Based on the current practices and beliefs of many religious groups today, the idea of corn beef, cabbage, and Dr. Pepper served on the Lord’s Table should not be offensive. After all, many of these people have no problem incorporating their opinions into other areas of worship and theology, so why not the Lord’s Supper?
Today, I want to look at the Lords supper and what the scriptures teach about how a Christian is to partake. Additionally, we will look at how many people who claim to be Christians actually pervert the Lord’s Supper by observing it in their own way. If their manner of taking or not taking the Lord’s Supper is acceptable, then so is Corn beef and Cabbage as a memorial of His sacrifice!
First, let’s ask the question “what does the Lord’s Supper consist of according to the Scriptures? According to the New Testament, bread is one ingredient. But this is not just any kind of bread!
1 Corinthians 11:24 (KJV) And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Matthew 26:17 (KJV) Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?
From the previous verses we see that unleavened bread is what was used by Christ when he instituted the Lord’s Supper. First we see the command to partake, and then we see that it was unleavened bread. The pattern has been set. If we are not willing to abide by the pattern, then corn beef and cabbage would be an adequate substitution. However, many groups today use leavened bread, which is not authorized in the scriptures. There is no such thing as partial faithfulness or “close enough”. One who disobeys even in the smallest of matters is still disobedient. Many say things like this do not matter. Consider Nadab and Abihu, which did not worship as they were instructed. Leviticus 10:1 (KJV) And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. There are no small matters when it comes to obedience.
The next item included in the Lord ’s Supper is “Fruit of the Vine”. Matthew 26:27-28 (KJV) 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
It is my belief that the “fruit of the vine” was not fermented for a number of reasons. One reason is that a common method for producing the common beverage of grape juice based drink was to use a grape paste (concentrated and preserved) and mixed with water for their everyday drink. This beverage would have been heavily watered down and would not have fermented easily, especially in the case where it was made fresh and drank immediately. Next, notice all the verses which discuss the beverage for the Lord’s supper. All of the verses related to the Lord’s supper refer to the beverage as fruit of vine (Math 26:29, Mark 14:25, Luke 22:18, John 15:4). Notice that it is not called “οἶνος”, which means wine, but rather it is called “γέννημα της ἄμπελος” which is translated “fruit of the vine”. Clearly, the inspired Scriptures wanted to show these two are not the same. Furthermore, as we noticed earlier, no leaven was allowed in the house. Exodus 12:15 (KJV) Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. Based on the information above, as well as other information that this article will not include due to space, unfermented grape juice was the contents of “the cup”. Any alteration from this pattern would not be allowed. If using “οἶνος” which means wine was acceptable, the scriptures would have specifically used those words. If one is not going to follow the pattern, then Dr. Pepper is an adequate substitute.
Another area in which many people pervert the Lord’s Supper is by not taking it according to the pattern taught by the Apostles in the New Testament. First, let’s notice the command again to partake of the Lord’s Supper.
1 Corinthians 11:24-25 (KJV) 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
Acts 20:5-7 (KJV) 5 These going before tarried for us at Troas. 6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. 7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
First, it is VERY clear that they were partaking on the first day of the week (Sunday). We see that Paul arrived on Monday (He missed worship), and then stayed 7 days to worship with them, and left the next day (Monday). We see that one of the primary reasons they came together on the first day was to “Break bread”. McGarvey said “That such was an established custom in the Churches is implied in a rebuke administered by Paul to the Church at Corinth, in which he says: "When you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's supper." Now, for this they would not have deserved censure, had it not been that to eat the Lord's supper was the proper object of their assemblage. These facts are sufficient to establish the conclusion that the main object of the Lord's-day meeting was to break the loaf”. Yet, many People today reject New Testament teaching by not taking weekly, but instead monthly, quarterly, on special occasions, or any day other than the first day (Sunday).
If the teachings of the New Testament are not authoritative and do not set a pattern that we as Christians should follow, then corn beef, cabbage, and Dr. Pepper are a perfect alternative and can be partaken as a part of the worship service. Yet, a few verses come to mind.
Luke 6:46 (KJV) And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
1Cor 4:6 (ASV) Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written; that no one of you be puffed up for the one against the other.
The Lord commanded us to partake in the Lord’s Supper and the pattern was set for us through the inspired writers of the New Testament. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV) 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
By Shawn Bogemann
All too often today people make the claim that the Holy Spirit “spoke” to them, or that He came to them in their dreams, or that He revealed himself to them in some fashion. First, It is easy to make a claim when another person can’t verify the claim. Second, the claim contradicts scripture. After making that statement, some people are thinking “So you are saying the Holy Spirit does not speak to us”? Well, not like many people claim. The Holy Spirit only speaks to us through the written word which we call the Bible. The Old Testament and New Testament were recorded for us by men who had inspiration, and when the revelation was complete, ending with the completion of the New Testament, there was nothing left to reveal. Since there is nothing left to reveal, the Holy Spirit has no need to speak to a person directly today. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit gave revelation to the Apostles. John 15:26-27 (KJV) 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. Not only did the Holy Spirit speak to the apostles, he brought back the memories of all things that Jesus taught them: John 16:12-14 (KJV) 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
We see that what Jesus prophesied did come to pass, and the apostles did receive the Spirit as recorded in Acts Chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles in the form of inspired revelation and the ability to perform miracles and give miraculous gifts, and they delivered the teachings which needed to be recorded. Paul confirms this in 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 (KJV) 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
What does all that have to do with today and how the Holy Spirit interacts with us? People all over this nation are claiming the Holy Spirit or God spoke to them, gave them a sign, or is in some way interacting with them. This Holy Spirit was never promised to be in communication with us today. Jude 1:3 (KJV) Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Notice that Jude says this “faith” was once (already) delivered to the saints, and thus there is no need for further revelation on any matter. Miraculous events which were so prevalent in the first century no longer occur, and this involves the Holy Spirit working apart from the Word of God. Consider 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (KJV) 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. Paul says Love never fails, but prophecy (revelation from God) and tongues (miraculous events) will cease. Paul says further, for we know in part (receive revelation in part) and we prophesy in part (give prophecy in part), but this will all quit when that “which is perfect is come”. The question now is what is the “perfect” thing which Paul is talking about? That word perfect (τέλειος) in the Greek means “Complete”. The answer is seen in James 1:25 (KJV) But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. A true scholar of the scriptures will see that the “perfect” or “complete” which Paul is talking about is the completed “Law of Liberty”, or as we refer to it today the New Testament. The miraculous events which took place in the first century, including revelation from the Spirit ended when the completed nNew Testament came into effect and all the Apostles and those with Gifts died. Acts 19:6 (KJV) And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. There are no longer Apostles walking on this earth to lay hands on believers to give them the ability to do the miraculous, and this includes the ability to receive or give prophecy.
1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJV) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. I think most would agree, as well as Scriptures teaches, that God would not do something that causes confusion. So let’s now apply common sense. We have those of all faiths, such as Catholicism, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostalism, Presbyterian, Lutheranism, and many others who attend “community churches” which claim that the Holy Ghost is speaking to them or giving them signs. Now the common sense must be applied to the scriptures above. These people all believe different things and are not in any type of unity. Which one is God or the Holy Spirit talking to? Why would he tell different people who believe different things different doctrines or different methods of salvation? Clearly, a God who is “not the author of confusion”, would not do this! Our God is a God of order and unity. Therefore, he gave one inspired message which should bring us to salvation and should lead our daily lives. That message is the completed New Testament!
God desires for all Christians to obey the Great Commission, and for us to go out and “grow” other Christians through the teaching of the Gospel. That is the only way the Holy Spirit speaks to us today. Romans 10:17 (KJV) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The word of God for us today, the completed New Testament, is completed and needs no further additions or revelations from God. This would include private revelations from God himself, and the Scriptures show Hehas never spoken in secret.
Isaiah 45:19 (KJV) I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
Isaiah 48:16 (KJV) Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.
God is not the author of confusion and does not speak contradicting statements to us in secret today! If he did, how would anyone know whether they are righteous or saved? But we can know we are righteous and saved! We can know this because the author of salvation, who is not the author of confusion, has revealed it once and for all in the completed New Testament!
Believe - John 8:24 (KJV) I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Repent of your sins - Acts 17:30 (KJV) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Confess Christ as the Messiah – Luke 12:8 (KJV) Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:
Be baptized by immersion for the remission of sins – Acts 2:38 (KJV) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And Mark 16:16 (KJV) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Remain Faithful - 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (KJV) 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Repent of your sins to remain righteous – 1 John 1:9 (KJV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
By Shawn Bogemann
Last week we studied the 10 characteristics set forth by the ICSA on what makes a cult and we saw that the church of Christ, the church belonging to Christ (Acts 20:28) and established by Him (Matthew 16:18), is not a cult (Click here for that article). From that article we have received a number of comments and questions from our readers so it was decided that the idea of cults would be a theme for the next few weeks on my blog here at Only Hope Publications.
First off, let's see that list again from the ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association):
Now, let's look a belief that some don't believe to even be a religion, but in actuality it is, Atheism, a religion making up about %10 of America according to Wikipedia. So, let's break it down...
What does all this mean? It means two things; that the religion of Atheism does align with the points set forth by the ICSA and that, given the right parameters, anything call "technically" be called a cult. But, like we saw in last week's article, just because you call something a cult doesn't mean it actually is. I doubt many people would be willing to actually claim the religion of Atheism is in fact a cult, a false religion founded upon the ideas of men but not a cult.
Jesus set forth the concept plainly in Matthew 7:21-23, just because a name is claimed doesn't make it true! Atheism is a false religion, but it isn't a cult even though it matches the 10 characteristics very closely.
While we clearly showed that the church of Christ does not meet the guidelines for cultic behavior, it doesn't really matter if someone calls it a "cult" or not because that word is very subjective in nature and doesn't do a single thing but demonize the group under question.
By Lee Snow
Recently, the many denominational groups which were varied in belief and doctrine, but in agreement on utilizing “men’s doctrines” as part of their teachings, have started to decline in attendance. Although I am opposed to any religious group which adds their own laws and rules in addition to the bible, we now have “churches” which do the same thing but in an independent manner, utilizing those who have left the fading denominational groups under the disguise of “non-denominational”, “inter-denominational, or “un-denominational”. These groups, which often call themselves “community churches” are a make-up of believers comprised from Catholicism, Baptist, Pentecostalism, Methodism, Presbyterianism, etc., and often utilize mottos such as “We major on the majors and minor on the minors”. There is no unity amongst a group comprised of different beliefs and mottos such as this.
Here is the problem. We are commanded to have unity, and there are no such things as “minor” beliefs or doctrines when it comes to the Christian Faith. Let’s look first at the problem of unity with such a group of “believers”. I can already hear the murmuring of many people reading this article who attend congregations like this, so let’s look at this both logically and scripturally. One of the definitions of Unity is this: “The state or quality of being one; singleness”. Therefore, for Christians to be in unity in the assembly, we must have the quality of “singleness” in doctrine and beliefs. Another definition listed in the same dictionary was “the state or quality of being in accord; harmony”. Again, for Christians to be in unity we must have the quality of being in one accord (mind). This means our minds should agree on doctrinal beliefs. Therefore, if two people do not have the quality of “singleness” or “one mind” on doctrine, there is absolutely positively no way they can be in unity. Therefore, if they are worshiping together the congregation is not in unity. This is exactly what we see taking place in the “community churches. They have been told this is perfectly acceptable, but they have become a “community of the deceived”.
Many reading this are now saying your opinion and a few definitions from the dictionary mean nothing. I agree with you. Ephesians 4:4-6 (KJV) 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. This one body Paul mentioned is the church. Have you ever wondered why the church is always described as singular, and is singular in the Greek? Paul is talking about unity of organization and one scripturally organized group of believers. Neither Christ nor Paul ever conceived of a group of people who claimed to be Christians but all believed different things!
My friend mentioned the other day something an older preacher said, and I would like to repeat it to make you think. If someone asked a Christian in the first century which denomination they belonged to, or to which theology they held, they would have looked at them like they were crazy. There was only one group of people who called themselves Christians and only one theology! That’s because they were under one head. Ephesians 1:20-23 (KJV) 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. Many try to misuse this verse and say all “denominations” or “believers” make up the church. This is a flat out lie and is not supported by the scriptures anywhere. Once again, this lie has led to many becoming deceived. It is not because those who attend community churches are not sincere. They are sincere, but have been sincerely deceived. Paul Says this group is singularly the church. Therefore it is one specified body, and not many bodies or groups of believers in one location.
Colossians 1:18-20 (KJV) 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. The churches one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord and all things done in this “body” are in alignment with his Word. However, how can all things be done according to His Word when many different people have many different ideas about what is allowed in the body?
Notice that this “ONE” body has many believers. However, let me mention again that Paul is not talking about denominations. Look again at 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (KJV) 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. Paul says we are “one body”… “so also is Christ”. Is Christ divided? Absolutely not, and neither can we be.
Look again at Ephesians 4:5 (KJV) “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” How is it possible to place former Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, and other religious groups which still hold to many of their former teachings, and call them “believers in ONE FAITH”. It is not possible!
As I mentioned at the very beginning there are no “minors” when it comes to the faith. Jesus said Luke 6:46 (KJV) And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? All commandments in the New Testament, whether from Christ Himself, or His Inspired Apostles are equally authoritative. Let me give just one example. Many in the “community churches” have different thoughts on when and how often to take the Lord’s Supper. However, we have clear example set forth in the New Testament of when this is to be done. Consider Acts 20:7 (KJV) And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. Jesus commanded us to partake in the Lord’s supper in Luke 22:19 (KJV) 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. We then see that according to Acts 20:7 that the disciples always came together upon the first day of the week to break bread. Let me ask a question. How many weeks have a first day? What day is the first day? Therefore we see that by a binding example Christians always took communion on the first day (Sunday) of the week, EVERY WEEK! Furthermore, this is the only day of the week recorded in the New Testament for the taking of the Lord’s Supper. Yet, we find congregations which take it bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, during weekdays, or just on special occasions. All of the days just mentioned are not authorized in the new Testament. Many reading this may say that just because it does not mention not to do it does not mean it is not authorized. Well, let me address it with another example. Mark 14:22-23 (KJV) 22 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. 23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. We easily understand binding examples when it fits out taste and desires of worship, but refuse it when it doesn’t coincide with our opinions. Based on Mark 14:22-23, would you participate in the Lord’s Supper if it was done with a “Double Quarter Pounder, fries, and coke”? Most would be appalled and disgusted at the thought of modifying the original intent and binding example of the Lord’s supper! That same appalling and disgusting behavior is being done in both denominational churches and community churches. How can one “major on the majors and minor on the minors”, when there is no such thing as a minor “command, doctrine, or binding example”
Because we must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and because we must be united in doctrine and belief (Eph 4:5, Eph 4:13), I cannot condone denominationalism, inter-denominational, non-denominationalism, or un-denominationalism. I preach and teach pre-denominationalism. This is what the Bible teaches and was the only belief of early Christians. Unfortunately, men came along with their own opinions and added their own teachings and “ways of doing things”. This departure has lead to denominationalism which is now turning into a “community of the deceived”. I hope you would take a look at the beliefs and teachings of a group of believers which teach nothing but the bible. Romans 16:16 (KJV) “…The churches of Christ salute you”.
By Shawn Bogemann
Our present day society loves to "connect". We have Twitters, Facebooks, Plus Accounts, Text Messages, HeyTells, FaceTime, etc. It is probably safe to say that we are the most "connected" society in the history of man given our technological advances. However, are the "connections" really there, or are they superficial, surface, and unsatisfying? Some would argue that although we are "plugged in", we are lacking the true connectivity that we desire and yearn for- and yes, we all yearn for connectivity. Salimbene di Adam wrote of an experiment that was ordered by the medieval monarch Frederick II where infants were not spoken to or prattled with in an attempt to find the "innate language" that would be first spoken by the babes. According to the record, these babies did not live as a result of this experiment (1). Interaction and connectivity are needful for mankind; however, even if it is available via interpersonal relationships or relationships that are established and maintained via electronic advances, there is only one type of "connection" that will bring true and complete satisfaction: connection with God.
Hunger And Thirst After Righteousness
A connection with God through His word (cf. 2 John 9) will result in the satisfaction for man's inner longings. Jesus stated in Matt 5:6, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." What is righteousness? Psalm 119:172 explains that "all thy commandments are righteousness." Connectivity with God's commandments through a desire (hunger and thirst) to know and keep them yields contentment and inner satisfaction for man. However, Jesus likewise commanded that an heavenly institution be sought along with God's commandments.
Seek Ye First The Kingdom Of Heaven
Matt 6:33 states, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." As righteousness is to be sought, God's kingdom is to be pursued as well. The kingdom of God is that which the Colossian brethren had been translated into via the blood of Christ (cf. Col 1:13-14), it is that which John stated he was "in" while he wrote Rev 1:9, and it is that which Christ is King over (cf. 1 Tim 6:15). This kingdom is the church which Jesus built (cf. Matt 16:18-19) and it is the spiritual house where Christians reside (cf. Acts 2:47; 1 Tim 3:15). If true, yearned for connectivity is going to be found, it will be found by seeking God's righteousness, the glorification of His kingdom, and the people that make up His kingdom. Such connectivity between fellow citizens of God's kingdom is Biblically named fellowship.
This word fellowship means to share with others and to receive from others in anything via intimate and joint participation (2). Christians jointly participate in the gospel (cf. Phil 1:5) and since the very founding of the church have continued steadfastly in such fellowship (cf. Acts 2:42). This fellowship involved an affection and a longing for one another that those of the heathen world would not enjoy (notice Paul's words throughout the book of Philippians 1:8; 2:12; 4:1). It has been claimed that in the first century, Christians loved and affectionally cared for each other so much and had such a bond between themselves due to their fellowship in the gospel of Christ that the Roman heathens used to deride and persecute them, confused, as to "how deeply they love each other". They just could not understand how a group of people would be so compassionately and affectionately in love and concerned with one another.
As the world further advances into technological niceties such as Google Glass and Google Hangouts (which, at the last, let it be known, that there is nothing wrong with such technologies as they are used in accordance with God's word), the lack of true connectivity, interpersonal relationships, and absence of fellowship that would result in those who grow ever more reliant on such technologies will ultimately increase the distinction between the blessings God's people enjoy being connected with Him and His people as compared to the lonely world. The decrease in affectionate, interpersonal relationships is already amongst us, but as it continues to decline, imagine how much more the fellowship of Christians will be a bright light and a refresher to a world that becomes increasingly less connected in a very technologically connected world. No greater connection is available than that which is provided by the Lord via His word and His kingdom.
By Sean B. O'Brien
This week's infographic comes with an article! (Just click the picture for an up close view)
Over the years many have claimed that the church of Christ, the only church established by Jesus Christ (Mat. 16:18) belonging to Him (Acts 20:28) and wearing His name (1 Pet. 4:16, Acts 11:26), is a "cult". Understanding that this term is often a buzz word used to attack groups of any makeup, but especially the church in light of our topic in this post, we will delve deep into the meaning of the word and the characteristics which make up a group that may be classified as a "cult."
The ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association) has compiled a list of the top 10 things characteristics associated with cultish behavior (click here). These ten characteristics are:
These characteristics are somewhat vague, but suffice for a true assessment of the church of Christ as to whether or not it is to be called a "cult". Let's go through them one by one in order to see the truth on the subject.
And so it is, the church does not even match one point of the list of characteristics of cultish behavior! While there are two points that get somewhat close, they are still not applicable to a unbiased assessment of the church of Christ for a number of reasons. We are so thankful to be part of the Lord's body, and so thankful that an unbiased look at that body shows these claims of cultish behavior to be nothing more than that - claims.
By Lee Snow
There are quite a few religious groups which hold to the belief that there is no such thing as the Godhead, or as commonly referred to, the trinity. One of those groups is the “Oneness Pentecostals”. Some refer to this group as the “Jesus Only” movement or oneness theology. They teach that there is only one God, thus denying the tri-unity of the Godhead. The Oneness Pentecostals do not recognize three distinct persons of the Godhead (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). They hold to the doctrine that He manifests Himself as “one” of the distinct persons, but they are one in the same. Many people are aware of the T.V. evangelist T.D. Jakes. T.D. Jakes used to hold to the Oneness Pentecostal doctrine as mentioned above. However, he has recently taken the view of Godhead in three forms after Lifeway Christian bookstores threatened to stop selling the best-selling authors books due to his belief. He is now considered a heretic by many of his own followers because he now “claims” to believe there are three distinct persons of the Godhead.
Many verses can be used to defeat this ‘Oneness Pentecostal” doctrine, but I will only give a few.
Ephesians 1:11-12 (KJV) 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Romans 8:17 (KJV) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
In the above verses (Eph 1:11-12) we see that faithful Christians will receive an inheritance reserved for us in Heaven. Next, notice (Rom 8:17) that Christ is a joint heir. For one to receive an inheritance there must be the testator (one who died) and the heir (qualified to receive inheritance). If Oneness Pentecostalism is true, who left Jesus the inheritance? The testator cannot leave himself an inheritance as he is already dead.
How about the following verses which also cause problems for the Oneness Pentecostals:
1 John 5:7 (KJV) For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
John 1:1 (KJV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Let us notice two different points in the above verses. The Apostle John clearly states in 1 John 5:7 that there are three that bear record in heaven. The inspired Apostle does not say “there is one in heaven who takes on the form of three different forms as he sees fit”. In John 1:1, we see that God the Son eternally existed in a distinct form apart from God the Father. Additional support can be seen in Colossians 1:16-17 (KJV) 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. This also supports the fact that God the Son was eternal and responsible for creation. However in Oneness Pentecostal teachings, only Jesus in the form of the Father existed before Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.
Consider Matthew 3:17 (KJV) And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
If Jesus only utilizes one form of the Godhead at a time, as taught by Oneness Pentecostal theology, how did the Father speak in Matt 3:17? We clearly see in this section of passage God the Son in Human form and at the same time God the Father addressing God the Son. Clearly, this is another verse which causes problems for their theology.
Another problematic verse for Oneness Pentecostals is John 17:5 (KJV) And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. How can the Father “glorify thou me with thine own self” if he can only take on one form? Clearly in this passage we see God the Son and God the father together at the same time.
Oneness Pentecostalism holds to other un-Biblical doctrines such as baptism in the name of Jesus only. Support for this doctrine comes from Acts 10:48 (KJV) And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. Well, let’s first address what is meant in Acts 10:48 by an analogy. When a police officer says “open the door in the name of the law”, what does he really mean? Clearly he means open the door by the authority of the Law by which I have been given authority. Likewise, being baptized “in the name of the Lord” means being baptized according to the authority of the Lord. What did Jesus the authority command in regards to baptism? Notice the verse below.
Matthew 28:18-19 (KJV) 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Jesus commanded baptism to be performed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet Oneness Pentecostals refuse to do so. Consider another remark made by the one with “All Power and Authority”: Luke 6:46 (KJV) And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
I could write a long and drawn out article on the many problems of the Oneness Pentecostal doctrines. However, the Bible has always been its own best commentary and has already refuted them!
By Shawn Bogemann