home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > November 4th > Trifling Is Not Trifling

HAVE WE LOST OUR SENSE OF THE SACRED?

In the West, unlike the East, we suffer the enormous disadvantage of living in a culture largely unfamiliar with the sacred. Added to this, there has arisen an understanding among contemporary Christians that there is no warrant for making any distinction between ‘the holy’ and ‘secular’. But rather than regarding everything as holy it has tended to mean that everything which was once holy is now regarded as ordinary (‘secular’). This then leads to certain sacred rituals of Christianity being trifled with (treated as less important than they are).  When this happens, the Christ-instituted rituals of Christianity are misrepresented and therefore misunderstood, which in turn, diminishes people’s vision of God’s glory. Let’s rethink rituals.

¶ And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the LORD.” And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar. And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.
Zechariah 14:20-21

RITUALS OR SACRAMENTS OR ORDINANCES?

Rituals can be lifeless. Especially when they are not understood. All of the rituals of Christianity are opulently rich in meaning. Some traditions of the Church refer to these rituals as sacraments. The word ‘sacrament’ comes from the Latin word for mystery, “sacer”. It has generally come to mean the outward expression of an inner grace. That is, by performing the ritual, God’s grace is mediated to its participants. The traditions of the Church which have regarded certain Christian rituals as sacraments have necessarily required that those who minister them are consecrated to do so. These people are known as priests. The belief that some people can be consecrated as priests and then minister the sacraments is known as sacerdotalism.

lutherThe Reformers, beginning with Martin Luther (1483-1546) in 1517, began to raise objections to the idea of sacerdotalism. Initially, these Reformers merely de-classified some of the 7 sacraments (BaptismConfirmation or ChrismationEucharistPenanceAnointing of the SickHoly Orders, and Matrimony) down to just 4 (Baptism, Communion, Holy Orders, and Matrimony). Then these 4 were reduced to 3 (Baptism, Communion, and Matrimony), and ultimately to just two (Baptism, and, Matrimony). From this point, Communion became regarded as as Ordinance rather than as a Sacrament by most Protestants.

zwingliIt was the Swiss Reformer, Ulrich Zwingli, who first challenged the notion of Communion (“the Eucharist“) as a sacrament. He argued that it was not a sacrament because the elements were merely representations of the Lord’s body and blood. This was different to the Roman Catholic position which taught that the elements (which they call accidents) are mystically transformed into the actual body and blood of Christ. This view is known as Transubstantiation. It also disagreed with Martin Luther’s modified position about Communion. Luther also disagreed with the Roman Catholic position but taught that Christ was with the elements of Communion. This Lutheran view is known as Consubstantiation. John Calvin disagreed with Zwingli and argued that the Communion elements were more than mere representation of Christ’s body and blood, but he too disagreed with the Roman Catholic and views. He coined the expression Ordinance and taught that the Communion should only be administered by an authorised  (‘ordained’) minister.

Many Protestants now hold to a Neo-Zwinglian view of Communion. They regard the elements of Communion as typifying the body and blood of Christ but having deep significance for all who partake. While not considering it to be a ‘Sacrament’ (which in itself imparts some grace to the participant) they do consider it to be mysterious. They argue that the emblems (or “elements”) of the Holy Communion were consecrated by Christ. The act of sharing and then consuming these elements was also consecrated by Christ. The  significance of both the nature of the elements (unleavened bread typifying the sinless body of Christ, and the unfermented wine typifying the uncorrupted life of Christ) and how they are shared and consumed (the pieces of bread being broken from one unleavened loaf typifying that the participants are one in Christ, and the wine coming from one source typifying that there is only one Saviour). The mystery of this rite (or, ritual) is that if it is done in an unappreciative manner, there can be grave consequences (note the Apostle’s reminder to the Corinthians about this in First Corinthians 11). The celebration of Holy Communion is therefore a sacred moment.

¶ Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.
First Corinthians 11:2

The word ‘sacred’ means set apart from the ordinary. It is distinct from ‘secular’ which means ordinary, common (even though most understand ‘secular’ to mean irreligious or non-religious). In this sense, Holy Communion is sacred. Its occasion, its elements, its means of sharing together, and what it typifies, are not to be trifled with. Dr. Sproul’s rebuke to his young theological student was therefore not the rankings of some out-of-touch theological dinosaur. The mystery 0f Holy Communion transcends time and culture. When Jesus said, “take eat” He was intersecting the present. When He said “in remembrance of Me” He was intersecting the past. Then when He said, “until I come”, He was intersecting the future. Thus, the practice of Holy Communion has past, present, and future implications. It speaks of what the Lord Jesus has done (by saving us), is doing among us (by knitting us together into a body of believers who experience supernatural unity in Christ with our fellow brothers and sisters, which requires “discerning” each time we partake, refer to 1Cor. 11:27) and will do when we all experience the fullness of our salvation in the eternal state which the Book of Revelation described as a glorious ‘supper’ together in Heaven. This is why it is extremely inappropriate for non-believers or non-covenantal-believers (those who believe in Christ and the Gospel, but have not sealed their covenantal relationship with Christ through the waters of believers’ baptism). This is why none of my children were permitted to partake in Holy Communion until they had entered into the covenantal waters of baptism. It’s also the reason we take Holy Communion out of our monthly Guest Service.

 ¶ 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.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
First Corinthians 11:23-26

Water Baptism or Holy Communion does not save its participants from eternal damnation. But both of them typify aspects of the work of Christ with great precision. This is why neither should be trivialized or trifled with. Time prevents me from elaborating on the third of ordinances, Holy Matrimony, and discussing its rich typifying of what it means to follow Christ and become one with Him.  But if more believers did understand this, they might appreciate why the Enemy is so keen to undermine it in the eyes of the world.

Amen.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR RELATIONSHIP SKILLS

This year we have been laying a foundation for knowing God and then each Sunday building upon it. Throughout June we are focusing on how knowing God enables us to find our joy in Him and consequently to discover that He enables us to find joy in our relationships with others. But sadly, for many people who have vowed to love, serve, and follow Jesus, this has not always been easy to do. This is why the current sub-theme of humility is critically important if someone desires to truly experience joy in each of their various relationships with others. 

KNOWING GOD

In the past few months, we have been hearing in Church and also by reading the Pastor’s Desks that through the Psalms and by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can know God more. The Psalms show God as our Shepherd, God’s character is unchanging, we can be still and know Him, and that He is poetic. The Fruit of the Spirit reminds us that God is faithful, gentle and kind, and that we need to stay close to Him in the same way a baby gets nutrients from its mother through the umbilical cord. Knowing these things, we can become more like God as He helps us outwork His character in our lives. Philippians 3:10 challenged me in this regard some time ago.

RULES RULES AND MORE RULES

What comes to mind when you hear the word Rules? For some, it is a welcome relief to all the chaos surrounding us. Rules can provide comfort, safety, stability, predictability and protection. But for many others, as soon as you hear the word rules, it causes you to sigh loudly, followed by the instant urge to do the opposite. It can cause an immense sense of frustration along with that feeling of being boxed or caged in. Then some rules are plain silly as they make no sense, or there appears to be no apparent reason for why the rule/s exists in the first place. 

The Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing FruitThe Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing Fruit

Jesus’ allegory in John 15:1-17 of the vine and the branches provides a beautiful picture of the intimate and living relationship available to those who would abide in Him, the true Vine; and it illustrates how naturally the Holy Spirit is able to produce fruit in the lives of those who are willing to be branches abiding in the vine.

Knowing God Through The Fruit Of The Spirit

I’m sure you can picture an occasion where food delicacies are served and someone is there who has lost all sense of decorum to the point of being rude to get to the food before others and is unable or unwilling to engage in any level of conversation for the sake of finding the choicest of foods. Maybe that was you or me on occasions. Or an All You Can Eat challenge restaurant. It is a picture of complete lack of self-restraint (especially if Homer Simpson is involved). Whilst we are away, I am looking forward to visiting a town (Kenilworth) with a bakery tourist attraction that sells 1kg doughnuts. I’m not sure what will happen there, but I can imagine many have risen to a challenge.

WHAT CHARMING BETRAYERS DESERVE ACCORDING TO THE PSALM OF KING DAVID, NUMBER 55

Australia is now grappling with a national crisis — the violent abuse of women by men. Every four days in Australia a woman is being murdered [Source]. The sad probability is that she was murdered by “a current or former intimate partner” [Source]. But added to this alarming statistic is the even greater and more horrifying statistic of number of women who are experiencing abuse – physical; sexual; verbal; financial; psychological – daily. In fact, it is so prevalent that most people working in this arena know that most domestic abuse incidents in Australia are not reported. Abuse is oppression. And since the Bible is so clear and consistent in its condemnation of oppression of the vulnerable you would naturally assume that this national crisis was being thundered and denounced as a great evil from the majority of pulpits around our country at the moment. This assumption is further reinforced by the guesstimate that one-in-four women in every Australian church is regularly abused in some way by a man. But I suspect that it is not.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 23

My cat, Lola, had a beautiful, fluffy, soft coat. I had her for 13 years so I knew her very well. She loved a cuddle and snuggling at night sleeping in the crook of my arm. She loved me but with others she could be a rascal, hissing or swiping her claws. She never scoffed her food but was a grazer. It was common to hear her crunching her biscuits for a midnight snack and she loved ice cream. She loved hiding in cardboard boxes or in the pantry. She particularly hated the car evidenced by her continual mournful meowing til she got out. As I knew her, she also knew me. She knew I would feed her and give her pats or cuddles. When I called her she knew my soft voice, my touch, my smell. She knew my growly voice when she had done the wrong thing. When I’d take her to the vet she would be still in my arms as the vet examined her and vaccinated her. If she was injured or sick I would look after her.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 22

The Bible is an amazing book. As we look through the book of Psalms we can so unbelievably clearly see God at work. And also most poignantly, this Psalm – Psalm 22 – prophetically points to, and closely mirrors Jesus and the events of the cross mentioned in the New Testament. This Psalm is well over 1000 years prior to Jesus.There are some well known passages of Scripture that stand out as being prophetic promises of the Messiah. These prophetic words show us that God is Omniscient; He knows everything. The first Messianic prophecy shows that the seed of the woman would eventually defeat the devil.

THIS IS HOW AN EXPERT SUCCESSFULLY FOUGHT SPIRITUAL WARS

home > Pastor's Desk > 2024 > April 12th > THIS IS HOW AN EXPERT SUCCESSFULLY FOUGHT SPIRITUAL WARSThe distance between the spiritual dimension and our earthly-material dimension is a lot thinner than most people realise! This means that there is a direct...

KNOWING GOD THROUGH THE PSALMS

So many thriller movies are just funny. Of course they are not meant to be and many people would find them more like nightmare material. The producers would be horrified to see me giggling at some of their ‘scary’ bits, but it’s just the way I’m wired. I see more of the special effects than the story line and I see the absurdity of the scenes that lack the necessary rules of consistency instead of the fear factor they hope. I once watched a movie where the victim lay dead bleeding from the mouth but the make-up blood had not dripped to the ground with gravity, but rather, accidentally dripped up. The whole movie just became hilarious from that point on.