Wednesday, August 30, 2017

As Often as You Eat and Drink... Remember Me

The ritualism of evangelical Christianity puzzles me. Many evangelical churches when celebrating "The Lord's Supper" will have men who usually wear Hawaiian shirts on Sunday morning dress in suits and ties when they serve the bread and the juice. Evangelical pastors will often give solemn warnings about sin and appeal for folks to come to "the altar" to confess their sins lest they eat the wafer and drink the juice unworthily and receive the just punishment of their sins (death).

Many of us have been members of churches where if the youth group ever attempted to have "The Lord's Supper" without ordained men serving the elements (God forbid!), there would be holy war. And, if anything other than a flat, unleavened wafer and a small cup of something other than Welch's grape juice was to be served ("Hold on Martha, here comes the big one!"), the entire church would be in an uproar.

The formalism and traditionalism surrounding the Lord's Supper comes from the mistaken notion (in my opinion) that Jesus ate the Seder or "Passover Meal" with his disciples the night before He was crucified. The Hebrew Passover meal of the Old Covenant had specific requirements, including the use of "unleavened bread." For this reason, some evangelicals are offended if anything other than "unleavened wafers" are used in the Lord's Supper. They hold to a mystical, ritualistic view of the Lord's Supper. They ordain "authorized" men with "spiritual authority" to guard the Eucharist from corruption, and they caution commoners to ne'er "eat nor drink unworthily" lest they be damned. 

In the Baptist circles in which I grew up, the altar call before the Lord's Supper was the time people really thought about their sins. Usually, it was once a quarter (every three months). In very circumspect congregations, weekly review of one's sins occurred for the Lord's Supper was solemnly served every Sunday.

I aim to show in this post that the Lord's Supper that Jesus ate with His disciples was NOT the Passover Meal (e.g. the "Seder") but was actually a normal meal of everyday bread and wine that the disciples ate and drank daily.

If I'm correct, then the injunction that Jesus gives His followers - "every time you eat or drink, remember Me" - means if you argue with your spouse on Monday morning and you happen to go get a drink of water at the office water fountain later that same morning, pause and "remember Jesus." Or if you go to the cafeteria to eat something for lunch, don't take a bite until you pause and "remember Jesus." 

In other words, don't let any drink pass your lips or any food enter your mouth without REMEMBERING JESUS and what He did for you. Eating and drinking become the actions that trigger the remembrance of Christ. You use the act of consuming your daily food and drink to prod you to "focus on Christ," to remember His authority in your life, and to recall everything HE teaches about how you are to live. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

If you think of Jesus and what He teaches you before you eat or drink something, He'll bring to your mind those harsh words you said to your spouse earlier in the morning, and remind you of HIs Royal Law which is "to love one another as I have loved you!". You'll then go and make it right iwith the person you've not loved like Jesus before you eat or drink. 

If I'm right, the Lord's Supper doesn't mean you examine yourself and "remember Jesus" quarterly - or even weekly - but every time you put food or drink to your lips.

Jesus and His Disciples Ate Real Bread (Leavened Bread) and Drank Regular Wine at the Last Supper

The meal we call "The Lord's Supper" occurred on WEDNESDAY NIGHT during the week Jesus died. The meal was not "The Passover (Seder)" meal, which always occurred after sunset of  "Passover Preparation Day" (Thursday, Nisan 14), a meal that could only be eaten AFTER the lambs were killed and roasted and the unleavened bread had been baked on Preparation Day (the day Jesus died). You can't have a Passover meal prior to the Passover lamb being killed.

Jesus died on THURSDAY AFTERNOON (Nisan 14), the day after He ate a normal, regular dinner with His disciples in the room they reserved to "prepare for the Passover."

Nisan 14  - Preparation Day - is the day on the Jewish Calendar which begins the eight days of Passover. It is called "Preparation Day" or "Passover Day" because at 3:00 pm on that day (Nisan 14) the Jews would "slay the lambs" that they would eat THAT NIGHT as their Passover meal. After the lambs were slain, the Jews roasted the lambs and served roasted lamb with bitter herbs and UNLEAVENED BREAD for the "Passover Meal (Seder)," which - again - ALWAYS occurred AFTER the lambs had been killed earlier in the day (Nisan 14).

During the day when Jesus died (Nisan 14), the Jewish women would have been "sweeping out the leaven" from their houses, and would have been cooking "unleavened bread," PREPARING for the PASSOVER MEAL that they would eat that night (Thursday), after sunset of the day when Jesus ("Our Passover Lamb") and the other Jewish lambs had been slain.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER, that on the Jewish Calendar, unlike our western calendars,  a new day begins at 6:00 pm in the evening. So the Jewish Passover Meal was always eaten by the Jews on THE SECOND DAY of Passover Week (NISAN 15), which would have been THURSDAY night in our western mind, but the beginning of a NEW DAY in the Jewish mind (Nisan 15). This day, Nisan 15, was always a high and holy day (e.g. a High Sabbath) on the Jewish calendar. It was on this day (Nisan 15) that the Jews observed "The Feast of UNLEAVENED BREAD." It was at THIS MEAL that unleavened bread was first consumed during Passover Week.

Jesus couldn't have eaten this meal (the Passover) with His disciples. because He had died for our sins on Preparation Day (Nisan 14). By nightfall, Jesus was already in the tomb "sweeping away our sins" when the Jewish Passover meal was being observed by the Jews.

So Jesus ate a regular meal of leavened bread and wine - daily staples for His disciples - on Wednesday night, hours before He died on Thursday afternoon, Nisan 14, at 3:00 pm.

According to Exodus 12:1, the Passover lamb was to be chosen on the 10th day of Aviv (Nisan). The Hebrew month of Aviv was later given the name Nisan (during the Jewish captivity). Both Aviv and Nisan mean "Spring," but Aviv is a Hebrew word, and Nisan is a Syriac or Assyrian word that the Jews later adopted as their own.  After the Passover lamb had been chosen on the Nisan 10, the people would inspect the lamb to make sure there were no spots or blemishes. The lamb could not have any broken bones or be defective in any way. Four days after the lamb was chosen, the lamb was slain. Don't forget, Jesus entered Jerusalem on Sunday, Nisan 10, during what we call "Palm Sunday" and for "four days" He was examined, and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate eventually declared to the people, "I find no fault in Him!" (Luke 23:4). Likewise, the Jewish people during crucifixion week would have chosen their "lambs" on Sunday, Nisan 10, examined them to ensure there were "no blemishes" for four days, and then sacrifice their lambs on Thursday afternoon, Nisan 14, the same day Jesus died. Jesus died Thursday afternoon of Nisan 14 at 3:00 pm.

The lambs were all killed on Nisan 14 because Nisan 14 was "Preparation Day" for the Passover meal that would occur after sunset. Thus, the Bible calls Nisan 14  "the day of Preparation for Passover" (see John 19:14) . The Jews would also use this Day of Preparation (Nisan 14) to sweep away any leaven in their houses in preparation for The Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread would begin after the sunset of Thursday, Nisan 14, around 6:00 pm which in the Jewish mind would be "the next day," Nisan 15. The actual Passover Festival (also called "The Days of Unleavened Bread) would last seven days beginning with the Passover meal, but if you count Preparation Day (Nisan 14) the entire Passover Festival is eight days long.

However, only beginning with the Passover Meal (Nisan 15) is unleavened bread eaten. Every other day of the year, including Nisan 14 (Preparation Day), regular, leavened bread was eaten by the Jews.  That's why Jesus ate normal, daily bread and consumed the normal, regular drink during Wednesday night's "Lord's Supper" or "Last Supper," just hours before He died on the afternoon of Jewish Preparation Day (Nisan 14).

So the actual Festival of Unleavened Bread began with the Passover Meal in the early hours of the Nisan 15 (from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Thursday night), when the Jews ate the meal they'd "prepared" earlier in the afternoon (Nisan 14). The lambs that had been sacrificed earlier in the day were roasted and eaten at the Passover meals in Jewish homes at the beginning of the NEW DAY Nisan 15 which began with nightfall (Thursday night).

Leaven in Scripture is a picture of sin or evil. After the Passover lamb died the leaven was gone. All sin and evil disappeared in the Jewish homes (symbolically) as they brought the Paschal lamb into their homes and celebrated Jewish redemption from Egyptian bondage during the days of Moses.

It was impossible for Jesus to have eaten the Passover Meal (Seder) with His disciples because He had already died and was in the tomb (sweeping away our sins).

Again, the Passover lamb ALWAYS died on Nisan 14, and leaven was ALWAYS swept away from Jewish homes during daylight hours of Nisan 14. The actual Passover Meal was eaten after sunset, in the early hours of Nisan 15, which began the week-long Festival of Unleavened Bread.

You must get this fixed in your mind: The Passover meal that the Jews ate during the week of Jesus' crucifixion would have been eaten  on Thursday evening as we westerners reckon it, for it was after sunset of Nisan 14, the day that Jesus died. However, the Jews considered that evening when the Passover meal was eaten (6:00 pm to 10:00 pm) to be the NEXT DAY, Nisan 15.

This day, Nisan 15, was an extremely important holy day on the Jewish Calendar. The Jews observed on this day (Nisan 15) "The Feast of Unleavened Bread" (e.g. "The Passover " or Seder) - and NO CRIMINAL could hang on the cross on this day by Jewish law.

The Feast Day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) was considered a High Sabbath for the Jews. 

The High Sabbath of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15)  was not the regular Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) for the Jews, but a special annual High Sabbath, similar to the way Americans celebrate Independence Day.

In America,  Independence Day (July 4) can fall on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc... depending on the year. So too, in the Jewish Calendar, the Festival of Unleavened Bread on Nisan 15 can fall on any day of the week. HOWEVER, in the year Jesus died (A.D. 30), Nisan 15 fell on a FRIDAY. That means that Friday, Nisan 15 was a High Sabbath and Saturday, Nisan 16 was a regular Sabbath.

This would mean that the resurrection of Christ occurred on Sunday, Nisan 17, AFTER TWO SABBATHS, back to back. 

This is precisely what the New Testament teaches. The gospel writer Matthew describes the time when the disciples came to the empty tomb of Christ on Sunday morning by writing, “After the Sabbath(s), at dawn on the first day of the week...” (Matthew 28:1a). The Greek word translated Sabbath in Mark 28:1 is “Shabbaton” (plural) not “Shabbat” (singular). Any English translation that does not use "Sabbaths" has mistranslated the Greek text. Jesus' crucifixion week had the High Sabbath on Friday plus the weekly,, regular Sabbath on Saturday. He rose "after the Sabbaths."

The Romans went to "break Jesus' legs" Thursday afternoon, Nisan 14, while Jesus hung on the cross "to speed up His death" in order to have Him removed from the cross before "The Sabbath began" - NOT the normal, weekly Saturday Jewish Sabbath, but the special HIGH SABBATH of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15) which just so happened to fall on FRIDAY of crucifixion week, the day before the regular Sabbath. Of course, when they came to Jesus with clubs to break His legs to speed up His death, they discovered He was already dead, fulfilling the Law that the Passover lamb must have no broken bones and the Messianic psalms that "Not one of His bones will be broken" (Psalm 34:20).

Jesus died on Preparation Day of Passover (Thursday) and went into the tomb before sundown on Thursday, which was the evening of the Passover meal and the High and Holy Sabbath (Friday) of Unleavened Bread.

In Summary:

Jesus entered Jerusalem as "The Chosen Lamb" on Sunday, Nisan 10.

Jesus died on the day of Passover Preparation Day, Thursday, Nisan 14.

The next day, Friday, Nisan 15, was the First Day of Unleavened Bread and a special High Sabbath for the Jews, when no leaven could be in the homes. Jesus was in the tomb this day.

The following day, Saturday, Nisan 16 was the normal, weekly Sabbath for the Jews, and Jesus remained in the tomb.

On Sunday, Nisan 17, Jesus rose from the dead.

This day (Nisan 17) was another important holy day to the Jews during Passover. "The day after the regular Sabbath" (during Passover week) was always observed with "The Waving of the Sheaves of First Fruits" (Leviticus 23:15). The Jewish farmers would enter the Temple courtyard "on the morrow after the regular Sabbath" (e.g. Sunday morning) during Passover Week, and wave a handful of grain to the Lord and pray, "as you have blessed the first fruits of this harvest, please bless the rest of the harvest." This is the morning (Sunday, Nisan 17) that Jesus rose from the grave.

Jesus is "the first fruits of resurrection," and it is a guarantee that you and all others in Christ will be blessed with resurrection (e.g. "the full harvest of resurrection"), as Christ our First Fruits was raised from the grave.  Paul teaches us about the resurrection in I Corinthians 15 and he uses the language of "first fruits" when speaking of Christ's resurrection, and "full harvest" when writing of the general resurrection of Christ followers. Paul knew the day Jesus rose from the grave was the Jewish festival of "Waving the Sheaves of First Fruits."

So since Jesus died at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nisan 14, at the very time the national Passover lamb was being sacrificed in the temple and individual families were sacrificing their family lambs, Jesus would spend 3 days and 3 nights in the tomb prior to His resurrection, just as He said He would! Jesus was placed in the tomb on Thursday (Nisan 14) before sunset, remained in the tomb all night/day Friday (Nisan 15)  all night/day Saturday (Nisan 16), and through night (6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. of Sunday, (Nisan 17). Three days and three nights. If He died on Friday, as most wrongly say, you might be able to get "three days" (Friday, Saturday and Sunday - even though He arose before daylight on Sunday), but there is NO WAY you can get "three nights." No way. I believe Jesus when He said He would spend three days AND three nights in the tomb.

Jesus rose from the grave sometime between the sunset following Saturday (Aviv 16) and sunrise of the first day of the week (Mark 16:9), which was Sunday (Nisan 17) for the Scripture says it was still night when Jesus rose. The time Jesus spent in the grave fulfills the prophecy Jesus said about His own death and resurrection: 
"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).
Therefore, the Meal Jesus Ate with His Disciples on Wednesday Night Was a Regular Meal, Not Passover.

What are the implications? 

It means that in the New Covenant, the Lord's Supper is nothing more, nothing less than remembering the Lord Jesus Christ every time you eat or drink.

This is consistent with the teaching of the New Testament.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).

How can you get drunk if every time  you drink, you think of Christ? How can you sleep with your stepmother (as was the sin of a Corinthian Christian in I Corinthians) if every time you eat you think of Christ? How can you speak poorly to your spouse in the morning and not make it right by lunch if you "think of Christ every time you eat or drink." How can you continue in idolatry of anything if you take every opportunity in eating and drinking to think of Jesus Christ? Your LIFE is in HIM!

Jesus is "your Bread of Life."

Jesus is "your Water of Life." 

Jesus is your LIFE.

As often as you eat or drink, remember Jesus Christ.

This is the practice of New Covenant Christianity. It is living every moment of your life for Jesus Christ. 

Not waiting for a quarterly ritual called the Lord's Supper.


Anonymous said...

Jumping up and down that you've uncomplicated what 2000 years of Christianity has complicated, distorted and mythicized...namely the simplicity that is found in Christ and his new covenant regarding the meal. Thank you! After all, we're going to participate in a fantastic meal (not a snack) when He gathers his own in the (hopefully near) future. Ken

Anonymous said...

Wade, another great post. You always give me plenty to consider. Thank you.

Johnny D.

Wade Burleson said...

Ken and Johnny!

Thank you both for reading and commenting. I'm glad it made sense to you both, even if there may not be full agreement in all fine points.

To me, it makes perfect sense! :)

Wade Burleson said...


I do not call the Lord's Supper an ordinance of the church - I call it an ordinance (command) of Christ.

I teach it just like I wrote it here, but in smaller bites, taking people where they are (traditionalism) and showing them the freedom, Kingdom and LIFE of the New Covenant way of living.

Pege' said...

Wade, No more sad organ music? No more shame, guilt, and sullen faces? No more acting like Catholics in a Baptist church??? You mean we can remember Jesus with smiles on our faces and praise on our lips??? HALLEUJAH!! FREE AT LAST!!!

Christiane said...

Wade, while I do not share your viewpoint, I do see something in it to be joyful over.
Take a look:

This is the Jewish blessing for 'bread':
'Blessed art Thou, LORD our God, King of the universe
Who brings forth bread from the earth'

And in the sacred Scriptures, Our Lord uses this imagery often:
"I am the bread of life"

GK Chesterton described the impact of the young Church's proclamation 'He is Risen'
saying that those who followed the Risen Lord
“had a God who knew the way out of the grave ”

(P.S. I do think it's okay to 'celebrate' together in community also. I in my way, and you in your way. However it is meaningful for us, we can find a way to honor the God Who is 'the Bread of Life' and Who knows His way out of the grave . . . think of the hymn Southern Baptists sing 'up from the ground He arose')

So we come full circle back to the Jewish blessing over bread. Perhaps Our Lord said these words before He broke bread with His Disciples
perhaps Our Lord, the Bread of Life again said these very words
when 'up from the ground' He arose:

"Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, Hamotzi lechem min haaretz"

all is blessing, WADE, all is blessing :)

Wade Burleson said...

Thank you Christiane!

I understand and appreciate the view that many hold of the Lord's Supper being a reinterpretation of the Seder. In fact, the next time our church gathers for dinner, I will be sharing the view in this post, and a pastor friend of mine will be sharing the traditional "Seder" view after me (with a table, white cloth, four cups, bitter herbs, lamb and unleavened bread) and will give the Christianized Seder interpretation) and afterwards on each table will be leavened bread and unleavened bread and as we celebrate Christ and remember Him, our people will choose whichever bread they desire and remember Christ based on the interpretation of the Lord's Supper they choose.

Appreciate the comment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Our family has always held basically to your view, although we do find great meaning in a communal breaking of bread and sipping the wine. So much so that we--don't pass out--frequently hold a mini communion ceremony at home right before Sunday lunch. A time not of shamanism but of simply, together, remembering what Jesus HAS done for us and anticipating what He WILL surely do in the future.

I think it torques our preacher a bit, but now we--gasp again--do it at church twice a month. But not that solemn ritual, more of a family reunion with Jesus.


Christiane said...

A prayer said in our Church BEFORE receiving the Eucharist:

'Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof,
but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.'

The faith of Christ reflects that it is 'at His word' that all is in existence and is maintained in existence.

In the sacred Scriptures, the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew, we have this scene:
"5When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.

6“Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

7Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

8The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment."

Aussie John said...


Great to see the challenge for some sound thinking among the Christian community!

Tradition is more often than not a bondage much like that which those who have been incarcerated for years. It takes time for such people to understand freedom again.

It was good to see those wise words,"...taking people where they are (traditionalism) and showing them the freedom, Kingdom and LIFE of the New Covenant way of living".

Thank you!

Christiane said...

you wrote about ' remembering the Lord Jesus Christ every time you eat or drink " and it brought back some thoughts about 'food' and 'love' and people gathering together to share that goodness:

Food as love and hugs. In my father’s French Canadian family, food IS love and hugs.
There’s a beautiful quote from Corrie ten Boom about her aging mother, this:

““Mama’s love had always been the kind that acted itself out with soup pot and sewing basket. But now that these things were taken away, the love seemed as whole as before. She sat in her chair at the window and loved us. She loved the people she saw in the street– and beyond: her love took in the city, the land of Holland, the world. And so I learned that love is larger than the walls which shut it in. ”

I remember coming to work as a teacher at a school where there were some ladies who were having problems with one another. They acted it out with ‘parties’ where they would invite everyone and exclude the persons they had difficulties with. The other persons reacted in the same way. It was not a happy scene. So I tried something very simple: one Friday morn, I got up extra early and bought tons of fresh doughnuts (all varieties) and set them out in the coffee room (teachers’ lounge) with a sign that said, “everyone welcome” and I drew a heart in the middle of the words. Well, something did change. Eventually there were monthly ‘birthday’ parties with everyone ‘welcomed’ and much food shared and it was good.
It was really, really good.

After I retired, my friend Tina had taken up the monthly 'gathering'. She had a gift for celebrating everyone without 'excluding' those who were not in some 'in' crowd. They tore the old school down and built a brand new one next door, and in the Teacher's Lounge, once a month, all the sixth grade teachers meet to celebrate the month's birthdays with fried chicken, tons of food brought in, and cake, lots of cake, and ice cream and gifts. And yes 'Everybody Welcome'. Any person who comes into the lounge is invited to grab a plate and 'come to the table.

I think Our Lord Himself would smile on this, yes.

RB Kuter said...

Aussie John said; "Tradition is more often than not a bondage much like that which those who have been incarcerated for years. It takes time for such people to understand freedom again."

I agree that "tradition" often becomes a perversion of God's Word and intent. I am not sure that it is "more often than not". Personally, I too have sometimes suspected the credibility of some doctrines or "traditions" with which we hold. However, more often, upon taking an in-depth peer into the substance of it, I discover that our church fathers put a lot of research and intentional pursuit of the truth into our "traditional" positions and discover that I can confidently agree with them.

Wade often presents challenging perspectives, and for that, I am grateful and benefit by it, mainly due to my being motivated to consider his propositions. However, as with his position on Christ being crucified on Thursday, I find it could go either way. Indeed, it could have been as Wade says, but there are so many variables, did Jesus observe Passover as did families at home or as with the timing of the Temple observance, etc. Given the credibility I give to those hundreds, perhaps thousands, of learned scholars who have confirmed tradition and many who lived closer to the time of the occurrence, I will maintain the "traditional" position until convinced that Wade's formula should take precedence.

Christiane said...

Hello RRR,

you wrote, this:

"Wade often presents challenging perspectives, and for that, I am grateful and benefit by it, mainly due to my being motivated to consider his propositions."

RRR, I am Catholic to the backbone:
liturgical worship and sacraments included.

But I know that, in the compassionate ministry of Wade for those who are frequently outcasts in our society, I recognize a servant of Christ who, in a way meaningful to himself, calls people to come together as a community to share a meal that 'in the breaking of the bread' recognizes Our Lord's presence among them.

I don't see Wade as someone who 'doesn't get it'.

The theories Wade has of 'timing' I do not share, but they don't distract me from what I see in his compassion to minister to those people who need Christ the most.

In short, in Wade's 'compassion' for those people, he speaks a 'language' this Catholic woman understands very well.

Is a saying:
'Teach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words'
There is a language of the Good News that is proclaimed, not in human words, but in kindness, and compassion, and patience with people, and long-suffering, and the love described by St. Paul in his famous 'love chapter'.
It is this 'language' that bears witness to Our Lord and is a 'language' that is universal among our human kind. It needs no 'translation' because it is a proclamation understood within the human heart.

Even the smallest child understands this 'language' that needs no words:

in this picture, the little 3 month-old baby was terribly burned and being cared for by a pediatric nurse in hospital. Many years later, the baby all grown to womanhood, and having been inspired for years by the photo of that loving nurse gently holding her, sought out the nurse and embraced her saying, 'My God, you're real.'

Fruit of the Holy Spirit: a more powerful force than any human weapons against the darkness, yes;
and needing no 'words' in order to be proclaimed. Wade proclaims the gospel in a language we can all understand. Thanks be to God.

Aussie John said...


I appreciated your comment. I'm mainly referring to tradition in terms of function and performance. In sixty years of church life, half of that in pastoral ministry, the most frequent statement I've heard in response to physical, practical changes is,"We never did it that way before!"

Someone once said those words are the famous last words of a church. I've observed that born out in practice. I stand by my words,"more often than not".

The great evangelical Anglican,J.C.Ryle(1816-1900)once preached a sermon called "Formalism". It can be read on the internet. He used 2 Timothy 3:5; Romans 2:28-29.

Even in his day, he was aware of the problem which I believe is very obvious today, and became obvious to me thirty years ago,when church members responded to Gospel messages by coming to me with comments such as "Pastor! I don't think I'm a Christian!"

Ephesians 2:8-9 meant nothing to them! Without exception they have understood that their performance of commandments and good deeds made them acceptable to God, rather than the finished work of Christ.

RB Kuter said...

Aussie John, I get it. You are right.

I have definitely been guilty of applying "traditions" associated with church in inappropriate ways, but I am still seeking to grow and learn.

When beginning church planting ministry in Zambia a few decades ago, I was invited to share The Gospel in a village that wanted to see a Baptist church there. Some of the villagers responded by surrendering their lives to Christ and I began weekly meetings to deepen their understanding of doctrines associated with the work of God's Holy Spirit, God, Christ, The Church, etc. After a few weeks, they wanted to begin Sunday worship services.

I couldn't be there every week so I told them to go ahead and have services without my being there. Of course, they asked me, the "missionary", what they should do when they worshipped. I said, and this is no joke, "Well, begin with someone praying, then maybe a song or two, then another prayer, then someone can read Scripture and share what God has laid on their hearts about that. Then an invitation with a song, then prayer, then dismiss." I don't think I told them to take up an offering, but I might have.

No kidding. After I left them and journeyed home, I realized, "This was your first chance to lead your people to begin a truly "African" church with a style of worship that was indigenous and done as God would lead Africans to worship from their hearts!" I really felt stupid: definitely not the last time either.

I made the trip back to the village the next week for our weekly Bible study time and told them immediately, "Forget all that I said about how to worship! YOU decide for yourselves as God leads you!" They responded, "Oh, no, we liked what you said. See, we wrote it on the piece of cardboard that is nailed to the post holding up our grass roof and we follow that just as you said!"

Dale Rudiger said...

The Passover has not yet been fulfilled, so Jesus could not be celebrating the Passover. Passover will be fulfilled when Jesus returns to consummate His kingdom. Until then, we are called to strive to live an unleavened life of sincerity and truth while we wait for the day when all sin will be eradicated.

Aussie John said...



Rex Ray said...


Do you remember many years ago when the International Mission Board went ‘crazy’ and ordered all missionaries to stop what they were doing and start a new church?

Some missionaries were doctors in Southern Baptists owned hospitals. The hospitals were sold and they had to try to start a church from scratch.

Many missionaries left the field.

The reason I brought this up is because a Southern Baptist missionary and my friend in a foreign country has been told to do the same thing by his regional BOSS.

This missionary contacted people by many activities from preaching in churches to teaching ethics in college. In other words he was a missionary being controlled by the Holy Spirit to do God’s work and NOT an employee controlled by man.

He is very discouraged and has asked for prayer.

Is there some way the IMB can ‘educate’ this regional director?

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray,
I know your question is directed toward Wade and he will surely have valuable insight into that issue but your question did catch my eye. I'm sure you are aware that the IMB doesn't have an organization based upon geographical structure as they once had when they had positions called "Regional Leaders", etc. Now it's "Affinity"-based so probably the closest level to being that of the former "regional leader" would be the Affinity Group Leader, and then further broken down from there into Clusters, etc. At least, that's the way it was when we retired about 4 years ago.

I am surprised to hear about your missionary friend being told to abandon whatever platform he was using to become strictly a "church planter". That sure sounds contradictory to all I am familiar with. Perhaps it is an issue with an "institution" identified as being an "IMB" financed entity?

I have friends still involved in using medical ministry as their platform and means to engage people in villages and communities and their professional doctors, nurses, etc. and have never been told to leave that. They are very adept in using that medial ministry to plant churches and are great at contributing to the work of local believers as those nationals work hard to plant new groups. The medical team, consisting mostly of nationals trained by missionaries, is extremely evangelistic and impact the work of the national churches by training their church leaders. It's an awesome method.

They have not been told to stop the medical work or close the Clinic which is used to legitimize their medical credentials as well as being an evangelism outreach point in itself. They have been encouraged to always keep the focus of their agenda to be expanding the Kingdom through the multiplication of new groups of believers that evolve into new churches which have a "church planting" DNA themselves. It's a beautiful thing to watch.

However, they probably would encounter some resistance from leadership should their ministry be focused on being a work strictly for meeting humanitarian needs while not effectively involved in Kingdom expansion among their people through new church plants. At least, that's what I would expect. That is by no means to insinuate that is what your friend was doing, but it does sometimes happen that way.

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wade Burleson said...


I do remember.

It was a sad day in my opinion when Church Planting became the goal of the IMB. You Kingdom build by feeding the hungry, healing the sick and then giving them the Gospel.

Unfortunately, there is no way to "educate" anyone at the IMB at this time. Regional leaders do what they're told from Richmond.

Rex Ray said...


Thanks for your input on how missionaries are supposed to be treated. My oldest sister and husband have been in groups that have gone several times for spreading the gospel with this missionary.

This year they had four translators but needed five. It was almost a miracle how the fifth one came.

This year one group was Presbyterians but in the native language it meant they were something like the Mofia. My brother-in-law, Rollie, said they had to have another name. Some said, “We used to be Baptists.”

Rollie who missed his calling in being a ‘comic’ said, “Ok, your name is “Backsliders”.

This year after a church service my sister took a picture of a rainbow that ended in the churchyard. People were amazed at the rainbow. It looked like a beautiful beam straight to heaven.

We live in the country but I can look out the window and see my youngest sister’s house. They have two other houses they offer to missionaries or to people in temporary need.

This missionary has stayed in one while on furlough. His wife looks as young as their three daughters. We became friends and took them many places. I welded wheels on his barbecue smoker. When they left he gave me his chair that I’m sitting in now. It is the most comfortable chair I’ve ever seen and my back really appreciates it.

RB Kuter said...

Wade, I know you're responding to Rex Ray's message but you bring up a point that I believe is worth discussing; "You Kingdom build by feeding the hungry, healing the sick and then giving them the Gospel."

I am not sure if you are proposing this as a subsequential order or simply saying that we need to be "wholistic" in our application of The Gospel message, with which I totally agree. But in the way that it is written here it reminds me of one of my Pastoral Care/Missions professor in seminary who was quite the "liberation theology" proponent. That's not to say you are too, but simply saying that this statement would be something he would say.

My professor taught that you must deal with the physical/mental/emotional needs, circumstances prior to injecting The Gospel. He taught that if you come up to a starving person and begin telling him that Jesus died for his sins and he could receive eternal life if he gave his life to Christ, that person would be totally unwilling, unable and probably defiantly opposed to anything you propose to him other than addressing his immediate, physical needs.

I disagreed with that professor and we had a bit of discussion about it. I proposed that the starving person did not have to have a remedy to his physical/mental, etc., crisis prior to being presented The Gospel and that his rejection of my presenting The Gospel prior to ministering to his physical needs was not because he was unable to hear and consider that message, but his rejection was because I was standing there all fat and happy while he was miserable and looking for bread crumbs. However, if "I" was in the same miserable state as him and then presented The Gospel, I believe he would be as receptive to it as anyone who was not suffering from physical needs.

The bottom line of what I'm getting at is, the rejection can come from the barrier between our conditions, but we don't have to remedy all the suffering of someone, or even give them something to eat, in order for them to be receptive vessels for The Gospel message. Even when the bearer of The Gospel is in a better living circumstance than the poor person being served, I believe it to be effective to simultaneously present The Gospel message while ministering to their needs, not necessarily after. Share with them how Jesus is the Bread of Life while giving them maize. Share with them that Jesus is The Living Water while drilling a well. Don't assume you have to elevate their condition prior to sharing The Good News of spiritual enrichment.

Anyway, great topic for conversation. Thanks.

Rex Ray said...


I replied to RRR before I saw your comment.

You said, “Regional leaders do what they're told from Richmond.”

Its obvious Richmond has not gone back to the old Church Planting program but this Regional leader has.

I’ll bet if Richmond was informed to what he is doing they would straighten him out.

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray,
Praise God for your sister who ministers to missionaries on state-side by providing a residence for them. That is always a big concern and need, along with a vehicle to use, when missionaries come home for some months. Good on you for befriending them when they're home too.

Take care of that back and stay off the "Rex Ray" amusement park rides!

Tom Kelley said...

Wade, are you saying there should not be (or doesn't need to be) a specific practice of taking the bread and fruit of the vine together as a congregation, as a specific act in remembrance of him? Is remembering him every time we eat and drink anything all he had in mind? Or did he also intend for his people to gather together periodically and take these specific elements with a view to collectively remembering and focusing on his sacrifice for us?

Wade Burleson said...


What I'm trying to communicate is that whenever two or three gather in the name of Christ to "break bread" (eat), Christ is to be remembered, and this is the Lord's Supper. :)

Wade Burleson said...


I am thinking more "whote-istically" or "holistically" than an order of priority.

I think we are saying the same thing.

Wade Burleson said...


Possibly so. If that's the case, then I'd send and email to Richmond with the information you have.

We'll see.

In my experience, Regional Leaders reflect Richmond, but I could be wrong.

RB Kuter said...

Thank you, Brother Wade. I figured that was the case but appreciate your response.

Tom Kelley said...

I don't think it matters much one way or the other whether there is a connection between the Lord's Supper and the Passover Seder. I think the formalism and traditionalism associated with the Lord's Supper, and the requirement that it be administered by people with specific positions of "authority" within the church are holdovers from Catholicism, much as with many other traditions of congregational worship we see commonly practiced in many Protestant denominations.

However, it still seems to me that 1 Corinthians 11 intentionally sets forth a prescriptive pattern for the Lord's Supper, not merely a description. Paul indicates the Lord's Supper is more than just getting together and eating a meal and remembering Jesus -- it is a specific ritual that goes beyond just sharing a common meal, that involves specific materials (bread and wine) and follows a distinct pattern, based on the way Jesus took it with his followers and commanded them to continue the practice.

Rex Ray said...


You wrote: “If that’s the case, then I’d send an email to Richmond…”

WOW! In my search for their email just now I ran into this:

“The SBC of Virginia is a fellowship of more than 700 churches dedicated to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. The convention began in 1996 based on a belief in the inerrancy of Scriptures and COMMITTED TO CHURCH PLANTING AS A MEANS TO REACH THE WORLD FOR CHRIST. We're supported by your church's contributions through the Cooperative Program and the Vision Virginia State Missions Offering.”

One thing that gripes me is our church gives to the Cooperative Program which means some of my money is supporting their thinking.

Maybe this missionary should think about being supported by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as this link explains.

In fact I’ve wished many times I was with them.

Christiane said...


from many things you have written, I would say you have the heart of a missionary, yes.

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray,

I am a bit confused as my impression regarding yours and Wade's opinion that "church planting" is not a good method for expanding The Kingdom? Am I correct on that assumption?

Rex Ray said...

Hey yourself CHRISTIANE!

I just told Judy you were my one person cheering band. :)

After I was saved at age 10, people asked if I was going to be a missionary like my uncle Rex Ray, but I only thought of playing cowboys and Indians with my twin brother.

Many years later I made 13 mission trips to Japan where I worked on churches and houses in towns where he had been. At the time Japan was at war with China and he wrote many letters to politicians that the scrap iron Japan was buying from the U.S. was being made into bullets to kill us. He was buying hospital supplies and smuggling them to China.


You sure were right about Regional Leaders reflecting Richmond.

Can they be excluded from the Southern Baptist Convention? Their hounding good missionaries to do their bidding are a disgrace, and their ‘parading’ INERRANCY is a joke.

Winnipeg has ten pages on the Chicago definition of the word. Also it listed 257 people that met in Chicago and worked on it. The only names I recognized were W. A. Criswell, Dorothy and Paige Patterson.

Are these two statements contradictory?

Page 10: “The authority of Scripture is in no way jeopardized by the fact that the copies we possess are not entirely error-free.”

Page 9: “Apparent inconsistencies should not be ignored. Solution of them, where this can be convincingly achieved, will encourage our faith, and where for the present no convincing solution is at hand we shall significantly honor God by trusting His assurance that His Word is true, despite these appearances, and by maintaining our confidence that one day they will be seen to have been illusions.”

WHAT?...the Bible has “illusions”! Duh

Do they imply anyone that doesn’t believe Inerrancy does not HONOR GOD?

Do you remember me saying “Due to arguments, broken fellowships, and heartaches, Inerrancy should go back where it came from; from the smiling lips of the devil”?

Rex Ray said...


Christ said he would build his Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. You’d agree he was not talking about buildings.

That’s it in a nutshell. Many years ago missionaries used their talents in many ways to win souls.

For instants, missionaries that were doctors witnessed to their patients and their relatives in Baptist hospitals but the hospitals were sold and they were told to ‘plant a church’.

Authorities got the cart before the horse. First, people must become Christians and when there are enough Christians in an area they will build their church.

Basically, missionaries were told to stop what they were doing in winning souls because a church was more important.

It was like telling soldiers to kill the enemy more by pulling the trigger faster but don’t waste time to reload. I know that sounds ridiculous but so was what the IMB told missionaries.

Wade Burleson said...


Winning people to Jesus and Kingdom building through caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, and spreading the Good News is wonderful! Christ builds His church through those efforts.

RB Kuter said...

Rex Ray and Wade, again, like most times, I feel confident that we see things in the same light but are limited in expressing things wholly in the limited forum of blogging, so it can come across as being different opinions.

Rex Ray, I know that history of the problems when people were told to leave their assignments and exclusively be "Church Planters". I was on the receiving end in Zambia at the time. There was an over-play by the direction given to some who were involved in ministries other than exclusively being "church planters". They were told to abandon their work and go exclusively to the task of being a missionary-"church planter".

Then, due to the uproar, "IMB" ("FMB" at that time) went to what was called a "70/30" mix. I was always labeled as a "Church Planter" so wasn't directly affected, but some of my friends were. They had been involved in assignments of publishing, university student work, sports, even prison ministry.

For some years, we were told that there was no such thing as a "church" in prison so you could not have "prison ministry" as your official assignment. This was during the Keith Parks time and he was a good President but there have always been struggles in attempting to identify the best way of doing missions during the tenure of all of our Presidents.

Fortunately, things evolved through many, many restructurings and re-organizing and re-positioning of priorities. We always said among ourselves, "If you don't like this new re-organization, don't blow a gasket. Just wait a couple of years and it will be history."

All you both say about Christ's "church" is, of course, true and undeniable. Also, when the conversation involves "planting churches", I agree that it should not in anyway be in the context of a "building". However, by far, the majority of the times I ever heard FMB/IMB leadership referring to the "planting of churches" they were not talking about striving to increase the number of church "buildings" housing groups of believers, or there having to be a church "building" for it to be qualified as a "church". To the contrary, that was almost always frowned upon by leadership in terms of using funds to build structures; hence, "house churches".

The planting of "churches" that I am talking about, and that which IMB most often referred to when I was serving, had to deal with the New Testament model of winning souls to Christ (through whatever ministry/platform/activity you were involved), then teaching them to become stronger disciples and followers who led others to Christ, and then reaching the natural result when groups of believers gather together (under a mango tree, in a hut, in the living room, or at the office) and worship, study, pray together, thus being what is referred to as a "church", or local church. I personally never understood for that to be meant or confused as being THE church in the sense of it being the completed body of Christ.

I bet you guys see things this same way. If not, then it would be interesting to hear why not.

Rex Ray said...


I agree with you 100%. It was like someone behind a desk in America that thought they knew how to do missionary’s jobs better than them.

You mentioned Keith Parks. He argued the glue that held Baptist together was missions, but his opponents said the glue was doctrine and it became ‘our way or the highway’.

He and his wife, Helen Jean, served as missionaries in Indonesia for 14 years. He later served as president of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board from 1980 to 1992 and as the first global missions coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship from 1993 until his retirement in 1999.

“The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) is a Christian fellowship of Baptist churches formed in 1991. Theologically moderate, the CBF withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) over philosophical and theological differences, such as the SBC prohibition of women serving as pastors. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship claims approximately 1,900 partner churches. The CBF is involved with the Baptist Center for Ethics, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Baptist World Alliance and 15 Baptist seminaries and divinity school programs which have emerged in the wake of the conservative direction taken by the six SBC seminaries. The CBF headquarters are located in Decatur, Georgia.”

Fundamentalists highjacked the SBC and stole the name “conservative” and thus their opponents were stuck with the name “moderates”.

I once talked to Parks at a meeting he held in Arlington, TX where he was pastor of my cousin’s church. His wife asked my cousin if he knew Rex Ray, and he replied that he was his missionary uncle to China. She said, “No; I mean Rex Ray the blogger.”
“Oh, he’s my cousin.”
“I believe everything he writes.”

Wonder why I haven’t forgotten that? :)

RB Kuter said...

HA! Rex Ray, sometimes your stories are so incredible as to make them unbelievable had they come from any other source than Rex Ray! Sure enjoy them.

Mark Jopling said...

Wade, as a guy that used to help you do the ordinance of the Lord's Supper at Emmanuel, I thought I would make a comment. I remember you always saying to speak up because there's probably someone else with a similar question.

I see what you are talking about with the timeline you lay out in your post. Good job showing that the Lord's Supper was not the Seder. I am still wondering about how you would answer Tom Kelley's comment at 11:25 PM Monday. When you read I Cor 11:20-34 as a unit, you can see that Paul is distinguishing between the Lord's Supper and just eating a meal at home (v.20-22).

When Paul says in v. 26 that the Lord's Supper "announces" or "shows" the Lord's death until He comes, as you know, he's using the same word "katangellete" translated in Acts as "preach". The Lord's Supper is an ordinance that, among other things, preaches Christ and how He paid our sin debt. I believe that's why Paul basically says in v. 20-22: "if you are not going to do it right, just go home and eat."

Whether there are 2-3 people participating or 2000-3000, the Lord's Supper needs to "preach". Can you comment please? I may be missing something... Thanks. Mark

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