A Borrowed Tomb.

5838 Not too many people can “borrow” a tomb. As far as I know, all but one had to have another tomb just a little later.

As the Passover continues and the body of Jesus lay in the grave through this day, I still have my symbolic blood on my doorpost. Our Christian Passover meal and Fellowship was absolutely wonderful last night. And people driving past my house will see the red on the door until tomorrow.

Every holiday seems to have its own symbols. When we think of Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, or even Halloween, be that as it may. But the real Passover starts with the Lord’s Last Supper with his faithful guys, except for Judas, whom he exposed early on and Judas left the table. So before any symbol of Easter bunnies can show up at my house, we have the red cloth on the door post. Maybe we can start a new way of declaring Easter weekend. I think this really says it all.

Our above picture shows an open door. My wife took that picture, and until I saw her version with the open door, I really hadn’t thought about it. There is a doorway to the Kingdom of God that ONLY the blood of Jesus opens! If you want to try and tell God you have something just as good or better than the blood of his first begotten Son… good luck with that! I wouldn’t touch that with a 1,000 foot pole!

The blood of Christ has opened a door that is eternal, and it is the doorway to an eternal Kingdom. Our modern American Church likes to short-cut the Passover, cram it into one day and celebrate the resurrection more than the death. It short-cuts the Lord’s Supper into something that would not even be a good snack. And the man-made tradition of Lent even prevents a person from having lamb meat on Good Friday, which prevents a Passover meal altogether!

How have we come to such obvious perversions of our Lord’s most sacred mission? The modern church king has no clothes! Laodicea! Shame be on us! May God forgive our total lack of concern and preoccupation with our worldly agendas!

As a good friend of mine likes to say, “traditions of man” won’t get you to heaven, but they can certainly get you to hell. Think about it. Be REAL this Passover. Discover the REAL Jesus. He’s very awesome!

 

“Passover”

20181001_145252 It is the night of the Passover. Jesus came on a mission to teach, sow seed, die, and bring the Kingdom of God to the earth. There is no birthing of the Kingdom of God without some death to the flesh. Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it abides alone, unfruitful, no harvest!

What does the people of God’s Kingdom in earth look like? Study the Beatitudes. Study and understand, take to heart the Sermon on the Mount, and you will know.

Tonight there will be red on the door post of my home as our small Fellowship comes together for a special Lord’s Supper. I hope you have plans to thank the Lord in a special way for his great sacrifice of love.

Jesus walked the red path of his own blood, so we could walk the white path of his own righteousness… and be the people of God, the Kingdom of God in the earth.

Salt & Light.

MAZE IV – Continued.

“A Lord’s Supper Story” – Continued.

“Lock the door! Darkness has fallen! No one else can enter in!” the Elder shouted, and the door was locked.

After this announcement, Bishop Daniel stood before his people and motioned for everyone to settle in, draw close, and pay attention. “Welcome everyone. We’re so glad you are all here, and everyone made it in, because tonight is very special, and perhaps this night is God’s key to it all, as we enter into the Lord’s Supper, and His Table.

“For some of you this is your first “Lord’s Supper” on the Passover date.” The Bishop’s eyes fell for a moment on Daniel and his family, and another family present, before continuing. “Your children will have questions, and you will have the chance to explain very important spiritual truths. But this brings up my first topic of discussion, for a change is coming, and I do not think we are going to be able to stop it.”

If it were not silent before, it was now, as the Bishop had the full attention of every person. Was there news concerning the latest Christian persecution? Whatever it was, from the sound in Bishop Daniel’s voice, it must be of utmost importance. The people waited.

“As you know, this House Church has always followed the teachings of Bishop Polycarp, who was discipled by the Apostle John, and taught to observe the Passover in just the way we have always done it; but changes are coming, and they are not small. The Bishops of Rome have been pressing to go this way for quite some time, but we have steadfastly refused. Now they have their eyes on big buildings, large congregations, a short-form Lord’s Supper, and an Easter celebration that ends on Sunday. With changing tides in the air of Rome, these Bishops see their chance coming. They are pressing for the Bishop of Rome to be the one Pope, a title we have not approved of ourself, but he would become the “Holy See” over all, and all other Bishops would be expected to follow his rule, to maintain unity, or be excommunicated.”

“As you can imagine, this will have many effects, including the eventual loss of the Home Church which is so conducive to the Lord’s Welcoming Table, and a closeness we have always enjoyed. So be aware of these things, and as I now will pray and we begin our meal together, this meal symbolically representing the slaying of a spotless lamb, be sure to share with your brothers and sisters, and we can begin to discuss such things as are coming, and prepare ourselves to know what is right, and do what is pleasing in our Lord’s sight.” With that final statement, Bishop Daniel paused, taking one last look around at the flock, and then bowed his head to pray. This was the prayer of thanksgiving and blessing upon the meal about to be partook.

As usual, the fellowship during this time was rich. It was also a time of checking on the family. Usually, if a family was hurting, it could be detected. It was not just about laughing, hugging, and putting up a good front. It was real. If you were hurting, the family wanted to know. Food was passed around with special note being taken of any who seemed to not have much. But also, added to this night was talk of the changes Bishop Daniel had spoken of, along with reminders of why they were here this night for this purpose. Through the blood of Christ, each person here was safe from the Death Angel. After the meal, they would all partake of the Bread representing the Lord’s body, and the Cup representing his blood.

It was a very solemn occasion. Bishop Daniel took the time to explain how the Lord’s Supper, the Passover meal, was a yearly reminder of Jesus great sacrifice to set us free from our captivity to sin. How it was in the death of the sacrificial lamb that each family was saved from the Death Angel. The Passover meal was all about the Lord’s death on that cross, a people set free, and an evil Pharaoh defeated. Tonight was not about the Lord’s resurrection, but about His great love to embrace our Cross, and now we look at His passion for the world, and we enter that same passion, and that same cross.

If anyone was worried about passing so many hours from sundown to midnight, they should not have been so. So much sharing was accomplished in those hours. Each also reminding each other to try and imagine a real Death Angel flew over those houses that night. This was real! In the middle of the night wailing began being heard from the Egyptians, as they awoke to find loved ones dead! But the houses with blood on the doorposts, forming the sign of the cross even as it was applied, were safe.

Elder Joe also walked around encouraging everyone not to take God’s blessings for granted. God has saved us from an eternal judgement. We start our new year by reminding ourself of the curses of Pharaoh, the death of God’s first born Son, and how serious our life in Christ is. Jesus laid down His life for His Bride, even as God’s Word says a man is to love his wife, and give himself for her, even as Christ gave himself for the Church.

There were times of singing and worship, and times of questions and discussion. The night was passing far too quickly. But finally, Bishop Daniel stood to speak again. “Do not forget,” he began, “that Moses instructed the people to keep their clothes and shoes on, and have their staff nearby, ready to go. God had said they would be thrust out by the Egyptians with haste! And it happened just that way, while it was still dark, they were told to leave now! Before we decide to kill you! And they left with such haste there was no time to even add leaven to their bread! After this Passover meal, the Jews entered seven days of unleavened bread, and it was to always be a part of this Passover feast.

In God’s Word, leaven always represents sin. As we have begun this new year, we have the chance to embrace God’s passion and His glory even more than the year before. Let us get the sin out of our life, and live holy unto our God. As you practice the next seven days of unleavened bread, pray and ponder about these things. I want to thank everyone for coming tonight. As usual, a basket is by the door for free-will offerings. We do have needs in the body, and some were made known here tonight. If God has blessed you with extra, obey God in what you should give. With that said, I will ask Elder Joe to dismiss us, and do not feel you have to rush out of here like the Israelites had to. A better sacrifice has been made for us than the blood of any animal, and we rejoice in our High Priest Jesus tonight, and we do remember his death, until He returns. Amen.

Then the Bishop gave the Elder a nod, and a final prayer was prayed. Everyone gave hugs and slowly made their way out into the night. Some families walking together until paths parted with final hugs and handshakes.

Eli felt such a peace inside as he stared up into the night sky, with his little family. Another whole year laid ahead of them now, but he felt very good about the way they had started it. In the years to come, his children would grow up, and House Church would be just a memory for them. They would speak of the closeness they once had. They would question the direction of the current Church, but for the sake of unity they would continue on…until they did not…until such a darkness was upon them that no other choice was possible…and many would be the splinters of the church…and many the cold stone buildings…short-form Lord’s Suppers…and lack of knowing your brother and sister…even to the point of many falling through cracks no one spoke of.

The End

I hope this short story helped. So much more could have been written as far as the many ways those hours from sunset to midnight could have been passed, in which the time would fly. Also, the many things which could be taught from both the Passover in Moses day and the comparisons to what Passover includes for us today. This story was only meant to give a glimpse of the possibilities. To cover it all would require a book.

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Church History & The MAZE IV

20171202_173614 I’ve decided before giving you more quotes from experts and also early church fathers, that perhaps the best way for us to get a real feel about the importance of this, is to simply attempt writing what an early day Christian would have experienced in their Passover/Easter meal, and hopefully, how it might have affected them. An effect, I might add, we’re not getting today. So…here we go!

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“A Lord’s Supper Story”

As Eli walked home from his carpenter’s job, he couldn’t help but be a little excited. This was a special day, the beginning of Passover! This was the first year he and his little family would be celebrating it in the Christian way! He had even left work a little early, on this Friday, so he could get ready. The service would start promptly at sundown, and once inside the door of their House Church, no one was to leave until midnight! Because according to the teachings of Moses, they were to always remember this night, and when their children would ask questions about what they were doing, they were to explain everything to them, about the slavery of Egypt, and the night the Death Angel flew over!

This was the 13th day of Nisan, and a Jewish day always started at sundown, not midnight, or sunrise. For with God, as revealed in the creation story of Genesis, God’s days always go from the time of least light to greater and greater growing light. The path of the just shine brighter and brighter unto the perfect day, Eli quoted to himself as he walked.

So at sundown today it would become the 14th day of Nisan, and Nisan being the first month of the Jewish calendar, because God established it so in that time with Moses. God had actually made the month of Nisan their first month of the year, evidently to impress how important all this was.

Eli began running through his mind what had been happening with his forefathers in the days proceeding the 14th. He did not know exactly how many days the battle with Pharaoh and all the ten plagues had taken, but surely at least those first fourteen days had been filled with curse upon curse, and challenges of magicians, some curses even affecting the Jewish camps, before God began to show a difference. With this in mind, he understood that every new year, for the Jew, was a reminder of God’s battle with Pharaoh, and the great deliverance from slavery. This was how each new year started for them.

What must that have been like? All you have known is slavery to Egypt your whole life, and now this Moses shows up and begins a fight with Pharaoh. He says it is God. Yes, it would be nice to be free, but what if we all just end up dead? And so far, things have only gotten worse for us! “Hhmmm,” Eli ponders, “what must they have been feeling?” But finally Moses seems to think an end is drawing near, and everyone is to sacrifice a lamb for their family, put the blood on their doorpost, and seal themselves in the house, even while they are dressed and ready to leave on a moments notice! “Wow,” he thinks again, “What must that have been like?”

Eli knows when he gets home his wife will already have their food mostly ready to go. Their House Church did the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis, and it was known as the “Welcoming Table”. But this particular Welcoming Table only came once a year, the actual day of Passover, and the House Bishop, Daniel, would be sure to make it extra special. Tonight, they would not be leaving church until midnight. And then would begin the seven days of unleavened bread.

As Daniel entered the door of his small home, his two children ran to his arms all excited. “Daddy daddy! Mommy says we have church tonight? Will we get to see Bishop Daniel?” his daughter of ten asked. He had two children, one daughter, Emily, ten years old; and a son, Mark, eight years old.

“Yes children, we will all get to see Bishop Daniel tonight, and your other friends will be there too. This is a very special night. You will hear a great and exciting story! But run along and play now, because daddy needs to get ready.

“Okay, daddy!” and away they went. Mommy stepped closer and they shared a hug. “Everything is almost done. We have enough to share with a few. I’m especially thinking about the Abbot family. Lets be sure to check on them first, okay?”

“Sounds good. I should be ready in just a few.”

Daniel was true to his words and before they knew it they were approaching the door of the House Church, and much to their surprise, someone had painted red on the doorposts! “Daddy look at that!” Emily shouted and pointed. She was always the first to react, while Mark was more contemplative before reacting. “What is that? It’s just smeared on there, daddy! It don’t even look right. Did someone hurt Bishop Daniel’s house?”

Eli and his wife, Sarah, paused at the door and gave each other a look. “You want to answer this one, dear?” Sarah said.

Eli handed the basket of food to his wife, then knelt down on one knee and gathered his children close. “This is part of the story you are going to hear tonight,” he began explaining. “So make sure you pay very close attention, okay? And after Bishop Daniel tells the story, we will talk more of this.”

The children became even more excited once they knew this was part of “The Story” they would hear tonight.

“Why don’t you and the kids head on in,” Eli suggested, “I want to take a moment to breathe the air. Its been a busy day.”

Sarah understood, gathered the children and headed in as Eli opened the door, but then closing it behind them, he stepped back out into what was left of the sunlight. The sun was just beginning to set. It was likely that other families were still trying to get here before the sun went down. He looked back at the red on the door, representing the blood of the lamb that had been slain, because Moses had said…that God said…when I see the blood, I will Passover you.

It was hard to take his eyes off that blood. I bet if any Egyptians saw the Jewish homes with blood smeared on the doors, they probably thought what in the world? Such a gross people! What kind of gods do they serve? Although some had begun to respect this God of Moses, because of the curses. Eli knew that many Romans did not understand their God today, any more than the Egyptians did then. God’s people have always been misunderstood by the world. Even to the point of being persecuted, and those doing the persecuting believing they were doing the work of God!

He was still outside the door. If he stayed out there his family would not have been safe that night, nor any of his livestock. His first born son, and also of livestock, would die as the Death Angel passed over. He needed to walk through that door if he and his family would be saved. And it had to be one of these doors. A door with the blood on it. The Egyptians who did not believe, would have doors with no blood, and their house would be no safer than if they were outside in the elements. But because this door was marked with the blood of a spotless lamb, as long as they were in this house, and did not come out until summoned, they would be safe.

Eli turned and looked at the sinking sun again. Darkness was on the way. The Death Angel waiting his appointed time. There would be great wailing of the lost tonight. His children would learn this story and what it all means, but first there would be intimate fellowship, around a meal, just like the Lord had with his family that night. And those who had more would share with those who had less. And by the food they bring, it would be known who had more, and who had need. A special offering would be taken at end of service, and those having plenty would have a chance to give; and to be given to those with less.

Eli saw two families on there way to the door. With a big smile he greeted them, and as they entered, so did he. Once entering this door, he was not to come back out until the summoning.

Bishop Daniel was carefully greeting everyone, and also explaining that Elder Joe was stationed at a window watching the sun, and as soon as it dropped, the official service would begin, which meant the Lord’s Supper begins!

The food was not placed on one big table, like a pitch in, but each family kept their own, and it was up to them to share. The children especially loved taking things around and sharing with others. It was not merely to those who lacked, but it was also a sharing of special things. If someone had a special recipe, or an excellent wine, the family could share with whomever they desired. This also meant a family could be selfish, but with as much teaching as Bishop Daniel did concerning the “love of God”, and the Lord’s cross, this was rarely an issue. God’s people loved the chance to share, even if they ended up a little shorted compared to someone else. But the Fellowship worked hard at making sure everyone had plenty.

“It’s getting close!” Elder Joe shouted from the window. “Is everyone here?”

“I believe so!” Shepherd Daniel shouted back. “Everyone is in the safety of God’s House!”

“Darkness is coming!” Elder Joe shouted.

“Let it come!” Bishop Daniel answered back. “We are the people of God. We are the people of His light! We are safe in his family, in his light, and in his blood! And everyone says?”

“Amen!” People shouted. And children looked to their parents with questions on their little faces.

Little Mark tugged at his daddy’s sleeve and asked, “Are we to be afraid of the dark, daddy?”

“No my son. Jesus has saved us from the monsters of the darkness. See how we are safe in this House? And because of ‘The Story’ you will hear tonight, you will never need to be afraid of the darkness, no matter where you go, if you have Jesus in your heart.”

Little Mark thought for a moment, and then said, “I like that, daddy. I will keep Jesus very close in my heart, so I never need to be afraid of monsters.”

“Amen, my son. Amen!” And with that, Eli scooped up both his children and gave them a hug.

“Lock the door!” Elder Joe shouted. “No one else can come in! The sun has set, and the darkness is upon us!”

“To be continued.”

 

Church History & The MAZE III

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This is the best picture I could get of this diagram. I’ll try to explain it some as we do a quick review of some major points before we dig into the Lord’s Supper itself. Starting at far left center, this diagram shows 2 House Churches, the one at Smyrna under Bishop Polycarp who trained under Apostle John. 2nd church, the House Church at Rome which they trace back to Apostle Peter. We see these 2 churches begin flowing forward in time, and they are in unity, “one church” as far as theology goes. At this time there is no High Pope or Holy See in Rome. Each House Church has their own Bishop, and that Bishop’s flock answers to, and follows him, as he follows Christ, the Word of God.

The word “catholic” itself was a word that meant “all-inclusive” or “universal”. It was not the name of the church! It simply meant anyone could get saved. It did not matter if you were slave or free, male or female, Gentile or Jew, any color, any language, salvation was for one and all. They were originally called “The Way”, and then “Christians”. But calling the church “The Catholic Church” comes way later. And then the “Orthodox” split away at 1054 A.D., so you could say the one title didn’t last long.

Now during this time persecutions pop up here and there, some worse than others, but as far as church unity, things seem to flow pretty good until the 6th Bishop of Rome. He puts out a few new rules and seems to be trying to flex some muscle. He seems to refer to himself as Holy See, and we quoted his writing on this in the previous article if you like to see it. But the churches desire unity almost above all else, and the Bishop of Smyrna, still being Polycarp, who had a very long life, goes along with things until a change to Passover/Easter/Lord’s Supper is spoken of by Rome. That seems to be a bridge too far for Polycarp!

It first appears with Bishop Telespuorus (125-136 A.D.). At this point Bishop Polycarp begins his defense of how they were taught by the Apostles to do it this way, and they would not be changing. Churches developing in the area of Smyrna agree with Polycarp, and they become the Asia Minor Churches. So the battle has begun, starting around 125-136 A.D.. Obviously, Rome is not the Holy See, the say all to end all to Polycarp, or the other Asia Minor Churches.

Bishop Polycarp is martyred around 155 A.D., and all this time the Bishops of Rome have still wanted all the churches to change to their way. However, for the sake of unity, they allow it. Until, Bishop Victor I. He puts his foot down in a big way! He wants to force the issue! He cuts communication with the Asia Minor Churches! This is somewhere in 189-199 A.D., and there is still no title of Pope, and he still can’t pull it off. And note, we are still in House Churches.

But early 3rd century, (205 A.D.?), for some odd reason, “ALL” the Bishops can be referred to as Pope! Not just Rome Bishops, but all Bishops. I don’t know the details on this, but now the title is coming into use.

It appears that House Churches under their own personal Bishop, with no Holy See they recognize, is the rule until at least 250 A.D., and probably even later. But past that point, things begin to change. At end of 3rd century, somehow, the title Pope now “only” applies to the Bishop at Rome. And somewhere as time goes along, they decide to “back date” that title of Pope to all the earlier Bishops of Rome, even unto Peter! How convenient for them. Did they ask the Apostle Peter if he wanted such a title?

Next big event is Roman Emperor Constantine gives favor to the Christian Church. The influence of this pagan Emperor causes huge change in the church. No “pagan” should be allowed such influence in God’s House! The Bishop of Rome gains even more power and is now able to force his way. House Churches become a thing of the past. Easter is all about Sunday. The Lord’s Supper has become something far from the simple home table, to all kinds of ritual, ceremony, and pomp. And as they say, the rest is history, folks. Now here we are today. And how much of the way your church does the Lord’s Supper has been affected by these Catholic decisions? You say none? You might be very surprised.

When I left my last modern day church, I became very curious about the early church, and I began to wonder why my many Pastors had never taught much on them? Were they afraid to? Did they think it might cause more problems than good? Were they afraid of questions concerning changes that have been made? Are they trying to hide something? Or are they just ignorant, like I was? All good questions. You choose the one you like best. But now, if you will forgive me for once again going way beyond 1000 words, I’ll try to at least open up this issue concerning the Lord’s Supper.

Apparently, various forms of fasting had been developed leading up to the Easter or Passover event. Polycarp had been specifically instructed by the Apostles to end the fasting on the same day the Jews did, in order to have the Passover meal, just as Christ did in that upper room. And for some reason, he had been taught this was very important. Do not change!

Evidently, Rome did not know that reason, or disagreed on the point, because obviously the Jews do not celebrate any resurrection of Christ, but we do. So Rome decided the fasting needed to continue till Sunday. The resurrection/ Easter, was to always be celebrated on Sunday. This was the important day and important event. Hhmmm. Wow. Yes…how can you have a Passover meal if you’re still fasting?

Is this really an important point? Well, I have become convinced it is, and for many reasons. Some of these reasons I would even blame for the lack of sacrifice in our modern churches today. Consider this scripture>

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” (I Cor. 11:26)

Okay, why is this so important? This only “begins” to open the importance of the Lord’s Supper. It touches on everything from the fact we left the Table Setting in the Home, and our form of the Supper misses the opportunity for “family”, and an opportunity for “giving to the poor”, and it puts the emphasis on His resurrection more than His “death”! It brings us together to the empty tomb, more than His Cross! And the fact the modern church has become so materialistic and worldly, we do not even know what it means to embrace a cross the way our brothers and sisters in hostile lands do. IT IS THAT CROSS WE NEED TO SEE IF WE EVER HOPE TO ACHIEVE THE RESURRECTION IN OUR OWN LIFE! THE RESURRECTION HAS NO BENEFIT TO ME IF I FAIL TO EMBRACE MY OWN CROSS! IF YOU PRAY ABOUT THIS, I BELIEVE YOU WILL BEGIN TO SEE IT IS NOT A SMALL THING, AND HOW IMPORTANT IT REALLY IS. (And this is only the beginning of opening this up. The Lord’s Supper in the early church was special in many many many ways. Details that will need to wait for the next article.)

As we have said, taking the emphasis off a Home Table and into a stone Temple, and removing the emphasis of the Cross to the resurrection and colored eggs. The Cross is a picture of God’s love for us, and a picture of our love for Him, but we have shifted from Cross (Rom. 12:1-2) to empty grave, and from Table to Temple. Unless we are willing to have an open mind and truly ponder these things, we do not realize how big the effect has been on us. Jesus himself said, do this in remembrance of my “death”. It’s not meant to be a party, until after his death has been truly remembered. The early church knew how to do that. Then it becomes a celebration at the resurrection.

(Special note: I’m still exploring this, but some things I have read seem to indicate the early church fathers did not consider a person truly born-again until the day of resurrection. If that is the case, then truly, like Paul did not want to end up a “castaway”, we should not count our chickens before they are hatched! In other words, embrace the Cross for all it means, for we do not yet know if we will be faithful until the end! Just more food for thought.)

So…I have one last diagram for you. Maybe it will help you to see things even more clear. But logically speaking, I see the point Rome was trying to make. For us, the Passover is different than for the Jews, in that we have a grave and a resurrection. However, in the Spirit, many things have to be more spiritually discerned than logically. When viewed from the perspective of the Kingdom of God, many times these things do make logical sense, but only when viewed from there. So here is the diagram, and more coming soon.

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