Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Simply Christian, Part 2

Two points of confusion: Water Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

God’s plan of salvation was in place before the world was founded and before time began, 2nd Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2. Circumcision was the water baptism of the Old Testament; a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, Genesis 17:10. Yet before circumcision was given to Abraham Eber, Shem, Noah, Enoch, Abel, et al. were saved. The patriarchs prior to the Flood were saved solely by grace through faith in God, plus nothing else. All of the Old Testament saints were saved by God without water baptism; the concept was foreign to them.

Jesus told Nicodemus that unless one is born again (or born from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God, John 3:3. The Rabbi’s answer reveals a flaw in his thinking: he is wondering about physical birth. Jesus addressed the same answer in a different way, couching it in terms that Nicodemus could more clearly grasp.

“Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God,” John 3:5. Nicodemus would not be thinking baptism; he was a Rabbi. Water and Spirit (the Greek word “pneuma” for wind) are both symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. See Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 36:25-27. These symbols would invariably invoke the Rabbi’s thoughts toward passages such as the ones given. Jesus further clarified: “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit…the wind (same word for Spirit in verse 5) blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit,” John 3:6, 8.

This alludes to the fact that our salvation (being born again) has nothing to do with us; it is entirely the operation of the Holy Spirit within. This agrees with John’s testimony: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” John 1:12-13. Later in chapter three Jesus and John testify that faith is the sole criterion for salvation, John 3:15-18; 3:36. Jesus also said that we are clean (that is, washed) by of the word spoken to us, John 15:3. Likewise, we are cleansed by the washing of water by the word, Ephesians 5:26; we are born again not through water baptism but, “ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit…being born again…by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever,” 1st Peter 1:22-23.

Jesus uses similar terminology when speaking about the need of “consuming Him.” “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life,” John 6:63. In other words, Jesus’ discourse about His flesh and blood was spiritual, or symbolic of one’s need to have Christ’s life abiding in you through faith. He informs us, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth,” John 4:24. Furthermore we read: “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them,” Matthew 13:34. In other words, when Jesus spoke to the Jewish crowds, He always spoke in parables: He was not literal, but used figurative language to describe spiritual truth. Jesus was speaking to just such a crowd in John 6 (see verses 22-25).

Jesus spoke of the Lord’s Supper in this way: “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me,” Luke 22:19. Paul repeats this statement to the Corinthians when explaining the significance of the Lord’s Supper, 1st Corinthians 11:24-25. What does this suggest? A memorial, to proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes, 1st Corinthians 11:26. This is a bizarre statement if He is present in the sacrament of the bread and wine. Why must we remember Him, and proclaim His death until He comes, if He is always literally present when the Lord’s Supper is taken? The verse which speaks of “discerning the Lord’s body” does not mean that Jesus is physically present in the bread or wine, verse 29.

The Lord’s body refers to the church, Ephesians 1:22-23. Refer back to 1st Corinthians 11:22, “Or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not?” The believers were not coming together in the proper spirit that would constitute the Lord’s Supper, verse 20. Therefore Paul urged them to remember that this was not some banquet, nor were these heathen that they ate with; they were believers and beloved and ought to be treated as such. Physical ordinances are symbols of divine reality; nothing more. Paul asked the Galatians, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Galatians 3:2.
To be Continued.

No comments:

Post a Comment

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2nd Timothy 3:16.

My wife and I welcome comments to our Blog. We believe that everyone deserves to voice their insight or opinion on a topic. Vulgar commentary will not be posted.

Thank you and God bless!

Joshua 24:15

All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.