Eat Jesus’ Flesh and Drink His Blood? (Pt 9)

Daily Devotional | Day 343

“For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

 We will conclude the current series by looking at two things Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10 because of their relevance to what we have so far discussed.

The first point is from our opening Scripture in which Paul writes, “we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” Paul is talking about believers, specifically those gathered for the Lord’s Supper. And the bread he is talking about is the loaf of bread used for the Lord’s Supper. This is the same bread of which Paul said, “The bread which we break, is it not the communion [fellowship] of the body of Christ?” (10:16). But now he says the Lord’s Supper participants are one bread, referring to the Lord’s Supper bread.

Next, Paul tells us the reason why we are one bread: “for we all partake of that one bread.” Because believers eat from the one bread, they are one bread (and therefore one body). Paul’s point is, the bread we break represents us. We are that bread. As the bread is one, so are we. Anyone at the Lord’s Supper who eats a piece of that one bread is acknowledging and celebrating the fact that he or she is part of the one bread.

Paul chose his words carefully. Notice he did not say Jesus is that one bread. Rather, he said we are that one bread. The obvious question is: If we are indeed one bread, does this mean that when we eat the bread, we are chewing on each other? The answer, of course, is no. The Lord’s Supper, as we have emphasized throughout this series, carries a more profound truth which has nothing to do with chewing Jesus’ flesh or our own. What we do at the Lord’s Supper is celebrate fellowship with Jesus’ body and blood, as well as fellowship with one another.

Let us now look at Paul’s second point. He drew an example from Israel’s temple sacrifices to illustrate how fellowship works: “Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” (v. 18). In the Old Testament those who served at the altar, Aaron and his sons, ate the sacrifices brought to the altar (Deuteronomy 18:1-5). Paul says, because they ate the food sacrifices (meat, grain, etc.), they became partakers of the altar. Did they have to chew or swallow the altar to become partakers of the altar? No. All they had to do was eat food sacrificed at the altar, and this resulted in them having fellowship with the altar.

Using the same (spiritual) logic, Paul explained that those who ate food sacrificed to idols were in effect having communion (fellowship) with the demons to whom the food had been dedicated (v. 19-20). To have fellowship with demons, one does not have to swallow demons. All one has to do is eat what is dedicated to demons. This is the same principle by which Paul explains that the bread we break at the Lord’s Supper is fellowship with the body of Christ, and the cup we bless is fellowship with His blood (v. 16). And it is on this basis that he warned the Corinthians, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons” (v. 21).

By the very fact that the Lord’s Supper is in remembrance of Jesus’ body and His blood, that makes the celebration sacred – dedicated unto Jesus’ death. As a result, everyone who eats the bread and drinks the cup is in effect having fellowship with the body and blood of Jesus. Likewise, whoever behaves in a manner that tampers with the sacredness of the celebration is guilty of the body and blood of Christ. Such a person eats and drinks judgment (11:27, 29).

In sum, at no point did Jesus indicate – even remotely – that He would give us power to convert bread into His body or convert drink into His blood. No one can create Jesus from bread. Jesus dwells in us, not in bread. To suggest that the Lord’s Supper bread in our mouth is Jesus’ flesh is the result of misreading the Scriptures. Such a misreading inevitably leads to serious temptations, including the temptation to worship the bread and the drink. It is our hope that this series has shed some light on this all important topic. We further hope that the insights we have shared will help us draw closer to Jesus and better understand what He did (and did not do) for our salvation. Amen.

For further study1 Corinthians 10:1-33; 12:12-27

Your Blessings in Abraham: Spirit, Promise and Power (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 312

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29, NKJV).

Yesterday we saw that the giving of the Holy Spirit was the Father’s chief promise to Abraham and his descendants. Our aim today is to conclude what we started by answering the following question: Why was it necessary that God pour His Spirit on the children of Abraham? Let’s find out, starting with today’s opening Bible passage.

Note carefully what is happening in the passage. What we have is a conditional statement with a basic logical structure. The passage contains one premise and two conclusions which flow from the premise. If the condition is met, then the two conclusions will automatically execute. The condition is this: “If you are Christ’s” (i.e. if you belong to Christ). If this condition is true in your life (that you are Christ’s), then the following are necessarily true about you: “you are Abraham’s seed [descendant] and you are heir “according to the promise.” The implication is, if you are not Christ’s, then you are not Abraham’s seed. And if you are not Abraham’s seed, then you have no claim (as heir) to the blessings promised to Abraham. At this point the question we must ask is:  How does the Holy Spirit fit into all of this? Thankfully, the Bible has the answer, and it comes from the pen of the same Paul who wrote Galatians.

In Romans 8:9, Paul wrote, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” This latter part of Paul’s statement completes what he said in Galatians 3:29. Earlier, we saw that to qualify to be Abraham’s seed, one must be Christ’s. Now Paul adds another condition. He says, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ [the Holy Spirit], he is not His.” In other words, that you have the Holy Spirit is the unmistakable sign that you belong to Christ. Put another way, if you have the Holy Spirit, then you are a Christian. Conversely, if do not have the Holy Spirit, then you are not a Christian. Knowing this about the Holy Spirit, let us ‘reconstruct’ what Paul said in Galatians 3:29. It will look like this:

If you have the Spirit of Christ, then you are Christ’s; and if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” This is the complete picture of how we become children of Abraham and heirs of divine blessings. It all has to do with receiving the Holy Spirit. To qualify as heirs of God or joint-heirs with Christ, it is necessary that we possess the same Spirit they both possess: the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit binds us to the Father and enables us to become His children. Therefore, the “Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs . . .” (Romans 8:16-17). If someone puts his spirit in you, you and that person have become one (John 17:21; 1 Corinthians 6:17). And when you become one, then you share things in common.

God promised to share divine blessings with Abraham and his seed. But for this to be fulfilled, He had to share His Spirit with us. A common Spirit is what leads to a common inheritance. This is why Paul talks about the “fellowship [communion] of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:13). It is the Holy Spirit who initiates and sustains our fellowship with the Father and the Son. And our fellowship with them (made possible by the Holy Spirit in us) is the legal basis for our inheritance. Fellowship guarantees access. Therefore, no Holy Spirit means no fellowship. And no fellowship means no inheritance. If God had not given the Holy Spirit, His promises to Abraham (and his seed) would have been void. Now we understand why Jesus went great lengths to prepare His disciples to receive the Spirit.

Let us sum up:

To be a child of Abraham means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not some interesting add-on to our Christian life. He is the Christian life, for the Christian life is essentially a life in the Spirit. Outside the Spirit, there is no Christianity. If you have the Spirit, then you have the promise. If you have the promise, then you have the power.

May the Lord enable you to cooperate with the Holy Spirit so that you can enjoy the full range of your blessings in Abraham. Amen.

For further studyRomans 8:1-17 and Ephesians 1:11-23

The Agony of A Righteous Soul

Daily Devotion | Day 292

“And [God] delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds” (2 Peter 2:7-8).

Not only is God righteous, He is righteousness. He desires as well that His sons and daughters walk in His character of righteousness. This is important because the Father wants fellowship with His children. It is within this fellowship that one finds eternal life.

Fellowship with the Father is a fellowship of righteousness.

Because He is righteous and holy, the Father does not fellowship with unrighteous people, i.e. those who walk in sin. Paul put it well when he wrote, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). If you are righteous, you will know it. The Holy Spirit will bear witness with your spirit (Romans 8:14-16). You will have no doubt about it.

In this world, being righteous or godly comes with a price. This brings us to today’s Bible passage. Peter is writing about Lot. As you recall, Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He lived in Sodom with his wife and two daughters. The Bible tells us that the people of Sodom were involved in all manner of iniquity (Genesis 18:20-21). God eventually destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. But, as Peter says, the Lord saved “righteous Lot.” Lot was a righteous man living in the midst of unrighteous people. And he suffered on account of the ungodly environment.

Peter says Lot was “oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked.” This tells us about the agony of a righteous soul. Righteousness is purity. When you are pure, it makes you highly sensitive to ungodly behavior. When you encounter any form of ungodly conduct, in your spirit you will find it disgusting and distressing. It’s a silent and indirect form of persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). This was what Lot felt. He is not alone. This ‘oppressive’ feeling is common to all who are righteous.

Peter further explains that Lot “tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.”  Lot had a righteous soul. He wasn’t corrupted by the sinful environment in Sodom. However, each day, he put his soul through torment on account of the lawless acts he saw and heard in Sodom. If you have a righteous soul, you can relate to Lot’s experience. A righteous soul makes you spiritually sensitive. It makes you cringe when you witness ungodliness. It makes you feel what God feels when He sees iniquity. This is the agony of the righteous.

With a righteous soul, you can’t participate in ungodly conduct. What others consider entertaining, you find disagreeable. There are TV programs you can’t watch. There are books you can’t read. There are images you can’t watch. There’s music you can’t listen to. There are dresses you can’t wear. There are places you can’t go. There are conversations you can’t have. There are words you can’t speak. There are thoughts you can’t entertain. And, there are friends you can’t have.

It is the price you pay for being a righteous soul. But it’s worth it. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19). And Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10). 

Be a righteous soul. Stay pure. Stay blessed.

For further study2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Ephesians 5:1-21 and 1 Peter 4:1-19

Conditions of Love and Fellowship

Daily Devotion | Day 277

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given me, for they are yours” (John 17:9, NKJV).

Love is conditional. I know. We don’t like to think of love as conditional. But let’s face it. Love is discriminatory by nature. All love is not the same. If it were, love wouldn’t be real. If anyone tells you he/she loves you unconditionally, perhaps they mean well, but you will do yourself a favor by not taking it literally. Love has conditions. And, it’s not a bad thing.

The love you have for your friends is not the same love you have for your spouse. If it’s the same, there’s a problem. Sacrifices you will make for your spouse will not be the same sacrifices you will make for your boss. The love you will show for your parents is not the same love you will show for your pets (hopefully!). Even among your children, it is possible you love one child more than the others (You may not admit it, for obvious reasons, but it’s there, and you know it).

Love differs in degree and intensity depending on the object of love. Love for God is not on the same level as love for your pastor, for example. Love for God leads to worship, but your love for people should not lead you to worship them. You can’t love your enemies the same way you love your friends. There’s a kind of love that is available only to those with whom you have fellowship. You can love everyone, but you can’t love everyone the same way and to the same degree. For love to be love, it must be conditional.

Jesus is no different. His love is available to all, but He does not love everyone the same way. He loves some people more than others. For example, His love for the Church (His bride) comes ahead of His love for everyone else. In today’s Scripture passage, Jesus is praying to the Father. He says, “I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” Here, He is exercising conditional love. He is not saying He hates the world. He is merely stating that His intercession is for those who believe in Him, including those who will believe in the future (John 17:20).

Of course, in Isaiah 53:12, we’re told that Jesus interceded for transgressors as part of His redemptive sacrifice. Yet, at the right hand of God, He represents and intercedes for His saints – those who belong to Him and love Him (Romans 8:33-39; Hebrews 7:23-25). 

Love is a two-way affair. You can love in the general sense by extending kindness to all, including those who hate you (Matthew 5:43-44). But in the concrete sense, love must be mutual and reciprocal. This is the kind of love God wants from His people. It is also why He reserves special love, attention and blessings for those who love Him.

For example, “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). For those who don’t love God, this blessing doesn’t apply. Listen to Jesus: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

Even God’s forgiveness is conditional. If it were not, everyone in the world would have a blanket forgiveness leading to automatic universal salvation: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

It takes two to be in love. Jesus loves us; but to benefit from His love, we need to reciprocate.

BlessingMay grace, peace and love be multiplied unto you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further studyRomans 9:1-26 and Psalm 91:1-16

Was Jesus a Friend of Sinners?

DAILY DEVOTIONAL: DAY 204

“The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34, KJV).

Was Jesus a friend of sinners? The answer is, “No.” We shall soon find out why. Let’s start by examining the context of today’s Bible passage. Here, Jesus is expressing His displeasure at the attitude of people toward Him. John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus. He led a relatively austere life, neither eating bread nor drinking wine (cf. Luke 1:13-15). His food was locusts and wild honey (cf. Matthew 3:4). Yet, people found fault with him and said he had a devil (cf. Luke 7:33). Jesus, by contrast, ate freely and did not abstain from wine. In general, He was less strict with Himself compared to John the Baptist. Surprisingly, people found fault with Jesus, too. They accused Him of being a glutton, a drunkard and a friend of sinners. Here is where some people get confused and conclude – wrongly – that Jesus was a friend of sinners.

Let’s keep in mind that the tag, “friend of sinners,” was just an accusation. The question we must ask is, “Was the accusation true or was it false?” Was Jesus a “friend of sinners?” To answer this question, let’s look again at today’s opening Scripture. Jesus was accused of being three things: glutton (He overeats), drunkard (he drinks in excess), and a friend of sinners (He hangs out with sinful people).

Let’s start with the first accusation.

Was Jesus a glutton? No, He was not. Gluttony is over-indulging in food, which is a form of greed and lack of self-control. The Bible expressly says Jesus was without sin (cf. Hebrews 4:15). If Jesus was a glutton, then He was a sinner; but the Word of God cannot lie. Second, was Jesus a drunkard? No, He was not – for the same reasons noted above regarding gluttony.

Now, to the third accusation:

Was Jesus a friend of sinners? Again, noHe was not. Here’s why. If you are a friend of sinners, it means you share (directly or indirectly) in their sinful life (which is what the accusation against Jesus implied). We are using the word “friend” in the strict sense (i.e. those you share your life with based on mutual love, respect and common interests), not in the loose sense where you might casually say to someone, “Hey, friend!” or “My friend!” (see, for example, Matthew 22:11-12).

The truth is, Jesus was no friend of sinners. He did, however, welcome all who wanted to hear Him: men and women, young and old, rich and poor, godly and ungodly, Jews and Gentiles. He went to their homes if He was invited; there, He often took the opportunity to proclaim the truth of salvation. Some sinners who listened to Jesus eventually received His message, repented and became His disciples. In short, Jesus was compassionate, loving and merciful toward all people, but He was not a friend of sinners.

The only group of people Jesus called His “friends” were His disciples (cf. John 15:15). In the previous verse (John 15:14), Jesus declared: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Notice the condition a person must fulfill to become Jesus’ friend: if you do whatsoever Jesus commands you. Do sinners do whatsoever Jesus commands them? No, they don’t. Conclusion: Sinners are not friends of Jesus; and Jesus is not their friend, either. 

Let us, therefore, present Jesus accurately to people, because friendship with Jesus (or lack thereof) is a matter of heaven or hell.

May the Lord bless you, give you understanding and enable you to walk with Him in holiness and righteousness. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Psalm 15:1-5