Friday, November 28, 2014


The Lord’s Supper: 
Confusions of Semantics and Synonyms


The Lord’s Supper is often mistaken for the Lord’s Table due to semantics and synonyms. The Lord Jesus and the Apostles spoke clearly about His Supper and showed how it is to be observed. In spite of such Biblical clarity, our minds get cluttered in words and wrong practices which often emanate from traditions and lack of careful study of the Word. There are many who link the Lord’s Supper with ministries and even leadership roles rather than allow it to capture our minds and spirits and get ourselves lost in the wonder and awe of the greatness of the cross and the death of the Savior. Many often equate the ‘Lord’s Supper’ with the ‘Lord’s Table’ and give undue importance to the furniture and the settings of the table. Others think that worship is impossible without the ‘Table’ and confuse between worship and remembrance. Many go away from remembrance meetings without adequately remembering our Lord, His sufferings, His death and resurrection as their thoughts center on the Table and all the blessings the Lord has for us on His Table. 

The Lord wanted us to remember Him in more ways than one. He wanted us to remember what He has taught us and asked us to practice it to challenge the world and its ways. He wanted us to remember and proclaim His death and confess it in our lives by the observance of the Supper. At the same time, He has invited us to His table to partake in all that He has prepared for us all the days of our lives. These are distinctly different and distinguishable, yet there are truths which bind together if we meditate on it with expediency and devotional dynamism. He

Why the confusion?

The common confusion about the ‘table’ and the ‘supper’ originates from the similarities that we read in 1 Corinthians 10 about the bread and the cup in relation to His Table while the same elements mentioned in all passages related to the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 11. It is true that both the supper and the table belong to the Lord and His people are the partakers of both. Both indicate privileges and responsibilities. These similarities make some think that they are one and the same. But if the table and the supper denote the same truth, why has the Holy Spirit used different words? Is there any possible difference between the two? Is it possible to understand the truth that is embodied in both, distinguish them carefully and experience both uniquely?

Blessings and Remembrance

1 Corinthians 10:16 speaks about blessings that we receive from the table of the Lord. So it is profitable to understand what is meant by ‘table’ in this and other passages in the Bible. As a matter of fact, we read about the ‘table’ of the Lord in many passages in the Old Testament to which Paul connects as he wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:1-3). Though the Table of the Lord is mentioned in both the Testaments, the Lord’s Supper is a truth that is taught, commanded and practiced in the New Testament only. The Lord spoke about the portion of the priests at the altar as the table of the Lord (Malachi 1:7, 12) which the priests were given to enjoy. Psalms 23:5 speaks about the table the Lord prepares for us. That table contains all the spiritual blessings that the Lord has in store for us as we tread the enemy territory. The table in the wilderness prepared by the Lord is spoken about in Deuteronomy 8:3, Psalms 78:19 and in Proverbs 9:2. In all these situations, the table speaks about the provisions, care and blessings that the Lord has for His people. Here the idea of wooden furniture is not at all envisaged, although sometimes even a literal table, like that of David from where Mephibosheth ate, can be seen as a physical illustration. Thus we see ‘table’ as a generic expression of all that the Lord gives to His children on a daily basis in terms of His care, caring, provisions and blessings. This is what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 10.

The Lord’s Table is for us to partake, enjoy and receive as we fellowship from it. It is what we receive from the Lord. Is that what we do at the Lord’s Supper? Not at all! The Lord’s Supper is not a time of receiving any blessing from the Lord, but a time to remember and proclaim the Lord and His death (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).

The Lord’s Supper is observed as often as we gather to remember the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:26) and proclaim His death. We read that it was being observed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), largely to commemorate the day of resurrection of our Lord. The Jewish day was from twilight to twilight which is why Paul preached till midnight which caused the sleeping Eutychus to fall down and die. But there is no mention of a particular time or day to gather at the Lord’s Table because we are always at His Table to receive all that He has spread before us. As we draw near, we don’t  need to do anything physically to draw from a physical table, but appropriate from a spiritual table that is full of all His goodness spread before us for as long as we are in this life and will extend to all eternity.

Remember how the Lord’s Table is differentiated from the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:18-21) that the idolaters draw from! But we do not see any such distinctions about the Lord’s Supper which is solely set up by us to remember our Lord and to proclaim His death.

It is also interesting to distinguish the order given at the Lord’s Table and that of the Lord’s Supper. At the Lord’s Table, we have the cup first and then the bread whereas at the Lord’s Supper, we first take the bread and then the cup (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:24 & 25). The significance of this distinction is pertinent. The blessings of the Lord’s Table with all His care and provisions come to us through His shed blood and so we draw near unto the Table of the Lord through His shed blood. But when we come to the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord first by breaking and eating from the bread. The bread reminds us of the persecution that the Lord endured in His body, and how He was crushed and mutilated by men at first and then crushed in the hands of the Father during the three hours of darkness. Afterwards we remember His shed blood through the wine which was the purchase price of our salvation and how when the whole blood was shed, His life was completely given for us.

Let us also note that the Table of the Lord is invisible and that we enjoy all the blessings that the Lord spreads before us by faith. But the Lord’s Supper comprises of the visible bread and cup of wine which we see and partake of physically. We are asked to observe the Lord’s Supper, but there is no commandment to observe the Lord’s Table which is a continuous spiritual experience of all believers.We receive from the Lord’s Table all that the Lord gives us, but the Lord’s Supper is a time when we remember the Lord, His sufferings, His death and Resurrection till He returns for His Church. So the Lord’s Table is a continuous experience of receiving and enjoying what the Lord grants to all His children whereas the Lord’s Supper is heavenward from our hearts when remembrance and thanksgiving go up from our hearts. As we remember Him, we cannot but worship Him for what He is and what He has done for us.

Interestingly it is the Lord who invites all His children to His Table and gives them all His blessings all the time. They come and draw from His Table and get themselves enriched to live as His children. But the Church has the responsibility to administer the Lord’s Supper and even keep the visibly unworthy persons from partaking of it (1 Corinthians 5:11-12). 

It is also true that the bread at the Lord’s Table denote all believers and their unity as one body of Christ. But at the Lord’s Supper, we remember the broken body of our Lord as we partake of the bread. This is a serious distinction as we draw near the Lord’s Supper to remember Him.

The Bible warns all who ‘live’ in an unworthy manner as they enjoy the blessings made available to them at the Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 10:21), but those who ‘eat and drink’ in an unworthy manner at the Lord’s Supper are warned of dire consequences (1 Corinthians 11:29).

The Whole Truth

Every child of God is expected to bear witness to these truths and must clearly distinguish between the Lord’s Table and the Lord’s Supper and partake of both in full significance and keep away from fallacies and fads which the enemy brings to confuse us. We must give thanks to the Lord at His Supper for everything that He has done for us on the cross. We must also gratefully enjoy all the spiritual provisions that He has filled His Table with so that we will all be enriched in every aspect of our Christian life day by day.


Saved and Be Sure of It!

A well known evangelist, along with a few others, was invited to a believer’s home after the evening’s Gospel Meeting. After dinner, while all were exchanging pleasantries, the host softly requested the evangelist to go with him to their bed room for a brief chat. As they both entered the room, the host’s wife was waiting there. So the evangelist thought that probably they had some family concerns and that they expected him to help them resolve it. But when the door of the room was closed, the host told the evangelist that of late, his wife developed confusions and doubts about her salvation and that he could not remove her doubts in spite of great efforts. To the evangelist’s utter dismay, the host concluded by saying that as a result of discussing and handling his wife’s doubts and confusions, it seemed that he also started developing doubts about his salvation.

You are not alone!

All human beings face the reality of doubts and confusions at some time in their lives. Believers also sometimes develop doubts about their faith. Abraham was faced with doubts about God’s promises a few times. Elijah’s faith was shaken when Jezebel threatened him. Many of the Psalms of David indicate doubts and confusion as he was confronted by the enemies. The disciples of Jesus sometimes had doubts which they raised with Him. So doubts are a reality in human lives, but we do not need to live in doubt and perpetuate it. We should not allow doubts to enslave us. We must get our doubts cleared and live victoriously.

The Enemy’s Ploy

There are many believers who are confronted with doubts and confusions about their salvation. This is often a tactic used by the enemy of our souls to shatter our faith, drain our joy and make us backslide. That’s why the Holy Spirit instructed us through Paul that we must always wear the helmet of salvation when engaged in Christian warfare (Ephesians 6:17). The enemy knows that if he can shake the very foundation of our faith which is the salvation of our souls, then it would be easier for him make us coldhearted towards the Lord, His Church and His Word. So we are instructed to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) to make sure about our faith. Regular self examination is foundational to our Christian life. 

This self-examination is not for the Lord, for His knows His own (John 10:14 & 27; Romans 8:16; 2 Timothy 2:19). It is for our confirmation and confidence (Lamentation 3:40) so that we will be able to draw nigh unto the Lord with courage and boldness when the enemy tries to shake our confidence in the salvation we have experienced. Then only we will be able to witness to others that we are saved and are children of God and that we are eternally secured in Him.

Genuine Self-examination

There are three groups of people who develop doubts and confusions about their salvation. The first group includes people who are not genuinely saved, but have a feeling that they are saved. They would have lifted up their hands at a gospel meeting or filled the columns in a booklet about salvation sometime in the past and have a feeling or impression that they are born again. Such people ought to face the following questions and find satisfying answers:

    Do I remember the moments when I got saved? 

   Did I experience guilt of sinfulness at the time I got saved and repent of it all?

Did I truly confess my sins and agree with God that I am a sinner and deserved only God’s punishment of eternal hell?

   Did I confess that the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary was in my place as the only way to save me from my sins?

Did I truly receive the Lord Jesus into my heart as my Savior and Lord?  

  Am I walking in the newness of life and enjoying the inner witness and assurance that I am going to heaven? 

When a person who has doubts about his salvation examines himself on the basis of these questions, it will be clear whether he is genuinely saved or not. If there is still doubt, these questions will help him to get saved and be sure about it once and for all.

Doubts are Human

Secondly there are those who have genuine human doubts about their salvation. Such doubts often come as we are aware of our failures and inadequacies. But such doubtful occasions are for us to draw closer to the Lord, get confirmation about our salvation from His Word and be reassured.

The doubting backsliders

The third group with doubts and confusions about their salvation are those who are backslidden. It starts with carnality in life and repeated sins (1 Corinthians 2:3). They try to live victoriously, but for various reasons they are unable to get victory over sins. Then they wonder whether they are genuinely saved or not. These doubts overpower them and tend to make them believe that perhaps they are not truly saved. Doubts further lead them to lose their fervor for the Lord, His Word and for spiritual things. They slowly lose their first love for the Lord Jesus (Revelation 2:4). As a result, they do not enjoy fellowship and thus miss the gatherings of the assembly for prayer and the study of the Word. They continue in sin and lose the joy of their salvation (Psalms 51:12). They have poor or no desire for the Word which stunts their spiritual growth and drains their strength to resist sin. They lose spiritual discernment as the Spirit of God is grieved and sometimes quenched (2 Corinthians 2:14). Public witness becomes an embarrassment for them. They fall into a deeper love for the world and the things in it (James 4:4).

There’s a Way Back to God!

To the backslidden persons, the Word of God says that there is always a way back to God. It is possible only if we genuinely confess our sins, as did King David and Apostle Peter. The Lord Jesus is faithful, then, to forgive our sins, reestablish the joy of our salvation and help us grow spiritually. He is our advocate before the Father to argue our case and grant forgiveness for all our failures and weaknesses (1 John 1:7 & 9; 2:1-2; Psalms 32:1).

Baptism: A critical time!

The Bible teaches us that we can be truly and genuinely saved and that we can be sure of it. When we are genuinely saved and experience the joy of our salvation, we will be helped by the Holy Spirit to live a victorious Christian life. It is this victory that we publicly declare at the time of baptism. So it is important that every candidate for baptism is helped to find assurance of salvation before getting baptized.  

Divine Assurance

God wants to assure all His children all the time about their salvation and help them to enjoy their position as God’s children with all the privileges attached to it. Let us appropriate and appreciate such a great salvation all the days of our lives.     

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Relationships @ Workplace:
Timeless yet Timely Challenges!

The Prelude

Once a commander-in-chief went to war and returned with great victory. The whole nation was in jubilation and welcomed their hero with pomp and pageantry. As he marched the streets of the capital city, some of the girls in the community sang to felicitate him. They praised the commander and pictured his greatness to be ten times that of their king himself. This invited jealousy and wrath from the king and irritated him greatly. Subsequently the commander lost his position and was brought to a lower position. The king couldn’t put up with the high acceptance the commander found among his countrymen. But the commander had the grace to willingly accept the demotion and worked in the lower rank with humility. The commander in this story is David who later replaced the king himself (1 Samuel 18:6-13).

Bible characters like Daniel, the three Hebrew youth and Joseph also encountered such reprisals at workplace, but they received abundance of grace to handle their situations with humility. They exhibited their spiritually transformed personalities at the workplace and received acceptance from God. They never tried to seek after recognition from the world by making their conscience pawns in the hands of circumstances. We also find civil servants like Nehemiah putting the interest of God at the workplace high and kept their testimony bright and powerful as they stood their ground with humility and firmness. 

Biblical perspective of any relationship, at workplace or elsewhere, is bound by the extent of grace enjoyed by God’s children who prove their faith through attitudes and corresponding actions. They never bother about winning earthly wars, but are keen to exhibit faith and trust in God to rule and overrule their situations for His glory. They are assured by the Bible that there will be adequate grace to resolve conflicts at the workplace and help to take conflicts above human level. It is well understood that relationships are multidimensional and as such complex and thus prone to conflicts. There are resultant ego clashes and covert or overt encounters which make situations counterproductive and make individuals disillusioned. Conflicts create undue stress in all who are directly and indirectly involved and make the work atmosphere cumbersome and cluttered. It leads to inefficiency and waste of resources. Workers lose their peace in such situations and will find it difficult to enjoy work atmosphere. But for all such puzzling scenarios, the Bible has answers to lead us to a satisfying work life.  

Handling or getting subdued?

                Christians are invariably both employers and employees. Christian employers are executives in managerial cadre but are also employees in a general sense. But they are viewed as employers by their subordinates because they represent the owners or management. These Christian executives are bound to please their bosses by producing best possible results with the cooperation and support of their subordinates who are invariably unbelievers. Subordinates normally expect undue considerations and favours from the boss. When they are unable to meet such expectations, workplace relations become sour. Such situations pose several practical and ethical questions which need to be addressed. Do the Christian employees have the responsibility to support, obey, pray and please the unbeliever boss? Are the demands and expectations of the Christian employees a reflection of their Biblical values? How would the Christian boss meet the challenging expectations of the subordinates who are unbelievers? How would the Christian boss handle Union tactics like strikes and work-to-rule? The Bible provides answers to such questions and demands total compliance (Ephesians 6:5-7). At the same time, these situations will have to be handled in its context with wisdom from God.

                The Christian employer is admonished by the Bible to avoid favouritism, bias and particularism of all sorts and exhibit a spirit of friendliness and kindness rather than use tactics like threats, spying and resentment. Negative strategies will only invite suspicion, doubt and confrontation which would tarnish his Christian testimony at the workplace (Ephesians 6:9). We must understand that such worldly tactics come from the flesh and is often a result of physical, emotional or organizational insecurity. The Christian must guard against fleshly tactics and must try to influence the work atmosphere to make it one of mutual trust and support. Thus when the atmosphere becomes less tense, people and organizations become more productive which will lead to higher levels of performance and reduced cost. The Christian bosses and subordinates need to understand that they are called to exhibit Christ-likeness in actions and attitudes at the workplace as much as elsewhere (like home or church). It is true that heaven looks for spiritual behavior from the Christian at the workplace when the world looks for intellectual and emotional smartness. The devil is engaged in a battle for our minds so that we would fall into double life, one at workplace and a different one at religious and family circles. But this is resented by the Bible very strongly. We who are partakers of the divine nature and recipients of grace from God have no option to follow two masters at the same time, but must acknowledge Jesus Christ as our sole Master in all spheres of our lives (Matthew 6:24). So our work behavior, as in other arenas of life, gives us the opportunity to examine ourselves to determine to what extent we are controlled by the Spirit of God and how much we excel in producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-25). We are asked to examine to see whether we are in faith or not (2 Corinthians 13:5) and to make amends.

                It is interesting to see Apostle Paul admonishing Christian employees and employers about workplace relationships immediately after speaking about getting filled with the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:19-20). Soon after talking about workplace behavior, he goes on to warn Christians about spiritual warfare and the need to pray for spiritual energy to fight (Ephesians 6:10-18).This pattern of divine instruction is somewhat repeated when Paul wrote to Colossians as well (Chapter 3).  These instructions demand total allegiance from us in our behavior at the workplace as much as in all other spheres of activity. In other words, we are to handle all challenges in our work relationships with the fullness of the Spirit and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in all dealings with our bosses and subordinates. It includes all our words and body language (1 John 4:17b). Christ likeness might invite ridicule from our coworkers. We might become failures at the work situation when we use Christian values and motives in all our relationships. But we will be rewarded with blessings by our God for following the instructions in His Word that we ought to obey all authority at the work situation (Ephesians 6:7-8). 

Handling Ungodly Demands

                Pressure to comply with ungodly instructions by the unbeliever boss can be highly intimidating and causes great concern. The believer’s conscience is pricked when asked to compromise on quality, service, promotion and advertisement. The believer is often used as an instrument or becomes a prey to nepotism, favouritism, corrupt practices, exaggeration, victimization and suppression of facts. If we stand for the truth and do not comply, it affects our career prospects and even our job. But complying with such practices is against our conscience and acts against the biblical principles we hold. It is a greater challenge to communicate such convictions to the authorities. It is at this juncture that our hearts ought to dwell on fruit of the Spirit. Here we must stand firm and present our convictions with respect, humility and love and guard against the tendency to engage in covert or overt warfare with the boss or the organization in such circumstances, but show true Christian character. Daniel and the three Hebrew Youth stand out as prime example in the way they handled king’s ungodly demands and politely and humbly stood their ground. They were driven by faith and trust in the Lord to look after their life and future while they stood strong in their faith. Joseph of Arimathea on the other hand did not want to take a public stand on his faith in Jesus until Jesus was crucified, thus lost the opportunity of 42 months to be with Jesus.

Submission vis-à-vis Surrender of Faith

                Handling bosses who are harsh taskmasters and working under oppression requires extra grace. In authority-oriented cultures, working can be very frustrating. But plenty of joy and peace will be available for us for the asking as we employ the whole armor of God and fight the devil who tries to engage us in dirty warfare. Our motive in such circumstances should not be one of wanting to win by using dubious means, but to use God’s instruments and draw from His energy to fight through prayer (Ephesians 6:7-8). When we follow the instructions of the Word in our dealings with our bosses or subordinates, the Lord will deal with the unkind as appropriately (Colossians 3:25).

Ethical Issues @ Workplace

                The Christian employee should be above reproach in complying with rules and regulations and exhibit highest standards of work ethic. He should comply with punctuality and promptness to meet deadlines. He should desist from pilferage of all kind and should not have shadow warfare with the boss. He should desist from the use of employers’ resources for personal purposes, like telephone, transport, computer and the like. We are not expected to make personal gains at the expense of the employer and make people say that we are made rich by our employer (Genesis 14:22-24).

                When we are called upon to suffer under brutal and unkind employers, we have the prerogative to continue there until the Lord opens another door for us. It then is a time for us to learn patience and to live above our circumstances. These difficult job situations will be used by God to mold us to be strong and teach us to live by faith and trust God to look after us. It is then that we prove our righteousness as God’s children and live to comply with work norms even when we are resented. We must desist from negligence and cause undue delay in work. These are tactics of the flesh which we should keep away from. We should still be loyal, fair and considerate to the boss and the organization. Employers are also strongly admonished by the Word not to ill-treat employees, underpay and mistreat them because these will invite the wrath of God (James 5:4; Colossians 4:1).

                We should not forget the fact that there is divine reward for genuine faithfulness and earning the trust of our employers (Ephesians 6:8). These rewards are not spelt out but will pleasantly surprise us at unexpected times and in unusual forms. But we should be motivated to serve to get God’s acceptance and intangible rewards like internal peace and maintenance of testimony. We must be diligent and faithful and leave our future with God who will not forsake us (Colossians 3:24).

A Challenge to Respond! 

                The Bible guarantees honour and respect for a servant who looks after the affairs of the employer diligently (Proverbs 27:18). At the same time a Christian boss is like the shepherd of his employees to nourish, strengthen and develop them to reach the highest level of potential. In our unrighteous world, the Christian must draw upon God’s power through His Word and Spirit to fight the battles of the workplace as he serves God. May we take such a challenge and handle all its ramifications through battles in prayer for strength, patience and prudence! Remember! Your work situation is God’s way to take glory through you as you build up your relationships at work to serve and to lead for eternal consequences. Your response opens the doors for newer pathways filled with divine possibilities.