One final ramification that needs to be addressed here is just who is allowed at the Supper. Believers only? Believers and their immediate family? Anyone who wants to partake? Is the Lord’s Supper to be “protected” from unbelievers?
The New Testament setting of the Supper as a full meal held in the homes of its members holds significance for just who is allowed at the Supper. Many evangelical churches today actively “protect” the Supper; that is to say, in the moments preceding the Supper they make it a point to invite to the Supper only those who have exercised personal faith in Christ. Churches that practice this “protection” are usually careful to point out (based on 1 Corinthians 11) that one who eats of the Supper in an unworthy manner may very well eat and drink judgment to himself. Hence, no unbeliever or unregenerate child (even of a believer) may partake of the bread and cup.
But there are at least two observations that militate against this view. First, as we noted in an earlier entry to this series, the “unworthy manner” of 1 Cor 11:27-32 refers not to the spiritual state of the eater, but to the manner in which he eats the Supper. In the case of the Corinthians, the culprits who were sick and dying were not so judged due to their inward state (however unworthy that state may have been), but rather due to their conspiring to exclude the poor from the Supper while they themselves partook of it sumptuously—that is to say, they were judged for the manner in which they conducted the Supper.
Second, the New Testament setting of the Lord’s Supper itself would seem to preclude anything like a “protected” Supper. The first-century church did not meet in specially designed public buildings call “churches.” They met together—and ate together—primarily in homes. Moreover, the Lord’s Supper was not for them some incidental activity pushed back to the final ten minutes of the meeting once per quarter. It was absolutely central to the church meeting every Lord’s Day, and indeed, it was the very focus of the meeting. Bear in mind that the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament was a full meal, and participation in that meal was the very purpose for meeting together in the first place. In fact, the entire meeting was very likely conducted while at table, and the eating likely lasted throughout the entire meeting. Hence, part of the purpose of the Supper was to share a meal together, especially to provide for (in the words of Paul) "those who have nothing."
If, then, during those days “some unbeliever walk[ed] in” per Paul’s scenario in 1 Cor 14:23-25, or if some unbelieving spouse decided to accompany a believing spouse to the meeting—and brought their young children along as well—imagine the awkwardness of the church as they partook of a meal together around a table and instructed the unbelievers and children to sit at the table with them but refrain from joining in the meal; the members of the church dine sumptuously, while their children and spouses look on with hunger. Such a scenario is absurd on its face, particularly in light of Paul’s teaching that the children and unbelieving spouse of a believer are “sanctified,” “clean,” and “holy” by virtue of the believing spouse (1 Cor 7:14). Whatever the direct application is of that principle, it seems fair to apply it to this case as well.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Monday, November 21, 2005
We are offering this pocket-sized book at significantly reduced rates so that, as you fall deeper in love with the true Christ, you will have an attractive and trustworthy gift to help others fall there also.
The Almighty wants you to be happy! This evangelistic book addresses several key questions about God and us that everyone needs answers to. Use it to share with unbelievers that Jesus, the greatest being in the universe, is not just calling them to come, but calling them to come for their joy!
This is part of their Spread the Joy Outreach program.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
- guilt - forgiveness
- shame - honor
- power - fear
- clean - unclean
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The first step to planting a campus church is to start on our knees. We must see what the Father is doing and simply join Him. Before we send out any campus church planter they are to seek the Lord in prayer and fasting for His direction. Prayer must precede planning. Practically, pray for God to bring you a team. You can begin to talk to other believers you know who can join you on or near campus or even flyer bulletin boards that there is a new church starting on campus. (Campus Church networks can connect you with a CCN coach to equip and mentor your team in the church planting process.)
When they talk about the key elements of a campus church network, again prayer is at the forefront:
Prayer always precedes revival. Prayer is also what sustains revival. If a campus church network is to be successful there must be much prayer. The underground church in China that is growing daily by thousands has said, "no prayer, no power, much prayer, much power." Prayer must be foundational at an individual, corporate and regional level. Believers on campus must have a lifestyle of prayer, campus churches must regularly meet for spiritual warfare and intercession for the lost, regionally campus churches should make it a goal to network prayer warriors to sustain 24/7 prayer over their campus and city. If you are the one called to start a campus church network on your campus than prayer must be your first priority. It is your lifestyle of prayer that will effect the movement from the beginning to be a movement of prayer and total dependence on God. Bill Bright started Campus Crusade for Christ the largest Christian ministry organization in the world with a 24- hour prayer vigil. (Isaiah 62:6-7, Luke 18:7).
Likewise, their step-by-step guide begins with prayer:
Pursue God’s Presence and His Purposes for your campus.
Rally believers on campus to join in a corporate campus prayer initiative.
Allow God to speak and lead: Spend time listening to Him.
Yield to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
So what’s happening to the extended adolescents in the church? Looking around the web, I see a lot of religion statistics and websites devoted to youth ministry, but not much about how to get the unmarried, Gamecube-playing, movie-watching 28-year-old involved in the church. If the articles above are to be believed, this is a demographic that would benefit from the social involvement that comes from being a part of communal worship. Is this happening, or are these people slipping through the cracks? If they’re not participating in the church, is that their fault for wanting to avoid responsibility, the church’s fault for not bothering to reach out to them, or a combination of both?
And what do we do about it? That’s always the question, isn’t it? What about your church—are the twentysomethings actively involved, or floating quietly on the fringes of church life?
Several of the responses stress the importance of personal connections/relationships. Hasn't that always been the need of the church in reaching people? Isn't that an area where Christ-in-us should make a significant difference? But isn't it also an area where we often struggle (for a whole variety of reasons, including time, energy, understanding)?
Thursday, November 10, 2005
100% of royalties from Safely Home will go to help persecuted Christians and to spread the gospel in their countries. This book is my gift to the Lord, and to my persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope readers will enjoy this story. It isn't a downer, it's an inspiration and encouragement. It has its light moments, and it conveys a fresh view of heaven. I pray it helps readers to find their joy in Christ and serve Him with greater joy and abandonment.
Monday, November 07, 2005
The explanation of what an elder actually does. Here is where Newton’s book really shines. One cannot put it down without having greater clarity on the principal and practical role of the elder in congregational life. He divided elder duties into four easily understood and biblically defensible categories: doctrine, discipline, direction, and distinction (41). Doctrine refers to responsibility for the teaching of the church. Discipline refers to responsibility for the church’s holiness. Direction involves decision making while distinction implies an elder will model the Christian life. Very clear, very nice. Toward the end of the book, Newton even included an agenda from one of his elders’ meetings at South Woods Baptist (149). Seeing this agenda, it is easy to imagine a group of men, seated around a table, thinking and praying about the spiritual health of the believers in their care, thoughtfully considering who would be best to teach a children’s class, and brainstorming evangelistic ideas for the summer. These men have gathered together to build up the church; they are "engaged in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1Cor. 15:58).