Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Revival at Cane Ridge

The Great Revival at Cane Ridge Kentucky 1801
Rhoderick D. Ice

An article in "Discipliana" by Keith Watkins, Spring 94, examines "The Sacramental Character of the Camp Meeting." [A camp meeting was a religious gathering out in the open where the people came and camped together for a time of preaching and revival.] Watkins brings out the unnoticed fact that the Kentucky Revival [and the Camp Meeting which took place at Cane Ridge, KY] had at its heart a celebration of the Lord's Supper. This was "frontier" and customs were different. Let's take a look at some things which help us understand. Two men stand out: James McGready and Barton W. Stone. Both are important preachers and leaders. This is around the year 1796.

Logan Co., KY, in 1796 was a raw and lawless frontier filled with thieves and murders who had come to this desolate area to escape justice. The French & Indian War against the American settlers had devastated the morality of our Nation. Some said it was a nation of drunkards.

You could not find a church on every corner. Those few Christians were without organized worship, and without the Lord's Supper. They did not know they could eat the Supper on their own. And so the offer of a celebration of the Lord’s Supper would cause some to travel many miles to attend. This would be a time of praise and worship for a few days, climaxing in the Lord's Supper - Holy Communion - on Sunday.

James McGready came to Logan County in 1796 with the intent of preaching the Gospel. Great difficulty faced him. In 1797 McGready made a covenant with God to set aside every 3rd Saturday of the month for prayer & fasting for conversion of the lost in Logan County and the world; and to devote ½ hr every Saturday and on Sunday morning, beseeching God to revive His work. McGready had a deep sense of the divine side of the Kingdom.

Beginning in 1797 through 1800, there was an awakening, an explosion of interest as sinners began to take God and salvation seriously. Amazing things began to happen. When Stone investigated, he identified it as a genuine work of God, although he was shocked by some things. People suddenly showed changed lives as they took God up on His amazing offer of salvation.

Stone had noted that spiritual apathy was growing worse each year among the Churches at Cane Ridge and Concord, for which he preached. In the spring of 1801 Stone went to Logan Co. to participate in the revival being conducted by Evangelist McGready, to hopefully bring revival back home with him. Things began to happen at the Cane Ridge Church when he returned home [similar to the Charismatic Revival of today]. He preached the Great Commission according to Mark. A revival began. Multitudes came from great distances, clogging the roads as they came on foot, horseback, and by wagons and carriages. In August, 1801, some 20,000 people had come to Cane Ridge, some from 100 miles away, for the most spectacular Camp Meeting in the USA. Stone cried out that God had already struck the hour of salvation and continued to strike. The revival was proof that TODAY was the day of salvation.
In order to understand, note that many then were of the opinion that salvation could only be found through a miracle of God. Before revival came, they believed they must wait until God in his own time "zapped" them with "salvation." Stone stressed: "Believe and obey NOW!"

"The Kentucky Revival," R. McNemar [Restoration Reprint]. When we dig through the language and get at the heart of what was happening, we find this.

1. They centered revival around the Lord's Supper and its deep meaning.

a. McGready: "...the most important transaction ever witnessed by men or angels, viz. the redemption of guilty sinners by the bitter agonies, bloody sufferings, and dying groans of the incarnate God." cf Matt. 20:17-19; 26:26-29.

b. McGready: "Then to SEE JESUS, is to behold the holiness, justice, wisdom, power and mercy, truth and goodness of the Deity, manifested and gloriously displayed in the active and passive obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Timothy 3:16.

c. McGready: "The bread & fruit of the vine are outward signs of the presence of God. By eating and drinking, we share in the very life of Christ that was given for the life of the world. We SEE His face and enjoy sweet tokens of His love. We love, adore and marvel; and are lost in the boundless ocean of the love of God."

1 Cor. 10:16 MacKnight: "The cup of blessing in the Lord's Supper, for which we bless God, and which we drink, is it not the symbol of our joint participation of the blessings procured by the blood of Christ? The loaf which we break and eat, is it not the symbol of our joint participation of the benefits belonging to the body or church of Christ?"

MacKnight: "This account of the Lord's Supper the apostle gave, to show the Corinthians, that as by eating thereof the partakers declare they have the same object of worship, the same faith, the same hope, the same spirit with the persons whom they join in that act of worship, and that they will follow the same course of life..." 1 Cor. 12:12,27.

1 Cor. 12:13. “Paul states the principle of unity within human diversity (Jews, Gentiles, men, women, slaves, free). The gift of the Holy Spirit is the common life of Christians and a greater dynamic than all human distinctives. Paul pleads for a Spirit-filled life [Eph. 5:18] which involves every Christian believer. Being continually filled with The Spirit is part of our transformation and maturing {2 Cor. 3:17-18; Gal. 3:1-9; Luke 11:13]. Our primary needs are spiritual, and a proper relationship to God through the Holy Spirit is the ground of assurance that He will provide both spiritual and material needs.”

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Interview With Stone

May 2006 © R. D. ICE
"Yes! I'm on my way! I'll be there soon!"

Certainly life was much different on the frontier in Kentucky when the Cane Ridge Revival took place. If we could have been there we would have been shocked by some things, but impressed that this was a work of God. Communions (annual three-to-five-day meetings climaxed with the Lord's Supper) gathered people in the dozens, maybe the hundreds. Friday, August 6, 1801- wagons and carriages bounced along narrow Kentucky roads, kicking up dust and excitement as hundreds of men, women, and children pressed toward Cane Ridge, a church about 20 miles west of Lexington, the state capital at that time. They hungered to partake in what everyone felt was sure to be an extraordinary "Communion." At this Cane Ridge Communion, though, sometimes 20,000 people swirled about the grounds -watching, praying, preaching, weeping, groaning, falling. Though some stood at the edges and mocked, most left marveling at the wondrous hand of God. The power of the Revival was the engine that drove the "restoration."

If time travel were an option, an interview with Stone might sound something like the following.

An interview between Stone and the Christian Ledger.

Ledger: Brother Stone, now that you have spent a few days in our 21st Century, what surprises you most about our culture?
Stone: I am speechless! I can't believe people can talk on what they call telephones while they drive self-propelled vehicles called cars. And $3.99 for a cup of coffee at, what is it, Starbucks ©. Americans seem too busy. No time at all for prayer.
Ledger: Now that you have visited some of our large churches and watched our Christian television programs, what do you think about the state of Christianity today?
Stone: (There is an awkward pause while he fidgets with his hat. He says nothing.)
Ledger: We can come back to that question later. Meanwhile, tell us what it was like at the Great Revival at Cane Ridge.
Stone: (He regains some composure.) The services at Cane Ridge ran almost continuously. Preachers were preaching in various parts of the area. Seeking souls were crying out to God almost any hour of the day or night. "Men and brethren what shall we do?" This went on for days. The people came to meet God.
The Revival did not depend upon human leaders. God broke hearts with the gospel, shaking strong men and women, then putting them back together again, for His glory. It was a tremendous changing process. Pride and the lust of the flesh and things that had seemed so important and just general boredom with the world could not survive there!
Ledger: That is quite a contrast with what we see in our churches today. In 2006 we like our preachers to be celebrities.
Stone: (Another long pause.) We did not even have a platform or pulpit in the beginning. All were on the same level. The preachers were servants in the true meaning of the word. We did not honor men for their advantage in means or education, but rather for their God-given gifts.
Ledger: American Christianity today is big. We like big. We are reaching millions with our television programs, our Web sites and huge churches. Doesn't that excite you?
Stone: (He strokes his beard and fidgets with his hat again. No answer.)
Ledger: This is awkward. I'm not enjoying this interview.
Stone: At Cane Ridge, the rich and educated were the same as the poor and ignorant, and found a much harder death to die. We only recognized God. All were equal before Him.
Ledger: How did you end up at Cane Ridge?
Stone: In the winter of 1796 I came from Virginia to Cane Ridge on a preaching tour and stayed a year. Then I came back in 1798 to be the preacher at the Cane Ridge and Concord Churches. But I sensed that God was about to do great things here in the wilderness.
Ledger: Why did God choose you to lead the Cane Ridge Revival?
Stone: A man can receive nothing, except it be given hin from heaven. Like Paul I hear God saying: "My strength is made perfect in weakness." Evidently the Lord found here a company of people through whom He could have the right-of-way. The time had come.
The Revival was like fire in dry stubble driven by the wind. All felt its influence more or less. It silenced contention and promoted unity for a while. It had to be of God, for lives were changed! People quit their sin and began to be righteous and holy.
Ledger: So we need more humility and prayer today?
Stone: Paul said it was God who gave the increase. The prayer life is needed much more than even church-buildings or organizations. These are often a substitute for the other. At Cane Ridge we all lifted one voice to God and asked Him to do great things! And souls were born into the kingdom through prayer! It was like the great Day of Pentecost all over again! We told them just what Peter said on that day.
And the effects did continue for some time. Revival swept across the nation. An utterly lawless community was transformed into a God-fearing one. But some men trying to save their own tottering ark put unholy hands on it. Yet God is able to use even our wrath to praise Himself, as the Psalmist writes. Like Paul, I want to know HIM and the Power of His Resurrection! And I remember how the Lord promised the church at Philadelphia an open door and no man can shut it! So I am still hopeful.
About 1844 I wrote: "We have been too long engaged with defending ourselves, rather than the truth as it is in Jesus. Let us trust our little selves with the Lord; and rest not, till by faith in the promised Spirit and by incessant prayer we receive and be filled with it, like they were of old in the ancient order of things."
Ledger: So then you would pray for Revival, Renewal, and Spiritual Awakening.
Stone" Exactly.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Pittsburgh Centennial

The Pittsburgh CententenniaI
R. D. Ice,
FIRM FOUNDATION, February 28,1978

For some years the movement to restore New Testament Christianity did not crystallize around a name for the church. They used indiscriminately the names: Christian Church; Church of Christ; Disciples of Christ. By the end of the "War Between The States,' the undivided movement had grown to be the fourth largest religious group in the country, with only Catholics, Baptists and Methodists being larger. However, the Declaration at Sand Creek, Shelby County, Illinois, August 17, 1889, was the official split in the brotherhood.

If it had not been for the Civil War, such a thing probably could never have happened. From that time on, we who sing without the instrument began using "church of Christ'. exclusively. This did not take place immediately, of course, but over a period of time. The division became irreversible in 1907. J. C. McQuiddy had written in the Gospel Advocate about the things proclaimed at Sand Creek.

"The Sand Creek manifesto was manifest folly and the Advocate emphatically denies any sympathy with Sommerism whatever that is - Sand Creekism, sand lotism, Standardism, or any partyism in religion. The Advocate is for Christ and his church (chosen ones) and is in ardent sympathy with all those who are drawing their life from him who is the true vine..'.

David Lipscomb was a 'moderate,' but 'hot heads' on both sides forced the issue. In June of 1907, Lipscomb wrote in reply to the Census Bureau and made it plain that the churches of Christ no longer had any connection with the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ. History shows both sides paid a high price for this division!

This is important to set the stage for the Centennial celebration of the Restoration Movement, which was planned for October 11, 1909. Even though this was entirely planned and carried out by the Disciples, some from the churches of Christ participated in this also: notably J. W. McGarvey (who was in his eightieth year), F. L Rowe of the Christian Leader paper, and my grandfather, Dr. Kromer C. Ice, MD. Some, like J. W. McGarvey, attempted to continue their connection with both the Disciples and the churches of Christ.

In preparation for the big day, some 208,000 letters were mailed, a million copies of 23 leaflets and tracts were distributed, and the secular press joined in the publicity for the event. Long before October 11, great crowds of people began arriving in Pittsburgh. Every hotel room and tourist home was used to house this mass meeting. The Kansas City delegation chartered a train for the trip and leased the entire Schenley Hotel as their headquarters. The auditorium of Carnegie Hall proved to be too small, and simultaneous programs were provided in nearby church-buildings and with outdoor meetings in Duquesne Garden, Luna Park, and Forbes Field.
Two hundred and fifty churches of all denominations opened their pulpits to leading Restoration preachers on the Lord's Day. An estimated thirty thousand met in Forbes Field to eat the Lord's Supper. Twenty thousand persons were in a three-tiered grandstand. Thousands more filled the bleachers and stood on the ball field to remember the death and suffering of their Savior. The total number who attended some part of the Centennial was thought to be around fifty thousand.

The Centennial at Pittsburgh proved to be the crest of the wave. It seemed at the moment that God was guaranteeing a major new awakening. The celebration had a dramatic effect on the religious community across the nation. Almost immediately all the major Protestant denominations seemed to catch the vision of unity in Christ. Committees were set up to study cooperation and union, by the Episcopalians, the Congregationalists, the Presbyterians, etc.

Yet this was not to be. When the conservatives left in the churches of Christ, they in effect gave the control of the Disciples to the extreme liberal element (and to some degree gave control of the churches of Christ to the extreme conservative element). Men like Peter Ainslee by their radical-liberalism wrecked the opportunities (this is not what they intended to do, though). Religious history might have been different if the conservatives had kept their influence in an undivided movement, and if a David Lipscomb or a J. W. McGarvey could have been on the scene.

[I wrote this when I was living in PA. Dr. Kromer C. Ice, MD, lived in Bethany, WV, in 1909 when his son was born. He named him McGarvey in honor of J. W. McGarvey whom he greatly admired. R.D. is McGarvey Ice's son.].

Friday, May 4, 2007

Sincerity Seeking Heaven

Rhoderick D. Ice
© 1995

Ben Trying had lived a reasonable life. He had been mostly honest and he treated his wife and children reasonably well. He had "obeyed the gospel," [a code phrase for accepting Christ and being baptized] when a young teenager, living in a rural area. Yet he felt without God, lost and hopeless. As he looked back over his life, he could find nothing that gave him assurance and confidence. He had been a church-member, present at some of the services. But, did he know Jesus? Was he really saved? He knew he needed help. If Jesus came tonight, he feared he would be lost.

His story begins and ends in Red Rose Hospital - in intensive care. Ben had been trying to be a Christian. He had been trying to be good. He wanted to believe, to have faith, to break through - but it all seemed useless, hopeless. Now he lay flat on his back, and time was running out. His three religious sisters tried to help him. Each claimed to be a Christian. Each had come to comfort and console their dear brother in this moment of crisis. If he could just come to know that he could be saved.

They were in the ICU waiting room.

"You can see him now," the nurse said to one of the sisters, Miss Nebulous N. Tangible. "You have three minutes." She quietly followed the nurse into the room.

She sat by his bed and looked into his eyes. He seemed so distraught and unhappy. He clutched her hand and moaned: "Please, Sis, help me break through...I don't... have much time...Help me to believe...Please help me...My time has come."

But how could she help? What could she do? She took a deep breath. "Ben, Ben, listen to me. You must give your heart to Jesus, quickly!"

Ben moved his hand over his heart and looked puzzled.

"You must reach out," she continued. "Reach out your hand and take His, then invite Him into your heart. You must behold the Lamb and turn away from sin and surrender all."

Confusion showed on Ben's face, so she continued. "You must fall on the Rock! You must rely on His merits and repent of your sins, then accept freely of His unconquerable robe of righteousness. This is your covering - your wedding garment. It is yours, Ben, when you repent and believe!"

A mournful sigh escaped his lips, and he trembled in despair.

The nurse came to the door. "Miss Nebulous, your time is up."

Miss Solid Ann Concrete, the second sister, sat at his beside. Before she could speak, Ben looked frantically at her and with great effort forced out these words: "O Sis, please help me...Help me to believe...I'm trying...to break through ... but I can't...I can't."

She leaned over and looked in his face. It showed the anxiousness of his heart. She took his trembling hand and said, "Ben, I can only tell you what the Bible says about the kind of people that will go to heaven. Their behavior will be in distinct contrast to that of the world. If you want to be there...well, it's up to you. But in order for you to have hope and in order for you to be a Christian, you must first renounce your old life of sin - your life of wickedness and selfishness. Your social habits - your behavior and conversation - must be drastically changed. Everything you do has got to go. It's evil. It's no good. I have to tell you the truth. You must give up your gambling. Stop smoking. Stop drinking. Quit going to those terrible bars and nightclubs. Change your habit patterns. Don't associate with your old friends. Make new ones. Lose all that weight. Quit being a glutton. Make your body a fit place for the Lord to dwell. Allow only good and uplifting thoughts to enter your mind. Stop reading those vile magazines and dirty stories. Instead, read the Bible. Fill your mind with things that are pure and lovely. Dwell on things in heaven. Love the Lord and hate evil with perfect hatred and...and... Ben!... Ben!...Are you listening?...Ben?... Are you all right? Nurse! Nurse!"

Ben gasped for breath. He choked and gagged. The nurse quickly took his pulse. "Could you wait outside, please," she said. "He's...almost...gone."

Moments later the nurse beckoned to the last sister. "Are you Ben's other sister? You don't have much time. And neither does he."

"I understand, nurse," she said" "Thank you so very much."

Sitting beside her precious brother, Miss Faith N. Christ took Ben's hand and prayed silently that her words would be an aroma of life unto life for her poor brother. She looked into his eyes with hope and courage.

"Ben, are you ready to die?"

"No...I'm not ready, Sis,...but I'm trying to be ready... I'm...trying to break through...I'm trying to believe,...Sis." He wrung his hands, and he wept and sighed and shook his head.
"But it's no use...the righteous are scarcely saved...I just can't believe...I just can't break through... I've tried as hard as I can - but it's no use...I can only think of my sins and my faults...It's no use, no use."

Faith leaned toward him. "My dear brother, I understand how you feel. Would you just listen?"

As Ben calmed down, she began to speak. "Ben, even while we were sinful, God showed how much He loved us by having Christ die for us. Ben, the Father gave His only begotten Son for you! He loved you and chose you to be with Him in eternity. All of heaven was emptied and the treasures of heaven were given for you! You have been redeemed, forgiven and accepted in Jesus, His Son. Yes, God the Father has done all this for you by His grace. Ben, it is God's riches, at Christ's expense, by grace alone. Two thousand years ago you were saved by Christ - His Cross & Resurrection. Two thousand years ago, when the fullness of the time had come, God the Son, your Savior Jesus, left heaven because all of its stupendous glory was not a place to be desired while you were lost and unforgiven. He, whom the angels loved and worshipped, stepped down from His exalted throne and position, and came to this dark planet earth."

Ben moaned and moved his head.

She reached her hand to his forehead.

"Ben, at Heaven's appointed hour, He was born in a lowly stable for you. He grew up, lived, and suffered shame and humiliation as the rejected One in order that you might be the accepted one. For your sake He became poor that through His poverty you might be rich! He was treated the way that you deserve for your sins, that you might be treated the way He deserves as God's Son. An old song says: 'Jesus paid it all! All to Him I owe! Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow!'

In the Great Commission, Jesus sent out the disciples to the east and to the west with His sacred and everlasting message of how people can be saved forever. Sin was dealt with once and for all two thousand years ago at His Cross & Resurrection. He wore thorns that you might wear the crown of life. The vinegar and gall were His that the honey and sweet might be yours. And by His crucifixion and death He has taken your sins and put them in the tomb, burying the old life of failure forever. He destroyed death, defeated the devil, shut the gates of hell, and opened paradise. We are saved by His works and His righteousness - not our own. He rose to life again the third day, and by the power of His Cross & Resurrection, He has taken that perfect, flawless Life and Righteousness to the Throne of God. And Ben, when the Father received, honored and embraced Jesus back, it was the same as if you were received, honored, embraced and accepted, because your humanity was constituted in Him. Ben, through the Doing and Dying of Jesus, the victory is accomplished. God the Son has reconciled you to the Father. The Son has saved you and all who will accept Him by His life and death."

"And that's not all, my precious brother. Even now God the Holy Spirit is present to give you faith through the hearing of the Gospel. It is His work to convict us of sin, righteousness and judgment. It is His work to create faith in our hearts as the Gospel is heard. He loves you and will comfort you. The Spirit causes us to see the goodness of the Father in giving His Son, which leads us to repentance and faith in His amazing kindness and love. We love Him because He first loved us!"

"Ben, God the Father loves you and saves you by His amazing kindness in giving you His Only Son. God the Son loves you and saves you by giving you His life, His death - His Doing & Dying & Raising to life again. God the Holy Spirit loves you and saves you by giving you faith to accept the fact that your sins were paid for on the Cross. You may believe on the name of the Son of God so that you may know, Ben, that you have eternal life, and that this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life."

Now, Ben really had believed, but as he heard the everlasting Gospel, faith was kindled in his heart. By the light provided by the Holy Spirit, he saw that he was accepted because Jesus is accepted by God. Jesus is his personal Representative and his Righteousness at the Father's right hand. He saw that, "Will God accept me?" was the wrong question. Rather, "Will I accept the fact that I've been accepted?" He was amazed that sinners were entitled to come to Jesus! In Jesus - bruised, mocked, and hanging on the cross - he saw the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He knew the truth of what Paul wrote: "If you belong to Christ Jesus, you won't be punished." Gratitude swelled in his heart for Jesus. Tears rolled down his cheeks. Joy filled his soul. Melted and subdued, a smile broke out on his face as he said: "I see it!..I see... that... it... was... for me! I accept it. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God! I claim His righteousness and His victory!"

That was Ben's last message of mercy. That night he was called home. He never lived to see another day. God raised Ben up to eternal life! "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!"

Meditations on The Spirit

Things To Meditate On The Holy Spirit

I wrote this some time in the 1970s. It draws on some things then being discussed among the non-instrument churches. It speaks to some of the issues today about the "worship question."

It is right to learn from a brother's experience and thinking. In fact, this is one of the safeguards built into the Christian System (the church-kingdom) Compare Galatians 1:19; Acts 15:4; 11:4. Logan Fox was for some time a missionary to Japan. He is also a Family Counselor. Here are two quotations from him.

"The counselor learns to accept the client, whatever the client's behavior or feelings. This involves neither approval nor disapproval, but is a deep respect for the person and worth of the client. This, to me, is love, and this is something we can do in obedience to the will of God." "I am now convinced that the church is failing in its mission of 'healing' because we have failed to heed Jesus' words: 'Judge not.' We have relied on the power of social disapproval in trying to change people's behavior rather than relying on the power of acceptance and love. In this, we have shown that we trust the power of the world more then we trust the spiritual power of love and holiness."

And this from another brother, whose name I have forgotten. "Freedom is not someone's gift, nor do we need to ask permission for it. We must not complain that we are not free, and it is ours to act 'freely."' The devil wants us to believe that we are still slaves. But Christ has set us free; See John 8:36; Roman,, 6:18; 8:2; Galatians 5:1. We are already free and just need to act that way!

"A man's mind, stretched by a new idea, can never go back to its original dimension." (Oliver Wendel Holmes) This is really another way to say what Jesus said about 'new wine' and 'old wineskins.' Do we act out what we claim to believe???

"Revitalize the worship by practicing the presence of God!" Jesus said HE was right there when "two or three are gathered together in My name" (Matthew 18:20). Do we 'believe' Jesus is here as we worship??? If we could see Him with our eyes -would it make any difference in HOW we worship???

To work something out, you must begin at the right point. But this may not be where you thought it was. This is certainly true of the work of the Lord's church. "I was typical in my approach to worship. I was focused so much on evangelism and I thought that was what the church was about. Worship was an auxiliary activity. But in 1958, after hearing G. R. Carlson speak about the priority of worship, I was convinced that my approach was wrong. When God calls us to worship Him, His goals are encounter and action. He wants to meet with us and move among us, interacting with and transforming His people. God is not administering a Bible quiz on Sundays, checking to see that everyone is making the right doctrinal and biblical sounds so that He can bless them the following week." (Jack Hayford)

"Praise and worship are not the same. Praise is thanking God for the blessings, the benefits, the good things. It is an expression of love, gratitude and appreciation. . .Worship involves a more intense level of personal communication with God, centering on His Person. In concentrated worship, there is a sort of detachment from everything external as we enter God's presence...As I made praise part of my daily life, I began to see the power that God provides. I began praise in the morning, often singing in the shower. I continued all day long in the car, in my home, even at work." (Thurlow Spurr)

The worship service is the place to begin evangelism. And worship grows out of praise in our own life. Our own praise and joy will lead us to worship with more power. And worship based on praise and joy will cause others to turn to Christ. In this way our goal of evangelism will be fulfilled.

"Do not put out the Spirit's fire!" This is what Paul is saying in 1 Thessalonians 5:19. "HE will be with you forever!" That's what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit. Joel spoke of the Spirit being poured out on both "men and women, both old and young, etc. (Acts 2). We are to be "filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). We are to "pray(ing) in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 20).

But some, as Forrest H. Wells says, had in the past "used truth to teach error in order to explain the absence of an active Lord among an unbelieving people. We had deprived the Spirit of His role and place among us. Paul warns of having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). We have accepted His blood but not His Spirit. Compare what Jesus said about the Pharisees in John 5:38-40. They studied the Scriptures intensely and firmly believed these were the word of God - yet they missed the point when they did not Jesus. See how Paul brings this out in 2 Corinthians 3:6-18.

"Jesus didn't go from door to door. He didn't canvass the neighborhood. He was the Light, and people who were in darkness came to Him. He will teach us, day by day, and when we have learned the lesson, He will give us someone with whom" to share it." He "opens doors" and also shuts them (Revelation 3:7-8).

Dr. Flavil Yeakley is an expert on Church Growth. In a recent survey of a typical Church of Christ (congregation): only 53% believe they are saved. 2% actually believe they are lost. The rest really do not know whether they are saved or lost. These are the "active members" who were surveyed. How can someone with no assurance of his own salvation, reach out convincingly to "the unsaved?"

"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). Compare Ephesians 2:19-22; Philippians 3:8-11; Titus 3:4-?; Romans 8:31-39.

Book to read: "Christian, You were Baptized In water And Spirit." Robert Leon Gibson

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Let's Have Church!

Rhoderick D. Ice

It was just before WWII in one of the large cities of the South. Trucks rolled into the inner city and the crew began putting up the Gospel Tent on the vacant lot where the Circus came each year. Loudspeaker vans went through the city streets blaring the congregation singing: "There’s Power In The Blood." The song leader’s voice could be heard shouting: "Gospel Meeting tonight in the big tent! Everyone come!"

And people did come. A rainbow of ethnic groups. Many of the poor and dispossessed. Some in suits & ties. Old people and young children and those in between. But they came and they filled the Gospel Tent. Finally everyone was seated on the rickety folding-chairs.

"Let’s all sing!" shouted the song-leader. "Everyone join in and sing as loud as you can!" He began singing: "Would you be FREE from the BURDEN of SIN? There’s POWER in the BLOOD!’"

The people sang with enthusiasm! "POWER, POWER, Wonder working POWER, in the BLOOD, of the Lamb, there is POWER, POWER, Wonder working POWER, in the Precious BLOOD of the LAMB!"

They were lifting the voice of joyful praise to the Lord. Would the Apostle Paul have done what this tent evangelist was doing? Read what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, and compare Philippians 1:15-18.

Brother Ed, the Evangelist, stood up to speak. "Glory to God!" he shouted. "The Bible says Jesus came so that the world through Him might be saved! I am not ashamed of the Gospel! There is POWER in the Blood!"

"Let’s have CHURCH!" he shouted. He waved his Bible in the air. "Let's have CHURCH! - Unashamed! With Power! Jesus- Worshipping! Sin-Busting! Devil- Chasing! Bible-Loving! Saving! Renewing! Praising! and With All The Joy The Holy Spirit Provides!!!"
(And I remembered 2 Timothy 1:7. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.")

Brother Ed continued: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of how Christ died and rose again from the dead! Jesus is a Hero! He rescued us from sin and death. The real Day of Atonement was that Day when Jesus was Nailed to the Cross. The Lamb of God took away the sin of the world! Jesus said that when He was lifted up on the cross, He would draw everyone to Himself. Everyone who believes Jesus was raised from the dead will come to Him!"

Brother Ed said: "I have never heard anyone say, ‘When I studied geography my whole life changed.’ But I do know that when I studied Jesus Christ I was set free from sin! I don’t beat my wife or abuse my children. I am honest and pay my debts. I try to do good to everyone. The love of Christ fills my heart and soul! I want to share this Love with everyone who will listen!"

"Church, let’s have POWER! When God’s people of old prayed - things happened! Elijah prayed and God turned off the rain for three and a half years. Elijah prayed again and the rains came down. Every Christian has the authority to PRAY! Let everyone who is FREE IN CHRIST come to the Foot of the Cross in prayer and praise and let us lift ONE VOICE to our GOD!"

"It is time for a Christian revolution," he shouted! "We are in the battle for the hearts and souls of mankind! If God crushed Satan beneath the feet of the Christians at Rome [Romans 16:20], HE certainly is able to do the same today if we reach up to Him in prayer. God is saying, ‘By thy faith command thou Me!’ When we believe and then ACT - our God will do what we cannot do!"

Perhaps we do need a more aggressive faith (not an arrogant faith); certainly a more joyous faith. The Tent Evangelists came into an area and practiced "Guerrilla Evangelism." People would come to a tent service who would not consider going to a "church." On Pentecost in Acts 2 crowds of people were reached and 3,000 were baptized into Christ that one day. Thousands more flooded into the Kingdom and the Jerusalem Church grew to perhaps 100,000 believers. When these people were scattered by persecution in Acts 8, they took CHRIST with them everywhere they went! Like gasoline poured on a fire, these believers exploded the Gospel of Christ across the First Century world. Certainly God-The-Holy-Spirit was enabling them [Compare Acts 1:8,14].

The Gospel is the POWER of God at work - saving all who believe and obey! The Word of Christ cannot fail! Revelation 7 speaks of the great number of the Saved!

A huge crowd of people,
too many to count them all,
standing in front of
the Throne and the Lamb.
They are from every race
and language, every nation
and tribe, dressed in white,
the sign of Victory!
Who are these? Where do
they come from?
They came through the
terrible persecution.
They’ve washed their robes,
scrubbed them clean
in the blood of the Lamb.
They stand in praise and worship
standing in front of the Throne,
serving Him day and night,
in the Eternal Temple.
The Lamb is in the center of
the Throne. He will shepherd
the people of God, and lead them
to Eternal spring-waters of Life.
No more tears, no sickness,
no sorrow, no persecution,
no death! All is new!
Oh, Yes! I’m on my way!
I’ll soon be there!
Come! Lord Jesus!

God-The-Holy-Spirit is vital to the life of Christ’s church.
Note John 7:37-39.

Jesus stood
on the final day of the Feast.

"If anyone thirsts, let him come
to Me and drink.
Rivers of living water
will brim and spill out
of the depths of the one
who believes in Me."

Jesus said this about
The Holy Spirit Who
would be given when
He - Jesus - was glorified
in the Cross and Resurrection.
God has made Jesus both Lord and Messiah!

If you sewed together arms, legs, a body and a head, you might make a "baby." But without the "spirit" it would not be living. In every generation a Movement arises that seeks to duplicate the New Testament church of the Apostles. They install elders and deacons, and all the known programs of the apostolic church. They set in order baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But without the life-giving Holy Spirit it is just a copy. The church is built for a "habitation of God through the Spirit" [Ephesians 2:22].

Campbell stressed "head" religion. If we merely impart knowledge of the scriptures and biblical principles, we have not made them "spiritual."

Stone stressed "heart." The Eunuch went on his way rejoicing. We need both "head" and "heart" in our life in Christ Jesus. It is said of those first Christians: "Praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
No person or institution has the power to produce spirituality in someone. There are no shortcuts. Only God The Holy Spirit does that. We need to stress the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" [Titus 3:5] "which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior." The Holy Spirit Himself makes intercession for us [Romans 8:26-28]. Christians are being changed into the "same image from glory to glory" [2 Corinthians 3:18] even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

We remember You, Jesus,
in the Lord’s Supper:
Your body of flesh nailed
to the cross, Your blood
poured out for the sins of us.
Your death and resurrection
is the atonement for sin.
You are the Scapegoat who
carried away forever the sins
that have been forgiven.
You give us the authority to say
Abba, Father, to God the Almighty.
You make us joint heirs with Yourself.
Oh God, our God, how majestic is
Your Name above all the earth!!!

Learning From Boston

Learning from the Boston Movement
Rhoderick D. Ice

["1210" is a non-instrument church in Ithaca, NY, made up of townspeople and students. The Boston Movement, as it was at first, had a potential to do amazing things and they were quite successful. This is a report about the Boston Movement as it was in 1980.]

In 1980 the "1210" Church of Christ in Ithaca, NY, sent me to the New England Evangelism Forum held by the Lexington Church of Christ, that year at a location in Arlington, Mass. We had heard that great things were happening and that the Church of Christ was growing in Metropolitan Boston, of all places. I was part of a group from "Upstate" New York. We were going there to observe and to learn. It is certainly right to learn, and we want to always do the best job we can do for the Lord. Note this article deals with what I saw and experienced in 1980. I believe it has implications for our body life and mission today. I wrote this to pass out to the "1210" congregation.

As part of my experience, I stayed overnight with a group of college students [I was 51 at the time]. We occupied every inch of space in the house. It was a mountaintop experience. The Forum was filled with renewal and revival. The singing was enthusiastic and the "spirit" [Spirit!] was like the Book of Acts. Great things were happening!!! We felt privileged to be there.
When I returned home, I composed this report to the church about what I had seen and experienced. To illustrate and support my conclusions, I drew on some things Ben Merold had written in the Standard and some things from other papers. Although this may now be ancient history, the message is certainly relevant today. I have revised my language slightly and made use of the new CEV "Basic English" Version.

History of the Lexington Church of Christ in 1980. Late in 1978 they were ready to give up and disband. They were a "southern church" in the North. In desperation they determined to make one last effort. The Church called Kip McKean to become the "evangelist." One or two families left at this point, objecting to change. With what is now called a discipling ministry, they grew - in just over a year - from 40 to 210 in attendance; contribution from $250/wk to $2300/wk. 145 people were baptized: 60% students, 40% non-students. At that time, 90% of those baptized were assimilated into the congregation and remained faithful.

Evangelism-Worship-Edification-Benevolence. A "Package Deal." One cannot separate them successfully.

Ben Merold, Fullerton, CA, wrote: "THE CHURCH SERVICE - there is a sense in which personal evangelism starts right here. No church seems to be successful in organizing personal evangelism or promoting spontaneous 'witnessing' if it does not have the kind of service that would make people want to bring others. Often the question is asked: 'How do you get a personal evangelism program started?' My answer is: 'Get rid of your dead [moribund] church services.' I give that answer truthfully because I really believe that personal evangelism and church services are interdependent. If the services are dead and dry it will be difficult to motivate people to visit for personal evangelism. On the other hand, it will be difficult to have excitement and a feeling of accomplishment in the services if there is no personal evangelism that leads new people to the services and to Christ."

Worship and Empathy at the Forum. The singing at the Forum was powerful, resoundingly positive in tone, moving, uplifting. Compare cheer-leading at a football game. It generated a holy excitement among the participants. But it was much more: we were praising God with all our hearts! It was our intention to call upon all His mighty power in order to do His work!!!
Ben Merold wrote: "The effective preacher today is preaching through a book in the Bible and applying it to people's needs. Where this kind of preaching is found we also find people carrying their Bibles, using them, and showing great interest in getting answers from the Scriptures. Biblical preaching is a must for a warm, meaningful church service.. .More variety is being introduced into our services. I am not saying that all change is good, but I do believe change and variety would be welcome in most of our churches and would motivate our people to tell others. Well-planned services sparkle with variety. New approaches to a prayer period may be in evidence, visual aids may be used in the service, more variety in songs and singing, changes made in the way the gospel invitation is presented, and the Lord's Supper is being observed in a variety of ways that emphasize its meaning. This is as it should be!" [And of course these things are to be done in "Scriptural ways." Some things must stay the same. Some are a matter of "style" and may be adapted to the congregation. Note that our blackboards and overhead projectors are visual aids.]

Personal Evangelism at Lexington. Answers found in one setting may also be the answers in another setting Scripture tells us what to do - experience tells how it might possibly be done. Note how Paul explained his methods in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22. While preserving the unchangeable Gospel, Paul adapted style and methods to the people he worked among.
Ben Merold wrote: "Dr. Flavil Yeakley, Jr., in 'Why Churches Grow' explores evangelistic tools. Surprisingly enough, sermons were rated as being more personal than any other method of evangelism with the exception of a personal call where evangelism is carried out in a conversational setting. Dr. Yeakley concludes that one person coming as a concerned friend, is more productive for the kingdom than the use of sophisticated tools for calling and 'witnessing.' Such a conversational approach does not leave out the Scripture, for evangelism cannot be separated from the Word of God. The plan of salvation must be presented from the Bible - not just referring to it. MORE AND MORE I SEE PERSONAL EVANGELISM TAKING THE FORM OF A FRIENDLY NON-MANIPULATIVE DISCUSSION OF THE BIBLICAL TEACHING OF CHRIST, HIS SALVATION, AND THE CHURCH. This, of course, highlights the need for constant training in the use of the Scriptures in evangelism. This kind of training is starting to take place in many of our churches."

Some explanation:
1) Evangelistic Bible Studies. These are an open, friendly discussion of the Bible in non-manipulative dialog, which sincerely studies together with the other person(s) from the Bible itself. These are set up by everyone who is willing to take a part, on a spontaneous basis. [Experience in our own area led us to conclude that a regular informal Bible study, always in the same location, was the most satisfactory. This worked with adults and senior citizens as well as students.]
2) Building credibility. A secondary result of these Bible Studies is to build credibility in the minds of those who participate in them. We were also able to restore a few non-attenders. Lots of religious groups come to knock on our doors. We are seldom inclined to listen to them. Of course we always remember that it is CHRIST JESUS whom we are to elevate.

Discipleship And Shepherding
Ben Merold wrote: "Our church leaders have always been more involved in organization than in ministry. However I see a trend the other way. More and more men and women are involved in and concerned about shepherding and discipleship. There is a willingness to teach and work with the person who has a life problem or who voices non-Christian beliefs. The person who is different is looked upon more as an opportunity for ministry than as a threat. More people are willing to get involved in ministry to others, but many preachers and leaders still view these concerned brethren with suspicion. Too many of us in leadership positions have taught the priesthood of believers and then felt threatened by anyone who tried to follow our teaching. But I sense a greater willingness to train people to minister and then to allow them to do so."
1) Discipleship: Creating people who are committed to actually following the teachings of Jesus. Jordan restates the Great Commission: "As you travel then, make students of all races and initiate them into the family of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to live by all that I outlined for you. And you know, I am right there with you..." Bible Studies are slanted toward motivating people to take this commitment upon themselves. Repentance ["reshape your lives"] is an attitude which produces commitment and thus discipleship. We are STUDENTS of Jesus Christ.
2) Shepherding: The family (of believers) creating close ties between those who are members of the Family, watching over its "children" to help them to grow and to solve their own problems. A 'buddy-system" pairs Christians in such a way that new converts are quickly integrated and assimilated into the fellowship of the Church. This is like an older child being told to watch out for the younger child.

Holiness is not impossible! "That's why the Scriptures say, 'I am the Holy God, and you must be holy too" [1 Peter 1:16 CEV]. We have God's help. We should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. We choose Whom we may serve. The Bible principle is: "My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don't be tempted yourself" [Galatians 6:1 CEV]. Also: "Don't consider them your enemies, but speak kindly to them as you would to any other follower" [2 Thessalonians 3:15 CEV].

A quotation from John Bertolucci speaks to this. "We hear God call us beyond the honeymoon and the good feelings. He tells us to make decisions, to repent, to change our lives and become holy. He tells us that He has poured out His Holy Spirit so that He may have a people who look like His people. When we hear this word and take it seriously, we could get discouraged. Because once we get serious about growing in holiness, we find out what bad shape we are in. We discover the patterns of worldly behavior that we have all absorbed, even if unconsciously - the prejudice, racism, narrow-mindedness, the sin. And we think, 'How can I change all this? How can I become holy? Oh, this is a hard word!' There are many instructions in the Scripture about how to grow holy. Almost all are simple. So let's not complicate the call to holiness. You don't have to go to Uganda; you don't have to be pushed up against the wall by Communists. You can start growing holy right where you are today. You don't even have to step out of your house - you may have some screaming little ones right there you have to love. There may be someone just down the hall, or right next door, or maybe sitting in the same room with you - that you have to love. That's where holiness begins. How about hospitality to those who belong to a different race, or who aren't so easy to get along with, or who are lonely and forgotten? Are you so busy growing holy that you never reach out to others??? That's why some individuals and some groups never get anywhere. The holiest thing you might do is not criticize and put one another down. There is nothing more exciting in life, there's no greater adventure, than to grow in holiness, to draw near to our God, the consuming fire!"

God's Great Gift of Life!!! "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast sure love for David." [Isaiah 55:1-3 NRSV].

"It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.' The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. ..The one who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" [Revelation 22:16-20 NRSV].

[Note: The "International Churches of Christ" as they are now called seem to have fallen into the "Ephesian error" (see Revelation 2:4-5). Some have said this is only "Church-of-Christ-ism" taken to the n-th degree. If this is true, some changes must be made in our own doctrine and practice. Someone has said: "If we are right about things, but wrong about Jesus, we have failed. If we are right about Jesus, and wrong in some things (Romans 14), we have succeeded." It is something to think about.]

Holy Meal

Rhoderick D. Ice

Things are done which splinter the church, and then 'doctrine' is cited to justify what has taken place. Certainly we must maintain purity, but often it is really style which we intend to safeguard. Those First Century churches were united in worship, yet certainly "Jewish" and "Gentile" didn't look the same in matters of style and expression. But they were in essence doing the same thing. It was their purpose to be led by The Spirit to worship Him in truth.
For example: Once upon a time in a northern city, there were two Churches: one mostly "white," the other mostly "black." Since they were in "fellowship," they often did things together. One day someone asked: "Why are we not one church, rather than two?" The leaders got together and talked over this matter. A day was set; the time came; they - the church - met together to worship as one group. The preacher was "white." Most of the elders were "black." The "members" were equally "white" and "black." When they sang, the songs took on the character of the one who was leading the singing: sometimes "white," and sometimes "black." The prayers sounded "different" depending upon who led the prayer. The Lord's Supper meditations sounded "different." Everything was "scriptural," yet the "style" was varied. But the church said: "We are one. We praise the same Lord. We celebrate our 'different-ness.' We are each brothers and sisters in the Lord's Family." And peace and unity prevailed.

Let's think about this by looking at the Lord's Supper. Jesus certainly instituted a "Supper" rather than a pattern. We eat this Holy Meal in memory of Him, without regard to all the minute details and accidental happenings that might be considered. On Pentecost, some 3,000 were baptized into Christ. The Jerusalem Church quickly grew to some one hundred thousand members. They continued to meet as a group in the Temple. How did they structure the Lord's Supper??? We are not told, although we are certain they did eat this Holy Meal. It would always be their intention to praise and honor Jesus. One brother who makes an issue over the "container" is convinced the Jerusalem Church met in small "house-groups" and perhaps ate the Supper in the context of a Passover-style meal. If they indeed did this, it would be very "Jewish" in flavor.

Robert Milligan wrote, 1859: "We must, therefore, simultaneously eat of the commemoration loaf and of the bread of life; and while we literally drink of the symbolic cup, we must also, at the same time, drink spiritually of that blood, which alone can supply the wants of the thirsty soul. Unless we do this, the bread that we eat can in no sense be to us the body of the Son of God; nor can the wine that we drink be in any sense the blood of the New Covenant, which was shed for the remission of the sins of many." [from the Millenial Harbinger]

"Close-communnion" was never really an issue among the Restoration Churches. From time to time it is resurrected, but so far nothing has come of it. In justifying "open-communion," the "Harbinger" quoted from the "American Christian Review," 1862: "When an unimmersed person communes, without any inviting or excluding, it is his own act, not ours, and we are not responsible for it. We do not see that any harm is done to him or us...We commune with the Lord and His people, and certainly not, in spirit, with any not His people, whether immersed or unimmersed. We take no responsibility in the matter, for we neither invite nor exclude."
"Open-communion" has continued to be the universal practice among the Restoration Churches, including the Non-instrument Churches. Each person chooses to participate in the Supper. "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup."

Jesus took bread & wine from the Passover Meal to memorialize a new thing: "My body which is broken for you." "My blood of the new covenant." He said this prophetically, as His death & resurrection were yet future from this moment of time. We eat this Holy Meal in memory of Jesus and His death, until He comes again.

Some make an issue of the bread and wine to be used in this Holy Meal. Some use matzos - the Jewish unleavened bread available in any supermarket. Others wish to cut any ties with the Jews and insist upon homemade unleavened bread. The Orthodox Churches go even further and use only leavened bread. The Jews probably used fermented wine. Some use only Welch's grape juice, or something like it. It will be noted that Scripture deliberately uses generic terms for "bread" and "fruit of the vine" in describing the Supper. While there is a term for unleavened bread [azumos], the generic "bread" [artos] is always used of the Supper. It would be possible to reproduce the exact form, texture, and chemical constitution of the Passover Meal celebrated by Jesus and His disciples. [Organically grown grain, ground by hand, baked in thin flat sheets on hot rocks. Wine produced from grapes trod upon by human feet.] But the use of generic words seem to indicate this would be unnecessary.

Here are some examples from history. Each intended to eat the bread and drink the fruit of the vine in honor and memory of Jesus. Note the style as each acts out the Supper of the Lord.

Place: Bethany, (W) VA. Time: Sunday morning, some years before the War Between The States. Alexander Campbell is presiding at the Table, assisted by his father, Thomas. On the Table are the customary loaf of [raised] bread, baked by one of the sisters; and two chalices containing the cup of fruit of the vine [fermented], also produced by a sister.
Campbell read: "Then, taking a cup, he gave thanks, and said, Take this, and share it amongst you; for I assure you, that I will not again drink of the product of the vine, until the Reign of God be come." [Luke 22:17-18 Living Oracles Version]
Thomas Campbell, the father, then worded a prayer of thanks and blessing for the bread and fruit of the vine.
Then the congregation came forward, two by two. Both Alexander and Thomas broke off a piece of the bread, dipped it in the fruit of the vine, and put it in the mouth of the brother or sister. It was their intention to commune in the body and blood of the Lord. They have done what the Lord said to do.

Place: TV studio. Time: 1992. A group of ten brothers and sisters are met to eat the Supper as the worship is broadcast. A brother took the wafer of bread [unleavened] and crushed it into crumbs, dropped it into the chalice containing "the cup of fruit of the vine," and stirred it with a silver spoon. A prayer was said. The congregation came one by one. He dipped a spoonful of the bread/wine mixture, and dropped it into the mouth of the worshiper, without touching that person's lips. It was their intention to commune in the body and blood of the Lord.

Place: First Church of Christ. Time: 1949. The deacons first circulated among the congregation, giving each who wished to eat this Holy Meal a wafer of bread [unleavened] plus an individual cup of fruit of the vine [grape juice]. Each held these, waiting in expectation.
An elder stepped to the Table, read from 1 Corinthians 11, and called on another elder to word the prayer. Then, holding up his individual piece of bread, he spoke: "Take, eat, this is My body." Each simultaneously ate his/her piece of bread. Then the elder held up his individual cup of wine, and spoke: "This cup is the new covenant in My blood." Each simultaneously drank his/her cup of fruit of the vine. It was their intent to commune in the body and blood of the Lord.

Place: Texas. Time: After WWII. A small group has met to worship the Lord. The bread [unleavened] is a flat, crisp, circle, baked by one of the sisters. The fruit of the vine [fermented] is in a china cup with a handle. A brother read from Scripture. Another brother prayed. The bread was unbroken before it was passed. Each broke off his/her piece to eat it. Another brother prayed. The cup was passed and each drank from the one container. It was their intent to commune in the body and blood of the Lord.

Time: 1996. Place: TV studio. The Preacher begins. "Friends, we have come to gather around the Lord's Table. I want you to know that we preach the Old Fashioned Gospel. Part of this is that we gather around the Lord's Table on Sunday to eat the unleavened bread and drink the fruit of the vine. Get your unleavened bread and your fruit of the vine. We'll soon be ready to partake. The Lord's Supper is a command. Jesus told His disciples to teach obedience to all that He commanded. Matthew 28:19. And so we are commanded to observe the Lord's Supper."

"You that can't get out to the House of the Lord, you can obey this command right here on television as we eat and drink the Lord's Supper together. Mark 14. 'Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.' Get ready now. Take your unleavened bread. Eat it. This is the Lord's body. Now take your fruit of the vine. As they did when Jesus was there at the Last Supper, when Jesus said, 'This is My blood,' drink the cup. Let us pray. 'We thank You Lord Jesus for Your body and blood. We thank You Father for sending Jesus. Bless each one who has participated in this Lord's Supper with us today. We pray in Jesus' blessed and holy name, Amen. Now we have done what the Lord told us to do. We have eaten and drank at His Table in the Kingdom."

Place: here. Time: last Sunday. We were gathered to worship. The brother who served that day presided at the Table. On it were two circles of crisp bread [on plates], baked by one of the sisters. Also two trays with individual cups [containers] of grape juice. The brother read a few verses of Scripture, then prayed. Two younger brothers, who were assisting this day, passed through the congregation with the bread. Each person broke off his/her piece and ate it. Returning to the Table, each assistant served the bread to the other. The brother prayed a second time. Those assisting took the trays of cups [containers] and passed through the congregation. Each person took a cup and drank it. Returning to the Table, each assistant served a cup to the other. We have done what the Lord said to do. We have celebrated His death and resurrection and coming again. We have recognized His body which was crucified; and we have recognized His One Body of which we are part. We have proclaimed His death until He comes again! It was our intent to commune in the body and blood of the Lord.

We can eat the Supper in a variety of style and do what the Lord has commanded. Why cannot this same tolerance of style be extended to other things? Paul could write to the Romans: "Welcome all the Lord's followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don't criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours." If Paul could "bless" differences in "food" and "days," perhaps we can "bless" each other in spite of differences. There is certainly a place to do as Paul commanded: "What you believe about these things should be kept between you and God. You are fortunate, if your actions don't make you have doubts."