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Teaching

Teaching in Evangelical Christian Church is based on the Holy Bible consisting of 73 books: 46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. The Church also accepts the writings of the Churches from the first centuries. However, its interpretation is always subject to the Holy Bible, which is the ultimate authority concerning faith and customs.

Living word

John 15, 26

But when The Comforter comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes from the Father, He will testify regarding Me

Point of view

This part contains the point of view of some believers. It is not the official teaching of the ECC but only a point of view correlated with some topics. The administrator hopes that showing those writings on the ECC website will let you understand the point of view better.

Fight for Your faith is going on

Moritz Retzsch's „The Chess Player” was painted in 1831. The original painting can be found in the Dresden Gallery and the copy in the side corridor of St. Ann's church on St. Anne Mountain. The masterpiece is an allegory and it presents two people playing chess. It is seemingly a typical game, but when we look closely, we can notice that the chessboard is placed on a sarcophagus. It should not be considered a typical game, but a “game for life”. On the one side there is a young man with a bag, acting as if he was on a journey, he plays with white pawns. He is focused and engrossed in unequal fight. On the other side there is – no other than – the devil, the prince of darkness, he plays with black pawns. Scoffing smile on his face shows expectation of a forthcoming victory. Behind him sits a lion, reposing its paw on a skull, which connotes a fragment of Saint Peter's words – “That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1Peter 5,8).

Browsing different sources, we may find a lot of interpretations of what happens on the chessboard in the painting. I would like to cite one of them: The pawn covered with a coat is the black king – Satan. His army is moving bravely to attack. The black queen means sensuality – a beautiful woman holding a goblet of pleasure in her hand. Officers represent sins. In front of the king stands disbelief and trods on the cross. Hypocrisy, with cat’s head, holds a knife in the right hand behind its back and beats its breast with its left hand. Pride is similar to a peacock that walks boastfully with a crown on its head spreading little wings. It holds a bag with money in its hand and puffs up its breast all covered with orders. On the right side of the queen stands meanness and jealousy holding a box of money under its arm and biting its own hand. Next – laziness looks similar to a heavy pig, sits on a stump with its arms slouched to the ground. Off the chessboard there is passion, the young man defeated it – anger – as puffy turkey covered with thorns. Little black figures represent doubts about faith which Satan uses to torment the young man. On the man’s side (white pawns) is his soul represented by the king with wings. The white queen is religion – the most powerful soul’s protector. She is a majestic figure with huge wings and a cross in her hand. The officers are: truth with a shield and a torch (on the king’s right side) and hope – with an anchor. Off the chessboard, in Satan’s possession already: humbleness, dressed in indigent clothes, with a bag on its shoulder, innocence that looks like a boy who stretches out his hand with confidence, love – two children standing together with a star between their heads. Satan has also taken away peace from the young man (pawn with a palm leaf in its hand) and holds it in his bony fingers. Religion, which stands on the defensive position before the soul, is attacked bitterly by sensuality, disbelief and evil thoughts represented by little small black monsters. The ornaments of the sarcophagus strengthen the climate of the battle. The figure of a woman who covers her face means remorse. The spider coming out of the sarcophagus means death, which covers everything with mould and rottenness like a spider’s web. In the back, between the players, stands the young man’s guardian angel.

Looking at the number of pawns on the chessboard we can see that the young man was playing thoughtlessly. He did not recognise his opponent or he simply ignored him. He found himself in a difficult situation and now he cannot make a mistake.

The artist wanted to show what happens in a man’s soul, a continuous battle between two worlds: between good and bad, between spirit and flesh. The painting is a warning to us. It is important that the game is not over yet.

Knowing that the stake of the game is life, it would be good that the young man wins. In the Bible we can find encouragement to fight and not give up, even though not everything goes our way.

„This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, so that [inspired and aided] by them you may fight the good fight in contending with false teachers, keeping your faith leaning completely on God with absolute trust and confidence in His guidance and having a good conscience; for some people have rejected their moral compass and have made a shipwreck of their faith.” (1 Timothy 1, 18-19).

Looking at the young man’s situation we see that he made mistakes, he sinned but nevertheless the game still goes on. What Satan means is our faith. It is uppermost, it makes us not give up. Satan knows it and he will do everything to weaken our faith and in consequence to make a shipwreck concerning the faith. When you lose faith you will make a shipwreck. Sins weaken faith. I will quote the Apostle’s words which I heard lately because they suit the situation depicted on the painting.

„Be aware that God sets the chessboard for a long time but he checkmates in one move. That happens to a man who sins”.

In chess the game ends up with a checkmate. In real life the same thing happens when we lose faith. You needn’t lose, you can win this game for life. No matter how many chess pieces you lost, no matter that your opponent sometimes gains advantage. In one moment God can changes the entire situation and make your opponent be checkmated. Believe in Jesus and you will be saved. Refer to the sacrifice of Jesus, to His blood which purifies us from every sin. Saint Jude knew the value of faith therefore he wrote these words of encouragement: „Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I was compelled to write to you urgently appealing that you fight strenuously for the defence of the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith that is the sum of Christian belief that was given verbally to believers”(Jude 1,3).

These words emphasize how important that fight is. Faith is delivered only once. Keep faith for it is the most important. When a man falls he must be cleansed. The power of Jesus blood is a checkmate to the devil. Hence the deil’s aim when he attacks you is your faith. You may have remorse, but it does not mean anything – contend for your faith continuously. Keep faith, don’t get deceived, so that you don’t shipwreck. Remember:

„But without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hbr 11,6a), „So faith comes from hearing, and what is heard comes by the message concerning Christ.” (Romans 10,17).

Faith comes from hearing God’s words, hearing the Good News. When you hear bad news, lies and slanders you make your faith die. Don’t let faith die in you. Don’t believe every word, don’t receive an accusation when there are no witnesses. The fight for your faith is going on.

Chosen to burn incense

Do you know that you were chosen by God to burn incense to worship God? That kind of service was performed by the priests in the Old Testament, but it is also a task for you. God has chosen us and gave us the aim in our lives: to stand in front of the Lord and serve Him. To be in the Lord’s presence, to look at Him deeply, to burn incense, that is our task.

„My sons, do not know be negligent, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in His presence, to serve Him, to be His ministers, and to burn incense to Him.” 2 Chronicles 29,11

God told Moses to build the Temple after the pattern that was shown on top of Mount Sinai, because He wanted to live among His people. The Tent of Meeting was surrounded with a fence. It could be entered through the gate in the outer court, where there was an altar for making burnt offerings and a basin of bronze for washing. Inside the tabernacle there was a Holy Place and the Holy of Holies separated by the veil. Only priests could enter the Holy Place, offspring of Aaron, the high priest. In the Holy Place except for the gold light and the table with the bread of the presence, there was a gold altar of incense, where the priest burnt sweet incense twice a day.

“And Aaron shall burn on it incense of sweet spices; every morning when he trims and fills the lamps he shall burn it. And when Aaron lights the lamps in the evening, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.” ( Exodus 30, 7-8).

Behind the veil there was the Holy of Holies, where only the high priest could enter once a year on the Reconcile Day to meet God. On the gold altar only sweet incense was burnt and the pleasant odour was arising to God.

The incense was prepared in the way God said, made of the smelly resin, herbs, shells, sweet spices, onycha, pure frankincense and galbanum (Exodus 30, 34-38). It was done in that way to show the purest worship to God. Burning incense could be done only by priests, who ministered in the Holy Place praising and worshipping God. They thanked the Lord for bringing the people out of Egypt, showing His mighty power and leading the people to the promised land. The priests represented the people of Israel, they prayed and brought requests to the Lord, who was answering with the help of Urim and Thummim.

The Old Testament has its covering in the New Testament. The Lord invited us to the Holy Place, to be in the His presence, to stand in front of Him, to serve Him:

„Come and like living stones, be yourselves built into a spiritual house, for a holy priesthood, to the offer up those spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2,5).

The moment Christ died the veil divided into two pieces and now the way to God is open. We can come closer to God because of Jesus Christ and we can give Him glory for His love to us:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light”. (1 Peter 2,9)

Why? That you may proclaim the excellence of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. In the Jewish New Testament Commentary D.H. Stern explains that a Jew means in Hebrew “praise” and “thanks”. Being a Jew means being someone who worships God and thanks Him. Hence the very name explains why God chose them. We, the non Jewish tribe, grafted in Israel through the Messiah, were chosen for that same purpose.

What does it mean to burn incense today?

Incense is a symbol of prayer: “Let my prayer be set forth as incense before You, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice”. (Psalm 141,2).

Prayer is a place of meeting with the Lord, to glorify Him, to worship Him, to exalt Him.

“Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify”. (Hebrews 13,15).

We think about His might, His wonderful love, and many other awesome things… We can bring this to the Father, we can tell Him what we see and admire in His Son. We can delight together with the Holy Father, who His Son is, His beauty, His love, His unfinished wealth. That is smelly incense for the Holy Father. (upon the book: “House of Gold”, Paul F. Kiene and Jan Rouw) Thanks to Jesus’ blood we can come to the Holy Father, anointed by His Holy Spirit we are a nice and smelly odour to the Lord, we are grateful for what He did for us. We are a nice incense for the Lord when we devote Him the best of our life – our time, our thoughts, when we pray for other people of our whole heart:

“And another angel came and stood over the altar. He had a golden censer, and he was given very much incense, that he might mingle it with the prayers of all the people of God (the saints), upon the golden altar before the throne”. (Revelation 8,3)

The best incense we can burn to God is prayer, when you pray loudly and beg for grace, not for yourself, but for other people. God likes this kind of prayer a lot, when you ask for blessing for your brother or sister. Prayer that is fulfilled with love, smells good whereas it stinks when it is egoistic. It is offering a smelly incense prepared of the finest ingredients – love, which God wants to relish.

The same way Abel’s and Abraham’s offering was a sweet smell to God. The Lord is willing to answer such prayers, then He shows His power and might.

What is your prayer like? Is it a sweet smell of praise to Jesus? Is it filled with egoism or blessing to your brother or sister?

Do not neglect your service in front of the Lord, let your prayer be a sweet smell.

Teamwork

Paul’s success in spreading the Gospel results not only from his individual work and devotion but it is the effect of group work of many of his disciples and followers of Jesus. The Bible names more than 40 people who supported Paul in preaching the Gospel and setting up churches. On this list one will find: Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Titus, Luke, Priscilla, Aquila and Philemon. Teamwork or group work – this modern term would best describe Paul and his companions. They had a common goal, good cooperation, collective support, the same set of values and the sense of responsibility. These are the features of a team carrying out work, complementing and supporting one another in order to reach a goal. ‘Paul’s talent to organize and pick people out is visible when he chooses the right people and gives them a task they are able to complete’1. Paul is an individualist but he is open to cooperation and relies on many people when planting churches.

Barnabas is the first of Paul’s companions. His name means “son of consolation”, "The Exhorter" translates Greek uios parakleseos, which can mean "son of counsel", "son of comfort", "son of exhortation", "son of encouragement."2 Barnabas (his nickname) was born as Joseph and he was a Cypriot Jew. The nickname suggests that he was willing to help others and supported people going through hardships. He sold the land that he owned and gave the money to the Apostles for the Church’s needs. His actions show that he devoted his whole heart to the Church. We read in Acts 11,24: “he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith”. Thanks to the recommendation of Barnabas, the Christians in Jerusalem trusted Paul. “But Barnabas took him, and led him to the Apostles, and declared to them how on the road he (Paul) had seen the Lord.” (Acts 9,27)

“The names of the Apostles of our Saviour are known to every one from the Gospels. But there exists no catalogue of the seventy disciples. Barnabas, indeed, is said to have been one of them, of whom the Acts of the Apostles makes mention in various places, and especially Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians.”3 Barnabas was one of the seventy disciples of Jesus. He fulfilled God’s will and preached the Gospel in Antioch, where he brought Paul over to help with the fast-growing church. After one year of work in Antioch, Barnabas and Paul set out on the so-called first missionary journey. They travelled together for about 2070 km. John Mark, whom Paul calls “my assistant” (2 Tim.), accompanied and helped them at first. “The noun hyperetes denotes the idea of helping by John. It rules out the presumption that it was only physical help, not connected to the preaching of the Gospel itself. Hyperestes is the authentic servant of Christ, which, in modern language, deserves the term missionary.”4 We also know that John Mark travelled to Egypt and set up a church in Alexandria.

Paul used to take a companion on each of his missionary journeys and he started his second journey (AD 50-52) with Silas. Timothy joins them in Lystra. They enter Macedonia together with Luke to strengthen the churches there. Silas was a Jew from Jerusalem. He was considered a prophet and belonged to “leading men among the brothers” (Acts 15,22). He was sent by the Church to the brothers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia to inform them about the decisions of the Apostles concerning preaching the “pure” Gospel and the unity of the Church. Paul worked with Silas in Corinth for a year and a half. They travelled together for about 3000 km during the missionary journey and Paul could always count on his dedicated companion.

Timothy, whom Paul calls “my beloved son” (1Corinthians 4,17), is another faithful servant and companion for the period of the missionary journey. Paul distinguishes Timothy from other co-workers when it comes to preaching the Gospel, stressing his unselfishness, drive and devotion. He says: “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your welfare” (Philemon 2,20). Since he became Paul’s assistant, he was always ready to undertake any job and Paul himself had trust in him. Timothy sets out on a mission to Thessalonica, Corinth and Philippi. On Paul’s instructions, he organized a collection in Macedonia for the poor in Jerusalem. He was sent “to establish and comfort you with regard to your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions” (1 Thessalonians 3,1-4). Timothy is said to be the first to have become the bishop of Ephesus and Titus – the bishop of the churches in Crete.

“As to the rest of his followers, Paul testifies that Crescens was sent to Gaul but Linus, whom he mentions in the Second Epistle to Timothy as his companion at Rome, was Peter's successor in the episcopate of the church there. Clement also, who was appointed third bishop of the church at Rome, was, as Paul testifies, his co-laborer and fellow-soldier”5. The high positions in the Church indicate that Paul chose competent companions to preach the Gospel. One of Paul’s close co-workers was Apollos. Paul writes about their work: “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to each one? I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3,5). Paul emphasizes the ministry of Apollos and their dependence on each other when spreading the Gospel. Luke describes him in Acts as “an eloquent man and powerful in the Scriptures (…) being fervent in spirit” (Acts 18,24-25). In Corinth “he greatly helped those who had believed through grace. For he vehemently refuted the Jews publicly, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18,27-28).

It would be appropriate to mention Paul’s other important companions such as Titus – the latter bishop of Crete, the couple Priscilla and Aquila, whom Paul owed so much, or Luke the Evangelist, who described Paul’s actions and missionary activities in the book of Acts. Paul lived in a private apartment in Rome and thanks to Luke, the faithful servant, Paul was able to write letters to churches to support and strengthen them. Eugeniusz Dąbrowski writes in his book “Dzieje Pawła z Tarsu” (The Acts of Paul of Tarsus) that “Paul was not able to leave the apartment because he was restrained in the way that his right arm was chained to the left arm of the soldier who was guarding him. The term for this kind of imprisonment was custodia militaria. It was Luke’s responsibility to be Paul’s secretary and bridge with the outside world”6.

“Paul had innumerable fellow-laborers, or ‘fellow soldiers’, as he called them, and most of them were honored by him with an imperishable memorial, for he gave enduring testimony concerning them in his own epistles. Luke also, in the Acts, speaks of his friends, and mentions them by name”7. All the aforementioned companions, and those that must not be forgotten, create Teamwork. They are the examples of people who work together with a clear goal in mind, which is to preach the Gospel.

1. K. Romaniuk, Uczniowie i współpracownicy świętego Pawła.(Paul's disciples and companions)
2. D. H. Stern, Komentarz Żydowski do Nowego Testamentu (Jewish New Testament Commentary), p. 378.
3. Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, I 12.1.
4. K. Romaniuk, Uczniowie i współpracownicy świętego Pawła (Paul's disciples and companions), p. 108.
5. Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, III 4,5,8-9.
6. R. Brandstaetter, Dzieje Apostolskie (Acts).
7. Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, III 4.4.

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Gospel proclamation told by one member of ECC.

Gospel proclamation
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