PART 2 Aspiring To Be A Witness For Christ

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 6:15pm

CHAPTER 3

Being a Witness of Foundation Teachings

We should attend continually to the teachings of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teacher. What should we look for that will bring about God’s blessing on the assembly? What I mean by this is what should we look for that will provide teachings that God will approve of and desire to be an active partner in the lives of each member of the assembly of believers?

I would describe foundational teachings as teachings upon which our faith stands. In other words, each of these teachings is paramount to the Christian faith. If any one of these is not true, then our faith has no credibility. Everything that the Christian faith stands for and proclaims it can accomplish is based on these foundational truths. What are these foundational truths that you should be listening for?

●There is one God who expresses himself in three persons, each of whom is co-infinite and co-equal in divine essence (character).

●Each of these members of the trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) always existed.

●One of them was determined beforehand, God the Son, to leave heaven and come to earth in order to be the substitute for all mankind, paying the debt owed for sin and subsequently satisfying the justice of God.

●Jesus came to earth, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, listened to and obeyed the directives of God the Father, died on a cross paying the penalty for sin and providing forgiveness, rose again after three days witnessing of such on the earth for 40 days in his glorified body, and ascended into heaven being seated at the right hand of the Father.

●Repenting and believing in Jesus is the basis for an unbeliever receiving the indwelling Spirit. In other words, salvation is non-meritorious.

●Jesus is not only a teacher, prophet, the Son of God, but God incarnate.

●There is no belief in any other that will cause an unbeliever to go to heaven.

     Do you hear these truths being taught from the pulpit? Some of you might say yes, but after contemplating what was just presented realize that this is not really the case. You ask, give me some examples. Here are a couple for you to consider.

⁓ Believing in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not the basis for an unbeliever receiving the Holy Spirit. It is only by repenting of our sins and believing in Christ as to who he is and what he has accomplished.

⁓ Being baptized in water is not the basis for an unbeliever receiving the Holy Spirit. Again, it is by repenting and believing.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (Acts 17:30)

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39)

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)

There appears to be two ways for an unbeliever to receive the indwelling Spirit. One is by repenting and believing, being non-meritorious. The other is by water baptism and the Holy Spirit, being meritorious, something earned. What is the answer? If only one of these is correct, then the answer is in how the word “water” is taken, that being literally or figuratively. The answer is obvious, that this word is to be taken figuratively (something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else4).

And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

A similar example of a meritorious action being recommended as the basis for an unbeliever becoming saved is found in Acts 15:1. There were certain men, Jewish Christians, who came down from the hilly and high region of Judea to Antioch, proclaiming that in order for a Gentile to be saved they had to first be circumcised. It was determined by the apostles and elders at the church of Jerusalem that the Gentiles were not only not saved by this rite, but were under no obligation to keep any of the rituals and ceremonies of the Mosaic Law for sanctification.

I consider salvation a major doctrine of the faith. If it is believed that salvation can be obtained by a particular action or belief in a different person other than Christ, then we are putting our trust in something or someone that has no part in the atonement for our sins. I’ll ask you again, are these foundational truths being taught from the pulpit? If they are, God will approve of them and will be desirous to be an active participant in the lives of each member of the assembly.

And your witness to the agreement of these foundational teachings will allow you to be a presenter and confirmation of them to fellow believers and provide the biblical salvational teaching (the gospel) to unbelievers so that they might receive the indwelling Spirit. 

The next thing that we will take a look at which will assist us in being a witness for Christ is taking a look at what is called the Agape Feast and what should constitute it.

 

CHAPTER 4

Being a Witness of Fellowshipping with Other Believers

Jude 12… in your feasts of charity,…

The early church at Jerusalem would get together daily for what was called the Agape Feast. While those who attended would share a common meal together it appears that there was a lot more going on than just eating food. They would listen to teachings presented by those in leadership and presumably would engage in dialogue concerning it. After the meal, an explanation of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper and the subsequent partaking of its elements would follow. Group prayer would be initiated and the declaration of the gospel to those in attendance who were unbelievers would take place. Some commentators even suggest that at the conclusion of this gathering the assembly would sing psalms and hymns.

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7)

As time passed, the occurrence of this feast seems to have changed from daily to once a week being held on the first day, the Lord’s day, the day according to the Jewish perspective followed the Sabbath.  Some commentators would argue that not only had the frequency of the agape feast lessened, but when this took place there was no teaching, no prayer, and no gospel presented as there was no mention of such in relation to an incident in the Corinthian church where the Lord’s Supper was not attended to with the proper attitude. (1 Corinthians 11:20-22, 33-34)

When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. (1 Corinthians 11:20)

This could be why in many churches whenever a community dinner is held there is no teaching, prayer, or gospel message included. In some cases, the agape feast isn’t even followed up by the Lord’s Supper. No wonder why when unbelievers attend these church dinners where there is no awareness of the teachings of the Christian faith, where there is no perception as to what believers pray for, where there is no understanding as to what the Lord’s Supper is all about, and where the gospel is not presented that what they perceive is a place where they can gather to have a good time.

I believe that the agape feast and what accompanies it hasn’t changed from the days of the early church. I will agree that the focus in 1 Corinthians 11 was centered on the Lord’s Supper, but it also mentions the assembly of believers coming together in one place, wherever that was located. Could it be that this incident is inferring that there became a time in the early church when the gathering of the saints for worship and the agape feast were held on different days? Why would this be the case? If this is the case, then what would the church you are attending, and you be a witness of to? Being kind to the poor? Being ecumenical?

Is it time to reevaluate what you are a witness of as a Christian?

Do you want to be known as being a witness of being charitable to the poor or do you want to be known as being a witness of being not only charitable to the poor, but also of being a part of the Christian faith where the teaching of it are presented, where the conversation is reflective of it, where the sharing of a meal is partaken of, where the meaning and implementation of the Lord’s supper takes place, where prayer and what is being asked to God for is expressed, and where the gospel is presented so that those unbelievers who attend will not only be nourished physically, but changed spiritually?

I have my own personal recollection of a church in my hometown that would announce a community dinner from time to time. Usually there was a good turnout of both believers and unbelievers. Each person or family would bring a food dish. A prayer to bless the food would be presented and then everyone would fill up their plate. Conversation at each table usually would center around one’s job, family, health, etc. That was it. No teaching, no prayer, no Lord’s Supper, no gospel, and subsequently no changed lives.

Two messages were being sent. Christians became complacent as to the gospel. Community gatherings at the church were to foster good will instead of proclaiming God’s will. Unbelievers had no awareness of anything about the Christian faith other than the facts that those who attended were kind and gracious and like them their lives were centered around the common themes of family, health, and job.

Another aspect of being a witness for Christ is being a witness of the Lord’s Supper to both believers and unbelievers. What is presented as far as to its meaning will have a significant impact as to how a Christian grows spiritually.

Endnotes

4Dictionary.com.

Website: http://www.makingtheonerightchoice.com/ 

Weekly Messages: http://bit.ly/1N9SHdX

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamesrondinone/media

Facebook Author Page: http://on.fb.me/1Q0MJ3w 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/james.rondinone