Christian Apologetics Society

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."
- Matthew 22:29

Isaiah 55:11
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it
Gen 1:3
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light
Matthew 26:26
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body."
Malachi 1:11
My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty.
John 20:23
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 2:14
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Luke 20:38
For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.
Rev 21:27
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
1 Cor 3:15
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Psalm 51:5
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
John 3:5
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
1 Timothy 3:15
but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Acts 22:16
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

The Holiest of Nights

Our church service started after dark with the lights out. The pastor lit a single large candle representing Christ. The candle, held up in the back of the church, was the sole source of light. The single solitary flame was sufficient to cast a warm glow across the entire church. As we began lighting smaller, individual candles from this one large candle, the church became brighter and brighter. With hundreds of candles, the church was now well lit and extremely beautiful. Jesus words in Matthew 5:14 became manifest; "You are the light of the world."

Scriptures for the night started with Genesis 1 and the wonderful creation story. Then we followed with the story of Abraham, the Exodus, Isaiah 55, and finally the Resurrection story from the Gospel of Luke.

Six adults entered the Church at the service. One young lady was baptised, while five other adults, having been previously baptised in other churches, made a profession of their faith. Watching the baptism, I recalled the baptismal instructions of the early Christians recorded in the Didache:

    7:1 But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize.
    7:2 Having first recited all these things, baptize {in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit} in living (running) water.
    7:3 But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water;
    7:4 and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm.
    7:5 But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
    7:6 But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able;
    7:7 and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before.
    The Didache, Wesley Center Online

Our newest Christian was completely oblivious that, had this been sixteen centuries ago, she would have been standing naked, soaking from her baptism. Watching the pastor apply chrism to the forehead of each, I recalled the instructions recorded by Cyril of Jerusalem on annointing with chrism.

    "And to you in like manner, after you had come up from the pool of the sacred streams, there was given an Unction, the anti-type of that wherewith Christ was anointed; and this is the Holy Ghost; of whom also the blessed Esaias, in his prophecy respecting Him, said in the person of the Lord, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me: He hath sent Me to preach glad tidings to the poor."
    On Chrism, Cyril of Jerusalem, CCEL

Later, after the consecration of the bread and wine, as our newest members of the church were first to receive communion, my mind went back to Justin, who was martyred for his faith and his First Apology:

    "And this food is called among us Euxaristi [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."
    Justin Martyr, First Apology, CCEL

Standing amidst the current generation of Christians, inhaling the pleasant aroma of incense, watching rituals that have been faithfully passed down for two millenia, and knowing that the same exact service is being held not just across town or in a nearby state, but world-wide, one time zone after another, one is keenly aware of the prophecy of Malachi 1:11.

    "For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts."
    Malachi 1:11

Truely, this is the holiest of nights.

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