Group Number 21

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QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   What would you say is the biblical meaning and purpose of communion?

Communion, or the Lord's table, is an appointed way of remembering the Lord Jesus--particularly in His redemptive capacity. It commemorates Him delivering us from both the power and guilt of sin. More, however, is involved than the recollection of our Savior. There is a very real participation in His life around this table. it is referred to as "the communion of the blood of Christ" and "the communion of the body of Christ" (1 Cor 10:16). This means that we experience the effectiveness of His vicarious, or substitutionary sacrifice. it is another way of saying we come into close fellowship with the Lord. This occurs because of the high value the Father Himself places on Christ's atoning death. Isaiah said He saw the travail of His soul and was "satisfied" (Isa 53:11). As we ponder that death, giving thanks for it, we come close to the very heart of God. In that rich fellowship benefits are ministered than can only be comprehended by the word "communion."

Another thing about this feast of remembrance--by partaking of it, we are affirming our acceptance of His sacrifice, and our anxious awaiting for His appearing. Scripture states it this way: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Cor 11:26).

It is also a place where we confess our total allegiance to the Lord. As it is written, "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons" (1 Cor 10:21). You can sense the absolute seriousness of this occasion. The Corinthians were severely judged by God for being sloppy about their participation at this table. Of that judgment Paul says, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep" (1 Cor 11:28-30).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Are there people in hell now???

In the strictest sense of the word, "No." Hell is ultimately "the lake of fire," which is the second death (Rev 20:14). This was made "for the devil and his angels" (Matt 25:41). However, all who align themselves with the devil by rejecting Jesus Christ "shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev 21:8). They will be consigned to that dreadful place following the resurrection of the dead and the day of judgment (Rev 10:15).

Jesus gave us some information about the state of the dead now. It is provided in His account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Some choose to view this as a parable, but only because it impinges on their view of the dead. Jesus did not use names in any other parable. He refers to three individuals: Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man. The rich man, as you know, was in torment and flame, while Lazarus was comforted. It is my understanding that this was not the final destination of the wicked, but a temporary residence where they are held until the final day. Both Peter and Jude tells us wicked angels are also being reserved for the day of judgment (2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6).

In answer to your question, the wicked who have died are presently being punished in some sense, but not as fully as they will be in the end.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)    Will we be judged [bema] for not using our gifts

All believers will give a strict account of their stewardship. Jesus taught this in the parables of the unjust steward (Lk 16:2-4), the talents (Matt 15:25-28), and the pounds (Lk 19:13-25). He also reminded us that faithful stewards would be rewarded and unfaithful ones punished. Again, this conflicts with some people's view of Scripture, but fully knows the truth, and speaks in perfect harmony with it.

Each believer will give an account of himself to God (Rom 14:12). Those who have been given charge over the people of God will give an account of their work to the Lord (Heb 13:17). Both the good and evil we have done will be accounted for before the Lord (2 Cor 5:10-11). All of this is involved in being a steward of the manifold grace of God (1 Pet 4:10).

As to the concept of the "bema" judgment, this distinction has been made by men, not God. The Greek word "bema" is used 22 times in Scripture (Matt 27;19; John 19;13; Acts 7:5; 12:21; 18:12,16,17; 25:6,10,17; Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:20). It is used to describe Pilate's throne of judgement, a place for Abraham to set his foot, Herod's throne, a Roman seat of judgment before which Paul stood, the throne upon which Festus sat, Caesar's throne, and Christ's seat of judgment. The word "bema" simply means a judicial bench, tribunal, judges seat, or throne. There is no distinction made in Scripture between this throne and the throne of God. There is only one throne, and it is occupied by both the Father and the Son (Rev 22:1,3). Presently that throne is devoted to sustaining the saints (Heb 1:8; 4:15-16; 8:1). That very same throne will be the place where all are assembled in the last day for judgment. The saints will not be excluded from the day of judgment (and Scripture nowhere speaks of "days" of judgment). In act, Scripture reminds the faithful they will have boldness in that day (1 John 4:17). Jude also tells us God is able to present us faultless before His throne with great joy (Jude 24-25).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   I'm haunted by the thought that I'm failing to please God. I am often decieved into thinking I need to try harder. My human effort is no match for meeting the requirements of entering into God's holy presence.How do I become a warrior? How can I fight the fight of faith, when my thoughts are to focused on me?

Your sensitivity is proof of your acceptance! This is precisely the struggle described in Romans 7:14-25 and Galatians 5:17. In both cases, the struggle was in the mind. The thoughts of doubt, fear, etc., are flaming arrows hurled into your mind by the devil (Eph 6:18). He does this to all of God's children, making every effort to drive them away from the Lord.

One practical measure is to seek "grace to help in the time of need" (Heb 4:15-16). That grace may not make a superman out of you, but it will get you through the trial. You already have faith, but you need further help that only the Lord can give. One man who was challenged by Christ's promise "All things are possible to him that believes," responded, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24). Jesus did help the man, and He will help you also.

The Lord does not measure you by your accomplishments, but by your faith. That is what makes you acceptable to Him -- the fact that you believe the record He has given of His Son (1 John 5:10-11). That faith is not merely intellectual, but is a reliance on the Lord Jesus. Enoch is said to have "pleased God," and it was his faith that made him pleasing (Heb 11:5-6).

In view of this, the focus of your attention is believing. that, of course, is something only the Lord can help you with--and He will do so. You are not alone in this warfare, and you must fight against thoughts that lead you to believe you are. they are temptations, not sins!

Peter reminded us of the sure word we have received in the Gospel. Knowing it is a lofty word, far beyond the reach of our natural abilities, he provided the secret to getting higher. "And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2 Pet 1:19). In a nutshell, that means as you focus on what God has said about Jesus, the Lord Himself will open things up to you. That is His work, and He is faithful to do it.

be of good cheer, brother John. You are involved in "the good fight of faith" (1 Tim 6:12). I deeply appreciate you sharing your heart with me, and encourage you to look up.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  Any quick thoughts on 1Tim 2:12f?

This is the ordinary manner of the Kingdom. It does not exclude unusually gifted and insightful women. It has always been God's manner to use technically unqualified people, who excelled their peers. David, for example, was not old enough to be in the army when he fought Goliath. At 12, Jesus was not old enough to instruct them masters of the law. A woman judge was never used in Moses time, nor were provisions made for such during the time of the judges. yet Deborah occupied that position because of her unusual faith. the prophetess Huldah was sought out by Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah. God spoke to the king of Judah through Huldah--something the church of Christ would never have allowed. Anna, a prophetess, announced the birth of Jesus to those waiting for redemption in Jerusalem. All of these women were unusual, and thus were afforded an unusual opportunity. I understand the Lord still operates on this principle. If, however, the woman does not have unusual insights and qualities, she is under the ordinary restriction.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)  What is your take on,"when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears." 1Cor. 13:10.

This is more a statement of principle than a prophecy of events. The idea is that maturity eliminates the need for helps that are not thorough in their effect. It is not appropriate to refer this text to the completion of the New Testament canon, and I know of no text of Scripture that would encourage such a conclusion. The point Paul is making is that the Corinthians penchant for externals was proof of their juvenility. Their childish handling of spiritual gifts had not yielded an form of spiritual maturity.

In the ultimate sense, "that which is perfect" means precisely what it suggests -- that there will be a full blossoming of life in Christ Jesus--one that will obviate all "helps", which are themselves proof we are not yet perfect--else we would require no assistance. That time will come when the Lord appears, and we "know, even as we are known." That will be a "face to face" time, when we will no longer behold things in a cloudy glass.

I understand the word translated "done away" depicts destruction--a violent and abrupt passing of the temporal. That, of course, did NOT occur at the completion of the canon, nor will it occur prior to the end of all things. it also carries the idea of being without effect (Rom 3:3,31).

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   The whole focus of this body of believers these days is how God wants us to be prosperous, now, as we understand the task at hand for the "kings" to use their gifts in the job market, to bring money into the storehouse (the church, the tithe) and for the "priests" to understand that they are called to minister to the body of Christ as a full time occupation.

The whole notion of financial prosperity being integral to the new covenant and life in Christ Jesus is without support. Being a king and a priest has absolutely nothing to do with such things. The text in reference says Jesus "has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Rev 1:6). That condition was produced by us being "washed from our sins" (verse 5).

Notice. The relationship is "to His God," not to the world. Too, riches are referred to as "unrighteous mammon" (Lk 16:11), "uncertain riches" (1 Tim 6:17), and things "moth and rust consume," and "thieves break through and steal" (Matt 6:19). Those who seek such things are said to 'fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Tim 6:9-10). To relate riches with being a king and a priest to God is an absurdity for which men will surely give an account.

Whatever may be said of earthly prosperity, it is a temporal situation. Paul, who certainly had attained at least as much as the pulpit sophists promoting this theological nonsense, said he had learned HOW to abound, and how to suffer need as well (Phil 4:12-13).

Being a king and priest to God has to do with serving Him--being used in his great salvation. It is being a worker together with God (1 Cor 3:9).

What your church is preaching is NOT good. No such thing was ever preached by Jesus or the Apostles. God has announced he is taking a people OUT of the world for Himself (Acts 15:14). His people are strangers and pilgrims in the world (1 Pet 2:11), and their citizenship is in heaven, where there are not earthly riches (Phil 3:20-21). A quest for riches, and particularly one which is fostered by a distorted view of being a king and priest to God, betrays a covetous heart.

QUESTION.gif (2121 bytes)   Can you tell me why the Lord calls us who believe and are washed in His blood, "kings and priests?"

"Kings" has to do with reigning with Christ. In this world, it involves the overthrow of thoughts and imaginations that inhibit the knowledge of Christ (2 Cor 10:5-6), reigning over the sinful nature and bringing our whole persons into subjection to Jesus (Rom 5:17,21; 6:12). Preeminently, it has to do with the world to come, where we will sit with Jesus in His throne (Rev 3:21), reign with Jesus (2 Tim 2:12), and even judge the world and angels (1 Cor 6:1-2). In this latter sense (which is the primary one), we are kings in anticipation, like David was. he was anointed king long before he actually assumed the throne (1 Sam 16:13). We are not "kings" over earthly goods, which will perish. The whole idea is absurd. All your minister needs to support his postulate is a word from scripture that states what he is saying. Of course, there is none. he is preaching a conclusion, not a Divine affirmation.

"Priests" have to do with offering up spiritual sacrifices to God--serving Him here and now. It is not that SOME people in the church are priests: they are ALL priests. As it is written, "You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ . . . But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy" (1 Peter 2:5,9). Under the Law, only a select few actually served God--the Aaronic order (High priests), and the Levites (Priesthood). In Christ, all believers are priests, and Christ the High Priest. As individual priests, we have access to God, having the privilege of entering His presence at any time, and staying as long as we desire. We have access to the living bread, and can partake of the altar -- which means we can imbibe or ingest the very Person of Christ as the Levites ate the sacrifices on their altar (Heb 13:10; 1 Cor 10:16-21; John 6:51-56).

The whole idea behind the use of these terms is a comparison between the Old Covenant and Israel with the New Covenant and the people of God in Christ Jesus. Under the Old, only a few were given privileges of service. under the New, ALL are given that privilege.

What your pastor is telling you has to do with supporting an institution--something that is given so emphasis whatsoever in the Word of God. We are "kings and priests unto God" (Rev 1:5-6), not to the institution.

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