One Cup Call II

One Cup Call II

NOTE: My last posted article on this website was entitled “One Cup Call” (which please see). It revealed the details of a recent telephone conversation which I had with a good sister of the so-called “one cup” persuasion among us; a perspective which insists that all Christians must drink from the same, one container during communion – a perspective and insistence which is, in all reality, absolutely unsustainable when thoroughly examined, as outlined in that article.

After its posting, it was suggested to me by a good brother in Christ that I might please consider composing a follow-up article, but this time detailing and revealing more of the scriptural reasoning as to why the vast majority of the churches of Christ do not insist upon the “one cup” perspective. The following article is a loving attempt to biblically explain exactly that. Thank you for taking the time to thoroughly examine and consider its contents… God bless!

The first thing I would like to do is to commend my good brethren of the “one cup” persuasion for their concern and conviction, regarding wanting to be as biblically accurate in their worship as is as absolutely possible (John 4:23-24). I could only wish that a few more of my brethren overall were that concerned with biblical accuracy! It is certainly my personal hope to accomplish exactly that with the following examination of what the Scriptures actually say.

Those who insist on the usage of only “one cup” during communion, would point to Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:27, which states: “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying ‘Drink from it, all of you.” Certainly anyone can clearly see where any person or persons (such as our so-called “one cup” brethren in particular) who were striving for biblical accuracy above all else, would see in that passage a position for the usage of only one cup in the observance of communion. I can as well. Jesus took the cup; He gave thanks for the cup; He gave them the cup; and then He commanded His disciples to drink from the cup.

…But the passage doesn’t stop there. And just as with any biblical topic, in order to get the fullest, clearest, and most complete understanding possible, we must examine not only just the one verse, it’s context, contents, and any possible figures of speech or linguistic tools the speaker may or may not utilize therein, but we must also examine both the surrounding verses as well any other passages in the Scriptures pertaining to that particular topic, in order to see exactly what additional light they might possibly also shed on that particular, specific topic. Any failure to do so is exactly where every egregious, soul-costing and accosting, caustic religious error always originates – on any topic and in any area! Tragically, failure to thus thoroughly study through Scripture is precisely what all too many of our denominational friends and neighbors do with John 3:16 – all the while completely and utter excluding all such other divinely-inspired passages as Acts 2:38, 22:16, James 2:19-24, and 1 Peter 3:21, to name but a few!

And so, we consider the rest of that passage: Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:27-29).

The cup,” for which Jesus “gave thanks,” and of which He then gave to His disciples and commanded them to drink, He Himself then immediately defines and refers to as, “this fruit of the vine” in verse 29. This is known as “metonymy,” a term which Merriam Webster’s free online dictionary defines as:  A figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated (as ‘crown’ in ‘lands belonging to the crown’).” Jesus often made use of the phrase “drink of this cup” in similar, metonymic fashion – but never actually focusing on or referring to the importance of the literal cup, lone or otherwise! In every case He used the term to focus on and refer to that which was related to or associated with it (See: Matthew 20:22, Mark 10:38-39, John 18:11, and 1 Corinthians 10:21)!

As brother Guy N. Woods additionally stated, Thus, by metonymy (the container “for the thing contained” – Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary), our Lord used “the cup” to signify what it contained, the fruit of the vine… Thus, “the cup” of the first sentence (verse 27), becomes “this fruit of the vine” in the last sentence (verse 29). In effect, the Lord said, “By the ‘cup’ I mean, ‘this fruit of the vine.’ The one cup (container) advocates say, ‘by the cup’ we mean the container!” (Questions And Answers; Open Forum, Freed-Hardeman College Lectures,” © 1976, by Guy N. Woods).

Jesus Himself defined precisely what He meant by “the cup” (i.e. “this fruit of the vine”) in the very passage under consideration. Jesus no more gave thanks for the container itself than He meant to imply that it contained His literal blood in Matthew 26:27-29 – which of course it did not. In both cases, by His own admission and instruction, He was describing, defining, focusing on and giving thanks for the physical “fruit of the vine,” which was in the container, and not the literal (and infinitely insignificant by comparison) cup or container it was in. To contend for one container, and insist upon and further transfer the pre-eminence and importance to the container, over that of its contents, is something neither Christ or His disciples ever did or taught – but in fact, just the opposite.

Consider the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” When Paul wrote that to the congregation in Corinth, he was more than 300 miles away in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8). Paul could not possibly have been contending for one, literal, “cup,” because he included both the Ephesian and Corinthian congregations – over 300 miles apart – in the shared “we” of that statement. Both congregations shared in the same blessing of “the cup.” But obviously both congregations were not using the same, lone, literal one container – or loaf. That is not at all what the emphasis, importance, or divinely-inspired instruction was anything about. The emphasis, importance, and divinely-inspired instruction and focus here, is on the unity, oneness, and common union (“communion”) we all have with one another, because of the blessed blood of Jesus Christ!

The obvious emphasis and importance throughout here, is that we are all to be “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-29). We are all one body by virtue of the blood-sacrifice of, and our baptism into, the one body/church of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). If we desire to be obsessed with “one” anything, then may God help us to get it to be with being the “one,” undivided and undenominated body of Christ on earth, as God intended and as His Son prayed for the night before He died to establish that “one body.” After all, to divide that “one body” (a term which actually occur in Scripture – in fact, some ten times total in the New Testament – and therefore does bear defending), over something such as the literal “one cup” (a term which never actually occurs in Scripture anywhere) seems rather inconsistent with the Savior’s emphasis and sacrifice when you really study it out… doesn’t it?

(For more information, please see: http://www.clevelandcoc.com/?p=3942).

 

 

 

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Methuselah

If You Don’t Mind Me Asking… How Old Are You?

Ask most twelve year-olds who holds the record for living the longest and they will likely turn to the Guinness World Records and proclaim “Jeanne Louis Calment of France” who lived to the ripe old age of 122 years, 164 days. With all due respect to Ms. Calment, she is far from being the record-holder. She is not even in the top ten. In Genesis 5:27 we discover the true record holder. The text reveals that “all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.”

Nine hundred sixty-nine years old?! Is that possible? Think for just a moment about the vast old ages given for the patriarchs. For instance, we know Adam lived to be 930 (Genesis 5:5). What happens when our children or grandchildren open up the pages of God’s Word and begin reading about people who lived to nearly one thousand years old? You can just imagine them looking up, and with child-like innocence asking, “Mimi’s not that old is she?” What is our response? Were these literal ages? Or did they not measure time the same way back then? Living in a time in which one hundred years is considered a newsworthy accomplishment, these ancient ages may cause some to view the early chapters of Genesis as a myth or fable.

Consider that the Centers for Disease Control listed average life expectancy in the United States in 1900 as 47.3 years. With the advent of antibiotics, vaccines, and a full understanding of Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory of Disease, the average life-expectancy age had jumped to 68.2 by 1950. Life expectancy has continued to needle its way up over the last fifty years. We have mastered the art of invasive surgery under sterile conditions. We can even transplant organs that have failed. Each advancement incrementally increases the average life expectancy of man. For instance, by 1995 the average life expectancy was 75.4 years. Children born today in the United States have a life expectancy of 78 years. From 47.3 to 78 years in just over a century is a tremendous advance. This advancement can be attributed to two factors: better living conditions and scientific advancements. In the United States most citizens have clean drinking water, sanitary housing, and a better diet than those living 100 years ago. As such, our bodies are in better shape to fight off or withstand infections and viruses. In addition, scientific advancements in the medical field have made it possible for individuals to have procedures such as coronary by-pass surgeries that add several years to the life of individuals. However, these ages pale in comparison to those recorded in Genesis chapter 5.

Could the ancient patriarchs have really lived over nine hundred years? A quick calculation of the genealogies listed in Genesis 5 brings to light the average age of the patriarchs (excluding Enoch who was taken directly by God at the age of 365—Genesis 5:23-24) was 907. How was this physically possible? After all, they didn’t have the medical knowledge we possess today.

Skeptics have used the vast old ages listed in the Bible to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of students. They ridicule the very notion of humans living that long and thus call the entire text of God’s Word into question. But are their claims valid? Do these ages call into question the inspiration of the Bible? When answering this charge, it is important to keep in context the time which we are discussing. In modern times these ages seem impossible—because we do not see it happening around us today. But we are not living in the same conditions. The first thing we must establish is that the Earth then was vastly different than it is today.

At the end of God’s creative activities, everything was pronounced “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Consider that there were no pollutants. We had not yet filled homes with lead paint. We had not clear-cut rain forests. We had not yet filled our schools and factories with asbestos. We had not dumped raw sewage into rivers and oceans. We had not sprayed DDT on the ground, or covered our own troops with Agent Orange. We had not yet experimented with thalidomide on pregnant women in an effort to cure morning sickness. Every single thing was “very good.”

Today when we ask the question of why people die, we are often given a long laundry-list of reasons. The notion of death brings to mind diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, congestive heart failure, and the list goes on and on. Scientists have identified over 1,600 harmful genetic mutations that have found their way into the human gene pool. A quick reflection on your extended family will probably reveal that at least one of these harmful genetic mutations has found its way into your genes. Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancers of all types are running rampant through the human genome. But stop and consider this one question: How many of these harmful genetic mutations were in existence when God first placed Adam and Eve in the Garden? Answer: There were none! Everything was considered “very good.”

A physical analogy would be similar to having a pristine original word document and then making a Xerox copy. We then take the “copy,” and using it, we make another copy. We keep doing this twenty or thirty times—each time using the new “copy”—and we begin to see degradation over time. The contrast and sharpness of that final “copy” varies dramatically from the original. Now consider the replication and copying processing of human DNA. One can see that after many generations how these harmful mutations could have come into existence.

When discussing these vast old ages with family or skeptics, we must also point out how long were Adam and Eve designed to live? Had they not sinned, they would still be with us today. God created them “very good” and allowed them access to the Tree of Life. Their decision to disobey God introduced death to mankind.

But human physiology was not the only factor to consider. We must also consider the condition of the Earth itself. It too was “very good”. In Genesis 1:6-7, Moses described a firmament or heavenly expanse around the Earth. The term there used for firmament is the Hebrew word raqia which means simply the sky above the Earth. The Bible equates “firmament” with the “heavens” (Psalm 19:1). So what would the phrase “divide the waters which were under from the waters which were above” describe? The waters below the firmament are still all around us today: lakes, creeks, streams, oceans. Moses’ description of waters above the firmament is a good biblical indication that there was once a canopy of ice crystals or water vapor around the Earth.

Think for just a minute of all of the positive affects this canopy would have given men. We all know the damaging effects of the sun and the harmful ultraviolet rays. Thankfully we have an ozone layer in place that helps acts a filter to filter out some of those harmful rays. But consider what would happen if the Earth had both an ozone filter and this canopy in place to filter out harmful UV rays. Additionally, this canopy would have increased and stabilized the global temperature reflecting back down some of the sun’s rays, thus providing the Earth with more warmth—creating a tropical rain-forest-like environment. Additionally, there is strong scientific evidence that there was increased oxygen around during this time, which would also play a tremendous role in allowing those patriarchs to live to vast old ages.

Having established with our children the scientific truth that this Earth was different back then, we then turn to the Bible and demonstrate an example of this fact. We could show our children the account of Abraham and Sarah going down to Egypt. The text reveals that they journeyed south, for there was a famine in the land. Just prior to their entering Egypt, Abraham turned to his wife and remarked: “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live” (Genesis 12:11-12). Abraham knew that the Pharaoh would want Sarah. And that is exactly what happened according to the text. Sarah was taken into Pharaoh’s house, and that’s when the plagues rained down on Pharaoh. But do not miss the point. Have you ever stopped to calculate Sarah’s age when Abraham makes this statement? She was pushing seventy years old and yet Abraham was worried about the Pharaoh taking her because of her beauty. Indeed, things were different back then, and we need to make sure our children and grandchildren understand that fact.

We are making vast strides in increasing the life expectancy of man today—strides that are possible because Almighty God created man with the ability to learn and grow in wisdom. However, nothing will compare to the genetic gift God bestowed upon Adam and Eve. Their genes were the original copies that all human DNA have descended from (Genesis 3:20). Was it possible for them to live to the vast old ages described in God’s Word? Absolutely! The scientific and biblical evidence confirm and demand it.

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AUTORIZADO POR DIOS

AUTORIZADO POR DIOS

LAS CAMPAÑAS COLECTIVAS, CORRIENDO SOBRE UN CAMPO  MINADO

Por los últimos años la Iglesia del Señor ha entrado en “tiempos peligrosos”. Aquellos años de los 1800s han pasado y al parecer el deseo de regresar a las páginas de la Biblia únicamente, también en muchos. La moda, los deportes y en general la Globalización de nuestro mundo han ejercido mucha influencia en la Iglesia del Señor también. Sin embargo todo eso no se compara con la enorme presión que las denominaciones ejercen a la única Iglesia Bíblica. Las palabras de Pablo a Tito “Pero tu predica la sana doctrina” (Tito 2:1) o las que expreso a Timoteo “…que prediques la palabra; que instes a tiempo y fuera de Tiempo; redarguye, reprende, exhorta con toda paciencia y doctrina.” (2Timoteo 4:2), claramente indican que la intención del apóstol Pablo era que la Iglesia del siglo primero se mantuviera pura, limpia de las ideas humanas, que ellos como hermanos fieles pudieran preservar la doctrina no adulterada. El mismo autor en su despedida a los ancianos de Éfeso cita: “Porque yo sé que después de mi partida entrarán en medio de vosotros lobos rapaces, que no perdonarán al rebaño” (Hechos 20:29). 

Se Autorizado por Dios?

Se Autorizado por Dios?

El hermano Dave Miller en su libro piloteando en el estrecho cita lo siguiente; en referencia a nuestras congregaciones en el tiempo actual, él dice: “Es increíble pensar que, como Israel nosotros, no hemos aprendido la lección que buscar ayuda fuera de la palabra de Dios significa una clara deslealtad a Dios”.  Con toda razón el hermano Miller expresa esa frase. Pero la cuestión sigue siendo ¿Qué opina Dios? Nuestro enfoque en estos minutos es observar cuidadosamente y honestamente lo que ya Dios expresó en su santo Libro. La primer pregunta sería ¿Son Bíblicas las campañas colectivas?

DEFINIENDO LO AUTORIZADO POR DIOS

El debate quizás más popular durante muchos años con la Iglesia de Cristo es acerca de los instrumentos de Música. Hemos comprendido las tres principales reglas de la hermenéutica tradicional; Mandamiento directo, inferencia necesaria y ejemplo aprobado. Las primeras dos fueron métodos utilizados por Cristo mismo en su ministerio terrenal, la tercera fue necesario copiarlo tras el deceso de los apóstoles de Cristo. Sin embargo los instrumentos mecánicos no están autorizados bajo ninguno de los tres métodos anteriormente mencionados. Así que siguiendo esa línea de pensamiento nosotros debemos de ser consistente en todos y cada uno de los aspectos a tratar en el área religiosa. Jesús Dijo: “Id por el mundo y predicad el evangelio a toda criatura” (Marcos 16:15). Cristo nunca especifico la manera en la que los discípulos debían de hacer esto. No hubo un mandamiento directo de la manera como se debía de hacer esto. No obstante el mandamiento directo continúa presente y es el de…ir y predicar.

Los apóstoles nunca utilizaron un método específico de cómo hacer este mandamiento, aunque ellos también lo hicieron, por tanto tampoco hay un ejemplo aprobado de la manera exacta en cuanto al método para hacerlo. Aunque el ejemplo aprobado continúa ahí,  de que hay que hacerlo. El asunto está qué dentro de la inferencia necesaria, usted y yo podemos definir muchas de las limitaciones que no fueron especificadas. Ejemplo: porque hay que ir a evangelizar a todo el mundo no significa que vayamos a ir a un bar a predicar a los borrachos ahí presentes. O, nuestra lógica nos dicta que no podemos ir a hablar de la palabra de Dios a una reunión en progreso, como por ejemplo entrar en un edificio de los testigos de Jehová a evangelizar o incluso ponerse en pie en medio de un funeral de un incrédulo y comenzar a predicar en voz alta a toda la audiencia acerca de los terrores del infierno. Inferimos entonces que la predicación bajo ese punto de vista tiene sus propias limitaciones. Bien, las campañas evangelistica, tienen como fin predicar al perdido, hacerle ver su condición con Dios, al igual que las conferencia Bíblicas tienen como fin ayudar al cristiano a crecer y fortificarse en la fe o incluso animarse. No hay nada de malo en ello, al contrario tenemos una gran lista de pasajes como: Hebreos 10:24-25; 13:1, 1Tesalonisenses 4:18; 5:14, entre otros muchos que nos exhortan a animarnos, amarnos y crecer juntos. Obviamente cualquier actividad, incluso fuera del día domingo que lleve esta intención está autorizada por Dios y Él se agrada en ellas. Cualquier medio moral y espiritualmente correcto para predicar al perdido está en armonía con Dios, no importa si es físicamente o tecnológicamente, Pablo refirió lo siguiente “el cual quiere que todos los hombres sean salvos y vengan al conocimiento de la verdad.” (1Timoteo 2:4)!Sin duda, este es el deseo de Dios!

LO NO AUTORIZADO POR DIOS

Si ha logrado observar lo que son los campos de minas en películas, se logrará dar cuenta que son muy peligrosos. Nunca en toda mi vida he visto a alguien corriendo sobre esos campos. El hacer algo fuera de la autorización de Dios en su palabra es comparado con el ejemplo antes mencionado. El autor de Hebreos dice que, “horrenda cosa es caer en manos del Dios vivo” (Hebreos 10:31). Lo primero que  hay que entender para todos aquellos que cambian y están cambiando la palabra inspirada de Dios, por ideas, opiniones, o proyectos; aunque estos sean para hacer crecer a la Iglesia, es que, ¡habrá un  gran problema con Dios!

En cuanto a las campañas colectivas es decir; en grupo, hay varias minas que inevitablemente son pisadas y en la mayoría del tiempo sin darse cuenta. Analicemos con más detalle esos grandes peligros.

  1. CONSILIOS: La enciclopedia libre Wikipedia define concilio de la siguiente manera: “Del latín (Consilium). Es una reunión o asamblea de  autoridades religiosas (Obispos, y otros eclesiásticos) generalmente efectuado por la Iglesia Católica Romana o por la Iglesia ortodoxa para deliberar o decidir sobre las materias doctrinales o de disciplina”. Para llevar a cabo una campaña colectiva o global entre dos o más congregaciones, es necesario juntar a 1 o más representantes de las congregaciones interesadas, para llevar a cabo la organización de dicha actividad. Obviamente si pensamos en las Iglesias de Cristo, la definición de Wikipedia no se aplicaría. Ya que en nuestras congregaciones no hay obispos (en singular) sí lo hay; pero en pluralidad por cada congregación local. Estas juntas de representantes para las campañas colectivas, se acercan demasiado a la descripción de Wikipedia. No hay autorización de parte de Dios para tales concilios. El deseo de Dios era establecer ancianos sobre cada ciudad. (Tito 1:5), NO ancianos sobre muchas ciudades. Alguien puede argumentar; ¿Y que si no tenemos ancianos?, la respuesta es, que lo más sabio,  hermanos varones soporten cada decisión, sin tomar un rol de ancianos no calificados. Sin embargo aunque existieran ancianos en pluralidad, su trabajo como ancianos se limita a su congregación local únicamente. Tristemente en las campañas colectivas, siempre alguien tiene que tomar la delantera, un individuo sólo, es quien propone y con mucha astucia hasta quien dispone.  En los comienzos del movimiento de restauración Walter Scott se opuso a las sociedades misioneras ya que se formaba esa jerarquía no autorizada por Dios. Incluso hubo división de aquellos quienes optaron por “cómo se veía” que funcionaba mejor, de aquellos que decidieron seguir el patrón Bíblico de Evangelistas, maestros, diáconos y ancianos para organizar la Iglesia. Debería ser un ejemplo suficiente para nosotros en la actualidad. El Señor enseñó: “Entonces Jesús, llamándolos, dijo: Sabéis que los gobernantes de las naciones se enseñorean de ellas, y los que son grandes ejercen sobre ellas potestad.  Más entre vosotros no será así, sino que el que quiera hacerse grande entre vosotros será vuestro servidor,  y el que quiera ser el primero entre vosotros será vuestro siervo;”(Mateo 20:25-27. ¡El Maestro no se equivocó en su enseñanza!
  2. FONDOS: Cada primer día de la semana cada uno de vosotros ponga aparte algo, según haya prosperado, guardándolo, para que cuando yo llegue no se recojan entonces ofrendas.” (1Corintios 16:1). La Biblia ha sido muy clara en cuanto a la Ofrenda. Esta debe ser recogida únicamente el primer día de la semana. Cualquier  “Ofrenda” fuera del primer día de la semana, “ofrenda para campaña”, u “ofrenda de niños”, es una práctica no autorizada por Dios y una clara violación a la misma. Obviamente que las donaciones de congregaciones con fines específicos son cosas diferentes y que sí encontramos en la Biblia (1Corintios 16:3).Si estas conferencias, se manejaran bajo la supervisión de una congregación local, entonces los fondos para llevarlas a cabo serían controlados y regulados por esa congregación en particular o incluso que ésa congregación recibiera donaciones múltiples para la misma causa. Pero una pregunta a demandar sería: ¿En las campañas colectivas, quién o quienes controlan esos fondos? O ¿a quién se rinden cuentas de cuanto es el monto predestinado o, cuanto se gastó?$$$$… El Señor demanda honestidad de sus ministros y de todos los cristianos en general, una acusación de malversación de fondos puede ser hecha con justas y fundadas razones. Hacerlo a la manera de Dios (2Corintios 8:1-8)  a través de una congregación local y un ancianato  calificado ahorraría muchos problemas y murmuraciones innecesarias.
  3. DEMOCRACIA SOBRE LA PALABRA: en muchos de nuestros gobiernos la democracia, es la que sobresale y rige cada uno de los procesos electorales y demás leyes. Muchos de nuestros hermanos en el Señor han considerado prudente integrar la democracia a nuestras congregaciones. ¡La Iglesia de Cristo, NO es una democracia!, en las democracias la gente elige y decide que es lo más conveniente incluso cuando aquello electo por la mayoría no sea lo correcto.  Por las escrituras entendemos que existe una verdad absoluta y que esa verdad absoluta es el estándar moral y espiritual para todo ser humano y con especialidad para el cristianismo. En Juan 12:48 hablando sobre el estándar  Jesús expreso: El que me rechaza, y no recibe mis palabras, tiene quien le juzgue; la palabra que he hablado, ella le juzgará en el día postrero”. Así que aún antes del día del Juicio, la Biblia, la palabra de Dios viva es ése estándar para TODO. En las campañas colectivas una mina, que puede ser pisada es ésa precisamente. ¡Echar a fondo la palabra de Dios para establecer sobre ella una democracia! Lamentablemente nosotros podemos conocer solamente algunas de las posiciones doctrinales de algunas congregaciones y de acuerdo a 1Juan 4:1 el deber de cada cristiano es desconfiar, es probar, es cuestionar cada enseñanza incluso aquellas que proclamen ser de la sana doctrina, cuestionar actividades, o mega eventos. Este autor está indignado por la actitud de muchos de no cuestionar o preguntar. De cualquier manera la asociación con congregaciones que no están bien en la sana doctrina del Señor es algo que no se puede pasar por alto, es más, es algo terrible (2Corintios 6:14-16). Si una congregación sana de la doctrina se une a otra que no lo está para llevar a cabo una campaña evangelista, aunque ésta sea para salvar al perdido, el fin no justifica los medios. La verdad de Dios, su palabra, debe permanecer por sobre cualquier bandera de la unidad o de la amistad congregacional que se pueda levantar.

LA IGLESIA QUE CRISTO EDIFICO ES DE CARÁCTER AUTÓNOMO.

En toda la evidencia del N.T podemos observar como la Iglesia del Señor era autónoma, si bien es cierto no existe un texto Bíblico que contenga esta palabra explícita como tal, el concepto fundamental prevalece. Para poder comprender el término hay que tomar bajo consideración pasajes claves y ver a la Iglesia en sentido general y las iglesias en el sentido de congregaciones locales (1Cor 14:17; 7:17) Autónomo  significa ser “independiente” y lo que Dios quería asegurarse con esto era tener un freno bien establecido a la apostasía que vendría en el futuro y también la preservación de la sana doctrina. Hechos 20:28 Cuando Pablo encarga a los ancianos velar por la Iglesia en Éfeso, revela la autonomía en que los hermanos debían trabajar. En 1Pedro 5:1 Pedro estaba sirviendo como anciano en una sola congregación cuando expresa “Yo anciano también con ellos”, era un trabajo autónomo.

Precisamente la autonomía de la Iglesia es pisada, maltratadas e ignorada por aquellos quienes trabajan para las campañas colectivas, en muchas ocasiones. El interferir con problemas u organizaciones, planes o proyectos de una congregación es algo que no observamos en el Nuevo Testamento. Lo que si encontramos son congregaciones organizándose por individual para enviar una ayuda colectiva como es el caso en 1Corintios 16:3. Congregaciones de la Iglesia de Cristo en la actualidad sostienen escuelas de predicaciones, programas de televisión o radio, imprentas, editoriales etc. Pero  no hay comunicación o interferencia entre congregación a congregación y por tanto la autonomía se conserva. El buscar algo más para la Iglesia del Señor en nuestros días no es el problema, el problema es NO cuestionar si nuestras prácticas tienen arraigo en  las páginas de la Biblia o no. Si no lo están, hay que detenernos y tomar las mejores decisiones. La intención tampoco es agredir a nadie ni agradar. El apóstol Pablo en 1Timoteo 1:17 expresa la idea en que giran nuestras intenciones y deseos, él dijo: “Al Único y sabio Dios sea Honor y Honra…” Dios nos ayude a todos a honrar con nuestros hechos, enseñanzas y vidas al Sabio y eterno Dios.

© 2015 Heiner Montealto

Todos los derechos reservados  Azle Texas , Invierno  de 2015.

REFERENCIAS

 1. Miller, Dave, Piloting the Strait (Saint Publications, Pulaski TN 1996), pa 64.

2. www.es.m.wikipedia.org/concilio.

3. Todas las citas han sido tomadas de la Versión Reina y Valera 1960, a menos que se indique lo contrario.

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Cell Phone Privacy?

Cell Phone Privacy?

The controversy between Apple and the FBI has dominated the headlines and newscasts recently. The issue, as seen by many, is how private information in an individual’s messages on his cell phone should be kept from others. Is there an invasion of privacy whenever the government has access to those cell phones which are so much a part of our lives?

Do you really think you have privacy?

Do you really think you have privacy?

All of this leads to another matter. What do the messages on your phone or computer show about you? I am amazed how openly topics are discussed on Facebook or on other social media areas. Evidently, some fail to see that what they are posting in the privacy of their homes will become public and available to the world once they become part of the internet. Is what we do in private a truer indication of what we really are like than what we do when others see us? Communication on social messages is not private—it becomes available worldwide the instant the final key is hit.

Now, the other information not part of social messaging (like Facebook) is obviously more private, but it is known to those who are contacted using the phone or those who receive the text messages sent from that phone. The truth is that there is almost nothing that can remain absolutely secret.

So let me ask you a question. What would be revealed about you if others could know all that your phone “knows”? Would it reveal that your phone was ever used to bring blessings to others? Would it show that you had spoken words to encourage the lonely or to lift up the downtrodden? Would it show that you talked to fellow Christians who, by their lack of attendance, let you know they needed loving words from you? Would it show that the lost were encouraged to change?

On the other hand, would it show the very opposite usage? Would it show bitterness and hate in how it was used? Would it reveal instant messages about the mistakes of others? Would it show photos of you being in places and doing things Jesus would never do? Would there be forwarding of “cute” comments and stories which, in reality, broadcast the vulgarity of the hearts of the ungodly? Would it reveal the profound disrespect for the holiness of God and His name by the use of OMG, whether typed or spoken?

The reality is that your phone is always available to Someone. Absolutely nothing is hidden from eyes of the One above (Heb. 4:12). Let me loosely paraphrase some verses. “By our texts you will be justified or condemned…God will bring every secret thing on your phone into judgment, whether good or evil” (Matt. 12:37; Ecc. 12:14).

So, how private is your phone? It is not at all private to those above. Are there some changes you need to make?

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One Cup Call

One Cup Call

She called the office last week; some sister from somewhere on the east coast who was coming to Oklahoma with her family this summer and was looking for a faithful-to-the-word-of-God congregation of Christ’s church to worship with. Due to the sad state of affairs in the Lord’s church today as some people decide to deride, deny, over-ride, disrespect, disobey, disregard and discard the Lord’s New Testament pattern and authority when it comes to His one and only blood-bought church, such calls are now, sadly, somewhat of a necessity for the faithful. In fact, I’ve made them myself.

One cup for communion or multiple cups?  That was the issue.

One cup for communion or multiple cups? That was the issue.

At any rate, as she very gently and respectfully approached the subjects at hand, I decided to “cut to the chase” and save this good sister some time and potential discomfort. I wanted to ease her mind and let her know right up front that we were indeed a faithful to the old paths, God-fearing, Jesus-loving, bible believing, Scripture respecting and practicing congregation. “Let me help you out,” I said. I went on to assure her that if her family came to worship with us, they would not need to worry about experiencing vain worship according to the doctrines and desires of men, but would be amongst humble brethren worshipping in spirit and truth, and hence seeking with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength, to be exactly the kind of worshippers the Father is perpetually seeking (John 4:23-24). As a result, her family would certainly never encounter any females leading songs, leading prayers, preaching sermons, or serving on the Lord’s table in direct violation of the Lord’s divinely-dictated instructions and commandments in 1 Corinthians 14:33-37 and 1 Timothy 2:11-15; and that furthermore, it would be harder to find a musical instrument in our building than it is to find the so-called ‘sinner’s prayer for salvation’ in the Scriptures – absolutely non-existent in both cases!

At that point – although she seemed pleased thus far – she went on to ask if we observed communion each first day of the week (which of course we do in accordance with the Lord’s commandments as well – Acts 20:7). And then she inquired… as to whether we used one cup, or several. She went on to reveal how she and her husband were from a “one cup” congregation, and related how desperately, but fruitlessly to this point, she had searched to find one in Oklahoma for her family to worship with, as the last time they had been in Tulsa they had travelled for five hours, one way, to worship with a “one-cup” congregation in Arkansas! What incredible strength of conviction I thought! I mean, can you even imagine travelling for some five hours, past countless congregations that simply use multiple individual cups for communion, just to walk into a congregation full of total strangers, specifically to all drink from the same, one cup? (Because I must admit, if that were me, I would additionally want to get there early enough to set in the first seat, front row! How can that be considered even remotely sanitary… in today’s society especially?) I certainly admired this good sister’s courage and strength of conviction to say the least!

And so I informed her that I had a “Churches of Christ” directory there in the office which had abbreviations indicating the several different kinds of congregations listed, including the type she was searching for; and that although we in Cleveland weren’t a “one cup” congregation, I would respectfully help her to find one. After several more minutes of very pleasant conversation and supplying this good sister with the contact information for at least four such congregations with similar convictions in and/or around Tulsa, she thanked me for being so ‘helpful’ and voiced how she wished she and her husband could worship with us.

As I hung up the phone, I was suddenly very saddened. Saddened that this good sister and her family could not feel comfortable worshipping with us here in Cleveland. Saddened that the publishers of the so-called “Churches of Christ Directory” we have in the office feels they have to list so many factions, fractions, divisions, separations and abbreviations relative to we who are supposed to be as the one body of Christ (John 17:20-23; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Ephesians 4:4-6; Philippians 1:27). Saddened that there are reportedly some brethren out there who consider the use of multiple communion cups as opposed to one, to be the full and final test of fellowship and faithfulness. Saddened that some of my beloved brethren in Christ can seem to somehow believe that those of the rest of us washed in the same blood, and bought at the same price, and made members of the same church as they were, will be spending eternity in hell simply because we use multiple communion cups instead of succumbing to their personal perspective and insistence on everyone’s using only one.

Don’t get me wrong; if this was a biblically-accurate and scripturally-sustainable and defensible point, then I would also be all for it and would defend it to the death… but from everything I’ve ever seen and studied, and with all due respect, humility, and objectivity towards my “one cup” brethren, it’s neither. (And I have actually studied it quite a bit, and even had the privilege of presenting a series of sermons regarding both it and other elements often associated with it. Please listen in and check it out for yourself: http://www.clevelandcoc.com/?p=3942 .

But one of the saddest things associated with phone calls like that for me, lies in regards to what I consider to be one of the very simplest, most elementary, and most transparent and easy to see contradictions in the entire “one cup” perspective. This good sister’s home congregation used one cup… while the Arkansas congregation with whom she and her family worshipped last year – being one that also defends the “one cup” doctrine as well – obviously used a different and additional cup… as all four of the congregations I supplied her with contact information for will use yet more and different, separate cups from either her home congregation, the one in Arkansas, or one another… just as will every other “one cup” congregation in the world! Does anyone else besides me see the bitter irony here?

They all claim to be members of one church. They all believe in and militantly defend the doctrine of Jesus’ disciples all drinking from the same one cup during communion… and yet, at the very same time they defend a doctrine that divides them from those who claim that Jesus disciples can actually take communion from different cups, they actually also use different and multiple cups from one another when they are in congregations in different locations! They have to! It is a physical impossibility for all of Jesus’ disciples today all over the world to use “one cup.” It simply cannot be done. And so, while they defend their “one cup” doctrine to the point of actually dividing the body of Christ, severing and seeing themselves differently from those of their brethren who don’t insist on their particular “one cup” doctrine, they themselves actually use more than one cup every Sunday (from other “one cup” congregating disciples in other locations)! So which way is it? One cup, or several? One cup – no exceptions – as they insist upon in doctrine? Or one cup only when it is a matter of convenience as they actually practice? And how can they condemn the use of more than one communion cup amongst their brethren, when every one of their “one cup” congregation uses a different cup from every other one of them? In other words, when they themselves, while defending “one cup,” actually use multiple cups?

Which do you think is more important to the Lord: Preserving the unity of the one church which Jesus prayed and died and shed His blood for? Or dividing that one church over an absolute insistence on one communion cup and making it a test of fellowship, while at the same time, actually using different – and therefore multiple – cups themselves, from location to location?

And all the while, lost people headed for hell for all eternity drive by all our assemblies, while we sit and seek to strain out a gnat, while swallowing a camel. Sad? Yes; and more than sad to the Savior to be sure…

If you are a member or a congregation of the one body of Christ that wants to continue to hold to the “one cup” practice and perspective in the place where you worship, that is your business – we are all autonomous congregations. I certainly have no problem with how you, as my beloved brethren, conduct your communion service in your particular congregation in that particular regard. But please don’t insist that those who drink from multiple communion cups – just as you yourselves also do under certain circumstances, and in fact, just as you do every Sunday from location to location – are somehow sinning by so doing.

We are supposed to be one in Christ Jesus. When are we going to start acting, worshipping, serving and fellowshipping like it? Because the day we do, maybe we can finally convince the world that the Christ is indeed real, and then just maybe we can start to make the difference Jesus always desired His disciples to make (John 17:20-23; Philippians 1:27)!

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