Monthly Archives: February 2015

Should we observe the Lord’s Supper?

SHOULD WE OBSERVE THE LORD’S SUPPER? IS THAT THE SAME AS THE EUCHARIST OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC MASS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

What should be the grace believer’s view regarding the Lord’s Supper, sometimes called “Communion?” Should we practice it? If so, how should we do it? If not, why not? Is the Lord’s Supper really the Passover? Was the Lord’s Supper only applicable to believers during the “Acts” (transitional) period? What is the Eucharist—the Lord’s Supper or a counterfeit version of it? These are excellent questions, and the only way to find sound answers is to look and see what the Holy Scriptures actually say about the matter, instead of presuming what they say.

For many years, I was like the millions upon millions of people confused about the Lord’s Supper. Thankfully, some years ago, a wise, dear brother in Christ pointed me in the right direction. Since then, I have further studied and considered the matter from various angles. This article is the culmination of nearly five years of thoughtful Bible study and research. Now complete, it is offered as our special edition 125th Bible Q&A study. Beloved, I am more convinced than ever that the information contained herein is greatly needed. In order to settle the matter in his or her mind, the reader is greatly urged to take his or her Bible and look at the verses presented.

In order to sufficiently analyze the topic, this article is rather long and it will be technical at times. Hence, the reader is strongly encouraged to read the conclusion first, and then read the article to “fill in the details” and see the reasoning behind the conclusion. Again, the reader will undoubtedly read some startling statements in this study, but how he or she is urged to look at the verses presented and, by faith, take his or her stand on the verses!

THE PROTESTANT AND ROMAN CATHOLIC DIVISION

I grew up in various Baptist churches, so I have seen the “Lord’s Supper” according to that denominational system (typical of the Protestant view of the Lord’s Supper). I have also witnessed the Roman Catholic Mass on some occasions, also known as “the Eucharist,” so I have watched the non-Protestant view of the “Lord’s Supper.” Let me reassure you that while the Protestant “Lord’s Supper” and the Roman Catholic “Lord’s Supper” are similar, they, upon further examination, are in fact two vastly different practices, and neither has any solid Scriptural support. Superficially, they appear to agree with the Bible, but upon further scrutiny, they expose themselves as nothing more than religious formalism void of truth. Remember, Satan is the master counterfeiter, attempting to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Yes, “the Devil is in the details!”

We need to define the “Lord’s Supper” as the Bible would. As with every Bible topic, there is very little understanding and overwhelming confusion, so if we are to ask, “Is the Lord’s Supper applicable to us?,” lest we add to the confusion, we need to first define what it is using the Bible. People often say this is “the Lord’s Supper” or that is “the Lord’s Supper,” and they really have no idea what they are saying or what they are endorsing. We will begin our discussion by analyzing the Protestant definition of “the Lord’s Supper” and the Roman Catholic definition of “the Lord’s Supper.” We will then analyze the Lord’s Supper as the Holy Scriptures define it.

Drawing on my knowledge as a former Baptist (and other Baptists have confirmed this to me), this is how the average Protestant “Lord’s Supper” is carried out:

The minister begins by reading a verse such as, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Then, the deacons walk the aisles, carrying trays of small pieces of bread, distributing this bread to adults as well as to children of a certain age. People are urged to have a right heart before God, or they are instructed not to take the bread. All the members of the congregation eat the bread together. Next, the minister reads a verse such as, “This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25). After this verse is read, the deacons walk the aisles, carrying trays of small cups of grape juice, again allowing adults and children who had reached a certain age, to take a cup. Finally, all members of the congregation drink the juice at the same time. It is thus concluded by the dismissal of the assembly. Compared to the Mass, this is a rather simple procedure.

Having witnessed the Roman Catholic Mass first-hand on some occasions, watching videos of it being executed, and consulting a Roman Catholic priest and seminarian, as well as a Roman Catholic religion textbook, I will now explain how the average Roman Catholic “Lord’s Supper”—or, in Roman Catholic terminology, “the Eucharist”—is executed:

The Mass is divided into two parts—“the Liturgy of the Word” and “the Liturgy of the Eucharist.”

First, “the Liturgy of the Word:” The priest (or perhaps another person in the church) reads various Bible verses. These verses are in a book of selected Scripture readings called the “Missal.” The priest also briefly comments on the verses (his “homily”), recites a creed (Catholic beliefs outlined) with the congregation, and offers various prayers. The congregation in unison responds at times, reciting phrases from their Missals. Songs are sung in between readings.

Now, to “the Liturgy of the Eucharist:” Like the Protestants, the bread and the cup follow the Scripture readings. The bread and wine are presented with the offerings of the faithful. Then, the offering is made in Christ’s name, of the bread and wine for and with the whole Church. Next, the consecratory prayer is said to change the bread into Christ’s body and to change the wine into Christ’s blood (“transubstantiation”). Verses similar to the ones Protestants quote from the night before Jesus died, are said. The “Lord’s Prayer” is recited and other prayers may be uttered. A “sign of peace” is offered—all the faithful in the pews shake hands with each other and/or greet each other in some other manner. The priest eats part of the wafer and drinks wine from the chalice (sometimes he drinks all the wine in the chalice). Finally, the people receive the Eucharist (sometimes bread and wine are offered to the people, other times only the priest drinks the wine; there are variations within parishes and churches). Concluding prayers are said, and the assembly is dismissed.

Unlike a Baptist minister, in the Eucharistic service, a Roman Catholic priest has permission to use altar wine (18 to 22 proof; or 9 to 11 percent alcohol), and, if he prefers, he may use whiskey/bourbon (196 proof; or 98 percent alcohol)! These intoxicating, alcoholic beverages contradict Saint Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:18. Also, many years ago, priests were only allowed to touch the cup and the bread with certain fingers, the three fingers on each hand that had been anointed at their ordination (these ecclesiastical laws are now relaxed, although some still observe them). A fast and a confession of sins are necessary before the consumption of the Eucharist.

It is highly important to remember that the starkest difference between the Protestant “Lord’s Supper” and the Roman Catholic “Lord’s Supper” is:

PROTESTANTS. Most Protestants believe that the juice (or wine) merely symbolizes Christ’s blood and the bread merely symbolizes Christ’s body. The bread is still seen and understood to be bread, and the juice (or wine) is still seen and understood to be juice (or wine). It is believed that Jesus Christ is not literally present and not physically present in the bread and juice (or wine).

ROMAN CATHOLICS. Roman Catholics, however, are taught to believe that, once the priest speaks “the words of consecration,” the wine literally becomes Christ’s blood and the bread literally becomes Christ’s body. The Roman Mass claims to literally and physically have Jesus Christ Himself present on the altar, just in a “veiled” form, merely appearing to be bread and wine. Jesus is believed to be fully present, soul and divinity, in the wafer. The bread is worshipped as Christ because it is thought to truly be Christ Himself. It is bowed or genuflected before. The Council of Trent decreed that anyone (that is, Protestants) who disagreed with the Roman Church regarding the Eucharist was under a curse! (They cursed the Apostle Paul and God Himself as well!)

Notice the first five of the nine decrees of the Council of Trent’s 22nd session (1562) “On the Sacrifice of the Mass:”

“CANON I.—If any one saith, that in the mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God; or, that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat; let him be anathema. CANON II.—If any one saith, that by those words, Do this for the commemoration of me (Luke xxii. 19), Christ did not institute the apostles priests; or, did not ordain that they, and other priests should offer His own body and blood; let him be anathema. CANON III.—If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema. CANON IV.—If any one saith, that, by the sacrifice of the mass, a blasphemy is cast upon the most holy sacrifice of Christ consummated on the cross; or, that it is thereby derogated from; let him be anathema. CANON V.—If any one saith, that it is an imposture to celebrate masses in honour of the saints, and for obtaining their intercession with God, as the Church intends; let him be anathema.” (The canons and decrees of the sacred and oecumenical Council of Trent, Ed. and trans. J. Waterworth [London: Dolman, 1848], 152-170.) (Bold emphasis mine.)

The religious textbook Introduction to Catholicism (ed. Rev. James Socias, Midwest Theological Forum, 2005) says on page 156, “Since the Eucharist is one and the same with Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, it stands as the greatest proof of God’s love. … But more than just a memorial, the actual sacrifice of Christ is presented to us in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.” Page 158 says, “Because it is Christ himself, the Eucharist is the holiest thing in the world.” And Page 159, “…[T]he Eucharist is the Lord himself, rather than just another food.” And Page 162, “The Eucharist both makes present and re-presents (presents again) this sacrifice of Jesus.” Finally, pages 163-164, “At the instant the words of consecration are spoken, he becomes truly present in flesh and blood.” (Bold emphasis mine.) As the Catechism also makes abundantly clear, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is the exact same sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on Calvary 2,000 years ago! Of course, Jesus is said to be offered in the Mass in an “unbloody manner” (contradicting Hebrews 9:22, which says there is no remission/forgiveness without the shedding of blood).

By the way, the Scriptures never teach that the Lord’s Supper is a “sacrifice;” the Mass, however, is believed to be a sacrifice. Again, it is said to be Calvary’s sacrifice re-presented, and the Mass is for the forgiveness of sins (yet no forgiveness can be given without shed blood; Hebrews 9:22). The offering of the Mass is for the living and the dead (those believed to be in purgatory). The Mass is the cornerstone of Roman Catholicism, which is why their writings are so fervent in defending it. That is why the Roman Church has such an awful attitude toward those who disagree with its “holy meal.” (By the way, a more in-depth analysis of the unscriptural Mass will be forthcoming in due time, Lord willing.)

WHAT IS THE BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIAN TO DO?

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” Clearly, the Corinthians were to observe something called “the Lord’s Supper” in order to proclaim and demonstrate the Lord’s death at Calvary. We need to determine what the “Lord’s Supper” is in the Bible and not confuse it with the religionized version of the “Lord’s Supper” (delineated above). We will thus be able to observe “the Lord’s Supper” as the Bible instructs (1 Corinthians 11:20, or, more correctly, “the Lord’s Table;” 1 Corinthians 10:21).

Remember, in Corinth, there was something called “the table of devils” (1 Corinthians 10:21). The Corinthians were dabbling in such a practice, and Paul wrote all of chapter 10 to warn them that they had fallen into the same Satanic trap in which Israel had centuries prior. Verse 22 of 1 Corinthians chapter 10 says: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” Even today, in various religions and denominations, there are special “holy meals,” various meals involving “sacrifices,” counterfeit versions of the Passover and the Lord’s Supper (refer to the earlier Protestant and Roman Catholic comments with which we began this study, which actually have roots in religious meals the pagans held centuries before Christianity). Beloved, if it is not the Lord’s Table as described in the New Testament Scriptures, it is in fact “the table of devils!”

Furthermore, the context of 1 Corinthians chapter 11 is the conclusion of a four-chapter-long section—chapters 8-11—dealing with the issue of eating foods offered to pagan idols. The first verse of chapter 8 and the first verse of chapter 12 mark the beginning and ending of this thought-flow of pagan idol worship and associated food offerings:

1 Corinthians 8:1: “Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.”

1 Corinthians 12:1: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.”

The Bible believer is here cautioned to be aware of the existence of “the table of devils” and avoid it! The Bible believer mature in the Scriptures will be able to recognize the true Lord’s Supper when he or she sees it.

We first read about “bread and wine” in the Bible in Genesis 14:18, when Melchizedek brought these elements to Abraham after the latter defeated the kings. In Scripture, “breaking bread” is indicative of a meal, not a snack, not eating just a small piece of bread or tiny wafer or drinking one sip of wine or juice (as in the Roman Catholic Mass or Protestant “Lord’s Supper”). We read about “the breaking of bread” in Luke 24:27-35, Acts 2:42-46, and Acts 20:7, all of which are connected to believers communing with one another around a meal, discussing God’s Word with each other. Surely, these believers did not take just take one sip of wine (specifically, juice)—who drinks just a single sip of a liquid and expects to have thirst quenched? Surely, they were not grabbing one piece of bread and eating that alone—surely their stomachs were not filled with one fragment of bread! Again, it was a full-fledged meal, not a snack. It is not called, “the Lord’s Snack,” but rather, “the Lord’s Supper (would you call a piece of bread and a small cup of juice, a “supper?”).

We now proceed to answer six questions about (often objections to) grace believers observing the Lord’s Supper today in this the Dispensation of Grace. This section of the article will better explain the Lord’s Supper as the Bible teaches it:

QUESTION 1: IS THE LORD’S SUPPER “RELIGIOUS TRADITION?”

As demonstrated earlier, the simple issue of the Lord’s Supper has been greatly complicated and confused by both Roman Catholic and Protestant church tradition. Understandably, here within the grace community, some well-meaning believers have totally repudiated the Lord’s Supper. They disagree with the Protestant “Lord’s Supper” and they starkly disagree with the Roman Catholic Mass, so they completely reject the idea of us needing to observe any type of “fellowship meal” in church. In their minds, any and every observance of the Lord’s Supper is totally unacceptable. It is all vain, worthless tradition and mindless ceremony to them. We will now briefly address this objection.

Years ago, while dispensational Bible study was still a new concept to me, a grace believer of the above persuasion told me that the Lord’s Supper was nothing more than vain tradition and that we should have nothing to do with it. Remember, I had grown up with Protestant church tradition. I had given up Baptist theology in order to better appreciate and enjoy the grace life that God had given me many years earlier in Christ. In my mind, “tradition” was now something to be avoided; it was anti-grace and anti-Christian, destructive, satanic, something that God did not want for me. If what this person said about the Lord’s Supper being “tradition” was true, then I wanted to repudiate the Lord’s Supper too! I had had enough of religious confusion in Baptist churches and I could not stand to hear and embrace any more tradition. Once I heard his comments, however, I became even more confused. Why? Other grace believers had previously told me that they observed the Lord’s Supper, assuring me that it was not tradition-oriented but grace-motivated. I was now thoroughly confused! (This is not an isolated occurrence. Over the years, countless grace believers, just as confused as I once was, have asked me what to believe about the Lord’s Supper. Some grace believers had also discouraged them from observing it; other grace believers had told them the Lord’s Supper was applicable to us. This article is meant to answer all of those questions and correct all those misconceptions in one concise study.)

Honestly, what concerns us is that these alleged “grace believers” telling us not to observe the Lord’s Supper, although sincere, are just as ignorant of the Bible’s view of it as the denominationalists. Not only are the denominationalists confused about the Lord’s Supper; many grace believers are just as mystified about it! All of these individuals suffer from the confusion I once had. They only know the Lord’s Supper as church tradition defines and teaches it, so they never get it resolved in their minds (actually, the Protestant version is just a carryover from the Roman Catholic practice—one of the church traditions Protestants retained when they broke from Rome centuries ago).

Some grace believers say one activity is the Lord’s Supper and then observe it. Roman Catholics say something else is the Lord’s Supper and they observe that. Protestants say another ceremony is the Lord’s Supper and they observe that. Some grace believers say they do not observe the Lord’s Supper at all. The grace community is here divided as Christendom. Oh, what a pity that we have such confusion when there is such simplicity in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3)! Oh, what a pity that the Bible already made it clear what we are to do and very few bother to read, hear, and believe what it says!

Dear friends, we need to resolve in our minds to believe whatever Paul the Apostle believed about the Lord’s Supper. We need to see how he viewed it, and adopt that view. After all, what the Apostle Paul believed is what the Holy Spirit believed. We know that that would be what God would have us to believe. What would the Holy Spirit have us believe?

To say that we, the Church the Body of Christ, have no Lord’s Supper to observe today is in stark contrast to Paul’s words to the Corinthians. As members of the Church the Body of Christ, he instructed them to participate something called “The Lord’s Supper,” or more correctly, “The Lord’s Table,” in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. How could the Apostle Paul encourage Christians to do something unacceptable? How could God through Paul instruct us to embrace “religious tradition?” The answer to both question is, “He could not and did not!” Dear friends, it bears repeating. It is important that we learn the Bible’s definition of the Lord’s Supper, before we reject it. How religion defines it and how the Bible defines it are two separate matters.

Religious tradition can take on many forms, even in grace circles, and we should most certainly be careful not to embrace tradition, especially the tradition of letting church tradition define Bible terms for us, thereby corrupting our minds and making us opposed to true, pure Bible terms and doctrines. Religion has definitely hijacked the definition of the Lord’s Supper and, consequently, counterfeited the Lord’s Supper, but we should not let that keep us from remembering what the ascended, risen, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ instructed us to do in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.

QUESTION 2: IS THE LORD’S SUPPER “ACTS-ONLY?”

Some grace people have told me that while the Lord’s Supper was encouraged in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, that was not an exhortation to us. They say that it was only for Christians to observe during the book of Acts (Paul wrote 1 Corinthians during the latter half of the book of Acts). In other words, they told me that the Lord’s Supper was not meant for us to observe today. We will now look at this question (often posed as an objection).

Simply put, this objection originates from a group of “grace believers” known as the “Acts 28ers.” Blatantly contradicting 1 Corinthians 12:2, Acts chapter 14, Acts chapter 17, Galatians 1:16, 1 Thessalonians 1:9, and other verses, they believe that Paul did not minister to pagan Gentiles such as ourselves during the book of Acts. They believe that Jesus Christ sent Paul twice—once to Jews and Greeks (Acts chapter 9), and once to pagan Gentiles (later, near the end of the book of Acts). Hence, they believe that there is one Body of Christ during Acts (composed only of Jews and Greeks who worshipped in synagogues, who were saved according to the Old Testament covenants), and another Body of Christ after Acts (mostly composed of idol-worshipping Gentiles, those apart from the covenants). They believe that God later joined these two Bodies of Christ to form one Body of Christ (their outlandish interpretation of Ephesians 2:13-18 and Ephesians 3:1-9).

In short, the “Acts 28” position is a very dangerous approach (I almost fell into that trap years ago but have since become aware of it). Its greatest error is the conclusion that Paul’s Acts epistles (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, and Thessalonians) do not apply to us, and that only Paul’s prison (post-Acts) epistles have any relevance to us (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). Years ago, I heard one such “Acts 28” preacher tell a whole assembly of grace preachers and believers, “Even if we just had Paul’s prison epistles, we would be okay!” (What heresy, something not even heard in most denominational churches!)

“Acts 28” is a very absurd position to take, a very confusing system to embrace, and it is no wonder that denominationalists are so anti-dispensational-Bible-study when we have people calling such nonsense “Bible understanding” and “God’s method of Bible study.” These individuals (as well as those “Acts 9” people who adopt parts of the “Acts 28” position) then argue that the Lord’s Supper only applies to those believers in Acts, for Paul only mentions the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 (he never wrote about the Lord’s Supper in his post-Acts, or prison, epistles, which alone are said to apply to us, so it is assumed the Lord’s Supper is not applicable to us).

To say that the Corinthians had been strictly Jew and Greek synagogue-attending worshippers is to ignore that Paul himself wrote that the Corinthians had been idol-worshipping Gentiles, heathens, ignorant of the one true God (see 1 Corinthians 12:1-2). They were saved under Paul’s Acts ministry, and yet, they were completely ignorant of covenants and promises made to Israel. Like us, the Corinthians were Gentiles, on their way to hell before Paul visited them and preached to them the Gospel of the Grace of God. They were saved just like we are today, in the same Body of Christ we are in as believers today. There has been, still is, and always will be one Body of Christ—there has never, ever been a split body and Paul’s epistles are not meant to be divided in such a silly manner. Contrary to what some “grace people” may tell us, we should not throw away Paul’s “Acts” epistles (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Thessalonians). They apply to us, and “rightly dividing Paul’s epistles” is completely foreign to the Apostles’ minds (both Paul and the 12). We study and believe all of Paul’s epistles, and all books of Paul concern us and apply to us, not just the epistles of Paul that a “grace” traditionalist believes to be applicable to us.

QUESTION 3: IS THE LORD’S SUPPER REALLY “PASSOVER?”

Some grace people use the following argument: “The Lord’s Supper is actually Passover. Since Passover is a Jewish feast, and Colossians 2:16 says Israel’s holydays do not apply to us, we have no reason to observe the Lord’s Supper.” Dear friends, whenever someone says that the Lord’s Supper is really Passover, they may mean well, but they are demonstrating their Bible ignorance. Seven Scriptural reasons will be cited now to prove that the Passover and the Lord’s Supper are not the same meal.

DIFFERENCE #1: THE PASSOVER AND THE LORD’S SUPPER ARE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT. The Lord Jesus Himself considered the Passover and the bread and wine to be two distinct meals (He would have had the correct view, would He not?). The Lord Jesus and His disciples had a meal on the night before He died at Calvary. Not many people ever realize it, but Jesus Christ and His disciples had two distinct meals on the night before He was crucified. The first meal that Jesus had with His apostles on the night before He died, was the Passover feast. The Passover consisted of the main course, roasted lamb or goat, and it was eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread (as per Moses’ instructions in Exodus 12:3-10). Jesus Himself considered that they ate the Passover that night: “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:16). Now, after they had already begun eating the Passover (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22), the Lord Jesus singled out bread and wine, and blessed them (prayed over them, giving Father God thanks; Matthew 26:26-27; Mark 14:22-23; Luke 22:17,19). Jesus prayed because it was the beginning of another meal, not a continuation of the eating they had done earlier with the lamb and unleavened bread. This bread and this wine were not the Passover meal, but another special meal. We know it was not the Passover meal since the Passover had lamb or goat as its main course (Exodus chapter 12). It is here that He held bread and said it was His body and held a cup of wine and said it was His blood (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:17-20). In this meal, bread—not a lamb as in the Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7)—symbolized Jesus Christ’s body. In this meal, wine—not lamb’s blood as in the Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7)—symbolized His blood. By the way, the “fruit of the vine” (Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18) would not be an intoxicating beverage as some teach (or promote at the altar during Communion today!); the language indicates unfermented grape juice, straight from the vine.

The Apostle Paul made reference to this second meal in 1 Corinthians 11:23-34, particularly quoting Jesus’ words in Luke chapter 22. Paul himself said, I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread…” (1 Corinthians 11:23). Take special care to observe that Paul did not grab something from Israel’s program (that is, the Passover) and then make it apply to us. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself told Paul to write this passage to us Gentiles, that the Corinthians (and we as other members of the Body of Christ) would follow its pattern in holding and partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

DIFFERENCE #2: THE PASSOVER AND THE LORD’S SUPPER ARE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT. It would be completely absurd for the Lord to impose the Passover meal on us and then tell us in Colossians 2:16 that we are not bound to observe Israel’s religious calendar in this the Dispensation of Grace (cf. Galatians 4:9-11, written during Acts). Remember, the Passover commemorated Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Why would we Christians need to observe it? Were we ever in Egyptian slavery? Did we put lamb’s blood on our doorposts and lintels to keep out the Death Angel? Did Moses lead us out of Egypt? The Lord’s Supper and Passover are certainly not the same meal. (NOTE: To say that the Lord’s Supper is Passover would actually agree with the Acts 28er’s view, since that view teaches there was a “Jewish Body of Christ” during Acts, and that Paul was writing to Moses-observing Jews in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, telling them to keep the Passover. This would be an erroneous claim, since Galatians, the most anti-Mosaic-Law book written in Scripture, was penned to members of the Body of Christ during Acts, and Galatians forbids Law-keeping of any and every kind [again, see Galatians 4:9-11 about us not being bound to Israel’s religious calendar].)

DIFFERENCE #3: THE PASSOVER AND THE LORD’S SUPPER ARE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT. As JEHOVAH God told Moses, the Passover was only to be observed in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:2,6), the city where He would put His name (1 Kings 14:21; 2 Kings 21:4,7; 2 Kings 23:27; 2 Chronicles 33:4; et cetera). Clearly, Paul told the Corinthians to observe the Lord’s Supper in Corinth, hundreds of miles from Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 11:26). Would the Holy Spirit break His Word, speaking through Paul words that contradicted what He had told Israel centuries earlier regarding the Passover? Passover is strictly a Jewish feast day, it is to always be observed in Jerusalem in the Bible, and it has nothing to do with us Gentiles because Exodus chapter 12 has nothing to do with us. Again, Passover and the Lord’s Supper are different issues.

DIFFERENCE #4: THE PASSOVER AND THE LORD’S SUPPER ARE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT. In 1 Corinthians 11:26-28, the Lord’s Supper in Corinth is not said to have lamb or goat, but merely a cup and bread (and, remember, Exodus chapter 12 specified that lamb or goat be the main course of the Passover). Again, these blatant distinctions show that the Passover and the Lord’s Supper are not to be confused.

DIFFERENCE #5: THE PASSOVER AND THE LORD’S SUPPER ARE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT. Exodus 12:48 says that no strangers of Israel or uncircumcised males were to eat the Passover meal. God commanded that Gentiles be physically circumcised before eating the Passover with the Jews. Paul affirmed there were physically uncircumcised Gentiles in Corinth (1 Corinthians 7:18-20), Christians, but he never told them to be physically circumcised before they could eat of the Lord’s Supper. There is absolutely nothing about physical circumcision being a requirement in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In fact, there were no commandments in that chapter about any Gentile Christian anywhere (in or outside Corinth) needing to be physically circumcised in order to eat the Lord’s Supper. We conclude yet again that the Lord’s Supper and Passover are two distinct meals.

DIFFERENCE #6: THE PASSOVER AND THE LORD’S SUPPER ARE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT. According to Exodus 12:1-14 and Leviticus 23:5, Passover was only once a year: it was held on the fourteenth day of the first month of Israel’s religious calendar, Abib (March-April on our Gregorian calendar). When discussing the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, there is absolutely nothing about having it once a year and nothing about having it in the month Abib. That Judaism calendar did not apply to heathen or to the Body of Christ. All we read is, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:26). How often should the Lord’s Supper be observed? The Bible never stipulates! The absence of such a schedule is yet another indication that the Lord’s Supper and the Passover are separate practices.

DIFFERENCE #7: THE PASSOVER AND THE LORD’S SUPPER ARE SEPARATE AND DISTINCT. Finally, the most obvious of all differences. When the Passover is mentioned by name in Scripture (Exodus, and the Four Gospels, for example), the terms “Lord’s Supper” do not appear in the context. When the term “the Lord’s Supper” appears in the Bible—only in 1 Corinthians chapter 11—there is not so much as one usage of the term “Passover” in the context.

Beloved, these seven differences evident from the Bible indicate that the Holy Spirit made every effort to show us that the Lord’s Supper and Passover are two entirely different meals. Yet, amazingly, some Bible believers go around claiming that they are one and the same meal!

QUESTION 4: WHAT DOES “EATING AND DRINKING DAMNATION [TO YOURSELF]” MEAN?

Verses 27-29 of 1 Corinthians chapter 11 have been very misconstrued to teach some bizarre, and actually quite ridiculous, dogmas. Ministers and denominations use these verses to scare church members into doing what they want them to do to further the denominational system. The Roman Catholic Church especially capitalizes on the ignorance associated with these verses, in order to advance the doctrine of “transubstantiation.” (“It must be the Lord’s literal body and blood or God would not attach such punishment as damnation!”) Dear readers, we could not have a study about the Lord’s Supper and neglect addressing the misunderstanding of “eating and drinking damnation [to yourself].” (I personally believe this issue is one of the main reasons why so many are sacred of the Lord’s Supper, and why they fear getting involved with it.)

“[27] Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. [28] But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. [29] For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” How can a Christian partake of the Lord’s Supper “unworthily?” Is not the Christian “worthy” of everything God offers, seeing as to the Christian is “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6)? The best way to look at the word “unworthily” is to notice its context.

Returning to 1 Corinthians chapter 11, we read: “[17] Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. [21] For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. [22] What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. [30] For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”

God designed the Lord’s Supper to be a time of fellowshipping. During it, Christians should enjoy the company of other believers, communing with them, eating a meal with them and getting to know them better (just as our flesh and blood family members hold large gatherings around food, that they may bond with one another). The Lord’s Table should be a joyous time, a time of being in the presence of others who also value and esteem God’s Word rightly divided (pardon the pun, but the Lord’s Supper is a small “taste” of heaven!). After all, all those who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as Saviour are God’s children, and thus are brothers and sisters in Christ (Galatians 3:26). This is why the Bible calls the Lord’s Table “communion” (as in fellowship, unity). We read in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17: “[16] The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? [17] For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” The Lord’s Supper not only symbolizes our oneness with Jesus Christ our Saviour (through His death on Calvary), but it also pictures our oneness with other Christians (see 1 Corinthians 12:1-31).

Alas, the wonderful atmosphere delineated in the above paragraph was absent from Corinth! Since the Corinthians were carnal, fleshly, unable to understand how their Christian lives were meant to function, they fought with each other and destroyed each other. Whenever the Corinthian saints met, many argued. They came as drunkards and/or gluttons (drunkenness a main factor in their disorderliness). Gathering with the saints in Corinth was not beneficial (as God intended) but very harmful to all in attendance (as Satan intended). Pride, envy, and bitterness abounded. They were not walking charitably, thinking of other Christians, as Romans chapter 14 instructed. These carnal saints did not see any value in fellowshipping with other believers. They did not recognize the importance of gathering with other believers. They did not see any use in seeking the edification (building up) of other Christians. These Corinthians did not see any value in the Lord’s Supper. They were eating and drinking “unworthily” in the sense of not seeing any worth in what God had ordained! They were abusing the meal that represented the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary. If they were mocking that which symbolized Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, what would they do if Jesus Christ were literally hanging on a cross there in Corinth? This is what “being guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” and “not discerning [judging, concluding, finding value in] the Lord’s body” (1 Corinthians 11:27,29). If you have a poor attitude toward the representation of something, how much worse you think of the actual thing!

With regards to eating and drinking to ourselves “damnation” in the Lord’s Supper, it is not (as someone told me) a reference to Judas Iscariot (how absurd!). It is actually a description of what happens when we make a mockery of Calvary in the local assembly. The “damnation” of 1 Corinthians 11:29 is actually the “condemnation” (same Greek word, krima) as of verse 34: [33] Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. [34] And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation.” Please take special care to note that this “damnation” is not that Christians die and go to hell for abusing the Lord’s Supper, but rather God not approving (“condemning,” “damning”) behavior that would not be in the life of Jesus Christ Himself. It is a lifestyle that the godly conscience would also condemn!

Here are some examples of abusing the Lord’s Supper: (1) using intoxicating beverages and then becoming drunken (Ephesians 5:18), (2) overeating, making the food the issue instead of God’s Word and Christ’s finished crosswork (Romans 14:15-23), (3) making it out to be a “social club” where we go to discuss nonsense, worldly affairs, and other topics which disagree with sound Bible doctrine (Colossians 3:5-17), and (4) coming to the Lord’s Supper fussing and fighting with other believers in the assembly (Galatians 5:15-26; Ephesians 4:31-32). God would condemn such behavior: again, this “damnation” is not that Christians die and go to hell for abusing the Lord’s Supper, but rather God not approving (“condemning,” “damning”) behavior that is contrary to grace doctrine (Christian living; see Romans 14:22-23). Satan used these various fleshly activities to pollute the Lord’s Supper in Corinth, to cripple their testimony and render them useless for God’s work. Every local church today needs to be especially careful that it not allow the Devil to use these carnal behaviors to ruin its godly testimony. It is the responsibility of the church leadership to maintain order in the assembly (1 Timothy 3:1-16).

It is necessary to point out why there were sick and dying Christians in Corinth. It is said that God was judging them for their sins, chastising them, killing them, and that God will “get us” (either with sickness or death) if we abuse the Lord’s Supper. Not at all. When 1 Corinthians 11:30 says, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep,” you must remember the context.

As we mentioned earlier, some of the Corinthians had become intoxicated gluttons when participating in the Lord’s Supper (see verses 21-22). Overeating and drunkenness surely cause illness and even death. God was not punishing the Corinthians for their bad behavior; they simply reaped the results of their sowing to the flesh instead of sowing to the Spirit. God was not causing the Corinthians to get sick and/or to die; He simply let them reap the consequences of their actions. “[7] Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. [8] For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7-8). The Corinthians preferred drunkenness and gluttony, so God let them exercise free will to pursue it. Although Jesus Christ has taken away the eternal penalty of our sins (hell and the lake of fire), please understand that God will not remove the consequences of our poor judgment. If we choose a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol, God will not shield us from the ill effects and poor health such a lifestyle brings. God will not keep us out of prison if we murder someone, commit theft, and so on. Again, the Corinthians were experiencing the natural results of their behavior. It was not God directing sickness and death to trouble them.

Here is where dispensational Bible study is so important. This is why “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) is the key to understanding how God deals with us today. Today, God does not bless us on the basis of our works, our performance; moreover, God does not curse on the basis of our works, our performance. This is made abundantly clear in Paul’s epistle to the Romans and in his epistle to the Galatians. Romans 6:14-15: “[14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” We are blessed with every spiritual blessing only because of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, not because we confessed our sins, lived a good life, prayed often, gave money to the church, got water baptized, et cetera. Our works are not the issue because God’s Word has already made it abundantly clear that our “good” works are as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

QUESTION 5: WHAT DOES “THIS IS NOT TO EAT THE LORD’S SUPPER” MEAN?

In light of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:20, some grace believers say that we do not need to observe the Lord’s Supper: “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.” They say that we do not come together to eat the Lord’s Supper, that the purpose of “church service” is not to have the Lord’s Supper. Dear friends, to say that is the result of grabbing a verse from its context and twisting it all out of shape. There are three verses that precede verse 20, and we need to look at them in order to understand what verse 20 really says: “[17] Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. [18] For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. [19] For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”

The reason why Paul wrote, “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper,” is not because he was forbidding the observance of the Lord’s Supper (he told them to observe it in verse 26!). He was forbidding the Corinthians from meeting with one another because they were so carnal, so reproachful to the Christian name. As we discussed earlier, they came together in fellowship not for the better but for the worse. Paul concluded under the moving of the Holy Spirit that the Corinthians were better off staying at home than meeting in a local and public assembly: they were tearing down one another, giving Satan opportunity to work in their midst, and lost people were watching it! In fact, verse 21 continues: For in drinking every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.” Verse 21 explains verse 20—the Corinthians were not coming to observe the Lord’s Supper (to give God glory by eating a meal with other believers) but coming together as drunkards and gluttons (giving Satan praise and glory instead)!

QUESTION 6: WHAT DOES “TILL HE COME” MEAN?

In 1 Corinthians 11:26, we read about the observance of the Lord’s Supper: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” Once, a grace believer told me that this coming was Christ’s Second Coming, and because it is the Second Coming, we do not have to observe the Lord’s Supper. This logic is unsound, since the Corinthians would not be looking for the Second Coming either—if they were members of the Body of Christ, and they were, then they would be looking for the Rapture just as we are. Like us, they would not be heading into the seven-year Tribulation. Again, dear friends, it helps to use basic Bible understanding before we attempt to defend a preconceived idea or church tradition (even if it parades as “grace teaching!”). The Bible says that, until the Rapture, the Church the Body of Christ is to hold the Lord’s Supper. This would thus further negate the idea that the Lord’s Supper is “Acts-only”—did the Rapture happen in Acts 28? If not, then the Bible says that Christians should observe the Lord’s Supper until the Rapture does happen! Furthermore, if the Second Coming occurred in Acts 28, then indeed the Lord’s Supper was “Acts only.” Did the Second Coming occur in Acts 28? Then the Lord’s Supper is not “Acts only.”

CONCLUSION

While grace people have told me that the Lord’s Supper is “tradition” and that it should not be observed at all, while they have told me they are “turned-off” to the religionized version of the Lord’s Supper (a sip from a cup, a wafer, et cetera), I would rather research the matter using the Bible, and then throw away the error, than blindly follow what others have said about the Lord’s Supper (whether in grace circles or denominational circles). Dear friends, before we allow religion to surreptitiously rob us of something God has given us, we had better get into the Bible and see what God has given us. We can and should toss out everything else, but we must understand what God has already said to us. Rather than rejoicing in the simplicity of God’s Word, we often let the confused religionists dictate to us what God wants us to do, and then we equate God’s Word with their word, and, in our own confusion, we throw away the good with the bad. The whole problem is to get our definitions straight, and then we can differentiate between religion and Bible. It takes a mature saint, yes, but it can be done!

Just as we would not throw away the Bible simply because there are counterfeit Bibles, we will not throw away the Lord’s Supper just because there are counterfeit versions of it. We do not discard the doctrine of God’s grace; we just throw away religion’s definition of “grace.” The same with other words such as, “dispensation,” “baptism,” “repentance,” “good works,” “apostle,” “immaculate conception,” et cetera. We do not throw away the doctrines of baptism, repentance, good works, apostles, immaculate conception, and so on, we just disregard the views that denominations attach to them, and define them as the Bible defines them.

Regarding the Lord’s Supper, when we gather with fellow Christians and have meals with them, we do so around Christ’s finished crosswork. We discuss the Holy Scriptures and enjoy each other’s company. We celebrate the shared life we have in Jesus Christ. The Bible says that we should do this “till [Christ] come” (1 Corinthians 11:26). There is no set schedule as to daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly: we meet and eat with fellow Christians around God’s Word whenever it is convenient for us (if that is twice a month, or twice a year). It is not some mindless ritual. It is not some strict ceremony. It is the assembly of people who value God’s Word, believe Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, and embrace the grace life.

Yes, we should take special care regarding how we go about in observing the Lord’s Supper. We should learn from the Corinthians’ actions and not abuse the Lord’s Supper with selfishness and other forms of carnality. We should not become gluttons or drunkards; we should not come to the assembly with bitterness or strife (that should all be left at Calvary’s cross by faith). Still, it is not something that should strike fear in our hearts, scared that we will die and go to hell if we do not follow rules and regulations. It is a joyous time because of the Holy Spirit uniting all true Christians. Now we can see why people are so confused about it—the Devil does not want God’s people to be united around truth!

Paul “received of the Lord” the information regarding the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23)—it is not the Passover, it is not “Acts-only,” and it is not a vain religious ceremony, as people commonly assume. Beloved, let us eat together with Christian brethren, rejoicing in the unity (and clarity!) we have in our precious Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!

Also see:
» What is “the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?”
» Does “walking in the Spirit” mean the same as “living in the Spirit?”
» Are Christians obligated to observe Passover?

Can Jews who believe in God, the Father, but who reject Jesus, be saved from eternal damnation?

CAN JEWS WHO BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER, BUT WHO REJECT JESUS, BE SAVED FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Do Jews who believe in God, the Father, and not accepting Jesus, have any chance of being saved from eternal damnation?” Thank you for this intriguing question! We will turn to the Holy Bible for the answer. Let us first think about what Moses said, and then we will consider what the other Bible writers say.

WHAT THE “OLD TESTAMENT” SCRIPTURES SAY ABOUT JESUS CHRIST

Toward the end of his life, the Prophet Moses told the nation Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 18: “[15] The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; [16] According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. [17] And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. [18] I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. [19] And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. [20] But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.”

Both history and the New Testament confirm that this “Prophet” sent by Father God, some 1,500 years later, was indeed Jesus Christ of Nazareth (cf. Acts 3:22-23). The Apostle Peter interpreted Deuteronomy 18:19 for us in Acts 3:23, “And it shall come to pass that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” The Holy Bible says that those Jews who will not listen to the Prophet whom the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has sent, He will “destroy” that person from among the nation Israel! There is no doubt in this author’s mind that Moses and Peter referred to Jesus Christ at that “Prophet,” and this “destruction” for those Jesus-rejecters would certainly include eternal damnation. Why?

We read in Isaiah 53:5-6,10: “[5] But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. [6] All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. [10] Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

According to Acts 8:26-35 in the Christian Bible, Jesus Christ fulfilled the above passage at the cross of Calvary. He was “wounded for our transgressions,” “bruised for our iniquities,” “the chastisement of our peace was upon Him,” and “with His stripes we are healed.” “The LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” “His soul [was made] an offering for sin.” According to the Prophet Isaiah, it is in the Messiah (Jesus) alone that Israel has hope to be saved from her sins, healed of her spiritual infirmity (sin, connection to Adam). Messiah Jesus’ sinless soul was sacrificed before the holy, righteous JEHOVAH God the Father: He took our place, He suffered our eternal punishment, that we might not go into everlasting hellfire. This is the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus Christ: He was “our passover sacrificed for us.”

What a Jew today needs to do is recognize that he or she is not sinless because Abraham is his or her ancestor. In the above passage, Isaiah testified that Israel—yea, each individual Jew—needed Messiah to come one day and save them, each and every one of them, from their sins. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” Salvation from that lost estate is found in Messiah. In Hebrew, His name is “Jehoshua” (pronounced Yahowshuwa), a contraction of the name “Jehovah-saviour.” For a Jew to reject Jesus as the fulfillment of Messiah is to ignore that His name in their language means He is exactly what Christians believe about Him—the Anointed One of the God of Israel, the Saviour of Israel, the personification and fulfillment of Moses and the other prophets’ writings.

There are many other Old Testament verses—hundreds, actually—that could be cited that Jesus Christ fulfilled. For sake of brevity, we hope these suffice. We want to now look at the record of the “New Testament.”

WHAT THE “NEW TESTAMENT” SCRIPTURES SAY ABOUT JESUS CHRIST

In hindsight, everything that God had told Israel to do throughout the Old Testament, it in some way typified what Jesus Christ would do on her behalf one day. Whether the Passover observance (Calvary’s cross), or Sabbath-day keeping (God’s earthly kingdom), or tithing (God’s re-gathering of Israel from the nations), or deliverance from Pharaoh and Egypt (deliverance from Antichrist), or the Levitical priesthood (Christ’s priesthood), or water baptism (Jesus cleansing Israel from pagan idolatry), or Joshua leading Israel into the Promised Land (Jesus leading Israel into the Promised Land yet future), or David fighting Israel’s enemies (Jesus fighting Israel’s enemies at Armageddon), these Old Testament passages are rehearsals of events yet to come. Israel’s feast days and holydays, her battles, her Tabernacle/Temple and its elements, her Bible characters, they all in some way predict Messiah Jesus and His ministry and life among them.

We should be mindful of John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” It was the literal, physical, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ that verified everything He preached, and everything He claimed to be, within the confines of Israel’s borders for three years of earthly ministry. “Jesus Christ our Lord… declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead(Romans 1:3-4). He was indeed the only way to Father God, for He was bodily resurrected. Try as they might, Rome never successfully disproved it, and Israel never successfully disproved it.

In Acts 4:10-12, the Apostle Peter preached to his fellow Jews: “[10]…Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead…. [11] This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. [12] Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:3-5: “[3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Who is the Mediator between us humans and Father God? The man Christ Jesus. We do not need angels, dead saints, et cetera to intercede for us before God. We have God’s Son Himself to approach Father God for us! We either believe it or we do not.

The Apostle John, writing about Jesus Christ, penned in 1 John 5:9-13: “[9] If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. [10] He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. [11] And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [12] He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. [13] These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” We either believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Father God, or we do not. If we do not believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Father God, then we make Father God to be a liar. We can rest assured that He will certainly not overlook that foolish accusation we laid to His account!

And 1 John 1:7: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” As mentioned earlier concerning Isaiah’s prophecy, it is the shed blood of Jesus Christ that a Jew (or even a non-Jew) can now be “cleansed from all sin.” Apart from that blood Jesus shed at Calvary, there is no cleansing from sin, no forgiveness, no hope of eternal life, nothing—just a lost eternity in hell and the lake of fire!

What did Paul write in Romans 10:1-3? “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

From Acts chapters 9-28, the Apostle Paul visited synagogues (Jewish places of worship) throughout the Roman Empire. Acts chapter 13 contains one of his major sermons, but we can study Romans chapters 9-11 to see what else he preached to the nation Israel throughout his Acts ministry. The Jews of today who reject Jesus Christ are of the same attitude as the lost Jews were in the book of Acts. Paul dealt with these very precious people for over 30 years. How it grieved him that they were lost, that they were out of the will of God because they were continually rejecting His Messiah Jesus! After all, as Saul of Tarsus, he was largely responsible for persecuting Messianic Jews in Acts chapters 7 and 8.

We read in Romans 9:1-4: “[1] I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, [2] That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. [3] For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: [4] Who are Israelites….” Paul knew that Israel could only find salvation in Messiah Jesus, but he knew how they were so opposed to hearing about Jesus. They were opposing the only way to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. How it hurt Paul, and how it should grieve us that Israel is just as lost as the average Gentile! How did they get like this?

Now, to Romans 9:30-33: “[30] What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. [31] But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. [32] Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; [33] As it is written [Isaiah 28:16], Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

Like any religious Gentile today, a religious Jew today (one in Judaism) has not submitted to God’s righteousness. They are too caught up in their own righteousness. They stumble over God’s righteousness that Jesus demonstrated at Calvary’s cross. They believe that their religious works merit favor with God. The more they do, the more they believe God will be less severe in the Day of Judgment. As Paul wrote above, the Jews of his day were of the same persuasion. The Jews who rejected Jesus were still religious. They were still going to the Temple and giving offerings and tithes, still keeping the Sabbath holy, still physically circumcising their male babies on the eighth day, still singing the psalms and reading the Old Testament scrolls, still doing their best to uphold all the other commandments and precepts of Moses and writings of the other prophets. They believed salvation was in the Law of Moses, and yet they could not keep the Law perfectly. Yes, that is religious confusion at its very best!

While they read the Bible (Old Testament only), their hearts were willfully blinded to Jesus’ fulfillment of the passages they read (you can also refer to Romans 10:4-13 and 2 Corinthians 3:12-18). The Gentiles, however, as Paul pointed out, the Gentile “dogs” that the Jews despised, the Gentiles had faith in those passages and they believed Jesus to be the fulfillment of them. The same is true today. While the average Jew can read the Old Testament and not see Jesus Christ predicted, the Gentiles can see Jesus Christ so clearly in the Old Testament passages!

A Jew is saved today the same way a Gentile is saved. The ground is level at the foot of the cross of Calvary. In God’s eyes, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile today in this the Dispensation of Grace. This is very offensive to a Jew, I know, but it is the truth of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32). God has mercy toward both Jew and Gentile, and the message of this mercy and grace is found in the Apostle Paul’s ministry and epistles. Israel was privileged at one time, but she is currently fallen before God.

Romans 11:11-14 describes Israel’s current condition: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

The Apostle Paul spent most of his ministry (Acts chapters 9-28) preaching to Jews in the synagogues. He did this because their only hope to be saved was to trust the Jesus Christ he was preaching. He reminded them that they had to “emulate” (behave like) Gentiles in order to be saved from their sins (this was hard to do since the Jew had such hatred toward the Gentile and vice versa!). The Christ-rejecting Jew had to recognize that his religion could not save him any more than the Gentile’s pagan religion saved him! The only hope for these Jews to be saved now was to become members of the Church the Body of Christ. That was Paul’s message to them. He reminded them that they could not find salvation from their sins in Moses’ Law, but only damnation because of their sins! He preached to synagogue-Jews in Acts 13:38-39: “[38] Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [Jesus Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: [39] And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

To get a right standing before God today, we need the justification found only in Jesus Christ. We can strive and struggle to do our absolute best, but we all know deep down in our hearts that we cannot be perfect—that is what sin is! There is such peace, joy, forgiveness, love, mercy, and righteousness in Jesus Christ, and by faith in Him and Him alone, we can have it all forever. We do not have to be plagued by our guilt anymore, or haunted by our past sins. We can be released from the chains of sin and hopelessness. What does the Bible say about Jesus? “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Whatever nationality you are, dear friend, whatever religious background you are from, whatever country in which you live, if you have not done so today, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31)!

CONCLUSION

“Do Jews who believe in God, the Father, and not accepting Jesus, have any chance of being saved from eternal damnation?” No, they cannot. In fact, to reject Jesus is not to believe in God the Father; God the Father is to believed, and His Son Jesus is to be accepted as legitimate. Prophets Moses and Isaiah; and Apostles Peter, Paul, and John; testify that no one (Jew or Gentile) can be saved from eternal damnation apart from Jesus Christ. There is no salvation outside of Jesus. There is no salvation today outside of being a member of the Church the Body of Christ. It is very offensive but, “Let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

The average Jew today, like the average Jew of Paul’s day, does not accept Jesus as Messiah; they do not even believe the New Testament Scriptures are authoritative. Unfortunately, they do so to their own spiritual peril, and how we urge them to remember Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 18:15-20, the solemn warning about how God will “require it” of those who reject the words of Messiah, God’s Prophet. God will surely judge those who reject Jesus Christ, for they also reject Him! The Bible comments on such an attitude in 1 John 2:22: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” If we say that we believe God the Father, but deny Jesus is Christ, then we deny the Father, too! There is sure to be trouble for us, both now and the ages to come, if we think that our “goodness” will merit us fellowship with a holy God in Heaven forever.

It is our understanding that “religious” Jews today are still waiting for Messiah to come the first time; to the average Jew, Jesus was a fraud, an imposter (thus, they do not like the New Testament books, writings which exalt Jesus Christ). The sad truth is that the false Messiah is coming, Antichrist, and many of them will embrace him as true Messiah. To reject Jesus is to deny His sacrificial death as sufficient payment for our sins, and the only end we will face (whether Jew or Gentile) without Jesus Christ is the unending, everlasting, wrath of a holy Creator God, an abode in hell and the lake of fire, with all the billions of others of history who believed they were “not that bad” and “good enough for heaven” with their own deeds.

Our precious Jewish friends cannot deny the historical evidence that affirms Jesus fulfilled hundreds of the Messianic promises. For them to ignore such statistical probability that Messiah could have been and could be anyone other than Jesus of Nazareth, is absurd. To say that someone else will fulfill those promises in the future, is irrational. If you are a precious “orthodox Jew,” or anyone who believes salvation from sins is in the Law of Moses, please search your Hebrew Bible to see how the nation Israel failed miserably when it came to keeping the Creator’s laws! Study Jeremiah, the Judges, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joshua, Hosea, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the books of Kings and Chronicles, the list goes on and on, in which Israel’s prophets condemn her as a nation of sinners in desperate need of God’s grace and salvation. Just as Father Abraham had to learn it would be what God could do for him, not what he could do for God (Ishmael and Isaac; Genesis chapters 16-17), so a Jew today has to learn to trust what God did for him (at Calvary’s cross through Jesus Christ) when he cannot do anything for God.

Also see:
» Are we all God’s children?
» I am basically a good person, but not a Christian. Will I still go to heaven? (COMING SOON!)
» Do all roads lead to heaven? (COMING SOON!)

Did David’s father Jesse have seven or eight sons?

DID DAVID’S FATHER JESSE HAVE SEVEN SONS OR EIGHT SONS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Have you ever wondered how many sons Jesse, David’s father, had?

When the LORD instructed the prophet-priest Samuel to anoint King Saul’s successor as leader of Israel, 1 Samuel 16:10-11 says: “[10] Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these. [11] And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.”

The above passage says that Jesse had seven sons plus David, or eight sons total. Chapter 17, verse 12, confirms that Jesse had eight sons. David was the youngest, the eighth son of Jesse. Very simple, right?

But, when we come to 1 Chronicles 2:15, which is part of the genealogical record of Jacob’s sons (the twelve tribes of Israel), we find something at variance to 1 Samuel: “[13] And Jesse begat his firstborn Eliab, and Abinanadab his second, and Shimma the third, [14] Nethaneel the fourth, Raddai the fifth, [15] Ozem the sixth, David the seventh:” Why is David listed as “the seventh?” Was not David the eighth son of Jesse? Why are only seven sons listed here?

Evidently, one of David’s older brothers died childless, so his name was not needed in the genealogical record of 1 Chronicles. That brother was alive at the time of 1 Samuel chapter 16, to be rejected as king of Israel, and he died sometime later, childless (reflected by the testimony of 1 Chronicles). David was indeed chronologically the eighth son of Jesse but David was the seventh son of Jesse in terms of fathering children. In other words, Jesse did not have eight sons who became fathers themselves, but rather he had seven sons who fathered children. This seems to be the reasoning behind the totaling of 1 Chronicles 2:15. Again, very simple, right?

Also see:
» Why do Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 contain dissimilar instructions?
» Do not Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict each other?
» Why does the Bible say that Jesus was “slain and hanged on a tree?”

What is the “mystery” of Colossians 1:27?

WHAT IS THE “MYSTERY” OF COLOSSIANS 1:27?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Many misread Colossians 1:27, but we trust that the following study will help them see what the verse really says and teaches. There is such Bible clarity when we just remember the key to Bible clarity—“rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)!

One Bible commentator wrote concerning Colossians 1:27: “The fact that Jesus Christ is actually in each believer is both a great mystery and rich in glory.” He then pointed out how it was mysterious that Jesus Christ lived in several places at once—sitting in heaven (Hebrews 1:3) while also indwelling each Christian (Galatians 2:20). Friends, Colossians 1:27 is to be understood in light of its context, not according to theological speculation. The verse has nothing to do with something hard to understand (unless, of course, we misunderstand the verse by misusing the verse). Colossians 1:27 will remain “mysterious” unless we look at the verse from the Bible-believing point-of-view, from the dispensational point-of-view.

Colossians 1:25-27 reads as follows: “[25] Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”

The “mystery” of Colossians 1:27 is explained in the two previous verses. It is the secret program that the ascended Lord Jesus Christ committed first to the Apostle Paul, and the same program He then revealed to all of mankind by the Holy Spirit through Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Jesus Christ made Paul an apostle in order to “fulfil” (bring to conclusion or completion) the Word of God. The Lord had some special information to reveal to mankind, and He chose Paul to be the vessel through whose writings those truths would be manifested to all people. Therefore, Paul wrote: “[2]…the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:2-5).

Jesus Christ saving Gentiles was no mystery (secret). In the prophetic program, according to the Old Testament, Gentiles were to be saved through the nation Israel in her earthly kingdom (Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 2:1-5; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 61:6; Micah 4:1-3; Zechariah 8:20-23). Paul quotes several Old Testament verses in Romans chapter 15 that demonstrate God would save Gentiles in relation to redeemed Israel. What was a secret, however, was that God would make a new dispensation, a new program, our program, to save Gentiles apart from Israel, apart from her program, and apart from her kingdom. Salvation going to Gentiles through Israel’s fall was the secret God revealed to Paul (Romans 11:11-13). To Paul it was revealed that, through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork (the Gospel of the Grace of God), salvation would go to all nations, not just to Israel, and that that salvation would reach all nations without Israel being converted nationally.

Again, Colossians 1:26 says, “The mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.” Stated once more, the “mystery” is the secret program of God now revealed to the Apostle Paul and through his epistles, Romans through Philemon. Bible teachers and students very rarely understand Paul’s special ministry. They do not understand verse 26, so they stumble over verse 27. God wants to make known something to us, and verse 27 explains what that something is. Not only does God want us to understand the mystery program, He wants us to understand the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.” What are these “riches?”

Jesus Christ is not the mystery: Jesus Christ living in Gentiles is not the secret. Jesus Christ living in heaven (Hebrews 1:3) and living in Jewish kingdom saints (John 14:23; John 15:4-5) was no secret either: Jesus Christ living in several places is no “mystery.” The mystery was the special information the ascended Jesus Christ disclosed to the Apostle Paul, which doctrine the Holy Spirit revealed to the Gentiles via Paul’s un-prophesied apostleship and ministry. We learn about Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, by reading Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon (Ephesians 3:4; 2 Timothy 2:7). Jesus Christ is “the riches of the glory of the mystery.”

CONCLUSION

It is important that we have a clear understanding of Colossians 1:27. If we do not understand it for what it actually says, we will, as some teach and believe, conclude that Christ living in us is mysterious. We thus lose the dispensational truths the verse is conveying (the dispensational truths the average Bible reader misses because of denominational eyeglasses). Colossians 1:27 is misread because it is not understood in light of the dispensational boundaries and changes in God’s Holy World.

The “mystery” in Colossians 1:27 is not something hard to understand or something mystical. It is something kept secret, a body of truth that God kept secret, until He revealed it to the Apostle Paul. That revelation of the mystery, the revealing of that Pauline doctrine, that doctrine circulating amongst the Gentiles via Paul’s preaching and writing, has riches. What are the riches of the glory of the mystery? Jesus Christ viewed in light of Paul’s revelation, He is the riches of the glory of the mystery. The mystery doctrine brings Jesus Christ glory, praise, for it is His name that is valued and esteemed in the mystery doctrine and program.

Also see:
» What is dispensational Bible study?
» What is “the Dispensation of Grace?”
» Were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?

What happened to the Gentiles of Acts 10?

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE GENTILES OF ACTS 10 AFTER THAT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Is there any Bible info on what happened to the Gentiles of Acts 10? It seems Peter forgot all about them and became ‘brain dead’ when he returned to Jerusalem. Were they added to the Jewish saints under the law? Or did they go under Paul’s ministry? It is not mentioned in the lessons I have studied, or anywhere in Scripture that I have found.” What fascinating questions; thank you! I have found verses that answer your question, and I would be delighted to share them.

Bear in mind that Cornelius was a Roman centurion (commander of 100 soldiers), “a devout [religious] man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway” (Acts 10:1-2). Verse 22 says, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel….” Cornelius had gained a reputation amongst all the members of the nation Israel—he had blessed Israel for an extended time prior to Acts chapter 10, evidently. But, why did Cornelius bless Israel? It was done in faith in God’s Word.

Genesis 12:1-3 explains: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

The Abrahamic Covenant said that God would bless Gentiles who would bless Israel and He would curse Gentiles who would curse Israel. Cornelius, a Gentile, knew that the Abrahamic Covenant was the only way that he could approach the God of Israel, the God of creation. Thus, by faith in the Old Testament Scriptures, Cornelius blessed Israel. Cornelius blessed Israel by giving many alms (goods and/or money) to Israel.

Cornelius was still lost, since he did not have the Holy Spirit (Cornelius was saved near the close of chapter 10), but he was better off than most Gentiles of that time. He had some spiritual light and was seeking additional understanding: hence, God sent an angel and the Apostle Peter to Cornelius in order to provide Cornelius with further insight into spiritual matters (Acts 10:3-6,19-22,33). As it turned out, God sent Peter to Cornelius to give Cornelius the opportunity to be saved from his sins.

When the Apostle Peter (and six other believing Jews; Acts 11:12) arrived at Cornelius’ house, Peter preached in Acts 10:34-35: “[34] Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: [35] But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” The Apostle Peter understood that God honored Cornelius’ blessing of Israel, and, in accordance with the Abrahamic Covenant, God would indeed bless Cornelius (Luke 7:1-10, a similar event, is greatly helpful in understanding the account of Cornelius). As Peter affirmed, God had accepted Cornelius on the basis of his faith in the Abrahamic Covenant and his works in accordance with it! Cornelius’ salvation rested on the Abrahamic Covenant, and that covenant was the context of Peter’s ministry.

Considering his epistles such as Romans and Galatians, the Apostle Paul never preached a works-religion message such as Acts 10:35. For this reason, the Gentiles of Acts chapter 10 could never come under, and never did come under, Paul’s ministry. Remember, since Israel fell as a nation back in Acts chapter 7, there is no Abrahamic Covenant in effect in Paul’s ministry (his ministry began in Acts chapter 9). The events leading up to Cornelius’ salvation would not qualify Cornelius to enter the Body of Christ and Paul’s ministry. Cornelius was one of the last people saved on the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant before Paul’s ministry came to the forefront.

In Paul’s ministry, we Gentiles are blessed apart from redeemed Israel and we are blessed in Christ: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). In Paul’s ministry, we Gentiles are saved apart from any covenants and are rather made nigh (near) to God by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

CONCLUSION

Cornelius and the other Gentiles of Acts chapter 10 would have had to stay with Peter’s ministry, and, as far as the Scriptural record is concerned, Peter never again ministered to other Gentiles (Peter’s agreement with Paul in Galatians 2:9 occurred at the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts chapter 15, which was at least a decade after Cornelius’ experience). Cornelius and his friends were added to the Jews under the Law (see also our study, “Were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace?,” linked at the end of this article). As far as the book of Acts is concerned, Paul never ministered to Cornelius or the other Gentiles associated with him. Based on these facts, we conclude that the Gentiles of Acts chapter 10 stayed with Israel, her apostles, and her program.

By the way, why did God record the events of Acts chapter 10 in our Bible? Why did He have Peter minister to Cornelius, a Gentile? Why this radical departure from Peter’s original commission of evangelizing all of Israel first and then going to Gentiles? The events with Cornelius enabled Peter to come to Paul’s defense in Acts 15:7-11, when Paul affirmed that Gentiles in Paul’s ministry were saved apart from the Ten Commandments (as Peter learned in Acts chapter 10, verses 43-45) and that in Paul’s ministry they had received the Holy Spirit without water baptism (as Peter learned in Acts chapter 10, verses 45-48). It was in God’s design to have Peter experience some 10 years prior to the Jerusalem council of Acts chapter 15, so Peter could save Paul’s ministry with his own testimony and ministry experience. (People usually get hung up and confused on certain aspects of Acts chapter 10 without seeing why God had it occur, so please be sure to note the reason.)

Also see:
» Were Gentiles saved before our Dispensation of Grace? If so, how?
» Does not Acts 15:11 disprove dispensational Bible study?
» When did the Church the Body of Christ begin?

Are Matthew through John “Old Testament” or “New Testament” books?

ARE MATTHEW THROUGH JOHN “OLD TESTAMENT” OR “NEW TESTAMENT” BOOKS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Does God Himself view Matthew through John as books of the “New Testament” (Christendom’s view) or does He see them as books of the “Old Testament?” “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). If it is to be of faith, it is to be founded on God’s Word, the Holy Bible. If we are to be on solid ground, we will take God’s view on the subject, and let everyone else believe as they wish. Let us see how the Bible itself classifies these four Bible books.

Many of today’s denominations and churches find much of their doctrine for “Christian living” in the Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (commonly called “the Four Gospels”). It is often assumed that these four Gospel records are “New Testament” books; hence, Malachi is often called “the last Old Testament prophet.” It is common to divide the Bible’s 66 books as “Old Testament” (Genesis through Malachi) and “New Testament” (Matthew through Revelation). Consequently, Jesus’ earthly ministry is seen as “New Testament.” But, again, is this view Bible, or just religion?

The Bible believer will simply believe Hebrews 9:16-17 at face value: “[16] For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. [17] For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” Is a testament “of force” (operating) while the testator (one who makes it) lives? According to the Bible, a testament is valid only after the testator dies.

Now, we merely apply that simple reasoning of Hebrews 9:16-17 to the Four Gospels, and we have God’s way of looking at them. The “New Testament” could not begin until after Jesus Christ died. Why did Jesus die? He died in Matthew chapter 27, Mark chapter 15, Luke chapter 23, and John chapter 19. The Lord Jesus died near the end of each of the Four Gospels, so, according to Hebrews 9:16-17, the New Testament could not begin until at least after Calvary. In other words, Matthew through John are Old Testament books.

While Bible publishers insert a page between Malachi and Matthew, “The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” the New Testament could not begin until sometime near the conclusions of Matthew through John. So, if we claim our doctrine for Christian living is found in Matthew through John, as Christendom often does, then we are not “New Testament Christians” at all; we would be “Old Testament Messianic Jews!” While many of today’s local churches call themselves “New Testament” churches, yet, strangely, they have taken “Old Testament doctrine!”

Also see:
» When was the book of the Revelation written?
» Who wrote the book of Hebrews? (COMING SOON!)
» Did John really write “The Gospel of John?” (COMING SOON!)

Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras?

SHOULD CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE MARDI GRAS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Should we as Christians celebrate Mardi Gras? Firstly, we need to define what “Mardi Gras” is, and then we need to search the Scriptures to see whether or not such a holiday is Biblical. As always, my goal is not to attack or condemn anyone, but to share God’s Word with you and let you come to your own conclusions about what God would have you to do. Compare it with the Scriptures and see what God says about the matter!

ORIGIN OF MARDI GRAS

The History Channel’s website (www.history.com) has the following opening remarks about Mardi Gras:

“A Christian holiday and popular cultural phenomenon, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites. Also known as Carnival, it is celebrated in many countries around the world–mainly those with large Roman Catholic populations–on the day before the religious season of Lent begins. Brazil, Venice and New Orleans play host to some of the holiday’s most famous public festivities, drawing thousands of tourists and revelers every year.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

Mardi Gras” is French for “Fat Tuesday.” From where did this celebration originate? According to secular historians, not Bible believers, Mardi Gras “dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites!” In other words, even people who do not believe the Bible understand that Mardi Gras was never Christian; it was simply a pagan celebration given a “Christian” appearance. The History Channel’s website continues:

“According to historians, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous [wild, disorderly] Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess [gluttony] and debauchery [wickedness] of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

“Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the meat, eggs, milk and cheese that remained in their homes, preparing for several weeks of eating only fish and fasting. In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.” The word “carnival,” another common name for the pre-Lenten festivities, may also derive from this vegetarian-unfriendly custom: in Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat.”

* * *

Today, Mardi Gras is celebrated in Roman Catholic countries as well as here in Louisiana (mostly in the city of New Orleans). Mardi Gras is marked by partying, drunkenness, gluttony (overeating), parades, costumes and masks, eating a “King Cake,” and throwing beads and other trinkets. A few years ago, I wrote a Bible study about Mardi Gras titled, “God’s Grace on Parade.” I have reproduced it in its entirety below, in hope and prayer that you can profit from it and/or use it for others’ benefit regarding this time of year.
_______________________________________________________
GOD’S GRACE ON PARADE
by Shawn Brasseaux

Here in Louisiana, a state dominated by Roman Catholicism, Mardi Gras is perhaps the most celebrated festival. Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a day when religious people consume as much alcohol as they want, eat as much rich and fatty foods as they want, and party as much as they want. While I love the dear people who participate in these events, I, as a Bible-believing Christian, object to such activities. Please understand that the following study is not intended to belittle or attack, but to provide sound doctrine regarding a matter that many enjoy but few understand.

A BRIEF SUMMARIZATION OF FAT TUESDAY, ASH WEDNESDAY, AND LENT

Religious people are told that, after they have “sinned all they want” on Fat Tuesday, to repent of that wickedness, to mourn, and turn to God. On the day after Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, clergymen place ashes on the foreheads of the church members as a sign of their “repentance.” “Lent” is the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. During these weeks, religious people endure “penitential preparation” for Easter Sunday. They are encouraged to “get closer to God” and make their lives more closely resemble Jesus’ life. How?

Their clergy urge them to pray, do penance (suffer and apologize for their sins), have repentance (feel sorry for their sins and/or turn from their sins), give alms (give material goods/money to others), and seek self-denial (temporarily give up luxuries such as a hobby or favorite food). These dear souls are even told they cannot eat meat on the Fridays during Lent (fasting). Did you know that God’s Word says that “commanding to abstain from meats” is a “doctrine of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)?

So, why do they observe Lent? They claim to be following “Jesus” when He fasted for 40 days (Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:2). To Satan’s delight, Mardi Gras appears so innocent and it hides behind the cloak of religion. People are completely blinded regarding Mardi Gras, just like they are regarding much of the other activities in “Christian” circles today. Let me further demonstrate this.

THE DECEPTION AND PAGANISM OF MARDI GRAS EXPOSED

Why is Mardi Gras a period of drunkenness, overeating, and partying followed by a time of fasting? Historians tell us that Mardi Gras can be traced back to the pagan Roman festivals Saturnalia and Lupercalia, wild and shameful celebrations of fertility and springtime. Lupercalia was noted for its orgies and sexual excesses while Saturnalia was celebrated with overeating and revelry (drunken parties). And then, after the excess, the pagans fasted. Does that sound familiar? Is that not what Mardi Gras is all about? Despite its “Christian” veneer, history claims that Mardi Gras is not a Christian celebration at all. Pagans originally celebrated it, albeit they called it other names (Lupercalia and Saturnalia).

How did Mardi Gras become associated with Christianity? Well, when Christianity came to Rome in the first centuries A.D., church leaders knew that it would be impossible to convince the pagans to abandon their ungodly practices, worthless idols, and unbiblical beliefs. What was the solution to uniting the Roman Empire? The church leaders simply incorporated that heathenism into Christianity! This is the origin of several “Christian” holidays, including Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.

A few weeks ago, a local Roman Catholic priest wrote a column in my local newspaper. The poor soul actually defended Mardi Gras as something godly, withholding the historical facts that he should have known. He claimed, “Getting drunk and wreckless [sic] is not the spirit of Mardi Gras in its origin. Rather, it was to tap into the rhythm of life of celebrating and mourning, of eating and fasting, of laughing and crying. It is what the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes was inspired to write….” Basically, he argued that since Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says there is “a time for” everything, Mardi Gras is no exception! He concluded his article with, “As long as there is no sin, celebrate Mardi Gras with gusto so the 40 days of Lent will be entered into with willingness and even a sense of joy.” (Bold emphasis mine.) According to him, you can celebrate Mardi Gras, a sinful holiday, without committing sin. Shame! Shame! Shame!

I wrote a letter to the editor, and surprisingly, it was published. In that letter, I objected to this priest’s statements and pointed out that his entire argument was misleading. Some may argue that this was an honest mistake on his part, so be it known, that, to my knowledge, that priest made no attempt to correct his untruthful statements. He never recanted or retracted his claims.

More recently, this same Catholic priest wrote yet another column in our newspaper, and this time, his topic was Lent. He wrote, “Marked on this coming Wednesday with ashes as a reminder that we are dust and unto dust we all shall return, we enter this season to reflect on how best we can walk with Jesus, knowing that ‘if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him’ (Romans 6:8). This is a holy time—a time to believe more and more in the good news of Jesus.” Notice again how Mardi Gras and Lent is associated with Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Lent is a “holy” time? Well, as long as we compare Lent to the shameful carousel on the previous Tuesday, I guess Lent IS holy!

MARDI GRAS ON PARADE

Quite frankly, religious people use Mardi Gras as a license to sin. Mardi Gras parades, complete with bead tossing from floats, involve alcohol, gluttony, and dancing. Sexual acts—including exposing certain body parts—are prevalent. People just seem to lose all temperance, doing whatever they want and how much they want. And, may we add masks are donned as to keep their identities secret! When the parades are over, the streets are covered with vomit and polluted with literally tons of litter. Do you know what is most pitiful? They claim that this is a “holy time!” Now do you see why Jeremiah 17:9 explains that man’s heart is “wicked,” “deceitful above all things?” They have deceived themselves into thinking that ungodly activity honors God, since they will confess it and repent of it all the next day! Sadly, there is no shame whatsoever. The Mardi Gras parades are broadcast on television and published in our newspapers. While wearing cross necklaces (of all things!) these revelers drink and party. And guess what? The media even refers to them as “revelers.” Again, they are open about their sin.

GOD’S GRACE ON PARADE

Every Mardi Gras, I am reminded of a verse in Romans: “…Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (5:20). Mardi Gras is sinful in that it involves drunkenness and sexual promiscuity. But it is all the more wicked because this blatant sin is committed in the name of “God!” The Mardi Gras colors purple, green, and gold represent justice, faith, and power, respectively. Again, Mardi Gras appears to be “Christian.”

In addition, a notable confection of Mardi Gras is the “king cake,” which is decorated with green, purple, and gold icing. It symbolizes the “three kings” who visited the baby Jesus. A plastic baby is even hidden in the king cake. Regardless of all its biblical allusions (ILLUSIONS!), Mardi Gras is still evil and anti-God.

Despite all this sin, even when it is committed in the name of “God,” the Lord Jesus Christ in His abounding grace and mercy, continues to tolerate mankind. Year after year, Mardi Gras Season after Mardi Gras Season, mankind parades his sin, and God parades His grace. God holds back that wrath that mankind so rightfully deserves. People believe they are getting away with their sin, but the Bible says this about their “payday.” “[God] Who will render to every man according to his deeds: Unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;” (Romans 2:6,8,9). There is “pleasure of sin,” but the Good Book says, it is but “for a season” (Hebrews 11:25). “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

WHERE THE SAINTS STAND

Throughout my short life, I have personally known scores of “Christians” who find Mardi Gras totally acceptable. They believe it is godly, when, in fact, the Bible exposes “revelry” as sin, a “work of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21). Even the Apostle Peter—who Rome claims was its “first pope”—disagrees with and condemns reveling (1 Peter 4:3). Peter forbade “excess of wine, revellings, and banquetings” (1 Peter 4:3). Galatians 5:19-21 claims that “drunkenness” and “revellings” are “works of the flesh.” Paul wrote, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess” (Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles Peter and Paul, was clearly against Mardi Gras reveling and drunkenness. So why do we have professing Christians engaging the very activities that God the Holy Spirit condemned?!

Mardi Gras is completely offensive and unacceptable to God and to those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Christians should speak out against such foolishness. It mocks our Saviour… even more so because they commit sin using HIS name!!!! As Christians, we are taught to “deny” the activities that accompany Mardi Gras.

Titus 2:11-15 explains: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

There is nothing biblical about Mardi Gras. It is not “sober, righteous, or godly.” It does not reflect the grace life that we have in Jesus Christ. Mardi Gras entails riotous and careless living. God’s grace teaches us Christians not to sin, to lead lives that are responsible and temperate. Sin is not who we are anymore. Romans 6:11-15 says: “[11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. [13] Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. [14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we continue in sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

Can the Bible be any clearer? Mardi Gras is not for Christians.

CONCLUSION

So, perhaps I have gotten your attention, and have made you see things you never realized before. To the Lord alone be the glory if that is true! Maybe you are a Mardi Gras reveler. Perhaps you are still dead in your trespasses and sins and destitute of eternal life. The key is not to stop the Mardi Gras revelry in your own strength. Come to God as you are and He will take care of the rest. He will clean up your life and give you peace, joy, righteousness, and love. God accepts us in His Son, the beloved, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:6). The wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God declares that God did for you at Calvary what you could never do: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died to put away all of your sins, Mardi Gras revelry included.

No fasting, no penance, no confession, and no self-denial will ever merit the favor of God. By trying to please God in your own strength, you will only condemn yourself. You are a sinner, so you cannot do anything to please God. But, because you are a sinner, God can save you. You can be made “the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). How?

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for everything that is wrong with you. Why not trust in Jesus Christ alone, that His finished crosswork is sufficient to pay for your sins? God has forgiven you and you do not have to go to hell! Come to God as you are, and by faith, rest in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour. If you do, God will save you forever, and make a trophy of His grace. And then YOUR life will be God’s grace on parade!
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WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN TO DO?

Perhaps a dear Christian reading this, would reply, “Oh, Brother Shawn, do not judge! We are under grace not law! Do not be legalistic! I am a Christian and I see nothing wrong with Mardi Gras parades and my having a good time there. I do not drink alcohol there, I do not riot there, et cetera, so I do not see what the big deal is.”

Over the years, many dear friends, lost and saved alike, have posted pictures on social media of the parades that they attended. What is most troubling is that yes, Christians are seen in these questionable situations. Dear friends, we need to be careful as to what type of message we are sending with regards to our actions. Even if we are behaving, not getting drunk or being rowdy, why put ourselves in the midst of those who misbehaving? If it is a holiday known for its drunkenness, rioting, vulgarity, and religious nonsense, and it is, why do we Bible-believing Christians want to participate in it at all? Is not saying, “I go to the Mardi Gras parades but do not drink or act vulgar” just as ridiculous as claiming, “I frequent the local bar or pub, not to drink, but to socialize?” Why set yourself up for stumbling into sin, dear friend and Christian?

While people are free to do as they want, God’s Word has already judged the matter. I am just repeating what the Bible says, so you need not get angry with me. Friend, talk to God about it, but He has already made up His mind. We are to “use not our liberty for an occasion to the flesh” (Galatians 5:13). Just because we are under grace and not law does not mean that God does not care how we live (do you see why denominationalists object to our beliefs by saying, “You people use grace as a license to sin?”). In fact, we should not be using grace as permission to do things that would offend a fellow brother or sister in Christ. If our Christian testimony means anything to us at all, we will “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)—if the activity appears bad, then we should avoid it. Furthermore, for the sake of the spiritual wellbeing of another Christian, we need to be sure we are not using our liberty to destroy those for whom Christ died!

The most non-legalistic person in all of the Bible, the Apostle Paul, wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” While we do not have a bunch of rules and regulations to follow in this the Dispensation of Grace, there are still activities that are “not expedient” (not profitable or beneficial). Later on, the Holy Spirit penned through Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24: “[23] All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. [24] Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” Not all activities build up others; we need to keep other people in mind, especially Christians, before we engage in any behavior. Friends, we must keep that in mind, lest we cause them to stumble in similar sins. Christian living is not selfish living.

We read in Romans 14:19-21: “[19] Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. [20] For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. [21] It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” Again, dearly beloved, we should engage in behavior that edifies (builds up) others. As a Christian, it offends me to see other Christians participating in pagan Mardi Gras celebrations, parades abounding with immature, riotous, vulgar, drunken, religious people. I can only imagine what kind of stumbling-block Mardi-Gras-celebrating Christians are for Christians struggling with alcoholism or sexual sins. Just some things to keep in mind, dear readers.

In conclusion, our purpose here has been to enlighten you about Mardi Gras so that you can make an informed decision. It is certainly not our goal to “have dominion over your faith;” our desire is to be “helpers of your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24). We will not dictate to you what you can and cannot do regarding Mardi Gras, but we do offer this study for your consideration. Our goal is to have your faith rest in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word, so that you may have joy and peace in believing God’s Word (Romans 15:13). Let us use this time of year on the religious calendar often used to “live in sin and abuse grace,” as opportunity to share the wonderful news of the new life we have in Christ, and the new life that they can have in Jesus Christ, too, if they trust Him alone as their personal Saviour. This is the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God, and it alone is the life-giving message that lost people need to hear—at Carnival-time and every other time!

NOTE: The reader is greatly encouraged to search the internet to learn more about Mardi Gras’ history, and not take this author’s word for anything.

You may also see http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mardi-gras.

Also see:
» Should Christians observe Lent?
» Is there any divine authority in church tradition?
(LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Is Roman Catholicism true Christianity?
(LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)