Ask Your Preacher
At what point in the plan of salvation does the sinner "die with Christ?" Romans 6 seems to indicate this takes place at baptism, but I've heard different explanations for the meaning of Romans 6. Is baptism the burial of a person who is already dead to sin? Or do we die to sin at the point of baptism? Thanks.
Dear Baptism Broodings,
You are right in saying that baptism is when we die with Christ. The most well-documented and clearest doctrine in the New Testament is baptism… yet, it is also the most commonly ignored topic in the religious world. It is impossible to be saved without being baptized. Peter said it best when he said, “Baptism saves you” (1 Pet 3:21). Every person that became a christian in the New Testament was baptized – immediately. You won’t find a single person in the book of Acts that wasn’t baptized. When the first sermon was preached after Christ ascended into heaven, the apostles told the people that they needed to “repent and be baptized… for the remission of their sins” (Acts 2:38). Paul tells us that baptism is a burial with Christ, and only after that burial do we receive a new life (Rom 6:3-4). Baptism was so important to Paul that he was baptized even before eating or drinking (Acts 9:18-19), which shows how important it is because Paul hadn’t had food or water in three days (Acts 9:9)! Belief is not enough; even the demons believe in God (Jas 2:19). It is only when our belief is combined with obedience that we have living faith (Jas 2:17-18), and the very first command to obey that God gives us is to be baptized in the name of His Son (Matt 28:19, Mk 16:16). We die to sin when we are baptized.
We offer the Lord’s Supper in the evening to those who choose to miss morning worship for whatever reason, be it their job schedule, illness, or just to sleep in. It seems to me that, as was done in the early church, the Lord’s Supper should be offered once on the first day of the week. If a congregation chooses to have an evening Bible study, at least some, like myself, might not wonder whether I am, in fact, forsaking the assembly by not attending evening services. What is your position on this matter?
Two Too Many
Dear Two Too Many,
Let’s deal with the “job schedule, illness, or just to sleep in” statement first. If a congregation is actively saying that it doesn’t matter if you wish to skip part of the services on Sunday, they are wrong. God tells us that Sunday is “the Lord’s Day” (Rev 1:10), and the pattern we see is that faithful congregations emphasize attendance and emphasize prioritizing classes, services, and active involvement with the brotherhood. That certainly is the pattern we see in the early church (Acts 2:46-47). If a congregation has moved into the “multiple services, come if you feel like it and it is convenient” mentality – there are already bigger problems than whether or not you offer the Lord’s Supper twice.
Now having said that, a second offering of the Lord’s Supper is an issue that many good brethren wrestle with. Does a congregation have the right to offer the Lord’s Supper twice on Sunday? Is it biblical for a local church to offer communion in the morning and then offer it again at a Sunday evening service? We believe so, but we also believe that there is room for disagreement on this issue, and if a brother or sister doesn’t feel comfortable with a second serving of the communion, they should abstain. We must all seek to serve God with a clear conscience (1 Tim 1:19), and if you can’t do something in faith, you shouldn’t do it (Rom 14:23). Having said that, here are our thoughts on the subject of offering the Lord’s Supper twice on Sunday.
The Bible never tells us the amount of times that a congregation must offer the Lord’s Supper; it only tells us that it must be taken by the saints sometime on Sunday (Acts 20:7). This leaves us a twenty-four hour period in which a christian can gather with the church and fulfill this command. The specific times we choose to meet are an expediency… simply a matter of preference.
1 Cor 11:33 says that a congregation must “wait for one another”. 1 Cor 11:21-22 clarifies that the problem in Corinth was that they were eating the Lord’s Supper as a common meal and not waiting to do it solemnly together. The problem in Corinth was that they were eating communion for the purpose of filling their bellies instead of remembering the Lord’s death (1 Cor 11:34). The goal of waiting for one another was to provide a scheduled time to fulfill this command together. It didn’t mean that every christian needed to be present (otherwise, a congregation couldn’t partake of the Lord’s Supper unless every member was accounted for), and it didn’t mean that they couldn’t schedule multiple times to wait for one another. It simply meant that they had to treat the Lord’s Supper as a holy and spiritual meal of remembrance. The church is responsible for doing things in a decent and orderly way (1 Cor 14:40). Offering the Lord’s Supper in the morning and evening fulfills that command for order and decency. The congregation is providing specific orderly times for members to fulfill their command to gather with the church and take the Lord’s Supper.
The church is commanded to provide opportunity for christians to take the Lord’s Supper with the church, but the individual is responsible for taking it. If a congregation offers the Lord’s Supper in both the morning and evening, it is doing its job – providing opportunity. It is the same as the command to take up a collection. Most congregations provide opportunity for individuals to give financially at both the morning and evening services – which matches exactly with the command in 1 Cor 16:1-2. No one bats an eye when a congregation offers the collection basket twice. In fact, we would probably be shocked if a congregation refused to take someone’s contribution because they missed morning services. Yet, this is exactly the same as offering the Lord’s Supper twice. It is a matter of expediency. When a congregation offers the collection and the Lord’s Supper at both services, it is simply trying to provide opportunity for all (even those who were unable to attend in the morning) to fulfill God’s commands to give and take the Lord’s Supper on Sunday.
Your answers about tithing have been very biblical and correct. Thank you. And I already know your thoughts on our responsibilities as stewards of those funds... so what do you think about a huge treasury? If we are to be using these funds to do God’s will, then how can we justify, as His church, “storing up for ourselves on earth”? I mean, if we are to give of our means and know that God will take care of us… then why does His church need to try and keep bulk money in the account?
Not A Hoarder
Dear Not A Hoarder,
A congregation’s leadership would have the same reason for saving money as an individual would – savings is part of stewardship. If someone lives their life without a “rainy day” fund, we consider them unwise. Congregations have regular expenses and unexpected expenses – the problem with unexpected expenses is that you don’t expect them! God says that we must be wise stewards in all that we do (Lk 12:42-43, Matt 25:23). It is possible for a congregation to hoard money – this is wrong. It is also possible for a congregation to spend their money unwisely and not prepare for future expenses – this also is wrong. As in all issues of wisdom, there is a balance. You are right that churches should be using the funds they collect to do God’s will – that isn’t in question. The question is simply how and when to use those funds. That is trickier and requires wise elders to properly manage each individual church’s finances (1 Tim 3:5).
Many people think that after Saul was saved and regained his sight, he began his ministry without interruption. But in fact, he later says he was sent to the desert for three years. I remember reading it, but I don't know where to find it. Can you help me with that verse please?
Stuck In The Desert
Dear Stuck In The Desert,
The verses you are thinking of are Gal 1:15-18. After Saul's conversion in Damascus (Acts 9:17-19), Saul (more commonly known as Paul) left Damascus and went into Arabia for three years. It is during this three-year time period that Paul had his vision of Paradise (2 Cor 12:2-4). It is only after those three years that Paul eventually visited Jerusalem.
I am happy to write to you. I am wanting to know how you conduct your worship on Sundays.
God bless you.
Looking For Order
Dear Looking For Order,
The Bible gives us examples and commands for five different elements to the public worship.
- Teaching/Preaching (1 Cor 4:17)
- Singing (Eph 5:19)
- Prayer (Acts 12:5)
- Taking A Collection – Sunday only (1 Cor 16:1-2)
- Lord’s Supper – Sunday only (Acts 20:7)
Of these five elements, two of them are specifically allowed only on Sundays. The others can be done any time the brethren get together. The congregation here in Monroe, WA is a simple New Testament congregation, and our worship is just what you find in the Bible.