- Christogenea Saturdays
Christogenea Saturdays, August 1st, 2015: True Christian Communion
Earlier this summer, on our recent five-week trip, we were invited to give an opinion of Christian Communion at a Wednesday Bible Study. Some members of a certain church which is dear to us had a long-standing division over the practice of communion as it is traditionally conducted in denominational churches, and whether it should be continued, and how it should be continued, in a true Christian church. I spent nearly an hour giving my opinion on the matter, and this presentation will be based on the outline notes which I had made for that reason.
We all (and when I say we I mean Identity Christians) have backgrounds in one denomination or another, one mainstream belief system or another which, upon discovering our Christian Identity, we now understand to have been based on false paradigms when compared to Scripture and history. But we also all have some degree of what I can really only describe as baggage. While after we have come to the Truth we usually realize that we must cast away much of what we upheld in our former walk, there are almost always some things which we maintain to which we have some emotional tie, things which made us feel good, and which we want to hold onto. Sometimes we simply take it for granted that we are supposed to be doing those things, which are supported by vague understandings of certain Scriptures, and so we insist that we keep doing them. But these are often traditions of men, or even Old Testament rituals that we have not let go of, and which are obscure to us because of the translations which have been made by the professional priests and because of the language and even the cultural barriers between us and the original texts. The truth is, that if we have baggage, then we have not come to the Truth with a clean slate. Often we fail to clean the slate out of our own ignorance, and often we fail to clean the slate out of our own desires to maintain our traditions simply because there are things which we like and we have always done them, so we insist on continuing them. Tonight we are going to take issue with some of the modern “traditions of men”, in comparison with scripture.
Here is the Wikipedia definition of what is called communion in the denominational churches: “The Eucharist (also called Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, and other names) is a rite considered by most Christian churches to be a sacrament. According to some New Testament books, it was instituted by Jesus Christ during his Last Supper. Giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to 'do this in memory of me,' while referring to the bread as 'my body' and the wine as 'my blood.' Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember Christ's sacrifice of himself once and for all on the cross.”
The word rite is just a synonym for the word ritual, and Wikipedia defines both words as describing “an established, ceremonial, usually religious, act.” Wikipedia defines a sacrament as “a Christian rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the sacraments as 'efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.' The catechism included in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer defines a sacrament as 'an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof'…. Most Protestant denominations identify two sacraments instituted by Christ; the Eucharist (Holy Communion) and Baptism. However some traditions avoid the word 'sacrament'. Reaction against the 19th-century Oxford Movement led Baptists to prefer instead the word "ordinance", practices ordained by Christ to be permanently observed by the church….”
If we pay close attention to the language of the catechisms of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, we see that they assert that the grace of God and the gift of life are imparted to Christians through their sacraments. Those sacraments in turn require the dispensation of a professional priest. However Paul said in Romans chapter 11, as one example of his position on sacraments, that “5 Now in this manner even in the present time there has been a remnant in accordance with the election of favor. 6 But if in favor, no longer from rituals: since favor would be favor no longer.” As another example, Paul said in chapter 2 of Ephesians “8 For in favor you are being preserved through faith and this, Yahweh's gift, is not of yourselves, 9 not from works, lest anyone would boast, 10 for His work we are, having been established among the number of Christ Yahshua for good works, which Yahweh before prepared in order that we would walk in them.”
We have demonstrated at length in our recent presentation of Galatians chapter 2 that wherever Paul referred to the works of the law, he was describing the rituals and ceremonial ordinances associated with the Levitical priesthood. Paul taught that all of these things were done away with in exchange for the faith in Christ under the New Covenant, and not in exchange for any new set of works, or rituals. There is no conflict in the writing of Paul. Rather, if there is a conflict, it is in the words of the professional priesthoods which insist on keeping men bound to the works and traditions of men.
We would of course agree with the Wikipedia explanation of the Last Supper where it is said that Christ had given his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, and that Christ had commanded his followers to “do this in memory of me,” while referring to the bread as “my body” and the wine as “my blood.” However we would disagree with the idea that Christ had instituted this as a mandatory ritual, and we shall explain our position on this and on what true Christian communion should be as we proceed here this evening.
But first we shall address Baptism, because it has been mentioned here in addition to the communion ritual as being another sacrament necessary to Christians.
There are people who refer to the account of the first Christian Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 and the encounter of Philip with the eunuch described in Acts chapter 10 and for those reasons they insist that all Christians should be baptized in water, sometimes even going to the extreme and asserting that there is no salvation for Christians who are not baptized in water.
However they ignore two things. First, they ignore the fact that the Book of Acts is a record of a learning process for the apostles, so that they could transform their own worldview from the works of the law in Moses to the promise of the faith in Christ. Proof enough that the Book of Acts is a book of transition is found in Acts chapter 10, where several years after that first Pentecost, Peter still required a vision in which he was instructed by the Spirit of Yahweh. More proof is found in the account of Acts chapter 15 where the apostles decided in favor of Paul and Barnabas in their dispute with the Pharisees.
In Acts chapter 11, Peter professed the realization that the household of Cornelius had received the gift of the Holy Spirit without having been baptized in water. This singular account proves that the catechisms of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches to be wrong in this regard. Perhaps those documents should be called kataschisms, which would mean “according to divisions”, because that is what they have created.
Peter, realizing his previous misconception of the efficacy of water baptism, then exclaimed, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 11:16: “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” And indeed, we see that Christ had instructed the apostles at the beginning, after His Resurrection as it is recorded in Acts chapter 1, that “John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” It took Peter nearly 11 chapters of Acts, which may have been nearly as many as twelve years (since it is 12 years from the Resurrection to the death of Herod Agrippa I at the end of Acts chapter 12), to realize the meaning of the words of Christ recorded by Luke in Acts chapter 1, and from that point on water is no longer mentioned in connection with baptism. We see this same thing mentioned even earlier, in the very first chapter of the Gospel of Mark where John the Baptist himself is recorded as having said “I indeed have baptized you with water: but he [referring to Christ] shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.”
In fact, in the closing verses of Acts chapter 18, Aquila and Priscilla meet for the first time with Apollos, who is described as being “instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.” And when they heard him preaching, because of this “when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” So the baptism of John is not the perfect way of the Lord. Rather, Paul says in Romans chapter 6 “that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?”
Regardless of how the apostles had interpreted it at first, the Greek word βαπτίζω by itself does not mean to immerse in water. Rather, it only means to immerse, and one can be immersed in many things. According to the Liddell & Scott Greek-English Lexicon, for examples, Plato used the term of something immersed in wine, while Plutarch used it of someone immersed in debt. Christ never told his apostles to go forth and baptize people in water. Rather He told them to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 28. Being baptized in His name, does not necessarily have anything to do with water.
I have heard people claim that one cannot be baptized with the Holy Ghost unless one is first baptized with water. That assertion makes Peter a liar, since Peter explicitly testified in Acts chapter 11 that those of the Nations indeed received the Spirit without being baptized in water. That assertion also makes Paul a liar, where Paul said in Ephesians chapter 4 that there is “5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism”. There being one baptism, it can no longer be in water if one is to be baptized with the Spirit of God, in the name of Christ.
We have already treated baptism at length in a paper and a subsequent podcast found at Christogenea titled Baptism - In What?, and here we believe that we have discussed it sufficiently once again. So now we shall turn our discussion to the second Protestant so-called “sacrament”, which is referred to as communion, or more officially by them as the Eucahrist, or Holy Communion.
There is a Greek word κοινωνία (Strong's # 2842), which Liddell & Scott define as “communion, association, partnership, fellowship”. The King James Version translates that word as communion on three occasions, but on twelve occasions it translated the word as fellowship, and on others in various other ways. Another noun, κοινωνός, is variously translated partner, partaker, companion or fellowship in the King James Version, and those translation are for the most part appropriate.
The verb form of the word, κοινωνέω (Strong's # 2841) is defined by Liddell & Scott as “to have or do in common with, have a share of or take part in a thing with another...” Discussing these terms, we said in our essay Broken Cisterns, Part 2, that “To limit this idea to some wafer at a weekend and holiday ritual is pure blasphemy, for the Christian should live his entire life in communion: but in communion with his brethren!” That was written ten years ago this summer, and we stand by those words today.
In the Scripture, it is clear that communion is fellowship, and fellowship is communion. In Acts 2:42 we read about the new converts which were made by the apostles during the first Pentecost: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship [κοινωνία], and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
In the Scripture, it is clear that communion is also voluntary contribution. We shall offer several examples. First, from Romans 15:26: “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution [κοινωνία] for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” Then again in 2 Corinthians 8:4: “Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship [κοινωνία] of the ministering to the saints.” And for our final example, 2 Corinthians 9:13: “Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution [κοινωνία] unto them, and unto all men;”
In the Scripture, it is clear that communion is also a working together towards a common goal. This is evident in Galatians 2:9: “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship [κοινωνία]; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
In the Scripture, it is clear that an acceptance of the Gospel is also a form of communion, and we shall offer three Scriptures which substantiate that assertion. First there is Philippians chapter 1 where Paul writes “3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship [κοινωνία] in the gospel from the first day until now.” Then there is Philippians 3:10 where he said “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship [κοινωνία] of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Our final example is found in Philemon verse 6: “That the communication [κοινωνία] of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”
Three times the word κοινωνία (Strong's # 2842) is translated as communion in the King James Version of the Bible. First, in 2 Corinthians chapter 6: “14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship [μετοχή, 3352] hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion [κοινωνία] hath light with darkness?” Then in 2 Corinthians chapter 13: “14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion [κοινωνία] of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
In these first two examples where κοινωνία is communion in the King James Version it can only mean fellowship as we have seen that the King James Version had translated the word as fellowship in so many other places (the word actually translated as fellowship in the King James Version in 2 Corinthians 6:14 is μετοχή, a synonym). Therefore we must recognize that the meaning of κοινωνία is fellowship, and it is never used as a word which appears in Scripture to define or describe a formal ritual. It was the pagan priesthood of ancient Rome which had adopted the idea of sacramentalism in Christianity, along with or from the earlier Judaizers, and had first transformed communion from what things the Christian community had shared in common into a formalized ritual dispensed in church by priests.
The third place where κοινωνία (2842) is translated as communion is in 1 Corinthians chapter 10. It is the only place in Scripture where the word κοινωνία is associated with the bread and wine: “16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion [κοινωνία] of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion [κοινωνία] of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”
The word partakers in that verse is from another Greek verb, μετέχω (Strong's # 3348) which basically means to have together.
All of Christian Israel has communion in Christ, because the real body and blood of Christ are not the bread and the wine, but the children of Israel themselves, and communion is the fellowship which they should have one with another. The bread and the wine are the objects of the communion, which is the fellowship, which the members of the body of Christ should have with one another. Paul explains this fellowship in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. But first there is some historical context required to understand Paul's words in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. It was customary in the pagan temples for participants to feast with gluttony and intoxication, and all sorts of lasciviousness and acts immorality had rather typically accompanied that gluttony. Many of the Corinthian Christians were formerly pagans, and they took the practice of feasting into their gatherings in the Christian assemblies.
Paul had written in 1 Corinthians chapter 11: “17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies [or sects] among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. 21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.”
This feasting which Paul addressed here is a remnant of the pagan temple practices.
Paul then said in response to this feasting: “22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.”
The church was not gathered for the Lord's Supper. Therefore communion was to be conducted outside of the assembly. So why did Christians start going to church for communion? Paul is about to describe the fellowship of the Body of Christ, but that does not mean that it is to be conducted in the assembly, since he just told them to eat and to drink in their houses.
He continues in 1 Corinthians chapter 11: “23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.”
Christ did these things at a Passover meal prepared in a private home at a dinner with his friends and family, who were His associates. That word for supped in 1 Corinthians 11:25 is the Greek verb δειπνέω (Strong's # 1172), means to take the chief meal of the day. Paul, referring to the Passover meal which Christ celebrated with His disciples, certainly used an appropriate verb. But Paul tells these Christians to do this in their houses, and not in the assembly. The context has not changed since verses 20 and 22, where Paul expects these things to be done at home, not in a Christian assembly.
Note that Paul had said in verse 26 “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.” Paul said that after he had told them to eat in their houses. This refers not only to some Sunday dinner event, or even to some Passover meal. Rather, “as often as you eat” means that every dinner a Christian has in common with his family or friends should be eaten in memory of Christ. As for the Christian assembly, Paul describes why Christians should gather in assembly in 1 Corinthians 14:26 where he says: “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” The only conclusion relevant to Paul's explanation is this: Christians do not gather in assembly for communion: rather, they have their communion in their homes.
In the later verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 11, from 11:27 through 11:33, Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians that they must distinguish themselves and not eat with anyone who is unworthy of fellowship. Then he closes by saying “Consequently, my brethren, gathering in to eat, you await one another.” But that statement does not negate that fact that Paul had already said that “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper” and “have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” So we see that Christian fellowship is something to be done apart from the regular gatherings of the assembly which are for spiritual edification.
This should prove beyond doubt that there is no valid communion ritual. The example of Christ was to have a Passover meal in a private house with His friends and family, and that is also the insistence of Paul, that we should eat and drink in His memory at home, and not in a church. The ritual is an invention of the professional priesthood, and nothing more.
As a digression, we should make a note about eating with strangers, because Paul also remarks about that in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. Actually, there are three places in the New Testament Scripture to go to in order to show why we should not eat with strangers or aliens.
The first of these we shall mention is in the epistle of Jude where he mentions “spots in our feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear”. In that context Jude was not talking about the children of God, but about “certain men [who] crept in unawares”. Then there is chapter 2 of the second epistle of Peter where he discusses certain “natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed” who “speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption ... spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin”, and then he calls them “cursed children”. Like Jude, Peter was also discussing infiltrators into the Body of Christ, those whom Christ Himself said were “not My sheep”.
The third of these three examples is here in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, where we shall read from verse 27, but because the King James translation is so poor in these particular verses, I shall read them from the Christogenea New Testament: “27 Consequently, whoever would eat the wheat-bread or drink the cup of the Prince unworthily, will be liable of the body and blood of the Prince. 28 But a man must scrutinize himself, and thus from of the wheat-bread let him eat, and from of the cup let him drink. 29 For he that is eating and is drinking, eats and drinks condemnation for himself, not distinguishing the body. 30 For this reason there are among you many feeble and sickly, and plenty have fallen asleep. 31 If then we had made a distinction of ourselves, perhaps we would not be judged. 32 But being judged, by the Prince we are disciplined, in order that we would not be condemned with the Society. 33 Consequently, my brethren, gathering in to eat, you await one another.” There are two Greek verbs of import in this passage, κρίνω and διακρίνω. The first verb is commonly to judge, while the second is to distinguish, or to make a distinction. The King James Version has it correctly in verse 29 as to discern, but then they made a serious error in verse 31 where it should have been likewise. Not discerning the Body of Christ in these contexts is to mistake the spots in one's feasts of charity for the legitimate members of the Body, and Christians are even more guilty of that now than they ever have been.
True Christians communion is whatever things Christian men hold in common. We quoted from Acts chapter 2 in brief a little earlier in this presentation. Here is a fuller citation, where Luke describes the assembly which the apostles gathered from the first Christian Pentecost: “42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship [κοινωνία], and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common [κοινός, Strong's 2839]; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
The Greek word κοινός is primarily “common, shared in common...common to all the people”, and therefore we see that properly, Christian communion [κοινωνία] is what Christian men share in common [κοινός]. This same concept is clearly evident again in Acts chapter 4, where it says: “32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common [κοινός].”
Another and more immediate example of an act of Christian communion is found when Paul was aboard that ship which was stranded and doomed to wreck, as it is described in Acts chapter 27, and he exhorts his fellows aboard the ship and encourages them to take food (meat in this passage is used archaically for food). This is one small example of a simple communion, the sharing of food in common, where it is written: “33 And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. 34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. 35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. 36 Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. 37 And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.” Taking the bread and giving thanks to God, he was ostensibly doing so in memory of Christ. We do this whenever we partake of food, because we have Him to thank for our very existence.
Communion as it is practised in reality, is what things Christian men and women share with one another on a daily basis, or at least at any time when they are able to have fellowship together. That is true Christian communion. But communion as a sacrament, as it is practised by the denominational churches, is only a meaningless ritual. Christ is our last sacrifice, and after Him no rituals are necessary for salvation, and no ritual can have any true efficacy in our lives. But rather, what counts is that men in Christ have fellowship with one another and fulfill one anothers' needs. That is the only Christian communion which actually matters.
Therefore Paul told Christians in his epistle to the Romans to prefer one another, where in another often poorly translated passage found in Romans chapter 12 he wrote that Christians should have “9 Love without acting; abhorring wickedness, cleaving to goodness: 10 brotherly love affectioned towards one another; in honor preferring one another 11 with diligence, not hesitating; fervent in Spirit, serving the Prince.” Christians should indeed prefer one another, and not have preference for those spots in their feasts of charity, which today are all over the place and easy to see.
The apostle James said that “faith without works is dead”, and he was not talking about meaningless rituals, but rather he meant true Christian communion where he said in chapter of his epistle: “14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
Whenever it is believed that rituals such as Baptism in water or the Eucharist in church are necessary for salvation that is really a choice of form over substance. We have spoken of this at length several times in recent years, and we shall recount a couple of those occasions here.
First, from the July 5th, 2013 presentation of Acts chapter 8, where we wrote in retrospect concerning our presentation of Acts chapter 7 the week before:
In Acts chapter 7 we saw Stephen make an appeal to his fellow countrymen in defense of the new Christian creed. His appeal was based on the life of Moses, who was at this time, presumably next to Yahweh God Himself, the most venerated figure in the history of Israel. Stephen’s appeal included a description which explains the reason why Moses was chosen for the mission which God provided him: because he displayed a greater care for the people of his own race than he did for his high station in life which was provided by the Egyptians. In fact, Moses' care for his own race exceeded any care that they may have had for themselves. Saying these things, Stephen explains that Moses risked his own station and his worldly comforts for his brethren even in spite of his brethren, and that for this reason it was by Moses that Yahweh God chose to have Israel delivered from Egypt. Stephen described how this Moses spoke of a prophet to come, which is Yahshua Christ. Note that the final commandment given by Christ to His students was to love their brethren. But Stephen also explained how the people rejected Moses in spite of their delivery from Egypt, and how even the success which Israel had from Joshua to David and the building of the first temple in Jerusalem was tainted by their apostasy, for Yahweh had already given them up to worshipping the “host of heaven”. The overall point that Stephen was making, is that the substance of God's people Israel should be revered, and not the form. The temple, it's adornments, the rituals and traditions connected to it, its manner of governance, those things are the form. The people of the nation, one's kindred, and seeking to follow the will of one's God, these things are the substance. Imagining that salvation may be obtained through the fulfilling of ordinances and rituals leads only to self-justification. The love of one's kindred leads to the edification of the kingdom of God and to the love of God, provided one abides in that love for his brethren.
Then, from our discussion of Micah chapter 1 given here February 14th, 2014, where we discussed Hezekiah king of Judah, who was described as a righteous king in part because he had removed the centers of pagan idolatry, and we quoted from 2 Kings chapter 18:
“1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. 3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. 4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan ('a thing of brass'). 5 He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.”
In response to this passage we had written:
With this it is also evident that the children of Israel had for a long time idolized a historical relic, Moses' serpent of brass, and that even good symbols can become idols. The serpent of brass was only an ensign, and when it was made it represented the healing power of God, but the serpent of brass had no power within itself. This is a trap which our people have always fallen into: to venerate the form of a thing, and not the substance which that form represents. The symbol is nothing. What it is that the symbol stands for when it is created or designated is what truly matters. Today the children of Israel do not literally burn incense to objects (unless they are Roman Catholics) however they do the equivalent by making pilgrimages and venerating certain historical sites or objects, while having abandoned the ideals which those objects once represented.
The choice of form over substance is the choice of pretenses and appearances over putting ones faith into employment through actual good works. Only dummies who are more concerned with appearances could ever really believe that baptism rituals or communion rituals could effect salvation. When we choose form over substance, we only justify ourselves and we have a false sense that somehow we are saved in our rituals. Today, entire communities of White Christians are being devoured, and their baptism and communion rituals are not saving them from the plagues they suffer.
However when we choose the substance over the form we work not for ourselves, but rather we work for the body of Christ and when we all work together for one another as Christ worked for us, only then can we actually effect our national salvation.
Real Christian baptism is being immersed in the death of Christ. By that we put the interests of our brethren ahead of our own personal interests, and we devote our lives to helping the Body of Christ as Christ gave His life for us. He gave His life for His brethren, and we should devote our lives to our brethren. So Christ had said, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 9, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Likewise and in that respect, real Christian communion is what we share with our Christian brethren on a daily basis, and as we have seen the apostle James tell us, that means that we impart our goods to our needy brethren, or to the good of our Christian community.
Paul had written in his epistle to the Philippians, from the Christogenea New Testament: “14 Do all things apart from murmuring and disputing, 15 that you would be perfect and with unmixed blood, blameless children of Yahweh in the midst of a race crooked and perverted - among whom you appear as luminaries in the Society, 16 upholding the Word of Life for a boast with me in the day of Christ, that not in vain have I run nor in vain have I labored.”
Christ had said that “if you love Me, keep My commandments”, and then He said, as it is recorded in John chapter 13: “34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” For this the apostle John had later written in his first epistle, in chapter 4: “10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
We do not love one another in rituals. That is ridiculous. People who rely on rituals only seek their own justification. Rather, we must love one another in reality, and that is true Christian communion. Salvation is not through rituals, but through keeping the commandments of God. When we do that, the Kingdom of God becomes manifest and He shall dwell among us, as Christ described in John chapter 14: “15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
The lesson of the Old Covenant was that the children of Israel could not save themselves through rituals. Christian communion insists that we keep the commandments of our God, and with that we have a promise of salvation. There is no salvation in rituals.