Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 15 No. 1 January 2013
Page 16

Questions and Answers

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Establishment of the Lord’s Church
and Observance of the Lord’s Supper

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis RushmoreHi bro. Louis, I’ve got a question that have bothered us (Komarock South church of Christ). We’ve tried discusions during Bible classes but we have not come to solid conclusion. We were discusing about establishment of Church when these questions were raised. 1. When was Church established? 2. Is Church the same with Kingdom? 3. Does Mark 9:1 support that the kingdom came later after Christ had ascended? 4. Was the promise in Matthew 26:29 fulfilled, and if yes, when? 5. The act of bread breaking in Luke 24:30 by Christ, was it a Lord’s Table or just an act to enable those disciples recoqnize Him? 6. In between the institution of Lord’s Supper and the day of Pentecost, did disciples partake the Lord’s Table? Moffat Kibethi

From Mark 9:1 it is clear that the Lord’s church was not established during the ministry of Jesus Christ, but the words of our Lord indicate when and under what circumstances that the church would be established. “And He said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power’" (Mark 9:1 NKJV). First, the church was not yet established when Jesus uttered these words, and it was to be established within the lifetime of those to whom He was speaking. Second, the church was to be established with power.

The first time that the word “church” appears in the Bible where it refers to something in existence (i.e., not future) is Acts 2:47, “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (emphasis added). Only 50 days since the crucifixion of our Lord, the events of Acts 2 fall well within the lifetime of those to whom Jesus spoke in Mark 9:1. In addition, the baptism of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles in Acts 2:1-4 corresponds to the “power” of which our Lord spoke in Mark 9:1. This event is the same happening addressed by Jesus to His apostles on more than one occasion (John 14:16; 16:13; Luke 27:49; Acts 1:8). Therefore, the church was established in A.D. 33 – nearly 2,000 years ago (in Jerusalem).

One recorded promise of Jesus Christ to establish His church shows Him using the words “church” and “kingdom” interchangeably to refer to the same divine institution. “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19 emphasis added). Likewise, the apostles of Christ also used the words “church” and “kingdom” interchangeably (Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9). Therefore, the Old Testament kingdom prophecies apply to the Lord’s church, which also place its establishment in Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-3) and identify the general historical time when it was to be established – during the Roman Empire (Daniel 2:31-45).

Following the resurrection of Jesus Christ and prior to His Ascension, Jesus ate with His disciples, and they recognized Him (Luke 24:30). That is all that the occasion was; it was not the observance of the Lord’s Supper. In Matthew 26:29, our Lord said that He would not observe the Lord’s Supper with His disciples again until after the establishment of the kingdom. Since the words “church” and “kingdom” refer to the same thing, and since the church was not established until after the Ascension of Christ, Luke 24:30 could not be a fulfillment of Matthew 26:29. The church or kingdom was established after the incident of Luke 24:30. In addition, there is no biblical record of the disciples practicing the Lord’s Supper prior to the establishment of the church.

When, then, did Jesus Christ observe the Lord’s Supper with His disciples as He had promised? First Corinthians 10:16 refers to the Lord’s Supper as the “communion,” which means fellowship or partnership. This “fellowship” includes the Lord’s Supper, but it comprises the whole of Christian interaction with other Christians as well as intercourse between Christians and all three Persons of the Godhead (1 John 1:3). Jesus literally shared the initial Lord’s Supper with His apostles, but subsequently He spiritually participated with the apostles and participates with Christians today in observance of the Lord’s Supper.

Do We Need to Clean
the Foot of God’s Servant?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

John 13:4-17 records Jesus washing the feet of His apostles, which in verse 15 our Lord refers to that occasion as “an example.” The only reason to wash feet then or now is because they become dirty; however, the willingness to wash the feet of another when they are dirty demonstrates humility, which is what Jesus was teaching His apostles in John 13. The apostles were contentious with each other over who was the greatest among the followers of Jesus (Matthew 18:1; Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46; 22:24), and hence, (1) no one on the occasion of John 13 had washed either his own dirty feet, (2) the dirty feet of a fellow apostle or (3) the soiled feet of the Master, Jesus Christ. Our Lord never intended Christians to wash each other’s feet as a church function, but He intended that when He washed the feet of the apostles for that activity to serve as a lesson on humility. Whether serving another person by washing dirty feet or in some other way, Christians ought to demonstrate humility rather than arrogance and haughtiness. When Bible believers elevate washing feet to a church function, they try too hard (go beyond the purpose of John 13:4-17) and miss the point of the “example” of humility (which humility may and should be demonstrated in several ways in our lives).

Can We Lead a Public
Prayer or Publicly Teach or
Preach While Wearing Sandals?

Everyone from Adam in the Garden of Eden, through Abraham and others in Patriarchy and David and others in Judaism, up to and past the first century with Jesus Christ and others, all wore sandals or went barefoot. Hence, they often prayed and taught while wearing sandals. Modern footwear that we know was not available then. However, this was the cultural normalcy for them. The two months annually that I spend in Asian countries teaching and preaching the Gospel, most of the time I am wearing sandals – or barefoot! I adapt to the cultural normalcy of the areas in which I am when engaging in public speaking. However, for the several weeks I spend in a South American country each year teaching and preaching, I always wear closed toe or ordinary shoes – not sandals, because that is the cultural normalcy for public speakers or presenters – irrespective of how remote or primitive the surroundings may be. Likewise, I always wear shoes when attending the assembly of the Lord’s church or speaking in American congregations because that is the cultural normalcy (though some brethren diverge from the general norm for footwear for men under those circumstances).

Another similar example may be insightful. When in Myanmar (formerly Burma), most of the time I wear a longyi (we would call it a skirt!), as do most of the men in that country. However, when in other countries (e.g., Singapore, India, USA), I wear trousers because that conforms to the cultural normalcy of those nations.

Sandals are not sinful of themselves, and shoes are not holy. However, there is no reason not to conform to the cultural normalcy where we are regarding footwear, for instance. Yet, there is no reason to elevate cultural inconsequentialities to the status of religious law. In the interest of Christian congeniality, every Christian ought to be willing to defer to others. These following passages may provide appropriate guidance. “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Galatians 5:15 NKJV). “…[A]void foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all…” (2 Timothy 2:23-24). “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5).

Finally, tenderhearted Christians will not insist on everything that is right for them to do if other Christians will be offended (Romans 14:15-23; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13). Yet, Christians ought not to feign to be who in those contexts are weak, unknowledgeable and conscience bound brethren just to get one’s own way. Conscience pertains to biblical instruction. Whatever does not pertain to biblical instruction – for everyone living today, the New Testament – is a matter of opinion, personal preferences or variable culture.

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