Open Communion? Are you sure?

 

    UPDATE:   Some of your comments went into moderation and I had to approve them (I don’t know why it does that sometimes).  I just got back from a quick trip and have approved those comments now. Sorry for the delay! And the devil is messing with the coloration of some of the letters in this text. Why? Who knows?

Who Really Practices Closed Communion?

The irony of a great many “non-presence” churches that practice open communion and rail against those who practice closed communion that do give the true body and blood of Jesus Christ , is that they themselves practice the ultimate closed communion which even exceeds that of Rome, who refused to offer the cup to the laity; and that is utterly denying the body and blood of Jesus Christ to their people.

In the words of their own doctrine, “This is not the body and this is not the blood of Jesus Christ?”

How can communion be more closed than that? 

                                        -Larry Hughes

What kind on communion does your church practice?  Do you know why?

“Backsliders”

What is a “backslider“?

Are they easy to spot?

Have you ever been one?

How does one stop being a “backslider“?

The ‘Old Adam’…what to do with him?

Most of us agree that this scoundrel the ‘old Adam’, or ‘old Eve’, needs to be dealt with in some fashion or other.

What should we do with him/her?

Should we work to clean him up? Should we try and improve how she acts in public and smooth off  her sharp edges?

Should we forget about him, ignore him, and hope he won’t cause too much trouble?

Or should we kill her/him off?   If so, then how?

It’s a matter of EmPhaSis

Which is correct…emphasis…or emPhaSis?

You could say that they both are. They both use th e same letters, and they both are the same word.

But they do sound different. And if someone spoke that way, putting stronger emPhaSis on certain sylLaBles…it might be tough trying to make out what they were really saying.

Because the Bible is not self-evident, it must be interpreted. The interpretive grid, or prism, that one decides to use will determine the emphasis of the interpretation.

When one uses the grid of “free will” , “decision theology“…one will emphasize the self  much more prominently than an interpreter who uses the interpretive grid of a “bound will“, where God has to make the choice for the sinner.

The words may be the same but the emPhaSis will defintely skew the understanding of those words.

 When Christian traditions (or non-traditions) emphasize the start of the Christian life with the sinner (even unwittingly) they will get a Christianity that is self- focused.

You can often end up with a Christianity that places a large emphasis on personal Christian growth, personal spirituality (however you would define that), moral living (biblical principles for living), and trying to get others to do the same.

This is a formula for self-righteousness, phoniness, and or uncertainty and despair.

This is why many of us are so interested in attempting to get others to change their grid of interpretation to one that asserts the centrality of Christ..and His work for us,  rather than shifting Christ to the edges a little more and empasizing the things that we should, ought, or must be doing.

If you have a proBlem with this…pLease let me know.

Is God really free?

Is God, the Creator and Sustainor of the universe and everything in it, really free to be God?The Mad Potter.. by cilinia powell

Can He speak worlds, and things in those worlds, and people in those worlds into and out of existence ?

Is He really free to give new life to sinners? Real sinners with no redeeming qualities in God’s eyes? Sinners who don’t clean up their acts? Sinners who are left with absolutely nothing at all to point to except to the One who has promised to  forgive them and save them?

Or is God obliged to listen to those who have may have some reasonable expectations of those who are saved and forgiven?

Are there certain prerequisites in the text of Holy Scripture that must be met by those who are hoping to receive God’s grace and mercy?

Is He free to save whom He will?

Brotherly Advice

Here is a bit of brotherly advice for my Christian brothers and sisters who might just be a bit too zealous in the Law concerning their unbelieving family or friends.

Please don’t use your Christianity as a club (a weapon) to beat God into them.

I’m not trying to be high and mighty here, for I have made the mistake of doing that exact same thing a time or two. I pray that the Lord will forgive me of that sin (self-righteousness), and that He would prevent their hearts from being hardened to Him because of my over-zealous, and under compassionate desire to force belief upon them.

I received a phone call yesterday from a friend of mine who told me that she is, and has been, in the crosshairs of her husband’s family, who are all doing their utmost to “lead” her to Jesus.

It’s constant. It’s always right beneath the surface when it manages to stay hidden, and it’s grinding effects are destroying any decent view of Christians and Christianity that she may at one time had.

It is a constant barrage of super-sticky piety coupled with a heavy handed beating with the law. All designed to make her make a “decision for Jesus”.

I wouldn’t be suprised if she never wanted anything at all to do with Jesus… ever again. She’s already told me that she hates Christianity, and her phoney, self -righteous family (in-laws) members.

And now, she cannot trust her little ones (ages 1-7) with them, either. They are hammering the little ones and putting pressure on them as well!

All of this stems from that deadly false doctrine known as “free will”.

The misguided (at best) thinking that one has the ability to choose to be a Christian. This warped view of the Christian faith is absolutely just as deadly when it’s aimed at others as it is when it’s embraced by the self.

It (“free will”) produces self-righteous, arrogant, super-pious, phoney, law entrenched Christians who act on the basis of fear…and not love of the neighbor.

It produces Christians who begin their “Christian walk” with something that ‘they have done’.  It starts with them… it continues with them…. and it ends with them. And they do it all quoting the scriptures… left and right…right or wrong.

I say this; love them (the unbeliever).  Let the law that is already working on them in their lives do the dirty work. Don’t make Jesus into just ‘another law’. Empathize with them. Tell them you know how it is. Tell them that many of these same things have had or are having their way with you as well.  And then, when the law has sufficiently crushed them, slip in a word or two about the One who has done something about it. Speak to them of Jesus and what he has done for you and for them. Ask them if they’ve ever been baptised and remind them of the promises that God has made to them in their baptisms. It is a great opportunity to speak the gospel to them, that God may go to work in them in that Word. You can tell them that you’d love for them to come with you sometime to church, to hear more about Christ Jesus who will someday make all things new again…including themselves. And when you leave them pray for them.

But turning the whole thing into a formula whereupon the right answer is obtained by their making the right choice of  A) Accepting Jesus….or B) going to hell  …is not the gospel. It is the law. “Do this and you will be saved”.  Jesus told Niccodemus that “it doesn’t work like that. It has to come from above.”

It is the gospel that frees and makes alive…not the law.

What would you say to these well-meaning Christians?    Keep pouring it on! (?)…  or ease up and take another tact.(?)

Graven Images

 Exodus 20:3,4
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself any graven image, or any likenes of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those that hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  _____________________________________________________________________

OK. 

So is it alright to use graven images in a devotional way in our worship of the One True God, or is it a sin and expressly forbidden by God?

Is the cross itself, a graven image representing our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus?