Out of Gas

out of gasI’m taking a few days off. Fighting a virus.

Not out of ideas — just don’t have the energy to write or comment daily.

See ya’ll in a few days.

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Communion, Part 5)

churchofchristDenominations that only allow members of their own denomination (or certain approved denominations) to take communion with them practice what’s called “closed communion.”

Denominations that allow all other believers to take communion with them practice “open communion.”

As a rule, Christian denominations do not allow non-believers to take of communion. And most do not allow the unbaptized children of members to share in communion.

The Restoration Movement are somewhere in between open and closed, because they follow Alexander Campbell’s advice to neither “invite nor debar” visitors to or from communion. This is rather like Paul’s advice to the Corinthians not to ask whether meat they are offered has been sacrificed to an idol. Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Communion, Part 4)

churchofchristI want to focus on a phrase that is rarely discussed. It was said by Jesus at the institution of the Lord’s Supper but is not recorded in any of the Gospels, only in –

(1Co 11:25-26 ESV)  25 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.”  26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Jesus’ language could be taken as imagining the possibility that the meal might be taken other than in remembrance of him. Which certainly suits Paul’s point, but hardly would seem appropriate at the original institution of the meal.

Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Communion, Part 3)

churchofchristI need to add another thought from a book first published in 1916, written by a man born in Syria to explain the light shed on the Bible by Near East customs and culture –

It is also customary for a gracious host to request as a happy ending to the feast that the contents of one cup be drunk by the whole company as a seal of their friendship with one another. Each guest takes a sip and passes the cup to the one next to him until all have partaken of the “fruit of the vine.”

I have no doubt that it was after this custom that the disciples drank when Jesus “took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave to them: and they all drank of it.” Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Communion, Part 2)

churchofchristHave you ever wondered why so many denominations only take communion quarterly? It’s pretty clear that the early church took it weekly (although there’s some evidence of daily communion), and no pre-Reformation history of quarterly communion.

I can’t confirm this, but I recall reading that the Reformed Church began the practice while Calvin was the dominant figure in Geneva, Switzerland. There was no separation of church and state, and the Geneva city council voted to limit communion to quarterly events. And Calvin saw no reason to oppose their decision.

Of course, that’s what happened. It’s not why it happened. Why the change? And why did the change survive and even expand over  500 years?

Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Communion, Part 1)

churchofchristThe Churches of Christ have long insisted on weekly communion. This teaching traces back to a series of articles by Alexander Campbell called “The Search for the Ancient Order.”

Campbell specifically declared that his studies on how churches should organize and conduct their Sunday assemblies should not be taken as salvation or fellowship issues, but soon after his death, some Restoration Movement preachers were damning – contrary to the core principles of the Restoration – those who took communion quarterly.

Of course, the argument that was ultimately relied on for weekly communion is the Regulative Principle as applied to Acts 20:6-7 –

Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 7)

churchofchristChurch politics

We elders should be a little worried about this one. It certainly worries me –

(Gal 2:11 ESV)  11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

(Gal 2:11 NASB)  But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 6)

churchofchristBefore we talk about falling away, let’s discuss being in jeopardy of falling away. We begin in 2 Peter –

(2Pe 1:5-8 ESV) 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,  6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice v. 8 very carefully. The promise is that if we are growing in spiritual virtues (such as those listed in verses 5 – 7) we will be effective and fruitful. But if not, we can become ineffective and unfruitful. Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 5)

churchofchristAlthough the Churches of Christ often teach God’s forgiveness based on 1 John 1:7, they also teach that sins won’t be forgiven unless and until we –

* Confess the sin to God (and perhaps publicly, if the sin was public)

* Repent of the sin (by no longer doing the sin)

* Pay restitution where appropriate and possible. This element is usually ignored except in the context of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, where it is insisted on.

* Ask God for forgiveness. Continue reading

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What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (Unity, Part 4)

churchofchristI don’t remember who preached the sermon, or even if it was in my home church. But sometime while I was a teenager, I heard a lesson that just astonished me — a most excellent lesson still being taught in even very conservative Churches of Christ based on 1 John 1:7 –

(1Jo 1:7 ESV)  7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Here’s a very typical example from Wayne Jackson’s very popular Christian Courier websiteContinue reading

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