What the Apostles Taught About Last Things: Didache 16

The 16th and final portion of the DIDACHE: Teachings of the Apostles focuses on last days. It is here that the Apostolic final warnings about living a right life are given and as you read you will see that the final days look a lot like what we are going through today. Of course, people have noted the same thing in times past but we can honestly say that never since the time of Noah has the world been as bad as it is in this day and age. I have to tell you that as I was reading this I got a bit scared for the world as we see things happening daily that press for the Adversary’s complete takeover of the world as we know it. Let’s read the final portion titled, Watch Over Your Life:

Watch over your life, that your lamps are never quenched, and that your loins are never unloosed. Be ready, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Come together often, seeking the things that are good for your souls. A life of faith will not profit you if you are not made perfect at the end of time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters will be plenty, and the sheep will be turned into wolves, and love will be turned into hate. When lawlessness increases, they will hate and persecute and betray one another, and then the world-deceiver will appear claiming to be the Son of God, and he will do signs and wonders, and the earth will be delivered into his hands, and he will do iniquitous things that have not been seen since the beginning of the world. Then humankind will enter into the fire of trial, and many will be made to stumble and many will perish; but those who endure in their faith will be saved from under the curse itself. And then the signs of the truth will appear: the first sign, an opening of the heavens; the second sign, the sounding of the trumpet; and the third sign, the resurrection of the dead— not of every one, but as it is said: “Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.” Finally, “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory.”

The writer starts right at the heart of the matter with saying do not give in to things of the world but stay in the Word and things of the Spirit. He repeats what Jesus said about the timing and that we need to be in constant communion with each other in the Father’s Name and Presence.

It then moves to false prophets and corrupters. All I can say to this is hello You Tube and other social media outlets as well as some televangelists and the “Popular” or celebrity pastors. There is so much confusion and people trying to scare others by perverting the Bible even worse than those who decided what should be in it and what shouldn’t. There are so many movements out there that it is almost impossible to seek the truth of the matter anymore.

Love for one another has been blinded. With all the ethnic tensions due to place of origin, color of skin, belief systems, and mainstream society’s acceptance of sin being the norm, the world cannot seem to get along at all. Christianity is under attack all over the world. Lawlessness has increased to the point of a hopeless return. Paul writes in Romans that this would happen due to the degradation of society and the lack of God in people’s lives to the point that God allows us to wallow in sin. We are living in a godless society. It is only a matter of time for the great deceiver to show face. Maybe it already has come and we are so blind we cannot see it. Fortunately, no one person has claimed to be the Son of God who has done signs and wonders just yet but all sings are pointing to seeing it happen very soon.

There is relief for those who stay faithful and notice there is nothing about a rapture of the church. We will see three signs before the final appearance of the Messiah, Son of God: An opening up of the heavens, the trumpet, then raising of the saints. Now we can only guess how the heavens will be opened up. Maybe the firmament will loosen the clouds, maybe the sky will change, we are uncertain but we will know because there will be a great change. The great trumpets will sound and that will shake the earth so that the holy ones (the dead who were faithful servants) will rise up. Then we will see the Son of Man enter the world from the heavens. That will be a glorious sight.

Remember this Brothers and Sisters NO ONE knows the time of these happenings so do not pay attention to those who say they know or try to predict the end. We do not know. Yes there are signs in the heavens but they can be changed and have been. We are to be prepared at all times not just when someone says the end is about to happen. Do not quit jobs and give everything up at the last minute because that will not help matters if you try to make good when it is almost too late. But live now as if you are always ready for the Son of Man to come. Be faithful servants daily and live for the Father by doing what HE instructs us to do through His Word and the teachings of His Son, Jesus. Just remember, Jesus completed the work required because we will never be good enough. Believe in Jesus and accept that He made the payment for our judgement. We can not get into heaven by works of the Law, only by the Sanctifying Blood of Christ are we forgiven. God’s Grace and Mercy be with you all.

In Christ,

Rob

Appointing Bishops: Instruction From the Teachings of the Apostles

This is the 15th out of 16 Teachings of the Apostles found in what is known as the Didache, a writing that is said to have originated in the Community of Believers in Christ before Paul was sent on His journey.

The Apostles could not maintain a presence in every place they visited and planted a church so they had to enlist people who were in the Spirit to lead the people.   

This portion is all too familiar for some and will probably surprise others. Once again we see them saying that the appointed leader should be humble, not be attached to money (all funds go to the church with little going into the leaders pocket), transparent, and knowledgeable. Once appointed they should be treated as the congregation wishes to be treated and not looked upon with evil intent. The portion reads:

Appoint bishops for yourselves, as well as deacons, worthy of the Lord, of meek disposition, unattached to money, truthful and proven; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Do not despise them, after all, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers.

 A Servant Leader

The appointed bishop should fall under the same category as other leaders where care is given. They have a responsibility to the deacons as instructor of deeper meanings so the deacons can grow as well as make Disciples of all men. The deacons need to be well versed in all aspects of care which means the bishop should have served as a deacon as well.

 Unattached to Money

The Love of money is the root of all evil. To afford an opportunity for a bishop to fall, give him control of the money. That is what we are NOT supposed to do. There should be no contact between any higher head of the church and the funds that are given for the Glory of God to conduct missions and take care of other building and program needs. The bishop can hear about it but money should not be the only concern.

 Transparent

We are all human, we make mistakes, and we have skeletons. How many times did God appoint a person who sinned, was forgiven and given a second chance through making the person a prophet, a priest/pastor, or other type of religious leader? When going through the rigors of election to a position, it is best to be open and honest. If you are deemed worthy to speak God’s Word to a flock then you are good to go. When making the final decision, consult God. He knows where He wants His shepherds

Given Honor but Not Glory 

To God be all Glory, no one else. The bishop has many responsibilities. Some of which are passed down to others who do the work. Gratitude is received with humility and the Glory is given to God. The mission of the church is to learn, love, and grow in Christ so we can become Disciples and share the Word with the world. The head of the church is responsible for giving the go ahead with the mission while those chosen for the mission implement the plan. They are not to be despised for to despise them is to despise God. He supplied them with the Spiritual Gift and others with other Spiritual Gifts. Do not hate on the chosen because you were not. Do not despise the bishop for choosing others above you. God has a mission for you, have patience.

This portion reiterates one very important aspect of Christian leadership that many falter on, money. God does not want us dependent on the world and His shepherds doubly so. I am not saying that leaders should be paupers or totally dependent on the flock for survival but they should not have certain worries or be tempted by desires that pull them away from the study and announcement of the Word.

How often do we see churches fall when they are consumed with money and numbers in the church. The concern should be the spiritual welfare of the community not how much individuals put in the offering plate. Also, a church that closes its main doors without someone left outside to welcome the late comers or those who come up but are frightened on how others will look at them because it is the first time for them in a church is not a church concerned with saving souls. Be watchful of those types of churches.

Brothers and Sisters we near the end of the study of the Didache as there is only one portion left. The next portion talks about Last Things. You will be surprised to note how eerily similar it is to today’s world.

Preparing for Worship: Didache 14

This is the 14th out of 16 Teachings of the Apostles found in what is known as the Didache, a writing that is said to have originated in the Community of Believers in Christ before Paul was sent on His journey. 

This teaching of the Apostles has some difficulties. As Christians today celebrate the Lord’s Day on Sunday, the early Christians celebrated on God’s Sabbath Day. There was no change to the day before Sunday was established as the Lord’s Day by the Roman Catholic Church.

Up to this point everything taught in the Didache has been clearly in accordance with what we know from what Jesus taught in the Gospels. Not much is known about all the teachings during the 40 days He spent with the Apostles after being raised from the dead but we can guess He discussed with them worship as well as deeper life lessons. This discussion on the Lord’s Day mixes certain Tabernacle and Synagogue traditions that continued to be practiced because of being a sect of Judaism. There are pieces missing from this translation that leave much to conjecture and leaves the reader curious to find out if the document was at one time tampered with.

On the Lord’s day, gather yourselves together and break bread, give thanks, but first
confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure.
However, let no one who is at odds with his brother come together with you, until
he has reconciled, so that your sacrifice may not be profaned.
For this is what the Lord has said: “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my
name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the of hosts. . . . For I am a
great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name is reverenced among the nations.” DIDACHE 14

So the first two lines are in concert with the Gospels which we know to be true. Jesus tells us to confess our sins before we enter into His courts with praise. We should have no outstanding issues with anyone that clouds our minds with things that set us apart from God. According to Matthew, Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.” (Matt.5:23-25)

In the Gospels, Jesus never spoke of worshiping Him but maintaining worship of God. In fact the only thing that Jesus said to do in His name was to baptize. The thing I have issues with here is Jesus saying the incense offered to His Name. This is meant for God alone. To offer this causes Jesus worship. Incense was used in the Jewish Temple practices to call upon the Lord of Hosts. It was also used to confuse the demons so they would not enter the Lord’s presence.

What do we do with this knowledge. First we do recognize that Jesus returned to the Father as the mediator between us and God. Secondly, we recognize that Jesus is the Word incarnate so we do worship Him but only as the Savior and final sacrifice needed to reestablish the right teachings of the Word which has returned to God’s presence and joins Him when called through the incense. Thing is though, God is ever present thanks to that great sacrifice so the incense is only needed to cleanse the place of the evil one. Yes we celebrate Jesus as King but one that does not demand our worship but invites us. Staying in God’s Word provides for worship in every moment of every hour whether in darkness or light.

So how do we correct this? Every time we gather together, let no one who is at odds with his brother come together with you, until he has reconciled, so that your offering may not be profaned then confess your sins so that your offering may be pure, break bread and give thanks. For our God is great and His Word is what gives us life. In other words, truly forgive those who wronged you and ask for forgiveness from who you have wronged.

Forgiveness between mankind is an integral part of receiving God’s forgiveness because of our sins against Him. His Grace and Mercy provide for that forgiveness but we still are accountable and need to be in obedience to His Word. The Word is from God and our very breath is also of God. He is our oxygen, our blood, every muscle. Without Him we are just skin and bone, dust, and will return to the earth and die in darkness. With God there is hope. Where are you?

Support Your Local Pastor

Support for modern day religious leaders is monetarily. Did you know that that is NOT what God intended? Going way back to the Levites, they were not given a land inheritance of their own but received a portion to live on within the tribes and were the prophets and priests the people went to in order to get spiritually filled.

Every genuine prophet who wants to live among you is worthy of support. So also, every true teacher is, like a workman, entitled to his support. Every first fruit, therefore, of the products of vintage and harvest, of cattle and of sheep, should be given as first fruits to the prophets, for they are your high priests. But if you have no prophet, give it all to the poor. If you bake bread, take the first loaf and give it according to the commandment. If you open a new jar of wine or of oil, take the first fruit and give it to the prophets. If you acquire money or cloth or any other possession, set aside a portion first, as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment. DIDACHE 13

The terms that the translator uses in the first two sentences, worthy and entitled, are to confirm the Scripture decrees of the Levites. The true prophets and teachers are of God and are to freely be given the support of the community. The firstfruits given out of proper devotion of God strengthen the prophet or priest to be able to serve the community in a right godly manner.

This falls in line with what the Prophet Malachi says: Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house (Malachi 3:10). God’s Storehouse is the place where people are to bring their firstfruits to share with the community. The very first, as a thanks to God also goes to feed those who serve God so they do not have to toil the land to feed and clothe their families therefore giving them the ability to fully concentrate on serving God and the community. In accordance with all things, if there is no prophet of God nearby, give the items to those in need because that is what we were first commanded to do as caretakers.

Today we have this issue of not wanting to follow that because we are too concerned with the self. Jesus taught that as God’s children we are to be selfless not selfish with the blessings we are given. Our blessings do not just include money but every aspect of our being. If you purchase food at a store to make something, purchase extra to give to a food drive or bank. Instead of selling old clothes, give them away. Use your gifts and give a portion to the community at large then you will be giving them back to God through your service. If everyone did that then we would not have so many issues and the devil’s snare of greed and selfishness would go away.

Pastors will tell you to be good stewards of your tithes. If their idea of tithes is only money, then they are not serving God. Give to others in need but first make sure your pastor and his family are provided for so that his focus is on God and worrying about the physical needs of self.

Have a blessed day.

Welcome In The Name Of The Lord: Didache 12

Everyone has something that makes them special. No I am not going all Veggie Tales on you. When a person comes into the community we should welcome then in the name of the Lord but then what do we do??

Welcome anyone coming in the name of the Lord. Receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord, but then, test them and use your discretion.
If he who comes is a transient, assist him as far as you are able; but he should not remain with you more than two or three days, if need be. If he wants to stay with you, and is a craftsman, let him work for his living. But if he has no trade, use your judgment in providing for him; for a Christian should not live idle in your midst. If he is dissatisfied with this sort of an arrangement, he is a Christ peddler. Watch that you keep away from such people.

Test them???? Come up with a series of questions that a believer would know and if they are found to be truthful, let them stay if not send them on their way. Transients are travelers, nomads, persons with no real place to call home. Feed them, cloth them, let them rest then send them on their way. If the person can be useful because of the spiritual gifts or trades, let the person stay and earn his/her keep. Then if they choose to stay and are acceptable, let them stay. The idle one should be let go as the Scriptures warn against an IDLE Heart:
A worthless [Idle] person digs up evil [gossip] — it is like scorching fire on his lips. Proverbs 16:27 (CJB)
We hear that some of you are leading a life of idleness — not busy working, just busybodies! We command such people — and in union with the Lord Yeshua the Messiah we urge them — to settle down, get to work, and earn their own living. And you brothers who are doing what is good, don’t slack off! 2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (CJB)

Speaking of IDLE HEARTS, how many additional people showed up in church today? What is the expected number on Easter Sunday? Are there other Holy Week Services such as Maundy Thursday, or Good Friday? How many that show up for those will not be seen again until Christmas? Do you not think that maybe we can do something about that? We can, in fact we have to.

This is the most important time for the Christian calendar, yes even more important than Christmas. How many people do you know that can be considered like the thief that asked Jesus forgiveness while hanging on the Cross? You know the type, Christian when convenient for them. Should we not be working on them year round to get them to turn their backs on the evils of this world and face God. Would you rather them know that God is there for them now and not just when they think they need Him. We have an old Hymn that the chorus goes:
I need thee oh I need thee
every hour I need thee
Oh bless me every hour
I come to thee.

Not only do we need God, He needs us. We are His inheritance. Yes that sounds weird that our creator has us as His inheritance but it is true. Every time we lose a soul to the world, part of God’s inheritance slips from His fingers. He even made it easy for us to stay in His arms thanks to the reason for this season. Without the Sacrifice, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are completely and utterly lost.

There is nothing greater than to know that Jesus, Yeshua, Iesha, Immanuel, is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Son of the Living God who gave up His very existence as the Word Incarnate in order for us to reconnect with God in a personal relationship. He walks and talks with us if we listen. We do not have to tune everything out to hear Him because He will make the rocks, trees, grass, and leaves sing of His Glory. Why would someone not want this??? It baffles me.

Why do people believe the lie that says, I got Jesus, I am good and can wait on the Lord. Yes His grace is enough but we cannot just sit idly by waiting for our meeting. If you believe that lie, you will miss the call over the intercom saying you are next and when you are informed you will be just like that thief who heard about him but still committed sin.

How To Tell False From True-Didache 11

Didache 11Everyone likes a guest speaker every once in a while. Some are very good, some are confusing, and sometimes the message really does not make sense. There are genuine prophets and false prophets as Jesus had warned us. How are we to recognize the false from the real, the evil intentions from the good? We have been inundated with false prophets especially in the media for the last 60 years. The true and false prophets/preachers of today still can be recognized by this teaching.

Here in this next instruction we see the blessings and warnings when it comes to the traveling prophets.

Welcome the teacher when he comes to instruct you in all that has been said. But if he turns and trains you in another tradition to the destruction of this teaching, do not listen. If he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. Act according to the precepts of the gospel concerning all apostles and prophets: Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he must not remain more than one day, or two, if there’s a need. If he stays three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread to last him until his next night of lodging. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. In addition, if any prophet speaks in the Spirit, you shall not try or judge him; for every sin will be forgiven, but this sin cannot be forgiven. But not everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; only he is a prophet who has the ways of the Lord about him. By their ways will the false prophet and the prophet be known. Any prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it; if he does, he is indeed a false prophet. And any prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. When a prophet, proved true, works for the mystery of the church in the world but does not teach others to do what he himself does, he will not be judged among you, for his judgment is already before God. The ancient prophets acted in this way, also. But whoever says in the Spirit, “Give me money,” or something else like this, you must not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for the sake of others who are in need, let no one judge him.

There are many ways to recognize a false prophet. The examples given here are: teaching in a way that is against or a perversion of the Gospel, preaching a false doctrine, overstaying the welcome, asking for compensation (particularly monetary) , non-spiritual actions, does not do as preached, these are things to watch out for. Do those not sound familiar these days especially?

When Jesus sent out the 70 this is what He said: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

So What Does This All Mean

First things, Jesus sent by 2 x 2. When you go it alone into an unknown territory you risk many things and even though God has your back, it is best to go with another. He sent them out without the material things of the world to weigh them down. He was teaching them to be reliant on God alone.

If a person overstays his/her welcome in a home (unless a parsonage is being built because believers want the individual to stay on the long term) then that person is not truly a prophet of God. Up until about the 1940s preachers sometimes went around to three or more communities preaching on Sundays and Wednesdays. They had one place where they hung their hat which was usually a small place central to the communities where he preached. Some did not even have vehicles and either walked or rode a horse to the different locations. And they did not ask for extra pay for traveling.

God’s Teachings are not about wealth in the physical sense, it is Spiritual

Speaking of pay, Prophets of old were hardly, if ever paid with money. It was goods and services which the community of believers provided for the Man of God. Once the Roman Catholics took over and the Pontiffs desired money over goods, corruption set in.

There are many who say they are people of God, but their god is the almighty dollar without which they could not survive. Money is a necessary evil to make certain things happen but it is how it is used, not for personal gain but for the good of mankind in the simplest form (food, clothing, shelter). Of the tithes and offerings that are asked for in the church, find out how much goes into the pocket of the preacher and the staff. If they make more than you (or more than $35,000) then give of yourself. In other words, give of yourself and your gifts. Give of food and other services offerings for that is what should be given. There is, however, a reason to give monetarily and that is for assistance in purchasing things for the missions and ministries of the church as well as building maintenance. Just make sure you designate it as such.

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, Give to God what is God’s

Any prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it; if he does, he is indeed a false prophet. This one is tricky When a preacher sits with others and is speaking on spiritual matters he must not eat, if he does then he is not in the spirit and is a false.
And any prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. Remember the saying do as I say not as I do??? Pharisee and Sadducee anyone.
When a prophet, proved true, works for the mystery of the church in the world but does not teach others to do what he himself does, he will not be judged among you, for his judgment is already before God. Do not judge self-desiring prophet (One who cares for his own salvation and not others) for the judgement is already upon him. Remember, “do not judge lest ye be judged”.

Final thoughts

A Prophet (Preacher) of God is not to be found wanting of material things nor is the person to fend for self. This person should be living in humility not lavished in luxury. Also, if the pastor is found not following the Scripture and does not ask to be forgiven, makes excuses (i.e. we are all human or he/she made me do it) yet continues in the sin, it is time to get a new pastor. Just be aware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Next Week: Teachings on Beggars, Wanderers, Peddlers

Communion Prayer of Thanksgiving Didache 10

Communion Prayer D10So far on this journey we have seen things that are similar with many more differences in the conduct of the Body of Christ between the very early community and today’s church. The thanksgiving prayer for after the Lord’s Supper goes a little deeper than some of the prayers today.

The Eucharist was actually the part of the full meal shared by the community at gatherings. Before the Remembrance was delivered, there was a time for fellowship, forgiving and making things right in the eyes of the community and the presence of God. The Remembrance was encircled by the singing of songs, persistent prayer, and other forms of worship. Once the meal and Remembrance was conducted was a prayer which we see here:

After the Eucharist when you are filled, give thanks this way: We thank you, holy Father, for your holy name which you enshrined in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality that you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever. You, Master Almighty, have created all things for your name’s sake. You gave food and drink to all people for enjoyment that they might give thanks to you; but to us you freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Jesus, your servant. Before all things we thank you because you are mighty. To you be the glory forever. Remember, Lord, your church. Deliver it from all evil and make it perfect in your love, and gather it from the four winds sanctified for your kingdom which you have prepared for it. For Yours is the power and the glory forever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away! Hosanna to the Son of David! If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not holy, let him repent. Maranatha! Amen. [But permit the prophets to make thanksgiving as much as they desire.]

The very first thing of value here is that they understood the proper order to whom ALL worship belongs. It is the Father’s name which is greater. We have songs today that gift Jesus more worship and glory and we know that Jesus said to do things in His name that go to the Father but Jesus never asked to be worshiped. God’s Name is the Only name to which all worship should be directed. Yes all things to God should be directed through Jesus because He commanded it but not solely worshiping Jesus as some churches do today.

This particular Prayer of Thanksgiving is a great example of how they used the model of the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer first praises God and recognize Him as the creator and giver of life. This is followed by thanking for the provisions both physical and spiritual. Then there is the request for forgiveness and deliverance from all evils. Then it ends with the recognition once again of who is truly in charge and a request for the future kingdom, there is also the addition of recognition of Jesus as the Messiah. They used the model prayer nearly perfect.

So what do we do to remedy the mistakes of ages past and stop the confusion of the sacrificial meal itself. Is it a Remembrance? Does the bread and wine truly transform into Jesus? Is it just done in Memorial? We should understand that some of those things were transferred in by pagan beliefs. Jesus Himself said to do this in Remembrance of me. We remember the fact that He is the spotless Lamb, the Word made Flesh for our understanding. He came to correct the humanness of God’s Word and to bring all people one step closer to the Father. The sacrifice of His Body was to pour out the purest, clean blood that cleansed the earth of the sins of man and made it God’s again.

The Devil is on His last ditch effort to remove us from His presence once again. Only God can stop him but we are His instruments in Faith and Trust of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We must continue to fight the good fight daily. Knowing the truths found in Scripture and understanding how the Word was spread throughout the land will only strengthen us. We must purify ourselves of the traditions and temptations of man and fully focus on God. That will defeat Satan once and for all.

Community Communion in the 1st Century Church. Didache 9

CommunionLast post, I wrote about the final table in the Lord’s Banquet. While on this earth we put what God told us to do in recognition, celebration, and supplication of the Final Sacrifice which was made through the death, resurrection, and ascension of His Son, His Living Word, into practice through the Eucharist/ Communion /Last Supper. He gave us this New Covenant in His Blood so that we no longer had to sacrifice an animal. The Blood that was spilt on the ground for our salvation was poured out to cover the earth not just to save us but to remind Satan that his time is short. Through His transformation the direct communication line to God partially reopened to where we know He hears and we can hear Him but we still will not see with our physical eyes until He reveals Himself.

The Early Community of Believers celebrated Communion every time they met to worship. It was a huge but solemn event. Now remember Paul’s instruction on the Communion had not been published yet so we will not see the doctrine here. This is what the writer of the Didache said concerning the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

Concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup: We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David your servant, which you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever.
Next, concerning the broken bread: We thank you, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. To you is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever. Allow no one to eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized in the name of the Lord.
For concerning this, the Lord has said, “Do not give what is holy to dogs.”

The “holy vine of David” refers to the promise God made to him that his line will produce the Messiah who will save us from sin made known through the miracle birth of Jesus. The blood of human imperfection was mixed with the holiness of the Word making it sinless and perfect. When given up, this Blood covered the sins of man as did the first Sheep that gave of its life to cover Adam, Eve and their descendants up to that moment.
The life and knowledge is the Word signified by Bread. This nourishment was spread and scattered, manipulated, but brought back together in the body of the Messiah, Word made flesh. All those who gather in the belief of the truth of the Word become one with the Word and thereby strengthen its hold on the earth.

The washing of sin through the outward showing of the inward heart transformation was also the way of showing people that even though we are broken we have a Savior that has glued us back together with His Blood. When we are baptized we show that we are dead to the world then cleansed and raised because Jesus gave us the key to the door which brings us to new life. Doing this outward act cleanses us and is deemed necessary to accept the offering of His Life and the Word which helps us grow in Him.

Dogs have had a bad rap especially during this time where they literally ate whatever they could. The Holy things were not meant for animal consumption even though they are part of God’s Creation. The main difference is that they became a source of food. Certain animals became domesticated and became part of the family, which meant they were no longer used for food. These animals actually symbolize or represent our purpose for which we were originally created (caretakers of the earth). The difference is, they do not know sin so they do not need the covering.

When we come to this table, we come with the knowledge and understanding of what God did for us through His Son. We are to confess that we are sinners, yet believe and follow God’s Word and ask forgiveness. We thank Him for the offering that cleanses us and nourishes us. The human doctrine that explains all this adds so much when all He wants is for us to know Jesus, that we are forgiven, and we must follow His Word in all things.

Next week, we will see how they gave thanks after the celebration. Have a Blessed Week.

A Matter of the Heart: Fasting and Prayer according to the Teachings of the Apostles, Didache 8

Fasting and Prayer

When living in the Community of Believers or Body of Christ there are times that worship is done as a community and times that worship is a private matter. Worship, as we know is a many faceted thing. The Community of Believers that received this writing had basic understandings yet needed warnings and a how to since it was a young community. One thing they did learn is that each person is known to God and wants to hear their needs, their praises, and they understood that they cannot do things which involve their eternal rest, alone.
Your fasts should not be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays. You should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. And do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in the gospel: Our Father in heaven, holy be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us enough bread day-by-day. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. Pray this three times each day.
This part has to do with devotional piety. How one fasts is a personal direct reflection of their desire to rid themselves of the world and be closer to God. Prayer is both corporate and private but not boasting nor for the attention of other people. This issue is prevalent even today where people will shout personal prayers out loud in a non-body of believers environment while boasting of their achievements and problems in prayer. One thing to note right away, this prayer was not ended with “In Jesus Name”. It is because this is a direct prayer to God as well as our way of expressing full devotion and worship of God alone. Praying in Jesus name came after the need to recognize Jesus as mediator. That aside, let us see what the writer is saying.
Fasting: A Private Matter
The writer notes that a separation between hypocrites and their fast days was necessary to make things right with God. Thing is, there were those that fasted Mondays and Thursday while the Way believers fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays. The reason, the believers fasted in preparation for the Sabbath while the hypocrites fasted after the Sabbath and not right before. The other part is openly stating and boasting of the fast. Fasting is not a public event. It is a private, physical showing of the spiritual, personal devotion to God. Jesus said that it is a private matter between the sinner and God, the same as prayer.
Prayer: Communication with God
Jesus presented a way to pray with the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer begins with praises to the Father and asks for the will of the Father to be the main activity on earth as it is in Heaven. Now the bread is a two-fold meaning, continue to sustain us with physical nourishment as the Word nourishes our soul. The debt is our sins to which we are slaves to. God forgives us but to receive ultimate forgiveness we need to forgive others as god has forgiven us. The time of trial is asking that we stay from the temptations in life through staying in the Word and understand that He is our rescuer. Basically, Praise God and know that we cannot do things without Him. We cannot save ourselves nor recover from our sinfulness without God.

The writer notes that we should pray three times a day. These prayer times were instituted by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob respectively. Abraham instituted Morning Prayer, Isaac prayed mid- day and Jacob closed out his day in prayer. Jesus proclaimed we should pray constantly and persistently.

All in all the message being revealed here is that there are matters which are of the heart that should not be boasted in public. The other piece is not to be openly zealous in presenting the fact that you are a believer, rather show by simply living life as a person of faith. Remember the story of the boastful priest versus the humble thief in prayer. Be like the humble one but in all things. Love to all and blessings.

Rob

Baptize in the Name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit

Baptism

Jesus commanded His Disciples to “Go make Disciples of all men, Baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Teachings of the Apostles explains Baptism in a short but informative instruction.

Concerning baptism, you should baptize this way: After first explaining all things, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in flowing water. But if you have no running water, baptize in other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, then in warm. If you have very little, pour water three times on the head in the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Before the baptism, both the baptizer and the candidate for baptism, plus any others who can, should fast. The candidate should fast for one or two days beforehand.

Baptism is the outward expression of the inward acceptance of the covenant made through the blood, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. John the Baptist made people clean through a repentant baptism in preparation for the coming Messiah by washing the sins away in the flowing water of the Jordan. For he said, “Repent and be baptized”.

The best way to baptize is in water that flows. This is done so to symbolize a removal of the sins. Nowadays we have a Baptismal that water is poured into and is still. It is good but a flowing one would be better. Why cold water? the temperature of the water is important because if you are baptized in cold water the pours stay closed so that no new sin can enter in. But it is ok for warm water due to the temperature of the surrounding area and how quickly the pours would close. Full immersion is preferred but a pouring is acceptable. Even before going into the water one should not eat or drink for one to two days. Why? Because you must enter the covenant humbly, with the understanding that the earthly foods only fill the body while the spirit needs the bread of life. By fasting, the body becomes dependent on God’s Word so it is a full acceptance of Jesus through the trust that His Word is sufficient for life.

Notice two things that did not have an alternative mode here. First the person must understand and accept the Word and the sacrifice that Jesus made finishing the need for the blood sacrifices for our salvation. Secondly, the fasting. The only thing about the fasting is the time limit. A child can fast for one and be good but an adult, two days.
The waiting for Resurrection Day to be baptized did not start until late first century to early second century. Instead it was basically an on the spot acceptance and washing bringing more and more into the Body of Christ. This was both right and proper going along with the Great Commission.

Perry Stone wrote on the first century Byzantine Church. In his explanation of things the men and women were baptized separately because they went into the water in the nude. This was the process: After the fasting was complete, the candidates lined up dressed in white robes and entered into a cavern inside a hill. At the lowest point there was a pool of cold flowing water. Upon entering the water, the outer garment was removed and the appointed priest, deacon, or elder, asked for confirmation of beliefs then the person was immersed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Upon exiting the water they were given their white garment and a glass of milk mixed with honey to cleanse the inner self. When all Baptisms were complete, the whole Community of Believers shared in Communion then a celebration meal. Now that is a blessed time.

Baptism has sure changed since then as it is a full community observance. Certain denominations do things a little backwards by baptizing before the candidate even realizes what is going on, then later has to go through classes to explain everything and then accept the covenant. There is a clear statement that in order to be baptized, one has to personally make the choice to accept Jesus. Someone else cannot make that choice for you. The Great Commission that Jesus spoke before He ascended said to make Disciples of all mankind baptizing and maintaining obedience to the Word. To make Disciples one must first explain everything to which they outwardly show their acceptance through baptism then they are followed up with constantly through the speaking of the Word. That is the process of Baptism.

Have you been immersed in the waters of Baptism? I personally was Baptized as a baby through the Lutheran Church, went through the Catechism, and had my first Communion by the time I was 8. But I did not truly know Jesus. I was chosen to give a sermon when I was 9 on a children’s Sunday, but I still did not know Jesus. I went through 25 1/2 years thinking I was good to go until I truly discovered what Jesus was doing in my life. When I truly became aware of Jesus, I gave a public confession and was Baptized by immersion. I was 26 when I truly gave my life to God. When did you?