Malankara World

What Shall I Do To Be Saved?

By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil

Question 131. The bells, candles, other lamps in the church, and burning of incense --
Are they not copied from the gentiles?

Most people try to evaluate or interpret without reading the Bible properly. One Christian community which propose this view use drums and other musical instruments inside the church. So the argument finally falls down to this, if one uses a bronze bell inside the church, it is anti-Christian, but a drum-set is Christian. What a contradiction? Any way, I was just pointing out the fallacy of the argument. Now let us examine the Bible and see why this is so.

The bell is rung to remind believers about the time of prayer, and also during the important parts of the celebration of Eucharist.

There is an argument against candle burning and incense. Let me quote from the Book of Exodus.

"You shall order the Israelites to bring you clear oil of crushed olives, to be used for the light so that you may keep lamps burning regularly. From the evening to morning Aaron and his sons shall maintain them before the Lord in the meeting tent, outside the veil, which hangs in front of the commandments. This shall be perpetual ordinance for the Israelites though out their generation." (Exodus 27:20-21)

"On it Aaron shall burn fragrant incense. Morning after morning, when he prepares the lamps, and again in the evening twilight, when he lights the lamps, he shall burn incense. Through out your generations, this shall be the established incense offering the Lord." (Exodus 30:7-8)

"The lamp stand was made of pure beaten gold - its shaft and branches as well as its cups and knobs and petals springing directly from it. Six branches extended from its sides three branches on one side and three on the other." (Exodus 37:17-18)

[In fact, Exodus has so many orders from God as to what a priest should wear, how to pray, what to do etc... Readers are requested to read Exodus in full]

Please refer to Luke 1:9. "According to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering." This means people continued to do what the Lord ordered for generations and it was done even at the times of Zechariah, father of John the Baptist.

Jesus Christ did not stopped this either. He went to the temple and asked the business people to go out, but never stopped these customs ordered by God.

The apostles continued this, and it existed throughout the apostolic times. They also used candles and incense, as was the tradition. In the revelations of John, incense and candles were not against the Lamb (Christ):

"Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones on the golden altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of Angel." (Rev 8:3-4)

"Again From the throne, came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Seven flaming torches burned in front of the throne which are seven Spirits of God." (Rev 4:5).

Use of all these in our prayers also has symbolic meanings. Our Lord said I am the Light of the world. So when we pray to Him:

1. We should be lighted by our Lord

2. We should be free from our darkness of sins.

3. Like a candle which burns itself to light others, you should burn yourself for Jesus Christ and be useful to others.

4. Like the incense, which melts to spread the fragrance, we with our good deeds should be pleasing to others. "Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." (Mat. 5:16)

We have seen that the candle lights, incense, etc... are ordered by God for each generation, and that it was practiced by the generations up to the apostolic times, and that it was continued by the apostles and the early church.

TOC Section 1 (Q 1-26) | Sec 2 (Q 27-56) | Sec 3 (Q 57-81) | Sec 4 (Q 82-115) | Sec 5 (Q 116-135) | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

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