Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Breaking Down Communion as Worship

Breaking down Hebrews 10:19-22 in three points:

Opening Question: Communion - How do most perceive the word/action?
Opening Answer: Commemorating, remembrance, conviction + repentance, etc.

Commonly overlooked element: Worship (see note on #3)

1) v. 19 - "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus..." (KJV)

Boldness in Greek implies freedom-based assurance. The key is realizing such freedom stems from sanctification, a vertical displacement from sin on route to holiness. Sanctification, at its core, involves divine separation.

Symbolic representation: the split veil

2) v. 20 - "By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through [that] veil, that is to say, his flesh..." (KJV)

Communion leads to a consecration before God in acknowledging Christ's death in relation to both personal and corporate sin. Similarly to God's love initiative to man, the Cross was His sanctifying drive, His precedented pursuit for our salvation. In other words, God consecrated to us first (through the broken body of Christ), before we could consecrate back to him. God is always ahead of man's game plan, and communion testifies to this truth.

3) v. 22 - "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water..." (KJV)

The first four words of this verse indicate a full-hearted worship posture. "Full assurance of faith" can be interpreted as a reference back to the boldness charge in v. 19. Confidence in Christ's priesthood (perfected by proactive consecration) is portrayed with much inspiring positivity.

But why? Sanctification!

The term "sprinkled" punches the "set apart" theme. God's plan of holy substitution is designed to further remove us from wrongful intentions and immoral motives AND so that we may experience higher levels of purification and cleansing (byproducts from consecrating back to the Lord when we approach His table during communion).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oh, You of What Faith!?!

My latest lesson with LEGACYouth took on a new facet/attribute of God's character, due in part to a solid hook I noted from analyzing both 'Jesus vs. sea' accounts in Matthew 8:23-27 and Matthew 14:22-36.

The first account has Jesus in the fishing boat when calming the mighty Sea of Galilee, the latter has him out walking ON the same body of water, intending to pass his disciples by!

Now I'm not here to repeat a history lesson, for I'm sure most of you know what takes place in each story. However, the key passage I want to harp on momentarily is the legendary Jesus line: "Oh, you of LITTLE faith."

Some translations, discussion boards, and documentaries shed false light on this trademark line by referring Jesus' words as Oh, you of NO faith."

But it's important to recognize the difference between "no" and "little" here. I feel distinguishing the difference can open the door for both accounts to be seen on a higher playing field of overall comprehension.

When I have read through these Scriptures in the past, I have imagined Jesus being somewhat condescending when speaking to His disciples. But Jesus is not scolding their faith as compared to recognizing and challenging it.

His approach is actually more tender and compassionate, though it understandably may not rub off that way.

When Jesus takes the hand of sinking Peter and speaks to him, He's not mocking or belittling him in that moment. In a backhand way, Jesus is actually giving him a backdoor compliment. Reading between the lines and applying imagination, you can almost see God giving Peter a 'love-tap' on the behind (as if in a congratulatory way) before pulling him aside to offer constructive criticism (Sorry, just had to prove a sports illustration there).

The truth is Jesus saw significant faith potential in Peter and his disciples. If they had 'no faith', what's the point then of Jesus even talking to them? In both cases, we see the brilliance of Jesus displayed as He sets up both scenarios to feed His chosen men one of many documented faith lessons.

Jesus would not have called His disciples if they had no faith. He had to choose those who possessed at least some, even if the amount pushed close to virtually null. Jesus knew if He could muster up 'fishers of men' who owned even a mere mustard seed of faith, then growth, budding, fruitfulness could eventually take place.

So while many dwell on Jesus' divine and miraculous intervention, pulling out the ace of power on his nerve-wracked men, perhaps the greatest development in these accounts takes place in the disciples' hearts as Jesus sought to expose their hearts and faith levels so they could be motivated to step up and increase their faith gauges.