Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Church: Rites and Rituals

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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Below is the Audio Script:

The Church: Rites and Rituals

Memory Text: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38, NKJV).

The lesson brings up three key words: rites, sacraments, and ordinances.  Historically they have been used interchangeably.  But they have different meanings.  We will not discuss that here.  Suffice it to say that neither rite nor sacrament appear in the King James Version.  The word ordinance appears twice in the NT, but never associated with baptism, foot washing or communion.  Ellen White uses ordinance for them.
These practices had no merit within themselves.  Lesson Sunday 1

However much importance we place on the “ordinances,” we must always remember that these are not conduits of grace or acts by which we earn salvation or gain merit before God. Sin, and what it has done to us, is way too serious a matter for rituals, even those instituted by Christ Himself, to be able to redeem us. Only the death of Jesus on the cross was sufficient to accomplish the salvation of beings as deeply fallen as we are. As we understand them, the ordinances are outward symbols of our acknowledgment of what Christ has done for us and of our union with Him (and all that this union entails), and they serve their purpose well. They are a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves.

baptism (Friday 1)

“Baptism is a most sacred and important ordinance, and there should be a thorough understanding as to its meaning. It means repentance for sin, and the entrance upon a new life in Christ Jesus. There should be no undue haste to receive the ordinance. Let both parents and children count the cost.”-Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 93.
Baptism is death unto Christ.  Recognition of your death in Christ. You died with Him.  It implies that whatever life you have you lived before was not right.  Your life is not your it is His.  It is out of gratitude.  All I left behind is dung.

Our lesson says

The New Testament uses several images to describe what baptism means. First, baptism symbolizes a spiritual union with Christ (Rom. 6:3-8), involving participation in His suffering, death, and resurrection, as well as the renunciation of one’s former lifestyle. In this way, baptism is linked with repentance and the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38); the new birth and reception of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13); and, consequently, entrance into the church (Acts 2:41, 47).

Foot wash
Both Peter and Judas participate. This means that Although each may participate it does not mean that each is repented and clean; it is a matter of choice. 

We call it the ordinance of humility.  But, it is Not only humbling for washing someone else’s feet.  Consider Peter interaction with Jesus in John 13.  Jesus says unless I wash your feet you have not part with me (John 13: 8).  So, it is called the ordnance of humility not only because you act as a servant in washing someone else’s feet, but also because it is a recognition that only Christ can truly cleanse us.

Lord’s supper

The Lord’s Supper replaces the Passover festival. So there is a lot of parallels. The Passover met its fulfillment when Christ, the Paschal Lamb, gave His life. Before His death, Christ Himself instituted the replacement, the great festival of the New Testament church under the new covenant. Just as the Passover festival commemorated Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt.   (Passover is symbolic of coming out of Sin, Egypt is Sin).  Putting in a converted mind in an old nature body (new wine in old bag).  The Lord’s Supper also commemorates the deliverance from Sin.  The blood, grape juice, and the water represent Jesus blood.  Bread represents His body.  Not only broken for us but that we take it in. 

The Passover lamb’s blood applied to the lintel and doorposts protected the inhabitants from death; the nourishment that its flesh provided gave them the strength to escape from Egypt (Exod. 12:3-8). So, Christ's sacrifice brings liberation from death; believers are saved through the partaking of both His body and blood (John 6:54) - John 6:54

New International Version (NIV)
54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

Those who partake Jesus’ blood and flesh bring eternal life.  What is sternal life?  In John 17: 3 it says that it is knowing Christ and the Father.  Knowing Christ and the Father is eating the flesh and drinking the blood.  It is through the Word that we know Jesus and the Father the best, and the hearing of the Word yields faith (faith come though hearing and hearing through the Word.)

Going back to John 6.  There we find that many were offended at Jesus’ words in verse 54 and stopped following Him.  Eating flesh and drinking blood was offensive to many so they stop following.  Ellen White says they fought conviction.  Conviction that what they desired is not what Christ was working toward.  They wanted national prominence.  They knew Christ was going away from that.  Remember, He had no place to lay His head. 

Ellen White says of the Passover,

“The Passover pointed backward to the deliverance of the children of Israel, and was also typical, pointing forward to Christ, the Lamb of God, slain for the redemption of fallen man. The blood sprinkled upon the door-posts prefigured the atoning blood of Christ, and also the continual dependence of sinful man upon the merits of that blood for safety from the power of Satan, and for final redemption.”-Ellen G. White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 201. 

So, communion also prefigures our continual dependence upon the merits of the blood of Christ.  Also, in communion we look to remember the cross and look forward to the time of His return.

1 Corinthians 11:26
New International Version (NIV)
26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

With these words we see how closely entwined the Second Coming and the Communion service are. That makes so much sense, too, because the Second Coming is, really, the culmination of what happened at the cross. One could argue that the biggest reason for the First Coming-which included His body being broken and His blood shed for us-was the Second Coming. The First Coming is what paved the way for the Second.

Each time we partake of communion, we dwell on the Cross and what it accomplished for us. Yet, what it accomplished for us cannot be separated from the Second Coming. In fact, what Jesus did on the cross for us doesn’t reach its ultimate culmination until the Second Coming.

Matthew 26:29
New International Version (NIV)
29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

He is waiting to drink from the fruit of the vine with us.  Will we not haste the day when this happens.