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Re: Part Two of the Course, Second Assignment, Question 1
by Marvin Fitchett - Monday, 16 July 2012, 4:28 PM

The outer symbolism and the inner spiritual realities experienced by early Christian converts through their religious practices were observed through the reoccurring events they performed. The reoccurring events were the hearing the preached word, baptism, laying on of hands, and participating in the Lord’s Supper.

The outer symbolism of hearing the preached word was transmitted via speech about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Hence, Jesus Christ’s life and his teachings are the initial symbols of the early Christian converts. Additional symbolic concepts extracted from the preached word and what Jesus Christ taught was repent for the Kingdom of God (Heaven) is at hand, and being born again into the Kingdom of God.

The effect of hearing the preached word on the early converts’ inner person was stirred toward the process of transforming their deadened spirit into a re-generated spirit. The early converts recognized the condition of their lives and the contrasting symbolism of a renewed spirit and the life they could obtain through Jesus Christ. The early converts believed the preached word, thus changing their inner reality.

The outer mystery of baptism for the early converts was a recreation of the sacrament John the Baptist instituted. The act of submerging and lifting a convert out of the water was a visual symbol attributed to Christians.

The inner reality of baptism signifies early convert submergence under water was dying to their old way of thinking/old life. When the convert was raised from the water, this suggests the convert's elevation into the new life/way of thinking.

The symbolic mystery that lies in lying on of hands has a visual and/or physical component. The character of both the visual and physical components is classified as a ritualistic event. Their origin is depicted in the Jewish heritage leading to the early converts. The lying on of hands is a demonstration of transference and a sealing action.

The inner reality of lying on of hands is transferring or bestowing God’s spiritual blessing upon or to the early convert. This is performed when God’s representative touches the convert, usually accompanied by a prayer. The spiritual blessing may have a notable or obscure effect on the early convert.

The mystery of the Lord’s Supper is an exclusive ritual ascribe to the early converts (apostles). It was a ritual that Jesus Christ instituted and the symbolism found in it were fellowship, closeness, and sharing. From this time of fellowship, closeness, and sharing the concept of community was developed.

The inner reality of the Lord’s Supper is integral to the original Lord’s Supper. Jesus introduces the concept that the wine would represent his shed blood, and the bread would represent his broken body. As often as the early converts repeated the ritual of the Lord’s Supper, they would remember Jesus Christ. They remembered the spiritual significant of the broke bread-Jesus’ assaulted body-all that he endured in his body, and the wine- Jesus’ shed blood was the sacrifice to cover their sin and the price for them to enter this spiritual reality. The inner reality of this ritual was the entrance of covenant with Jesus Christ.

In summary the outer symbolism of each sacrament, introduced the early converts to a hidden knowledge of Jesus Christ and the Christian way. The hidden knowledge was the entrance into the inner realities or spiritual dimensions of Jesus Christ.

Therefore pastors and liturgy planners must ensure their messages, homilies, teachings, and curriculum are presented with a sacred perspective of the significant of the sacramental practices. This sacred perspective must enlighten the new converts of the outer and inner importance of the rituals thus properly preparing them to experience the sacredness of the sacramental practices.

GRADE 4 (Thoughtful and thorough. Shows progress in learning.)

(Edited by Dr. Joe - original submission Sunday, 15 July 2012, 08:01 PM)