Posts Tagged ‘communion’

Let a Man Examine Himself – on “Letters of Commendation”

March 6, 2017

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Just recently I happened to be researching places of worship in an area which I may visit in the near future. One particular place of worship had an online statement: “letters of commendation required for visitors wishing to remember the Lord.”

My understanding of this is that if you are a stranger in a certain place of worship and you want to have communion with the other Christians there, then you must carry a letter “of commendation” from your normal place of worship. As to whether your “normal place of worship” must be of the same denomination as the one you are visiting was not made clear. As it happens no such denomination exists in our area – and in fact we would have to drive for a very long time before finding one!

That Paul wrote letters to churches, commending brothers and sisters who would be visiting there, is an entirely different matter, as he was introducing these people as fellow workers in the gospel. He was not passing judgement or comment on whether these individuals were eligible to participate or receive communion in the church they were proposing to visit.

In the world in which we live, any person could find himself in any area at any particular time – and if that soul is truly a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and wants to have fellowship with local believers in a place where he or she is a total stranger – should they not be given a warm welcome?

Years ago my husband and I were visiting a certain church in a certain city and (although I don’t remember much about it) it must have been decided that we shouldn’t have communion with the rest of the congregation as ‘they didn’t know us’ and so we were amused to find ourselves ‘put behind a curtain.’

I refer to the words of Paul in 1Corinthians 11v26-31: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged, But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

Here we see that we should judge ourselves, otherwise we will be judged by the Lord. The Lord “looks on the heart” of men and women and only He knows whether that person eats or drinks unworthily and only He can judge. Obviously, if some stranger came in, acting in an unruly manner, then clearly someone should have a quiet word with this person so that the service is not interrupted. However, this passage talks about “judging ourselves” and the “Lord judging us.” No one else should be able to decide whether we are worthy or unworthy, unless there is some very obvious reason for doing so, like the one previously mentioned.

Legalism and the letter of the law are so at odds with the spirit of the law. Ironically, at the end of the day, the stranger who enters one of these churches might be in a better standing with the Lord than someone who is known to the elders, because… who can know the heart of man? “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17v10)

Praise the Lord, we can have fellowship with (and love for) others without denominationalism being an issue when we pray sincerely about these matters, leaving them at the feet of the “Judge of judges. “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1Samuel 1v7)

The 2012 International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin – and the Mass versus the Book of Hebrews

June 15, 2012

It is eighty years now since the last Eucharistic Congress was held in the city of Dublin and this week I have been reading Roman Catholicism’s statements on the Eucharist, in the light of the book of Hebrews. A Eucharistic Congress I learn… “is an international gathering of people which aims to:

(1) Promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church.

(2) Help improve our understanding and celebration of the liturgy

(3) Draw attention to the social dimension of the Eucharist.”

What is the ‘Holy Eucharist,’ according to Roman Catholic doctrine? The ‘Holy Eucharist,’ I am told, ‘is a sacrament and a sacrifice.’

I further am informed that… ‘In the Holy Eucharist, under the appearances of bread and wine, the Lord Christ is contained, offered, and received. The whole Christ is really, truly, and substantially present in the Holy Eucharist. The words “really, truly, and substantially” are used to describe Christ’s presence in the Holy Eucharist in order to distinguish Our Lord’s teaching from that of mere men who falsely teach that the Holy Eucharist is only a sign or figure of Christ, or that He is present only by His power.’

Therefore, clearly we understand from Roman Catholic doctrine that ‘the Holy Eucharist’ is a sacrifice. However, when I turn to God’s Word, in the Book of Hebrews, I read these words… “And every priest standeth ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews  10v11-12)

I love the words of Hebrews 10v17-17-20… “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh…”

If the Eucharist as a sacrifice is a ‘bloodless’ sacrifice, then we learn in Hebrews 9v22, that it is futile as a sacrifice, for… “without shedding of blood is no remission.”

On the other hand, if people believe that it is truly the body and blood of Christ, then they are contravening God’s law, for we read… “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to the bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9v27&28)

My prayer is that eyes would be opened by these words…

“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;  For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9v24-26)

I feel at this point that I should conclude with the words of Jesus Himself, at the last supper… “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22v17-20)

Jesus by His words and actions was instructing His disciples and ultimately, all those who would come to Him in repentance down through the ages, to “do this in remembrance of me.” The bread and wine were figurative of the greater sacrifice of Himself.

Here is a thought… how could His disciples actually eat Jesus’ body and drink His blood, when He was there in Person, with them?

Jesus often spoke figuratively… “I am the door,” (John 10v9) “I am the true vine.” (John 15v1) “I am the vine, ye are the branches…” (John 15v5) “I am that bread of life.” (John 6v35) “Ye are the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5v13) “Ye are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5v14); “My sheep hear my voice…” (John 10v27)

Prior to last Sunday when I was viewing the special site set up for the purpose of the Eucharistic Congress, I noticed a ‘countdown’ to its commencement. Surely the countdown is getting lower and lower every day, with regard to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ? His last words in the Book of Revelation are: “Surely I come quickly.” (verse 20) I would urge all who read this to seek out the truth in His Word and not to rely on the traditions of men…. “seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you…” (Matthew 7v7) May the Lord bless His Word to all who read with seeking hearts.