine covenant celebration of gospel victory. This is not to minimize the value of other human events. These are to be valued as an expression of love for different reasons.
Most revisionists who refer to sacrament as a 'sign', ordinance, or covenant really do believe in the means of grace but avoid the definition--so as not to offend. A friend of mine left the ministry of the Baptist General Conference and joined the Lutherans because he could no longer stand to be 'silent' on urgent obligation to defend the communication of grace in the sacred mystery.
|Posted on Tuesday, July 18, 2000 - 10:45 pm: || |
In a sermon earlier this year, an SDA pastor actually spoke the exact words in a sermon that the sabbath is a means of grace. I brought this up to one of the other pastors, who also heard the sermon and he was about as appalled as I was. (Well, almost.)
I have always thought that the Reformed faith taught that the communion service was merely symbolic. You say they avoid the definition but believe in the means of grace. How does that happen in practice?
I agree, where did the word "church" come from in regards to the "church fathers?" They definitely were father's of some folks faith, but were not necessarily Biblical.
|Posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2000 - 3:39 pm: || |
I feel more and more a kin Spirit with you as I read your posts.
I am "feeling as I if I digested more food than I required", (an eufemism, or polite way to say that I'M "FED UP") if I may say so, that every time I read a piece from a denomination you mentioned that they received such "sacraments" by tradition.
Then I must ask: "If tradition can dictate how Grace is transmitted to me, where in the world the Blood of Jesus failed?" "What can a SYMBOL OF JESUS BLOOD DO FOR ME THAT HAS NOT ALREADY BEEN DONE BY THE REAL THING?". I do not mean to be humorous, but leaving scholar thinking aside, let me say that Coca Cola and Marvin Gaye are right: "There is nothing like the real thing baby!".
On water Baptism, mainly in infant baptism, any honest "revisionist" will tell you, that water baptism and the communion are a transmissor, or something that transmits, of special Grace. That's why they call the "cracker" HOST! Arminian grace perhaps, or Preparatory grace. small "g". That is their open theology.
So, you are correct in your evaluation of these "proponents of ecclesiastical authority" mentioned by you, pasted below, :
"1. The New Testament does not use sacrament even though there were words available. Rabbinic Judaism, the Greek philosophers, priests, and poets do.
2. The proponents of ecclesiastical authority stole the concept from the above entities and tried to make it 'Christian'."
I have recently studied very carefully some unpublished "protestant" (in quotation marks) material in a ministry's candidade discertation.
They do proclaim that water baptism, the communion and a few others, such as crossing oneself with the sign of the cross, ARE INDEED HOSTS OF SPECIAL GRACE, as I said before. Worse yet, they do not deny that this came to us, Christians of today, by "christian" tradition...
Allow me to say that I think that water baptism can be compared with marriage only in the sense of a public ceremony. The wedding ceremony does not make the marriage. It is only a public testimony of the PRESUMED love of two beings. It does not even UNITE them in love. It incites commitment from without and not from within. It is a formal way to announce to the world that two beings are joining their lives, thus, making and allowing those without (on the outside)to expect an open demonstration a "married person conduct" distinct from the "single person conduct". It does not even guarantee the success of the marriage!
Water baptism is just that: A public testimony of faith. To teach anything beyond this public testimony is falling prey to the snares of tradition.
In fairness and brotherly understanding, let me point out that I did not feel that anyone here in this list is defending the idea that WATER baptism is more than a testimony. But I do feel that we stumble in a near taboo when we want to stress that "beyond being only a public testimony, water baptism is of no value".
That's where most Christians have a problem, and apparently WE AND MANY IN THIS LIST DON'T.
I acknowledge that I am reducing your great work into the single issue of water baptism, and perhaps the communion. Perhaps, here an apology is in order. But unfortunately, it is my experience that most Chrstians will ONLY accept any notion of Grace that keeps the issue of sacraments, specifically WATER BAPTISM intact!
Did I ever baptize people in my Church? Yup!
Would I still do it? Yup!
Will I teach baptism as a host of special Grace? NOPE!
As it is written: "Let your speech be YUP, YUP, NOPE, NOPE! Milton's revised version.
I've always taught my people that they are getting two things out of the baptistry:
1 - WET
2 - ALL THEIR FRIENDS WILL KNOW THEY'RE RELIGIOUS!
The concept of baptism for church membership, or union with the Body of Christ is purely traditional!
Again, thank you for doing the scholar work for me!
|Posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2000 - 4:54 pm: || |
Bill and Graceambassador,
Eye opening and very helpful stuff.