Monday, March 28, 2011

QUARTERLY OR SEASONAL COMMUNION

How often should the Lord’s Church on earth celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? The mere fact that this question is raised suggests that there is no direct statement in Scripture. Indeed, the closest thing to a direct statement as to frequency is given at the institution of the Lord’s Supper as found in 1 Corinthians 11:26. “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

But how often is too often? How often is not often enough? What is the proper balance? Some churches opt for a weekly Communion. Citing New Testament passages regarding “the breaking of bread” such as Acts 2:42 and 20:7 et al, it is alleged that the established Communion frequency is weekly. However, we are not convinced that these verses teach weekly Communion.

For example, we read in Acts 20:7a: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” To be sure, the disciples held Communion, i.e., ‘broke bread’ on that particular Sunday. However, to suggest that this sets the precedent for weekly Communion is to suggest too much.

You may ask what is wrong with partaking of the Lord’s Supper every Sunday? But you might as well ask what is wrong with celebrating it every day, or two or three times a day.

The compilers of the Westminster Confession of Faith in The Directory For The Publick Worship Of God, as help, offer only these words:

“The communion, or supper of the Lord, is frequently to be celebrated; but how often, may be considered and determined by the ministers, and other church-governors [alias the Elders] of each congregation, as they shall find most convenient for the comfort and edification of the people committed to their charge. And, when it shall be administered, we judge it convenient to be done after the morning sermon.”

We believe that Quarterly or Seasonal Communion is the most convenient for the comfort and edification of the people in most city and rural Charges, and that Quarterly or Seasonal Communion has a strong Biblical basis.

The following is a brief overview of our reasoning:

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only Sacraments found in New Testament. These are signs and seals of the Covenant of Grace instituted by God in Christ. They replace the two Old Testament Ordinances of Circumcision and Passover respectively.

Baptism, like its predecessor Circumcision is a “one off” ordinance. Circumcision can occur only once. Likewise Baptism is administered once only per recipient.

However, Passover and the other Old Testament Feasts were celebrated often, i.e. annually. Likewise, their New Testament replacement is to be celebrated frequently. We believe the traditional Presbyterian practice of four times yearly (quarterly) is often enough, as this coincides with the Seasonal Feasts established by God in the Old Testament.

There were three major pilgrimage-feasts coinciding with the first, second, and third quarters of the year commanded by God in Scripture. At the time of Moses the Lord said to His people: “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year… The Feast of Unleavened Bread… The Feast of Harvest… The Feast of Ingathering” Exodus 23:14-16.

Another feast was added, viz., the Feast of Dedication. This Feast, like the three major ones also drew large crowds to Jerusalem. Thus it completed the annual cycle by placing a feast in the fourth quarter. Its title and season are mentioned in John 10:22, “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.”

Hence, the three major feasts plus the great Feast of Dedication were as follows:

Spring = Unleavened Bread/Passover (Matt. 26:17-20).

Summer = Harvest/Pentecost (Acts 2:1).

Autumn = Ingathering/Tabernacles (John 7:2).

Winter = Dedication/Lights (John 10:22).

We believe that all Old Testament Feasts are now fulfilled in Christ and are now incorporated in, and replaced by, the Lord’s Supper. As the Old Testament Feasts were Gospel representations of Christ and His work of redemption, so is the Lord’s Supper.

Moreover, the Lord’s Supper is also representative of Christ’s Gospel blessings as promised to Abraham and repeated throughout the Old Testament. Peter, in Acts 3:19, refers to these blessings as “times [i.e. ‘seasons’ ASV] of refreshing”. These “seasons of refreshing” began at Pentecost and will continue throughout the Gospel Age “till He comes.”

With this in mind, it is interesting to note what is written even in the very first chapter of the Bible: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years…’” Genesis 1:14.

The Hebrew word here for ‘seasons’ is moo’a:dym. Not only has this word to do with climate, but it also includes the idea of festive gatherings, or seasonal celebration. Therefore, the precedent for quarterly or seasonal Communion has been established from the very beginning.

Since there is no explicit instruction given in the New Testament regarding the exact frequency of administration of the Lord’s Supper, we, by the process of “good and necessary consequence” (compare Westminster Confession of Faith I:6), deduce that the Scriptures teach quarterly or seasonal Communion. (Cf. too Genesis 1:14; 4:3f; 8:20-22.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

TRAIL DUST

My Japanese car clocked up more than two thousand kilometres on my solo trip back to Queensland after I had spent four and half years living in Tasmania. The overnight ferry trip on the ‘Spirit of Tasmania I’ was spent mostly in my cabin reading and digesting the Bible with a goodly portion of Calvin’s Institutes for dessert. Lashing rain bleeding from a night sky punched black and blue after condescending to pick a fight with the sea (still visibly erupting in fits of anger) prevented all hope of me leisurely rail-leaning and star-gazing.

Melbourne in rush hour is not a good place to be lost in. For its long tunnels and toll roads have been known to cause static build-up in the progressive sanctification in some of its Christian sojourners! The inland road to Brisbane was opted for in order to avoid time-wasting frustration and entanglement in the hurly burly of a trip through frenetic Sydney. The flatness of country Victoria and New South Wales reminded the Canadian in me of the Manitoba prairie. The circle of horizon was a bleeding and blistering red, not from a sun bruised by a long day, but from surrounding walls of dust kept at bay by high winds. Moses crossing the Red Sea on dry land sprang to mind!

After ten hours on the road I was sneaking up on the Western New South Wales town of Dubbo with only one hundred kilometres to go. The uninvited and unwelcome twilight sought to put fear into my heart. Nothing else for it, but to tuck my car into the slipstream of a road-train-truck, sit tight, and hope for the best! I prayed that the juggernaut would protect me from crashing into the suicidal kangaroos that line the side of the road at dusk. Sure enough a big red emerged out of the descended darkness and into my headlights from beneath the rear axle of the truck I was tailing. I managed to guide the dead roo between my front wheels. I heard him as he thumped his annoyance under my chassis. Sorry Lord for running down one of Your creatures, but I am sure he was dead before it was my turn to run over him!

My arrival in Dubbo was met with a ferocious downpour of the kind that defeats even the swiftest of windshield wipers. With water-distorted vision I saw what looked like a kilted drum-major on a well-lit sign. With mace in hand he beckoned me into the Aberdeen Motel in Dubbo to dry off and rest for the night. Early morning saw me back on the road to Brisbane. The air was clear and the sun was just rising with healing in its wings. A recording of the Scottish band ‘Run Rig’ proved to be uplifting driving music. The lyrics, ‘I’m alive again on a May morning’ were appropriate and helped lift my soul to thank God for the new day He had given me.

Like solar flares erupting from the sun I felt pangs of anger begin to bubble-up from somewhere hidden deep within upon seeing cattle dangerously on the road ahead as I rounded a bend on the highway. The seven years of drought etched into the face of the drover who managed the emaciated cattle as they ate the grass at the side of the road extinguished all flames within me. True, the only green grass I had seen since Melbourne was along the sides of the highway. As I drove very slowly through the herd of cattle I gave a wave of approval to the cattle hand. He motioned a slow hand of acknowledgement back in my direction. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked at the sad scene in my rear-view mirror. I prayed for rain, and hoped that my little wave of approval had brought no little encouragement to the cattleman. May your next seven years be fat not lean!

Majestic and as beautiful as they were, the cool green mountains either side of Queensland’s scenic Cunningham's Gap, still brought out the Scotsman in me! ‘Because these green hills are not highland hills or the island hills…’ But by the grace of God Queensland is my adopted place of habitation and I am coming home! Onward, little car, my wife and children await my return. God speed!

‘Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?’ Isaiah 40:12. “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other.’ Isaiah 45:22.

O that all the nations would bow down before Him! For the leaves of His Son’s tree, even His cross, are for the healing of the nations!

Excerpted from Disembark the Ark & Other Contemplations -  http://www.amazon.com/DISEMBARK-OTHER-CONTEMPLATIONS-Cullan-McKinlay-ebook/dp/B006WTDLRC/ref=la_B006NTVAWY_1_16?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408173219&sr=1-16

Monday, March 14, 2011

LOST IN TRANSLATION

There’s a notion that complex human language developed from an earlier system of grunting. One can only marvel at any attempt to verify this theory! What we do know for certain is that when God created man in His own image He verbally communicated with him in a language sophisticated enough for God to promise blessings for obedience and to hold the man accountable for his disobedience. And when Adam subsequently disobeyed God he didn’t plead ignorance of God’s intention. Therefore there had been no breakdown in communication between God and him, which is to say that Adam had fully understood the intent of the words God had spoken to him.

Indeed, verbal communication begins with the Triune God. From eternity the Father and the Son have spoken to each other by Their Spirit, who also speaks with equal power and authority (Genesis 1:1-3; John 1:1-3; Acts 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-2). The Son, the middle Person in the eternal Godhead, is identified as the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. He refers to Himself as the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:11; 22:13), which, among other things, means that He is the beginning and the end of the alphabet. Therefore every word, and every letter of every word, including every jot and tittle, i.e., every dot above every ‘i’ or every stroke across every ‘t’, regardless of the language or dialect, speaks of Him. He is speech incarnate. The Lord of lords is also the Word of words. Words have their ultimate meaning in the Word.

The written Word of God consists of the Hebrew (with a small portion of Aramaic) and the Greek Scriptures. These make up one Book, the Bible. These original languages have been translated into the English. A plethora of English versions abound. Some take a literal approach and may be slightly wooden in their translation, while others opt for the dynamic equivalent and may be of a more ‘general gist’ version. However, all try to capture original intent. Many people favour the King James’ Version only, but its wide use of archaisms can act as a stumbling block to the modern English speaker.

In Christian evangelism, though the accuracy of translation is important, it is the substance or message of Scripture that is emphasised; such as the overarching Everlasting Covenant, which includes Creation, Fall of Man, Redemption, Resurrection and Judgment Day, the New Heavens and the New Earth and Hell. It is the special work of the Holy Spirit to take the things of the Son and communicate them to those God is saving from His judgment. Thus the Spirit works with the Word convicting and convincing people of their sins and lost-ness, and the salvation from the judgment upon them for their sins, found only in the Saviour of sinners. This brings us back to Jesus, whose name, in a word, means ‘Jehovah saves.’

Regarding redemption, the theme of the whole Bible is that salvation is of the LORD (‘LORD’ being an English version of ‘YHWH’ or ‘Jehovah.). Thus Jehovah-Jesus is Saviour of all who believe (John 3:16). Redemption is an aspect of the Triune God’s covenant plan to buy back an innumerable multitude from His justice. Thus fallen human beings hear the Gospel or good news message, and by the power of the Holy Spirit working within them, in His good time, repent of their sins and believe it. However, those who do not receive God’s gift of salvation are those who remain deaf to God’s Word, which is to say that they remain in their lost condition with the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:36).

Only an unbeliever would ignore or deny the wonderful message of salvation by grace. Attempting to justify their unbelief some aver that the Bible is the end result of a chain of ‘Chinese whispers’, that Its message has been ‘lost in translation.’ However, the Bible says that, pre-conversion, all human beings ‘suppress the truth in unrighteousness’ Romans 1:18. That’s why, ‘he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him’ Hebrews 11:6b.

When it comes to the message of salvation, nothing is lost in translation. Rather, those who don’t understand simply don’t wish to understand. Otherwise they would diligently seek God and be rewarded by Him. We are thankful that ‘the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’ Luke 19:10. Otherwise the whole human race would die in its sins. We are thankful that by His Spirit the Word incarnate comes to us with words we can understand, words that bring us back to life. He that used words to bring creation and everything therein into being, with a word, can bring your dead soul back to life and on the last day, bring also your dead body back to life, merely ‘with a shout, with the voice of an archangel’ 1 Thessalonians 4:16b.

Monday, March 7, 2011

FROM MASON TO MINISTER - Through the Lattice

An adventurous, captivating and poetic memoir of the author's courageous and spiritual journey—from Scotland to Canada to Australia—in his quest to "find the Truth and know the living God." Neither an apologetic nor a polemic, he corrects much misinterpretation and misunderstanding of Freemasonry. We learn how inspiration from Masonic teachings about Solomon's Temple, the arch, and keystone led him to a deep study of the revelation from the Bible of the "stone the builders rejected" which is Christ. Readers will be uplifted, inspired, and delighted as they follow along with him in the discovery of his calling to become a minister.

From Mason to Minister – Through the Lattice is a captivating journey of courage through a world of secrets, soul-searching, and ultimate success. An intriguing and inspiring read from shadows to sunlight!
William J. Federer, Best-selling author, nationally known speaker, and presents “American Minute” on radio and internet at AmericanMinute.com, President, Amerisearch Inc., St. Louis, Missouri

Neil is an accomplished writer and poet and his gifts show up loud and clear in this autobiographical book of his journey through Freemasonry toward the solid rock of Calvinism. Having come there myself along a very different road, it truly amazes me to learn how God leads His elect in various ways back to the great Jehovah Elohim without Whom no one can come to God. I heartily recommend this readable book to the Christian public.
Rev. Professor Emeritus Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, Queensland Presbyterian Theological College, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

By its very nature, Freemasonry is shrouded in mystery and cloaked in secrecy, which has led inevitably to much misunderstanding and misinformation. It is here Brother McKinlay’s book comes to the rescue. Neither an apologetic nor a polemic, it is the memoir of his conversion to Christ after his personal journey into Freemasonry, how he moved from being a Mason to being a minister. Charming, engaging, informative, historical, and, most of all, Biblical, Through the Lattice is unique - as is typical of Nordskog Publishing - and answers some questions about a controversial subject. It is a book to be enjoyed.
Dr. J. D. Watson, Pastor-Teacher, Grace Bible Church, Meeker, Colorado, Author of A Word for the Day and A Hebrew Word for the Day

I read a lot of books. Many different kinds. Some just for entertainment. The ones I look out for most keenly, however, those which I seek like pearls without price, are books like this. Books which get me in touch with God. As a Christian (though not a Calvinist) I consider this to be treasure. Especially so given that I know the person whose experiences are related. There is a sense (it seems to me) in which only literature of this kind is actually important.
Billy Scobie, aka Alexander Tait, Author of Whisky in the Jar, The Cup, and upcoming novel, Upon This Rock. Alexandria, Dunbartonshire, Scotland.

Order book at: http://nordskogpublishing.com/book-through-the-lattice.shtml