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I am involved with the occult and need prayer to help me get out of it. I do not want anything to do with it no more. But the enemy has a hold on me. I am thinking of suicide but am scared to do it .

We are joining in prayer for your deliverance from the occult. You are doing a good thing in wanting to remove yourself from it, and God supports good things, making ways where there seems to be no way.

The very fact that you look at the occult and the power behind it as your enemy shows a work has already been done in you. You must not give up or lose heart. That is sign of some progress that has already taken place. The enemy does not have as much of a hold on you as you think, or else you would not be able to view him as "the enemy." Take that as your first evidence that God is for you.

I encourage you to look at thoughts of committing suicide as a temptation from Satan, and not the expression of your own person. He is tempting you to think life is not worth living, and that relief can be realized by taking your own life. But that is not the truth--it is his idea put into your mind through temptation. No relief will be experienced by taking your own life. It is self-murder, and will result in something worse than what you are experiencing now. The Bible calls such thoughts flaming arrows, shot at you from the devil. Here is how it reads. "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:18). The "shield of faith" is believing that God exists, and is able to do all things you require. Holding on to that actually neutralizes the power of temptation, making them weaker, and enabling you to put them out of your mind.

When these thoughts of suicide come to you, take up the shield of faith. That would involve thinking to yourself, God is greater that Satan. God is able to protect me. God cares more for me than the devil does, and wants me to live. God will help me to live. God sent His Son to save me from things like this. I will believe in Him and try harder to reach Him than to think these thoughts. In prayer, tell the Lord you do not want these thoughts, that you want to see yourself as He does, and want Him to deliver you. God will hear you. here is what He has promised. "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me" (Psalm 50:14).

There is one key thing that must be done in order to come out of the occult. You must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and come to Him in faith, willing to do whatever He wills. I do not know if you have done this or not. Actually, it is Jesus who will deliver you from the occult, its power, and the fear of it. This is something you do not have to do on your own. Further, Jesus will never ask you to do anything that is not good and right, or does not produce joy and rest in your soul. 

Coming to Jesus is something like letting go of everything else you have depended on--like taking hold of a life preserver when you are drowning in an ocean. You have already let go of the occult, because you want out. 

Please let me know of your progress, and if you need further help and encouragement, or need more understanding about Jesus and coming to Him. I am here to help you experience the freedom you desire.

In your opinion only, would you say that all saints will reign in the millennial kingdom (1000 years) in a new body type form or that only the saints who have just gone through the tribulation and were not raptured?

First, the book of Revelation is to understood in light of the rest of the Scriptures. That is because it is a vision, and not a dictation. A vision always requires interpretation. It's meaning is never found in the details of the vision itself, but in the light of the Scriptures, or a revealed interpretation. Your familiarity with other visions, dreams, and parables of Scripture will confirm this to be the case. 

The resurrection body is described in First Corinthians 15, where it is also compared with our present bodies. This body is a glorified body, and cannot exist simultaneously with unglorified bodies. That is why it is said to be granted when the Lord comes again (Phil 3:20-21). With these things in mind, I will now address your questions.

1. First, the Word of God does not refer to a "millennial kingdom." It does refer to those beheaded for Christ being elevated to thrones, given judgment, and reigning with Christ for a thousand years (Rev 20:4-6). Upon this solitary reference, and a vague one at that, men have constructed an entire millennial theology. We must not allow ourselves to be directed into such a consideration of Scripture--particularly when it involves reframing our understanding of the rest of sacred Scripture.

If this view was a correct one, Jesus and the apostles would have clearly taught it--but they did not. Therefore, Revelation 20:4-6 must be understand in the light of the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles. It is not the introduction of a new, and hitherto unrevealed, segment of truth.

2. In my opinion, the "first resurrection" of Revelation 20 is not a bodily one at all. It is another order of resurrection, like "second death" is another order of death. That is why we never read of a "second resurrection" or a "first death." In these instances "first" and "second" are not chronological terms, but a depiction of different orders.

I understand this to refer to the resurrection of the cause for which the martyrs died. It involves the sudden and rapid spread of the truth and power of the Gospel upon earth. This will have two facets. First, the cause of the opponents of the Gospel will recede into the background. Second, the Gospel will yield unparalleled results among men. Those who were martyred will have a significant part in this renewal. I do not understand that they will return to the earth in bodies, but will do so from an enthroned position in the heavenlies. It is true, "the heavens do rule" (Dan 4:26). To me, it is absurd to think there must be a bodily presence for such an awakening to take place. Also, if Jesus is presently reigning from heaven, there is no reason to doubt that He can involve other spirits of just men made perfect in an unprecedented way.

3. All saints will have a part in reigning with Jesus. This is the doctrine of Scripture. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us" (2 Tim 2:12). "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Rom 8:17). First Corinthians 6:2-3 refers to the saints judging both men and angels. I gather this also refers to that reign. It will follow the passing of the heavens and the earth, and the appearance of the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwells righteousness (2 Pet 3:13). That is what we are admonished to anticipate. If there is some interim reign of limited duration, and over men who remain in the flesh, there is no clear revelation of it in all of the Bible.

Question--Is there any scripture to support the practice of praying to the Holy Spirit or to Jesus instead of to God, the Father, through the name of Jesus??

Prayer is ordinarily addressed to the Father, through the Son, and in the Spirit. Jesus taught us to pray "our Father . . . " (Matt 6:9). Jesus Himself prayed to the Father (Matt 11:25;-26; John 11:41; 17:1). Paul prayed to the Father (Col 1:3; Eph 3:14-17).

The fact that Christ has reconciled us to God (Rom 5:10), is bringing us to God (1 Pet 3:18), and is the way to the Father (John 14:6), confirms that prayer is to be addressed to Him. In fact, the Spirit, who sent into our hearts, moves us to cry out "Abba Father" (Gal 4:6). 

Some site the death of Stephen as an example of praying to Jesus. You may remember he saw the heavens opened, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. It was that he cried out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59). The fact that Stephen was granted to see the Lord Jesus, however, makes this a most unusual circumstance--hardly the standard for prayer.

There are no examples of praying to the Holy Spirit, or any hint of the propriety of doing so. we are told to pray "in the Spirit," not to the Spirit (Eph 6:18; Jude 20). 

I would not say it is wrong to pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit--it is not a matter of right and wrong, but of insight and understanding. Once the role of the Father in our redemption is seen, it makes perfect sense to address our prayers to Him. 

Do you think the Bible teaches that we will reign in the future with Christ or are actually reigning right now?

The promise of ultimate reigning is to those who overcome, not to those who are presently in Christ. "If we endure, We shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim 2:12). "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev 3:21).

It is true that we have been made kings and priests unto God now. As it is written, "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Rev 1:5-6). Our kingship, however, is much like David's before he actually assumed the throne. Samuel anointed him king a considerable time before he assumed the throne (1 Sam 16:3,12-13). You might say he was king incognito. That is our status.

Presently, we are more prospective kings than active ones. Notwithstanding, there are occasions when we are granted some aspect of authority in prayer, preaching, influence, etc. But it is far short of what is to come. In the future, will judge men and angels (1 Cor 6:2-3). 

It seems to me that just being honest would forbid a person to say we are presently reigning. The closest we may come to that, is being effective in the role we have been given in the body of Christ. But that is a far cry from sitting with Jesus in His throne, and reigning with Him. Jesus told His disciples of a time when they would be given the Kingdom (Lk 12:32). Daniel spoke of a time when the Kingdom in all of its fullness would be given to the saints (Dan 7:18,22,27). Until that time, we are more servants than kings.

As to the involvement of all saints, I believe everyone will reign in some sense, but not all to the same degree. This was taught in Christ's parable of the pounds (Lk 19:13-18). It is also seen in the superior role assigned to the Apostles (Rev 21:14). 

What did Jesus mean when He said this to John the Baptist: "But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him." - Matthew 3:15 NASB 

It was true that as a person, John the Baptist was vastly inferior to the Lord Jesus. His assessment, "I have need to be baptized of You," was correct from that point of view. However, in fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah, among other things, "It pleased the LORD for the sake of his righteousness to make his law great and glorious" (Isa 42:21). Just as Jesus fulfilled the Law by obeying it, and learning obedience through the things that He suffered (Heb 5:8), so He fulfilled the requirement of baptism introduced by John. It was not that He had any sin, for John baptized for remission of sin (Mark 1:4). However, had He not submitted to the ordinance, He would rejected what God had put into place. You may remember the Pharisees and the lawyers "rejected God's purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John" (Lk 7:30). Although Divine and sinless, as a Man. He was obliged to do what God had ordained.

Over and above this, God had appointed that Jesus would be made known to John the Baptist in the act of baptism. In fact, John confesses that was the primary reason he came baptizing. "And John bore witness saying, 'I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, 'He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God" (John 1:32-34). 

Jesus additionally set the tone for all who are in Him. There is no requirement of God that believers are not obligated to obey and fulfill. They have the Lord Jesus as their supreme example.

Those are some of the involvements of Jesus' words to John, His counsin according to the flesh. One additional word on this. There are people who reject baptism, saying it is not essential. I have often wondered what they will say when they stand before the Lord. How will they explain why they refused to be baptized when men urged them to do so, while Jesus insisted on being baptized when John urged Him not to. Just something to ponder. 

When a person dies, his soul separates from his body. Can his soul still remain here as if he is still around? 

Jesus spoke of a godly man and an ungodly man who both died. One went to hell, and the other went to a place of comfort. Neither one of them were permitted to return to the earth. The account is found in Luke 16:19-21.

Those in Christ are said to be "with the Lord" when they die, or are "absent from the body" (2 Corinthians 5:8). In some sense, they are still with us. Scriptures say that in Christ we come into fellowship with "the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb 12:23). We do not know to what extent this takes place. They are still alive in another place. I gather that is why they sometimes seem very real to us--just as though they did not die. However, this is about all God has revealed on the subject, and we should do our best to be content with it.

Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. but why is He called the "Prince" of peace and not "King"?

Jesus is also called "the Prince of life" (Acts 3:15), a "Prince and a Savior" (Acts 5:31). The word "Prince" is not a lesser one than King. It emphasizes a chief leader or captain. Thus, the phrase "Prince of the kings" shows how Jesus is actually leading or using them to fulfill His purpose. The phrase "King of kings emphasizes His authority, or power over them. These two words are two sides of the same coin, which is the Lord's Sovereignty, or supremacy.

The bible says: it is appointed for man to die once and after that the judgment. Does this mean that man's soul will separate from his body to face the judgment right after his death?

This verse (Heb 9:27) is speaking of two scheduled events that all men must face. It does not mean that judgment follows death immediately. God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world (Acts 17:31). It is a specific day, known only to the Lord. Even the wicked angels will be judged at that time. Presently, they are awaiting that time. I understand that all who die are also awaiting the judgment day. It will follow the resurrection of the dead (Rev 20:12-13).

In the second coming of Christ, the dead ones who are his will be the first ones to resurrect. Does this mean that their souls will return to their bodies after facing the judgment and arise when Jesus takes them with Him ?

The "dead in Christ" will be raised first--that is, before those who are alive at Christ's coming are "changed" (1 Thess 4:16-17). The resurrection is when the soul and the body are again united. It will be with all the dead just like it was with the young boy raised by the prophet Elijah. His soul came into his body and he revived (1 Kings 17:22). The general resurrection will differ from that boy's resurrection in that the body will be immortal, never again to die. It is after the resurrection that the judgment will take place.

What is the difference between discernment, judgment and condemnation ? can we judge? are we judging when we tell the truth concerning what a person does or says against us or others?

Discernment and judgment are closely related. They have to do with being able to distinguish good and evil, what is of the Lord and what is of the devil. Discernment includes the idea of understanding. Judgment involves pronouncing God's mind on a matter. We are to judge now. That is the teaching of 1 Corinthians 6:1-4. but we are to judge "righteous judgment" (John 7:24), or the way Jesus would judge. Our judgment is not to be according to appearance, but according to godly understanding. Judging can involve telling the truth about what a person has done to us or others. However, that should not be our emphasis. Valid judgment has more to do with identifying the source of men's expressions--whether they are from God or the devil.

I`m ready to forgive my 2 christian brothers. they know that I'm aware that they have done something against me. but they don't seem to come to me to ask for forgiveness. I don't want to confront them, and I don't want to be the one to approach them & forgive them without their asking for it, or else I'll be tolerating their wrongdoings.--- question: am I doing the right thing? are they liable for their actions?

Your responsibility is to be "ready to forgive"--like God is (Psa 86:5). Men are liable for their actions, but not to us. They are liable to God. It is to be understood that you cannot forgive someone who does not repent--not even God does that. However, you cannot hold a grudge, returning good for evil, as the Scriptures teach (Rom 12:21; 1 Thess 5:15; Matt 5:44-45; Rom 12:20). Your responsibility is to respond to your offenders in a way that will lead them to believe you will forgive them if given the opportunity. By beholding your conduct, they may become ashamed for what they did, and seek your forgiveness (1 Pet 3:16). That part is something God will have to do.

What does it mean to be afflicted? From the text of Psalm 119:65-72 

The affliction of this text is chastisement, when the Lord corrects us. The Scripture reminds us that the Lord chastens those He loves, not allowing them to wander without disciplining them (Prov 3:12; Heb 12:6-8). It is called "affliction" because it is discipline that hurts and grieves us. The Lord ministers this discipline to make us more sensitive of Himself and His will.

What is the difference between affliction and tribulations?

Affliction, as used in the above text, is how the Lord corrects us. Tribulations are ordinarily the oppositions endured by men because of our faith. These definitions are not cast in stone, but this is their general meanings. Several places, afflictions are hardships endured in the good fight of faith (2 Cor 4:17; 1 Thess 1:6; Heb 11:25). Both words have to do with suffering and difficulty, and are often translated from the same Greek word. It is best not to try and make a fine distinction between them. The way they are used in the various texts will make it clear whether it is a matter of chastening or the repercussions of the world because of our faith.

A man I work with insists that the Roman Catholic Church has concealed several of the books of the Bible from society. He claims there are more books to the Bible than we have in our Bible today. Although I don't believe this theory, how can I prove otherwise?

The man you work with is not looking at things correctly. The Scriptures are the Word of God, and are maintained by Him. He not only sent the Word, but manages how it returns to Him (Isa 55:11). How could His word "return" to Him if man had the power to bury, obscure, or even remove it from the earth? Too, Jesus said "the Scripture cannot be broken," or annulled (John 10:35). He did not say they SHOULD not be broken, but that they CANNOT be broken. One statement of Scripture is, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1 Pet 1:23). By saying the Word "lives," He means it is active, influential, and ever working among men.

While we must not place confidence in men, the Scriptural canon was a rather lengthy process, involving a great number of men. My personal opinion is that God worked through them to preserve His Word. This is something that cannot be proved from an earthly point of view. There are no original manuscripts--not so much as a single one. 

It is God's manner with withdraw the evidence, calling upon men to believe in Him, not in the evidence. He did this when He ordered the tables of the covenant to be placed in the ark of the covenant, never to be seen by human eye (Deut 10:1-2). When He raised Christ from the dead, only believers saw Him. the world never saw Him again (John 14:19). The evidence was withdrawn so that we might believe, even though we do not see Him (1 Pet 1:8).

There is no point in arguing with your friend about this. It is his obligation to prove what he has said. This will be impossible, for there are no original manuscripts in all of the world--only copies. He is obliged to tell you what books have been omitted, and how they bear on our salvation.

Throughout the Scriptures, God has called us to believe and trust His word. He has magnified His word above all of His name (Psa 138:2), and told us it will never pass away. Even though heaven and earth passes away, not a jot or tittle of His word shall be removed (Matt 5:18; 24:35). In fact, Jesus said it is "EASIER for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of the Law to fail" (Lk 16:17). If some of the books of the Bible have been taken away by some mortal, all of these words are false. Too, how can we trust a word that is no longer accessible to us.

The answer for your acquaintance is simply this, "Have faith in God." If he does not believe God can protect His own word, how can he ever believe God could protect him?

In 1 John where we learn that the one born of God "does not sin" and "cannot sin" while this a spiritual truth how does it help the believer? What benefit is there in knowing that there is a part of me that is incapable of sinning? How would this knowledge have helped his readers? 

Simply this, it confirms to our faith what is said elsewhere: "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Gal 5:16). It also feeds our faith, and challenges us to "put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph 2:22-24). It also builds confidence, which is indispensable to overcoming the world.

A further thing is clarified by this teaching. It confirms that when we sin, we are not walking by faith, nor are we living in the Spirit. It serves to awaken lethargic souls from their slumber. As it is written elsewhere, "For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Rom 8:13-14). The flesh cannot be led by God, but the new creation can. The knowledge of this sensitizes the soul to live to the Lord. It also neutralizes the power of the devil.

In my judgment, the weak condition of many professed believers is directly owing to their ignorance of what has occurred to them in Christ Jesus. Because of this, they view themselves as incapable of wholly embracing the Word of the Lord, and pressing energetically toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God.

Where do we draw the line in regard to religious fellowship?

Care must be taken not to disfellowship someone God has received, or fellowship someone He rejects. As you must know, this requires discernment, and cannot be accomplished by merely following a set of rules. Ultimately, the heart and a consciousness toward God are what determines fellowship. 

Thus the Corinthians were told to not offend some of their people who did not even know there was only one God (1 Cor 8:5-8). That deficiency, however, was not due to rebellion or stubbornness. Too, the Romans were reminded not to look upon a weaker brother who did not know restrictions against eating meat were lifted in Christ. The person persuaded that only herbs could be eaten was technically wrong, yet God had received him. The brethren. therefore, had no alternative but to do the same (Rom 14:1-3).

God accepts those who have received "the love of the truth" (2 Thess 2:10), and that because of Christ. Many of God's people entertain flawed views. They are not to be automatically judged to be excluded from the fellowship, assuming they have no love of the truth. There are matters that do not fall into this category. Among them are gross moral deficiencies: i.e., "anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; not even to eat with such a person" (1 Cor 5:11). Also, those whose manner of life is disorderly, who refuse to work for their bread (2 Thess 3:6-10). Of course, these are relatively easy to see.

There are other matters that also touch on this subject. There are those who have a form of godliness, but deny its power--whose profession is only in their mouths, and not in their hearts. Of these we are told, "from such people turn away" (2 Tim 3:5). This one comes pretty close to many of our brethren. Powerless religion is the blight of our day.

When it comes to the matter of doctrine, those whose doctrine does not center in Jesus Christ are unworthy of fellowship. This is the meaning of 2 John 9-10). Remember, the church at Ephesus was doctrinally sound, but inwardly reprehensible (Rev 2:1-7). Again, this cannot be accomplished by rote. A person must be in fellowship with Christ (1 Cor 1:9), and have some understanding of the nature of God and His salvation for these determinations to be made. Some people are simply ignorant, not divisive. It is those who CAUSE divisions and the malignment of the doctrine that are to be noted (Rom 16:17).

Care must also be taken not to determine fellowship on the basis of groups. Everyone is Sardis was not dead (Rev 3:4), and there were some in Laodicea to whom Christ called out (Rev 3:14). In Thyatira, there were also some who did not accept what that church was teaching (Rev 2:24). All Baptists are not really Baptists, for example, any more than all Samaritans are Samaritans in heart (John 4). God does not receive us in groups. Unbelievers are not sanctified by being in the presence of believers, and strong people are not disqualified for being around weak ones. Somehow, people must strive to have the Spirit of Christ in determining their fellowship. Should we choose to reject someone He has received, He will not overlook our insolence.

I have found that the best way to approach this is to consider the penalties for refusing someone God has accepted. The one who does not love his brother is not of God (1 John 3:10). The one not loving his brother is abiding in death (1 John 3:14). If we do not love one another, we do not know God (1 John 4:7-8). The person claiming to know God, yet failing to love his brother, is a liar (1 John 4:19-20). 

Here is the way I reason about this, brother Ben. If God has placed such great stress upon loving His people, I had better be sure I am not looking for a reason to isolate myself from them. Jesus stood in the midst of some very flawed churches. Yet, he appealed to them to repent and come back to Him (Rev 2-3). He was not looking for a reason to exclude them, but to receive them.

All of this does not involve the condoning of error. It does involve forbearance and longsuffering. In the end, our eternal destiny will be determined by how we treated the brethren of Jesus (Matt 25:34-46). For me, that puts a fresh light on the subject. It is my persuasion that approaching it from a legalistic viewpoint (as compared with a discerning one) will yield unacceptable fruit.

For this reason, therefore, I suggest that being convinced of the seriousness of receiving everyone God receives, and rejecting everyone God rejects, is the primary matter. From that point, we will be able to reason in a more godly manner. I would start my discussion of the subject from that perspective.

Tonight at Bible study we were asked to research the meaning of Babel (as in Towel of Babel), since our minister speaks so highly of your site, I decided to start here for your comment regarding this.

The meaning of the word "Babel" is "confusion." The Hebrew word from which this is translated litertally means "to confuse, or mingle." The Scriptures actually make this point in Genesis 11:8-9. "So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel --because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth" (NIV). The reason for this judgment was the purpose for which the tower was attempted. It is summarized in their intent, "and let us make for ourselves a name" (Gen 11:4). They had left God completely out of the picture, trusting only in themselves, and desiring only their own advancement and glory.

Because of the powerful effects of unity, their attempt would have been realized. Some of the most remarkable words in Scripture are the ones God said of this project. "Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech" (Gen 11:6-7). For this reason God confounded their speech, so they could not understand each other. That is what brought the project to a grinding halt.

Since that day, being unable to understand one another has proved a handicap--particularly in the work of the Lord. There is certainly much to learn from that remarkable occasion.

How should we celebrate the Lord's Supper as to do what He asked us to do? So many churches have different methods right down to the type of juice and how to break the bread. Some say it is very important, other says not. I don't want to miss what Jesus is asking of me. I would like to know what you know about this.

Your familiarity with Scripture should confirm that the sort of details you outlined are not spelled out for us by the Lord. The MANNER is emphasized: i.e., in remembrance of Him. Some at Corinth were severely judged by God because of the manner in which they partook of the Lord's table. Their minds were not focused on the Lord, but on themselves. They were not showing forth, or declaring, the Lord's death, but apparently going through a form of empty ritual (1 Cor 11:26-30).

As to the form itself, all Scriptural form portrays the reality being declared. Baptism, for example, is "the FORM of the doctrine" (Rom 6:17). It portrays the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ in an outward form. The form, of course, agrees with the reality being portrayed.

It is much the same in the Lord's Supper. The form of the bread and cup agree with the reality of the body and blood of the Lord. The bread is unleavened, portraying the sinless body of Christ Paul alludes to this in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. It also conveys the idea of all believers partaking of the same Savior, and the single sacrifice made for sin. This is taught in 1 Corinthians 10:17. The juice, or "fruit of the vine" (Matt 26:29), perfectly portrays the blood of Christ. Just as the juice of the grape is produced by crushing, or bruising, so the blood of Christ was the result of Him being striken and smitten of God (Isa 53:4-5). His life was crushed, so to speak, in order that we might partake of it. Because of these parallels, it assists the believer in recalling that his life proceeded from Christ's death. Before we could obtain life, Christ had to forfeit His. Before we could receive the blessing of God, Jesus had to be cursed by God (Gal 3:13).

To go beyond this and insist on some form of stereotyped procedure does not seem wise to me. The Lord has provided us some liberty here. I believe we are free to be led by the Spirit into meaningful manners of taking the Lord's Supper. Some do it on their knees. Others have an extended time, when they take a larger container of the juice, and a larger portion of bread, spending several minutes in contemplation and thankfulness. The idea is to do this in remembrance of Christ, not to adhere to an empty routine.

While the Scriptures do not outline precisely what elements are to be used, they appear to assume we understand Jesus used the bread and fruit of the vine used during the Passover Feast, which was instituted by God. That bread was not leavened (Ex 12:8; Mk 14:12; Lk 22:7). We do not have a lot of Scriptural information concerning "the cup." Jesus referred to it as "the fruit of the vine" (Matt 26:29; Mk 14:25; Lk 22:18). While some contend this means "wine" in the ordinary sense of the word, I cannot believe it does. First, under the Law priests were strictly forbidden to drink any strong drink in the course of their duties (Lev 10:9; Ezek 44:21). A Nazarite (which we assume Jesus was, as well as John the Baptist) was never allowed to consume strong drink in any form (Num 6:2-3). On the cross, Jesus refused to drink a mixture of wine and myrrh (Mk 15:23). All of this does not justify the conclusion that serving hardened wine at the Lord's table is right. Besides that, it also destroys the type, which the form is to portray. It is the freshness of Christ's sacrifice that gives it its vitality, not its historicity. That is why John beheld Jesus as a "Lamb" as if it had been newly, or freshly, slain (Rev 5:6). 

This is, of course, represents my own preference, and does not merit dividing brethren over the matter.


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