We have all seen the “Mission Statements” of service institutions (hospitals, doctor’s office, restaurants, retail stores etc.) displayed upon entering the establishments. They are the stated goals of the institution relative to product, the customer and the service involved. Most of us have probably, at least partially, read these statements. I suspect the test of the institution’s sincerity to their mission statement is probably most discernable when it is pointed out that they did not meet our (the customer’s) reasonable expectation.
The apostle Paul was unequivocal in writing to the church at Corinth when he wrote, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9-10).
I once knew a fellow who was a staunch Calvinist. I don’t mean a nominal disciple of Calvin but one who actually believed it and tried to teach it from the Bible. He told me the thing that got him thinking was sitting in a Bible Study listening to his good friend – the local Calvinist preacher – teaching from the book of Revelation. They were discussing the 7 letters to the churches of Asia in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. My friend told me something kept bothering him as he studied for the class but he couldn’t put his finger on it. After intently listening to the preacher read Revelation 3:21, “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,” my friend blurted out somewhat unintentionally, “But what happens if he doesn’t overcome?” The Calvinist preacher, his good friend, couldn’t answer the question. They discussed it for weeks in private and finally my friend told him he couldn’t accept Calvinism anymore. My friend obeyed the gospel.
All meaningful relationships are built on trust and honesty. In those two virtues enduring love is empowered to nourish both the lover and the loved. Trusting someone means respecting and believing that his/her desire is to act with motives that are pure and to do the right thing. That is not to say that either the lover or loved always acts with the right motive or in the right way. However, if false motives or wrong actions, are honestly confronted and examined by both parties (Proverbs 27:5) the guilty will admit their failure and seek forgiveness. In turn, the innocent forgives the guilty on the basis of such honesty, knowing that forgiveness is the deepest expression of love, and without love, all is lost, for nothing endures. (Proverbs 10:12; I Peter 4:8) Thus, no relationship for good, whether human or divine, is capable of enduring apart from trust and honesty.
Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today, He has no feet but our feet to lead men in His way; He has no tongue but our tongues to tell men how He died, He has no help but our help to bring them to His side.
What if our hands are busy with other things than His? What if our feet are walking where sin’s allurement is? What if our tongues are speaking of things His life would spurn, how can we hope to help Him and welcome His return?
–Annie J. Flint and J.E. Hamilton
The church of Christ is valuable. In fact, nothing on this earth compares to her worth. Let us consider why she is so valuable.
She was valued by God from before the creation of the world. Ephesians 3:11 says that the church was in the eternal purpose of God. God planned long ago for Jesus to come into the world and give His life to save men from their sins and add them to His church. The church was not an accident and she was not an afterthought. She was a dream in the heart of God.
In our culture, where relativism is the prevailing philosophy in morals, ethics and truth life, can only be viewed as a walking bundle of contradictions existing in a morass of confusion. In an odd and most horrifying way, man’s inhumanity to man seems to plummet to new depths with every report of violence. Yet the wisdom writer reminds us, “Concerning the conditions of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals” (Ecclesiastes 3:18). This passage speaks to the free choices of men whose only concern is this earth-life and who do not acknowledge any moral accountability before God. Even so, such horror of man’s abuse of his free will should serve as a reminder for all those who abhor such choices to look beyond this world to God for guidance. Only then, can we put the inexplicable violence of our day in proper perspective.
Most of us recognize that appealing to tradition does not make a thing right. Jesus found himself constantly at odds with the Pharisees’ tradition regarding the Sabbath day. He pointed out how their tradition conflicted with what the law actually said (Matthew 12:1-8).
It is not uncommon to hear small children confuse “Thank you” and “You are welcome” — sometimes asking which is which — and I suppose it is to be expected that beginners in public service will also get confused. But it seems that after a few years of practice grown men should be able to “Thank God” for the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus “took bread, and blessed it,…And he took the cup, and gave thanks” (Mat. 26:26-27, Mark.14:22-23); “And he took bread and gave thanks… Likewise also the cup” (Luke 22:19-20) “Took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it….After the same manner also he took the cup” (1Cor. 11:24-25). Is there any lack of clarity in this information and instruction? The “blessing” and the “giving thanks” amount to the same thing, as seen by a comparison of all passages. In any event, if Christ “blessed” in any efficacious sense, we could do no more than give Him thanks for it. Are we not united in the knowledge that we should “give thanks” for the bread and for the fruit of the vine?
Then why do so many fail to do it?
Listen carefully to the wording of prayers at the Lord’s table. We ask God to “make us worthy” or “aware of the significance” or “help us partake in a worthy manner” or even “forgive us of our sins as we partake” (and some may attach an unscriptural significance regarding forgiveness) but more and more frequently I listen in vain for “Thank you for this bread”.
The problem is not lack of knowledge, but lapse of attention — and that is why this article is on the front page. We urge you to enter into worship with a prepared mind and to sing, pray, etc., purposefully. How else can our worship be sincere? How else, indeed, can it be worship?
This is not a plea for a particular “formula” or memorized prayer. We do suggest that before you pick up that plate you say to yourself, “I was helplessly lost in sin, but Jesus died for me”. Then look at that bread and fruit of the vine as the body and blood of your Savior, a memorial of His sacrifice, and I think you will have no difficulty in praying, “Oh, thank you Lord, thank you”.
Plain Talk, August 1973
Faithful disciples in every generation are on a quest for continuity with their heritage. It is not a heritage to be discovered in tracing their faith through our physical descendants (or family traditions), much less the “rattling of a chain through the ages” to prove its right to exist. To the contrary, much in every way, it is a spiritual continuity which they seek. They seek only to identify faithfully with the teaching and practice of the inspired apostles of the First Century.
For us today, removed only by time and geography, our quest is identical to those in the second century. They stood in that noble tradition of seeking a continuity for their faith and practice with the “new creation” established in Christ Jesus and revealed by the Holy Spirit through the apostles. Those disciples in the second century who desired to be faithful to God did so only through careful study and application of the apostolic teaching contained in the primary source documents of the First Century. Those have been preserved for us today in the same New Testament.