New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

NT Church Proliferation Digest Friday, June 21 2002 Volume 02 : Number 107
RE: [NTCP] How does a NT "sacrament" function?
Re: [NTCP] my people love to have it so
Re: [NTCP] How does a NT "sacrament" function?

Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 09:10:20 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] How does a NT "sacrament" function?

Keith S-- that "sacramentalist" from the *other* side of the Mediterranean
Sea-- asked:

> Under the old covenant the people were
> encouraged to share their feasts and
> significance with the stranger and foreigners
> that lived in their midst. Where does this
> leave those who say that non baptised folk
> should not take part in the breaking of bread?

Link H. was correct when he answered that only those who had entered
the covenant via circumcision were allowed to participate in the feasts of
Israel. For instance, in Exodus 12:43-45 we read:

"This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. But every
man's servant who is bought for money, WHEN YOU HAVE CIRCUMCISED HIM, then
he may eat it. A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it" (emphasis

Any person from a different people or country who desired to know the
One True God and faithfully follow Him is often referred to in English
Bibles as a "stranger" or "alien" (Heb. GER). But he/she was essentially a
convert to the worship of YHWH. That is why, for gross infractions of the
Torah-- moral or ceremonial-- he/she could be "cut off FROM THE CONGREGATION
OF ISRAEL, whether he is a STRANGER or a native of the land" (Exo. 12:19,
emphasis mine). That was because "one law [was] for the native-born and for
the STRANGER who dwel[t] among [the Israelites]" (Exo. 12:49, emphasis
The application to our NT context then is clear: we should *never*
knowingly allow any unbaptised person to partake of the Lord's Supper with
us. It is for those of us in the covenant, who are one with Jesus in his
death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Andmunion is our corporate
renewal of that covenant with the Lord, ... and with each other as

Link H.-- with baby on the way-- asked:

> Should children partake of the bread or wine
> during the Lord's Supper, which was prefigured
> by the Passover?

Israel's covenant was/is a *national covenant* so that one need only
be born into a Jewish family (only of a Jewish mother, actually), and the
males circumcised on the 8th day, to be a Jew. Females just need to be born
into the family. That's it. Today the "yoke of the Torah" is not applied
to boys until age 13, although we are not absolutely sure if this particular
HALAKHA (legal decision) specifying age 13 had been worked out across the
board in Jesus' day. Nevertheless, families were/are considered Jewish as a
This is different from the particulars of the new covenant which has
been *extended* to include gentiles. All the HALAKHOT (legal decisions)
regarding Jews apply to Jews, since the new covenant is, after all, the
Torah being placed in their (our) hearts by God. However, a Jew still has
to enter the *new covenant* through faith in Jesus. Actualized through
baptism. A person, Jew or gentile, who has not done this is not in the
covenant, does not possess eternal life, and should not partake of the
covenant meal ofmunion. That includes children of believing parents.
In the new covenant, Jews and gentiles together, who express true faith in
Christ, make up the Church. Christian membership privileges do not apply to
those not actually born again.

> I can't help but think that Paul
> would have been pleased if the
> Corinthians actually remembered
> what Paul had delivered unto them
> when they were having the Lord's
> Supper.
> Many 'IC's do read or recite
> verses concerning the Lord's
> Supper when they partake of the
> Lord's Supper with very small
> portions. Could it be that
> some house churches _don't_ do this, just
> out of reacting to IC's?
> Shouldn't we be careful to
> explain the meaning of what we
> are doing while partaking of the
> Lord's Supper while we eat?
> Jesus did say, 'This do in
> rememberance of me.'

My observation is that much of what is done or not done in the house church is
merely in reaction to perceived abuses in the IC. Not from real factually
grounded conviction. What can be done to improve in this area?
Again, "remembering" is *active* in biblical thought. It is not
merely bringing to mind something/someone. It is then producing works
appropriate to such a person's relation to others in the covenant.
The recitation of the events of the original Passover plays an
integral part in the whole SEDER (ordered service), with the ceremonial
items of lamb (or nowadays, bone-- PESAKH), unleavened bread (MATZAH), and
bitter herbs (MAROR) receiving special significance in the meal. Distinct
times are set aside to explain their meaning. Distinct emphasis is placed
on eating "the elements" *together* ... to re-enact the original deliverance
of God. Together. And thus participate together in that deliverance. This
is how it should be for Christianmunion as well.

Jay F. made some telling and insightfulments on the "us-ness" of
themunion experience. munion is best expressed through a single
"loaf" of *unleavened* bread. That way we each take our share and think
about the share of the peopleing after us-- true consideration of
Christ's body, I would say. Our Jerusalem congregation also does the old
fashioned "single cup" thing. I don't get any sicker than before-- which
was hardly ever. And the lesson of unity is driven home each week when we
drink "Christ's blood" together.


------- <><><> -------

Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 06:54:17 -0400
From: Richard Wright <wright47 * sc.rr>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] my people love to have it so

DA> Jer. 5:29-31 Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall
DA> not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? A wonderful and horrible
DA> thing ismitted in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the
DA> priests bear rule by their means; AND MY PEOPLE LOVE TO HAVE IT SO: and
DA> what will ye do in the end thereof?

DA> Let me tie it to another subject at hand. We tend to blame a usurping
DA> clergy for most of the problems in the churches today. Yet, just as in
DA> the prophet's day, "lazy laymen" are perfectly content to abdicate their
DA> own functions.
Very true. The 'pastor' could not exist without the desire of the

Phil.3:12-14 mailto:wright47 * sc.rr

------- <><><> -------

Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 17:18:32 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] How does a NT "sacrament" function?

Because of the topic of this thread, and due to statements about baptism
made by TC, Jay F., Link H., and Dan S., it's paramount to examine closely 1
Pet. 3:21 because only here does the Bible specifically state what baptism
is and does. All the rest of our knowledge on the matter is arrived at by
inferences from various other texts. This example is more direct.
This precise point of explaining baptism is where most Evangelicals--
IC and HC-- fail. They know intuitively it's a salient ritual, but they
can't actually define what baptism is, what it effects (... if anything?),
or from where it derives it's importance. Hopefully this verse can clarify
matters a little bit. So here goes:

"There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of
the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God),
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ ... " (1 Pet. 3:21).

Notice first of all the close relationship between the concept of
resurrection and the rite of baptism. This is emphasized in a "long
thought," somewhat harder to trace-- but still there-- throughout Romans
chapters 6-10 (I have a short study on this if anyone is interested. Drop
me a note and I'll send it).
Note also that baptism is an "antitype" (Gk. ANTITOUPOS). In NT
thinking there are "types," which are symbolic, and "antitypes," which are
the realities to which the symbols point. Mark carefully what Peter says
then. He says that the actual historical event of the flood and Noah's (and
his family's) salvation from God's universal judgment by means of water (the
tool of His judgment) is (by inference) only a "type" since it is the
BAPTISM (the GREATER reality to which the historical events pointed) that is
in fact called by him the antitype. So don't be caught calling baptism a
symbol again.

According to Peter, it is faith-filled baptism which ULTIMATELY saves
a person-- by linking him/her to that death that was God's judgment against
sin. That same death was likewise the means of humanity's eternal
salvation. This is all via-- Peter expressly says-- "baptism". Hence,
baptism with faith in Christ is MORE than just a symbol because it actually
*effects* our participation in Jesus' death.
Moving on in the verse, the "antitype" of baptism, though looking like
a mere bath, is not efficacious if considered a means of cleansing the body.
Here is where intentiones into play. This dip in water has to be done
for the correct purpose. At the very least baptism has to be distinguished
from normal bathing for hygenic purposes or that is all it will be.
Now it's time toment on Jay's succinct rebuttal to TC's stand on
infant baptism. I thought Jay was "right on". He mentioned this phrase:
"the answer of a good conscience toward God". Link further elaborated that
it could be translated "pledge," as Jay had quoted. He was correct. But
what can the phrase taken as a whole mean? "The answer of a good conscience
toward God".

For one thing, the translation from which I quoted (NKJ-- normally
quite good) is lacking in this instance for a few reasons:

(1) the Greek word EPEROTEMA translated in 1 Pet. 3:21 as "answer" (in
the KJV and NKJ) is a HOPOX LOGOMENON (word which only appears ONCE in the
entire Bible), being variously rendered "interrogation" (ASV), "appeal"
(RSV), "demand" (Darby), "sense" (BBE), and "pledge" (NIV).
(2) EPEROTEMA occurs in the LXX (B.C. Greek translation of the OT)
where it (and the Aramaic from which the Greek LXX of this section of Daniel
was translated) is most often rendered "decision" (Dan. 4:17).
(3) In extra-biblical literature, however, the word EPEROTEMA is not
lacking one bit. Here we must search for its meaning, then take it back to
the Bible to see how it fits. In extra-biblical literature it always refers
to a "declaration" which is made in response to a formal request. In
juridicial texts ites to mean "agreement" or "contract," in the sense of
the "I do" which seals a legally binding agreement. In non-Christian
religious literature of the 2nd cent. A.D., the "declaration" of a deity
when asked for advice is called an EPEROTEMA, the style of request being
formal and the response was likewise binding.

Also the translation "a good conscience toward God" can be improved
upon. In the same book-- different verse-- the word SUNEIDAISEOS
("conscience") has the idea of "awareness" or "mindfulness" toward God (1
Pet. 2:19), and this is it's most basic meaning in the lexicons. Awareness.
The aforementioned word pops up again in 1 Pet. 3:16 concerning maintaining
a proper "awareness" that "Jesus is Lord" (vs. 15). It is not so much
"conscience" as modern people interpret the word-- the seat of self-guilt or
self-acquittal-- but in these contexts it means a "self-awareness" or
"mindfulness" toward God despite the temptation to be distracted by other
stimuli. *Consciousness* vs. conscience.

In light of these findings we can now sum up: baptism is in fact an
active saving agent, being an individual's legally binding response in
answer to a formal question which is done in conscious awareness of God due
to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words, the new covenant entry
ritual. If this be the case, then an infant cannot be baptised as the
sacrament of baptism is the means by which an indivual says "I do" to God to
effect eternal life. It has to involve consciousness of Christ's
resurrection on the part of the "baptizee" (is that a word?). :-)



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