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What Is Apostolic Succession, and Is It Required to Be a True Church?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
May 15, 2024 5:30 pm

What Is Apostolic Succession, and Is It Required to Be a True Church?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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May 15, 2024 5:30 pm

Episode 1489 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

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CoreChristianity.com

  1. Should I abstain from Communion if drinking goes against my conscience? 2. Are we violating the Sabbath by worshipping on Sunday? 3. What is apostolic succession and is it needed to be a true church? 4. Is translation technology bringing us to another tower of Babel? 5. Should children take Communion with their families?     Today’s Offer: 5 Names of God You Should Know   Want to partner with us in our work here at Core Christianity? Consider becoming a member of the Inner Core.   View our latest special offers here or call 1-833-THE-CORE (833-843-2673) to request them by phone.

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What is apostolic succession, and is it required to be a true church? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of Core Christianity. Hi, it's Bill Meyer along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. Our phone lines are open right now, and you can call us with your question at 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. You can also watch Adriel Live on YouTube. In fact, you can do that every weekday at 1130 a.m. Pacific time, and you can send him a question through our YouTube channel, and you can always feel free to email us at questions at corechristianity.com. Well, yesterday we had a caller who said his church was switching from grape juice to wine for communion, but he had made a promise to God that he wouldn't drink alcohol anymore.

Adriel responded to his question, and today we have a follow-up voicemail from a listener named Diane. I was calling in regards to an answer that I heard Adriel give to the caller about drinking the wine for communion, and I mean no disrespect, but I just wanted to point out what Paul said in Romans 14 about conscience when it comes to eating and drinking. It sounds as though this young man made a decision prayerfully in the Lord that he would not drink if it goes against his conscience to do it, and he doesn't feel convicted because of it. Therefore, he should not do that. It also says that when you partake of the bread and the wine, you don't have to. That's my interpretation of it.

Anyway, thank you so much. Diane, thank you for your thoughtful question and also for just showing concern for your brother. I mean, what a great question we received yesterday about whether or not we should be taking the Lord's Supper with wine or with grape juice, and of course what I said yesterday was that, you know, if someone or a church is using grape juice, that I don't think that that means that they're not actually, you know, participating in this ordinance, but that we should use wine because that's what Jesus used in the institution of the Lord's Supper. Now, recognizing that there are people who choose to abstain, and that's totally totally okay, choose to abstain from drinking wine, that is, just as a general rule, you know, so they don't like to go out to dinner and drink a glass of wine or whatnot.

But the Bible does indicate that in the Lord's Supper what was being used was wine, and that was true even for the church in Rome, as Paul's writing to the Romans. And so I just want to read a little bit of that passage that you brought up in Romans chapter 14, because I think it's a great encouragement for all of us as Christians to be sensitive to one another, and then to think about your question a little bit more. Paul says in verse 13, therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.

For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil, for the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not for the sake of food destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.

It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. And there specifically, I don't think Paul is talking about taking wine in communion, he's just talking about whether or not you have that liberty of conscience to enjoy a glass of wine with a group of friends or over dinner or whatnot. And he's saying, look, if you're doing this in public or with other believers, maybe some who are coming from backgrounds where they really struggled with alcoholism or something like that, is a stumbling block for them, well, you need to be sensitive to your brother's needs and to their struggle.

This is really hard for them. It's destroying them, Paul even goes on to say. And so he's encouraging us to charity, to love. Our Christian liberty doesn't trump the call, the command to love one another and to be sensitive, especially to those who are weak in faith or weak in conscience, as Paul talks about earlier in Romans 14 verse 1. And so I don't think that this speaks specifically to, well, because of what this is saying here, we probably shouldn't have wine in communion, because of course, as I said, they were partaking of the Lord's Supper with wine. In Paul's day, certainly in the early church, sometimes in the ancient church, what they would do is they would mix a little bit of wine with water, but the focus there was not on social drinking. The focus was on receiving this promise, this sign and seal of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ for our spiritual nourishment and building up in the faith. And so that was something that the church was called to do, and indeed is still called to do today.

Now, you did say one other thing. It does say, as often as you drink, almost as if to suggest that, well, this means that maybe we don't have to do this. It's not that important in the Christian life. And I would just want to say, the Lord's Supper, as this sign and seal of the gospel of the grace of God, you hear the word of God preached, hopefully every Sunday. Your pastor is preaching the word, preaching the gospel, and the Lord's Supper seals those great realities that you've just heard to you in a tangible way. It's a real means of grace, which is to say that the Spirit of God really and truly is at work through these promises, through these gifts that Jesus has given to the church.

And so I wouldn't want to minimize them in any way. I think that we ought to be taking the Lord's Supper as churches with frequency when we gather together, because when we do that, we're proclaiming the death and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ until he comes. So it's not a small thing. And of course, and of course, Jesus himself left this for his followers. Matthew chapter 26, the institution of the Lord's Supper, where Jesus says, do this in remembrance of me. Paul brings this up also in 1 Corinthians 11.

He recites the same thing. And so this is something that Christ has given us to observe as a church. It's really important.

And again, to reiterate what I mentioned yesterday, I think it's important that we observe it in the way in which Jesus instituted it as well. Thank you for your question and just your concern, Diane. Diane, thanks so much for calling and for listening to CORE Christianity. We really do appreciate you.

We'd love to hear from you. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, here's our phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. We'll only be taking calls for another 15 minutes or so, so now is the time to call. Let's go to Steve, who's calling from Kansas. Steve, what's your question for Adriel?

Yes, thank you for taking my call. A question that I've had, and I've been struggling with it for a while here, is about the Sabbath. Because I know in the original Hebrew tradition, the Sabbath was on Saturday. And I know that after the Catholic Church became more predominant in the Christian Church, it was switched to Sunday, kind of as a way to appease the pagan holiday, I think. So I'm wondering, are we violating God's commandment to keep holy the Sabbath by changing it to another day?

Steve, thank you for that question, and I want to alleviate some of your concerns. I think that it sounds like the concern primarily is rooted in this idea that worship on Sunday was something that slowly developed over time as the Roman Catholic Church became more and more involved, or developed. And so this wasn't like the original practice, right, of the apostles. And yet, when we look at the New Testament, we find already that the Christians were gathering together for worship on the first day of the week, which would have been Sunday. You see this in places like 1 Corinthians 16, verse 1, now concerning the collection for the saints as I directed the churches of Galatia.

So you also are to do on the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. So the church was gathering together on the first day of the week to take the collection, to hear the word of God preached, to participate in the sacramental life of the church. That's when Christians were gathering together for worship, already again in the days of the apostles.

And so this wasn't something that just sort of sprung out of nowhere in the fourth century or something like that. And the reason they were gathering together on the first day of the week is because that was the day that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples. John, in the book of Revelation, you know, when he receives his vision, when did he receive the vision?

It was on Sunday. It was on the first day of the week that he was caught up into heaven. Presumably he had been worshiping the Lord. You know, a lot of people don't think about that, but those those visions that he received in the book of Revelation probably came in the context of worship. And so there was something about the resurrection of our Lord Jesus that shifted, changed everything, right? I mean, it's the most important event in human history, his resurrection from the dead. And to commemorate that, believers were gathering on the first day of the week for worship. And so if it was good enough for the apostles, Steve, I think it can be good enough for you and for me as well. And the idea that it was something that developed much later is just not accurate.

Again, we see this in the New Testament. Thanks. Thanks so much for your call and for your question, Steve.

Appreciate you. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adrian Sanchez. I want to mention a great core guide that we have available to you.

It's absolutely free. You can find it on our website, and it has to do with the names of God. Yeah, one of the things we want to do here at Core Christianity is help you grow in your relationship with the Lord, and that happens as we understand God's Word and how he's revealed himself to us. One of the greatest problems, I think, in our society today is everybody wants to make God in their own image.

We just sort of invent what we think God is like in our minds for one reason or another. But what we need to do is go back to the Word and understand who he is on the basis of his revelation and how he's identified himself for us. And so one of the things that this resource will do is help you to see that, help you to know God as he's revealed himself in Scripture. And the resource, again, is called Five Names of God You Should Know. You can find that by going to corechristianity.com forward slash offers. Again, that's corechristianity.com forward slash offers, and look for the Five Names of God You Should Know. Well, we do receive voicemails here at Core Christianity. You can call us 24 hours a day and leave your question for Adriel on our voicemail system. Here's one that came in from one of our listeners in Castro Valley, California.

His name is Leo. Hey Adriel, I was hoping you could talk a bit on the Protestant understanding of apostolic succession. I've heard some people say that Protestant churches aren't real churches because they don't have this particular connection to the apostles or the early church.

Thank you. Yeah, thank you for that question. I've heard that objection as well, and of course the argument goes something like this, is our church traces its lineage all the way back to the original apostles through the laying on of hands, through this succession of an apostolic ministry. And early on, in some of the early church fathers, you begin to see this idea, and in part it was a way of guarding against false teaching. Gnostic heresy that was floating around in that day, the question was, okay, well, do you have the apostolic deposit, the word that was passed down through the laying on of hands, that ordination to the ministry? And so one of the arguments that churches will make is, well, you don't have that as Protestant Christians.

Only the Roman Catholics have that, or only the Eastern Orthodox have that. And I guess what we emphasize a lot of times in Protestant circles and Protestant theology is the centrality of the word, the importance of the word, that it's not so much an apostolic ministry that's passed down through the laying on of hands, you know, through these apostolic ministers, quote-unquote, but the apostolic message of the gospel. That's what makes the church the church, because ministers can go astray, but the word is the word. And so you think of what Paul tells the Galatians. For example, in Galatians chapter 1, verse 6, he says, I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel. Not that there is another, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. There's very strong words from the apostle Paul here. He's saying, look, even if we as apostles or an angel from heaven came and began preaching to you, something different than what we had given to you.

That apostolic message that centers around the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, if they come with that, let them be accursed. And so it seems to me like what Paul is getting at here is the focus primarily is on the message of the apostles. This is what Paul entrusts Timothy with and what he encourages Timothy to entrust to faithful men. That apostolic deposit, the word of the gospel. And so I would say a church is in succession to the apostles so long as it holds on to that message. And if the church goes astray from that message, well then it's no longer in line with the teaching of the apostles. And of course there in the book of Galatians, central to the apostolic deposit is the right understanding of justification, the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. That was being called into question by the agitators there in Galatia. They were saying, if you want to be justified, you need to obey the law of Moses.

You need to go through these ceremonies. You need to essentially become Jewish if you really want to be justified before God. And Paul says, no, you can't add to the gospel. And so again, thinking about what he says there is his focus on the apostolic message. And that's what the Protestant reformers claimed that they were recovering, is the purity of the gospel that had been obscured by rituals, extra biblical rituals, by things that were not in line with scripture.

And I think that's again where we need to focus. If we want to be in line with the apostles, we need the doctrine of the apostles as it's given to us in holy scripture. And that's what the Protestant reformers sought to uphold.

Thanks for your question. You know, just a follow-up question for you. As the Catholic church might claim to be, you know, an apostolic ministry, and yet there have been some things recently that have come from the pope that seem to be extra biblical, for example, the blessing of same-sex couples.

How do we grapple with that? Well, as a Protestant, I don't have to. But, you know, I know that there are many Roman Catholics who are upset about this, and I think rightly so, especially because, you know, if you feel like you're a part of a church that has this unchanging tradition where, you know, we've just always been the same since long ago, and then you hear some of these things, these developments, you know, which begin to raise eyebrows, you think, okay, well, is that claim accurate? And of course, you know, they have a whole doctrine of how well popes, how well popes, even popes can go astray and whatnot.

And so, yeah, it is an issue, and I know that there are many Roman Catholics who are worried about this. You're listening to Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Our phone lines are open. If you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, or theology, the number is 833-THE-CORE. Let's go to Douglas calling in from Minnesota. Douglas, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, Pastor Adriel.

Hey, Douglas. My question revolves around the Tower of Babel. I was on a walk yesterday morning listening to the Bible, and it was going through the story of Babel and the founding of Babel and then the Tower of Babel and how they had brick and bitturment, and they decided they were going to build a tower to heaven. And the Lord came down and saw that and decided that, you know, the Lord needed to confuse their speech so that they couldn't be left to their own means because, you know, as long as they could all communicate, nothing was impossible for them. So, of course, the Lord made all the different nations and different languages and confusion, and therefore, you know, they couldn't communicate like they could at that time because, you know, as it says at that time, all words and all languages were the same.

So, fast forward to now, and it just dawned on me. I thought to myself, well, you know, in today's day and age, there is nowhere and nothing you can't read or hear or see or understand because of all the technologies and all of the forward processes and progresses we've made. So, how might that bode for us, and how might that possibly indicate that maybe we're getting close to the time where the Lord might feel like he needs to intercede again?

Hey, Douglas, thanks for that question. Yes, we're talking here about Genesis 11, the Tower of Babel, verse one. Now, the whole earth had one language in the same words, and as a people migrated from the east, they found a plane in the land of Shinar and settled there, and they said to one another, come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone and bitumen for mortar, and then they said, come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the earth. And then verse five, sort of poetic, and the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the children of man had built. And God, the high and the lofty one who inhabits eternity, needs to stoop down to look at man's greatest efforts to, you know, to reach him, to climb up to him. And that's the idea, this kind of pride, this human pride, thinking that we can reach up to heaven to deify ourselves. And it's that pride that God condemns here. And you said, well, aren't we seeing that all around us today?

And I think that the answer is, yeah, we do see that. Even with, you know, the advances that we've seen in science and technology, which, you know, often are really good, really wonderful things, but not when we use them to try to deify ourselves, to make ourselves gods. There's actually an atheist who wrote a book not too long ago essentially arguing this very thing, that soon mankind, through science, through technology, through medicinal, you know, advancements, we're going to be able to, we're going to be the new gods of creation. We're going to be able to deify ourselves. And that's what we're working towards as atheists, really popular atheists.

It was a popular book. It's the Tower of Babel all over again. And so our only hope, the only hope for mankind is the gospel, the reversal of Babel. And of course, that's kind of what you get in the New Testament, you know, the anti-Babel of Acts chapter 2, where the Spirit of God is poured out on all flesh as Joel prophesied on the day of Pentecost. And God gave these people the gifts of tongues, the gift of tongues, these languages, and through these languages they're proclaiming the gospel.

So you see this great reversal here. You see that God is at work, mercifully reaching down to us still through Jesus to heal the confusion, the brokenness that we create through human pride. But there is coming a day where God is going to judge. And so we are called to repentance, not to put our hope in ourselves or what we do, our building, if you will, but to put our hope in God and in His mercy. And so I think there's a great warning for the world today, looking at these passages like the passage we see there in Genesis chapter 11, a call for us to humble ourselves before the Lord and to lay hold of the grace that He has for us. It's not that we climb up into the heavens through our advancements.

It's that God has reached down to us in the person of in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, to lift us up from the muck and the mire of our sin. Amen. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity. Let's go to Janelle in Iowa.

Janelle, what's your question for Adriel? I have a question about guidelines from the Bible about child communion. Okay, just what are the guidelines or what would be... Yeah, well, I know that some families feel like they should take communion as a family with children as young as three or four or five. What should be our take on that as a Christian?

Great. Well, I don't think that we should be taking communion alone as families. I think that this is a sacrament of the Church, so it's done in the context of Christian worship. And I also don't think that children should be admitted to the Lord's table if they have not yet made a profession of faith. And so there's a pretty big guideline there, I guess we could say.

It's not just, okay, well, sure, go ahead and start communing at one or two or whatnot. That's the practice of infant communion. But no, there needs to be a profession of faith, an understanding of what's taking place. I think Paul indicates this in 1 Corinthians. I don't know that we need to have a rule and say, well, that can only happen at the age of four or seven or 12. I think one of the things we see in the Bible is the fact that God's grace is at work even in very young children and can be. And so I think this is up to the discretion of parents and elders of the Church. And as they're working with families, they should have clarity about, okay, this is a good time for this child to come forward who's grasped the grace of the Lord Jesus even in a childlike way. Thanks for your question, Jeno. God bless.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-15 20:07:09 / 2024-05-15 20:17:07 / 10

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