PART 3 Aspiring To Be A Witness For Christ
Being a Witness of the Breaking of Bread
It’s hard to believe that the partaking of the elements of the Lord’s Supper could have such a different meaning from church to church. As a Christian, being a witness of its meaning to other believers could have a significant impact as to their spiritual growth. There are two distinct views as to the meaning of the Lord’s Supper.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. (John 6:56)
And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. (Mark 14:22-24)
This view known as transubstantiation says that when a believer partakes of the elements of communion the bread becomes the literal body of Christ and the wine becomes the literal blood of Christ, the result of such is that the more frequently he/she partakes of it the more he/she will experience an increase in spiritual growth (i.e., a lessening of racial and national prejudices or neighborhood resentments, and an increase in neighborliness, compassion, patience, and forbearance towards others). In others words, Christ-likeness will be developed within and manifest without toward others.
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51)
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)
This alternative views says that the bread is figurative of Christ’s flesh, his body, which will suffer both physically and spiritually on the cross. The wine, likewise, is representative of figurative of his blood, the pouring out of his life, his physical death by which a new covenant would be established during the age to come, the Church Age. During this time, which is now, each person whether Jew or Gentile will have an opportunity to be saved, and for those who repent and believe will receive the indwelling Spirit and subsequent blessings.
To continue to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of Him means to recall what he accomplished for us on the cross—i.e. redemption (to no longer be a prisoner to the debt of sin; to let one go free) through his blood (the payment to divine justice for our sin) and the forgiveness (the wiping away; erasing the record of the debt; to cancel a debt) of sins.
As you can see, there is quite a difference as to what the partaking of the elements of the bread and wine mean. Which one is correct? That’s pretty simple. If one of these views has a perspective that is supported in a different way according to scripture, then this view has no basis.
The first view says that the changing of the bread into Christ’s literal body and the wine into His literal blood brings about spiritual growth. What do the scriptures say as to how a Christian grows spiritually?
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (Ephesians 4:22)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Colossians 3:10)
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (Ephesians 5:18)
The goal of the Christian life should be to be conformed to the image of Christ. This conformity relates to a process known as sanctification, whereby the saint is transformed in his inner heart life to resemble the Lord Jesus, which inner change resultsin a change of outward expression that reflects the beauty of the Lord Jesus5. What is the protocol that will bring about a transformation in a believer’s heart?
A part of this process has to do with the believer learning about the various doctrines of the faith (e.g. redemption, forgiveness, the atonement, the gifts of the Spirit, etc.). At some point, there will be a teaching on what constitutes sin (mental, verbal, and overt). This will allow the believer to recognize any known sin a lot easier and confess it to God the Father. What should follow is further teaching as to thoughts that a believer should be entertaining in their mind that provide a heavenly perspective in these areas. As the believer appropriates these thoughts and reflects upon them this activates the filling or ministry of the Holy Spirit whereby His fruit (graces, influences) become operational in our heart and evidenced to others. This is spiritual growth; i.e. thinking differently about ourselves and operating in the spiritual qualities of the Holy Spirit.
It’s unfortunate that we have teachings where are told that we can eat or drink something and it can cause us to grow spiritually. Should we be surprised that something like this has been introduced? Human nature as it comes to worshipping God always seems to try to have a shortcut.
Another way to be a witness for Christ is in prayer. If we are in a gathering with believers and unbelievers what should we pray for?
Being a Witness When We Pray
This sounds like an easy endeavor. Simply speak out loud for the health of ourselves or someone else, ask God to help us financially, pray for world peace, and ask God to keep us and our family safe. I think that this just about covers it all. Don’t you? Well, hold on. The scriptures should indicate to us not only what was prayed for by those in the early church, but whether any of these prayers will even be heard by the Lord.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalms 66:18)
I think that most of our prayers fall on deaf ears because we are occupied with some form of mental, verbal, or overt sin. Instead of growing spiritually by means of confession of sin and renewal of the mind we are taught to engage in doing this or that for the church. We don’t change inwardly, but surely appear to others that a change has taken place by what we do. I think that this is the sad state for many Christians.
If, however, we have learned about how to grow spiritually and are applying these instructions to our own life, then what are the kinds of prayers that we will probably be expressing? Let’s take a look at what the early church prayed for.
~ Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers that God the Father would give them wisdom (revealed truth; spiritual realities) and revelation (of apprehending the revealed - of perceiving the drift and meaning of what God makes known6 by the Holy Spirit) so that they would get to know Jesus personally and intimately. (Ephesians 1:15-20)
~ Paul and Timothy are praying for the Colossian believers that they would be fully equipped with a knowledge of Christ’s design, purpose, plan, and intention for their lives, which would be according
to wisdom (knowledge of divine things) and understanding [spiritual insight which discriminates between the false and the true; of clear analysis and decision-making in applying this knowledge (of diving things) to various problems7]. (Colossians 1:9)
~ Epaphras was praying for the Colossians that they would not waver, but stand firm by maintaining their fully instructed and enlightened condition, and in being fully persuaded of the truth of those doctrines which have been taught to them as the revealed will of God8. (Colossians 4:12)
~ Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy are always praying for the Thessalonians’ believers that God would consider them worthy of their calling (that their life will come up to the standard expected of those who have been called of God to live in a very special way9) by turning all of their good intentions into actions in which there would be perfected in them contentment and satisfaction so that everything thing they did would be motivated by faith in God and accomplished with His power. (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
~ Paul was asking the believers at Rome to pray for two areas of concern: for safe travel for himself from the unbelieving Jews, who resided in Judea, and for acceptance by the Christian Jews for the financial contribution, which might otherwise be looked at as a bribe in return for which Paul's opposition to the law would be condoned10. (Romans 15:30-31)
~ Paul was asking the believers at Thessalonica to pray for himself, Silvanus, and Timothy so that they would be delivered from opposition in their attempts to spread the gospel. This opposition would be from those who: would not listen to arguments, not being under discipline; do not have the right view of things; act agreeably to the disorderly and unreasonable impulse of their own minds having bad aims and purposes; have not the Christian faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2)
~ Paul was asking for prayer for both himself and Timothy that God would open up a door ofoccasion, opportunity, or entrance, for the doctrine of the Gospel11 to be able to be declared. (Colossians 4:2-4)
~ Paul strongly recommended to Timothy that supplications (something definite is asked; petitions having to do with one's personal needs as they are related to the government under which he lives12), prayers (the general word for prayer), intercessions (for conversions; prayers offered for another), and expressing gratitude for blessings or benefits, be made for all men, for kings, and all that are in authority so that we may lead a life which is quiet (freedom from outward disturbance or persecutions) and peaceable (freedom within; calmness) showing great devotion and reverence (or, respect) for God, and behaving in a right and proper way before other people13. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
~ Paul was instructing the Ephesians’ believers that they should pray always (in adversity as well as prosperity; in every temptation and spiritual conflict14) by means of any kind of prayer (formal, silent, vocal, secret, etc.) with supplications (to ask for God’s help; strong and incessant pleadings, until the evil is averted, or the good communicated15; an imploring request filled with heavenward longings and aspirations16) while being directed and empowered by the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18)
~ When we are afflicted (suffering in difficult circumstances), we should pray to God for His perspective and power to see things through. (James 5:10-13)
Did you notice any prayers for financially help, for personal health, for world peace, to keep our family safe, etc.? I think the reason for this was that the believers were filled with the Spirit. The Spirit was an active agent in their life. The gifts of the Spirit such as healing, miracles, knowledge, wisdom, etc. were operational. Physical healings and/or guidance by means of the gift of knowledge or wisdom would be accessible. Asking for safe passage would usually have associated with it the witnessing of the faith to which they were indebted. Asking for world peace would be understood prophetically in association with Christ’s second coming. Instead of praying for this, they would pray for the world leaders so that there would be an open door to preach about their faith safely and without government interference. As far as personal safety for themselves and their family, prayer would be made in relation to being used by God to be witness of Him throughout the known world.
I believe that when the church is filled with the Spirit everything changes. In the next chapter, we will take a look at what happens in the life of a Christian when they are putting on the new man in the filling of the Holy Spirit.
5Weust’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 7 Nov 2017˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
6The Pulpit Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 8 Nov 2017 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
7Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament, 2000, 8 Nov 2017 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
9UBS New Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 9 Nov 2017 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
14Barnes’ Notes.Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 9 Nov 2017 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
16Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 10 Nov 2017˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
Weekly Messages: http://bit.ly/1N9SHdX
Facebook Author Page: http://on.fb.me/1Q0MJ3w