Reading No. 4 – Tuesday, December 9, 2003
Alfonso Reto, Peru
According to the “Proel Bulletin” statistics, the world population will have increased to six billion people by the end of the year. The increase is estimated to be of 77 million people per year. An even more alarming fact is that every 3.6 seconds somebody dies of starvation. This means that the majority of the world’s population are undernourished, not only because of a lack of physical food, which results in visual and growth impairments as well as other disorders, but also because of the lack of spiritual food. If we consider any one of the thousands of existing churches, we will discover that there is little desire for spiritual development, reflected by the lack of interest in prayer meetings or for studying God’s word which is food for the soul. Therefore, it is vital to know the principal characteristics of the true nourishment that is so necessary for our lives so that we may desire to eat it and live. Amongst other things, we have to consider the source of the food, its nutritional properties and its purity.
Origin of the food
From historical records we can see that God fed thousands of people with the manna that fell from heaven: “… This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat” and they “ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was the taste of fresh oil.” Exodus 16: 15; Numbers 11:8. The people depended upon His divine generosity both in temporal and spiritual blessings. This heavenly food was always in a golden vessel within the ark of the covenant Another staple food that was always to be found in the holy place of the tabernacle were the twelve loaves, each one approximately 2.5 kg in weight. These loaves were always in the presence of God and had their own sacred characteristics. This is where the name “showbread” originates. Hebrews 9:2. These loaves were eaten at the end of the week by the priests on duty, when the fresh bread was ready to be placed on the table chosen for this purpose. The fact that these nutritious and delicious products were always present, according to Exodus 25:30: “And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before Me always” proves that man must always depend on God both for his temporal and spiritual nourishment. The manna and bread pointed to the true bread of heavenly origin, our Lord Jesus Christ, who in one of His sublime, spiritual discourses to the people who constantly sought and followed Him, said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51. With these words, the world’s Saviour recommends a specific bread of heavenly origin in order to have spiritual health and vitality in the soul. He emphasized the value of the spiritual food that man should take. The Redeemer’s principles should be obeyed because they proceed from divine wisdom. Then spiritual growth shall be enjoyed, from grace to grace.
The soul needs to nourish itself daily from the gift of heaven, from that bread of spiritual life. This means not only reading the word of God in order to know Jesus, but also accepting it as a system of higher education. We should have faith in everything that God has done to keep us healthy and have the full assurance that through Christ we are reconciled with the Father.
It has been scientifically proven that in order to maintain good health, man needs to include in his diet a high percentage of fresh food products. Unfortunately, many people deprive their bodies of this kind of food resulting in weakness and sickness which may even lead to death.
Now, if we completely reject the spiritual food that is given to us freely, and choose forbidden meats which results in damage to spiritual health and the danger of following our own will, then no good can come of this. Jesus warned us: “.. .you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.” 1 Corinthians 10:21
Jesus says about the Lord’s table that gives us life: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:35. This comparison of our Lord Jesus Christ with bread assures us of eternal life, as long as we willingly accept God’s work for man. When we believe in Jesus and turn to Him, we have access to the Father and we shall be filled. If God is offering this to us, why are we spiritually undernourished? – “Many are starved and strengthless because, instead of eating of the bread which came down from heaven, they fill their minds with things of minor importance. But if the sinner will partake of the bread of life, he will, regenerated and restored, become a living soul. The bread sent down from heaven will infuse new life into his weakened energies. The Holy Spirit will take of the things of God, and show them to him; and if he will receive them, his character will be cleansed from all selfishness, and refined and purified for heavea” Youth’s Instructor, November 11,1897.
This spiritual malnourishment can be seen in the people and also in their ministry. The inspired pen writes: ” I have felt very sad as I have seen ministers walking and working in the light of the sparks of their own kindling; ministers who were not obtaining spiritual nourishment from Christ, the Bread of life. Their own souls were as destitute of the heavenly manna as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. In their hearts Christ was not an abiding Presence. How could they speak intelligently of Him whom they had never known by experimental knowledge?”-Manuscript21,1891.
If this applies to us, if we are sick and weak because of our neglect and disobedience even when such an offer of grace is given, the end shall be suffering and death.
Symbol of living food
During the last supper that Jesus shared with His disciples, He said to them: “Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24 If we would acknowledge that man is the result of what he eats, this kind of reasoning would produce spiritually strong and active individuals, continually enjoying the benefits of the nourishment received from Christ our Saviour, being then partakers of the divine nature. “What food is to the body, Christ must be to the soul.” -The Desire of Ages, p. 355. Therefore, ‘To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ is to receive Him as a personal Saviour, believing that He forgives our sins, and that we are complete in Him.” —The Desire of Ages, p. 344. If we do not eat the flesh of Christ we shall not have life. Here, during this feast, Christ’s words pointed to His death. He paid the just requirements of the law with His life and His body, broken for our transgressions so that we can enjoy, not only spiritual life, but also physical bread and water. All these things have been made possible because He paid the price through His blood. “The cross of Calvary is stamped on every loaf. It is reflected in every water spring. All this Christ has taught in appointing the emblems of His great sacrifice. The light shining from that Communion service in the upper chamber makes sacred the provisions for our daily life. The family board becomes as the table of the Lord, and every meal a sacrament.” -The Desire of Ages, p. 598.
Today, when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we can contemplate by faith, the great sacrifice of Christ Concerning the ceremony celebrated today in the Lord’s church we read: “The service forms a living connection by which the believer is bound up with Christ, and thus bound up with the Father. In a special sense it forms a connection between dependent human beings and God.” -The Desire of Ages, p. 598. A person that has been transformed by that food will better understand the magnitude and the meaning of such a sacrifice. “He who beholds the Saviour’s matchless love will be elevated in thought, purified in heart, transformed in character. He will go forth to be a light to the world, to reflect in some degree this mysterious love. The more we contemplate the cross of Christ, the more fully shall we adopt the language of the apostle when he said, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.’ Galatians 6:14.” -The Desire of Ages, p. 559.
Each time we assimilate the living food we are transformed into the divine image, and we shall be one with Christ; then we shall be willing to do those things He commanded. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is referred to in The Desire of Ages, pp. 656-661.
1. It reminds us of the Saviour’s inexpressible suffering and His matchless love for us, in that He gave His life for the sinner.
2. It helps to keep our hope in Christ’s second coming alive. For every tribulation a Christian endures for Christ’s sake, he shall find comfort in the thought of Christ’s return, since it is written: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.” 1 Corinthians 11:26.
3. Christ instituted this ceremony so that feelings of appreciation for God’s great love for every soul can be aroused within us.
4. It strengthens unity and love between brethren through the death of Jesus Christ, that makes that love effective.
5. It gives the opportunity for every Christian to examine himself, to confess his sins and to be reconciled with others before participating in this sacred ordinance.
6. Every person who communes with Christ can remain under the shadow of the “saving light”
The purity of the food
It is a well-known fact that food can be made appear in many attractive ways, even though it may have no nutritional value; what counts is to promote the product so that it will be consummed by a majority of people. Similarly, in the religious world, many have tried to present “the bread of life” mixed with vain and false philosophies, with human traditions and concepts to deceive and deny the teaching of Jesus Christ, thus creating a distance from the gospel of God. Paul warns against this: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8. There is great danger when the true nourishment offered in the word of God is confused with exalted human teachings and theories. Christianity should be on the alert and prepared to meet those who propagate false theories that result in death. The following must be done to test the purity of this food:
(a)The food should be passed through the sieve of truth (John 17:17) in such a way that it will reveal the character of God and the plan of salvation, where man is set apart for a sacred purpose.
(b)It should lead to eternal life (1 John 5:12) beginning with the new birth of the Christian and continuing in the world to come.
(c)It should focus on the law and the gospel. Isaiah 8:20. Both of these eternal principles should be expressed and in harmony; otherwise it will be taken for granted that “there is no light in them” and they shall fall prey to the sophistries of Satan.
(d)It manifests the fulfillment of prophecy and testifies of Jesus. Revelation 19:10. The Holy Spirit was commissioned to reveal to the prophets the things that were to happea
(e)The food should impart wisdom leading us to obtain a perfect knowledge of the Saviour, not only intellectually, but especially spiritually, progressively expressing itself in a life sanctified by Christ. Dear brethren in the faith of Jesus, I cordially invite you to drink with me from the heavenly fountain and journey towards the heavenly Canaan. Let us strengthen our weak souls with the heavenly manna that has been freely placed within our reach. We have been given the opportunity to place ourselves under the protection of saving grace, to continually receive food for the soul, and to be strengthened by the water of life that has been provided for us since the foundation of the world.
Only nourished with this heavenly food can we fulfill the command: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”. Mark 16:15