Is what claims to be ''communion'' or the Lord’s Supper celebrated in the way the bible indicates that it should be?
Communion to many has become a sombre remembrance of the Lords death. It has also become a religious time of introspection which is contrary to what Jesus intended.
The Jewish feasts were times of celebration / commemoration of VICTORIES. In the Passover the deliverance from Egypt by the mighty hand of God was celebrated.
When we look at the circumstances in which Jesus instituted the New Covenant celebration it was clear that it was NOT a time of sadness…
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. NKJV
When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." NKJV
30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. NKJV
This was a cry of VICTORY…not defeat
'It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.'" So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. NKJV
"You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always (ie hold Him in holy reverence). ………….. for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you. NKJV
The feasts were a celebration of God’s blessing and provision…and His salvation
During a Passover meal Jesus instituted the New Covenant commemoration
And as they were eating,…..NKJV
Communion was instituted in the middle of a meal. This was also the way it was done in Acts 3:46-47 when the early church gathered to remember that Christ was the reason for their celebration….and a celebration of their union as the body, the church or family of God.
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. NKJV
We celebrate the life of Christ which was given for us to have life. Our UNION with God ...His Spirit dwelling in US. It is not anything we have earned but a GIFT we receive.
His blood which was shed for the remission of our sins is also a GIFT... the righteousness of God, not by our works but His death.
We also celebrate Gods work in each others lives. We are now part of a family of God... all of whom are beneficiaries of that same grace.
We celebrate that God fulfilled in Christ the promise seen by Abraham… “God himself will provide the lamb” (Gen 22:8)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! NKJV
1 Cor 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. NKJV
Our proclamation....Jesus DIED that I might LIVE with God.... forgiven of all my sins!
Jesus BODY was broken....he suffered so incredibly rather than just being killed...so that we could be made whole. (Is 53:5) ...brethren this includes our healing if you can receive it.
Jesus BLOOD was his LIFE given for ours. The blood covers all our sins and sanctifies us and enables us to 'saved' and redeemed and righteous
As we remember the life given for us, we EXPERIENCE the life received .... the LIFE of the risen Christ now dwelling in our hearts.
We also have an assurance that just as certainly as He lives today, so I too shall live!
"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." NKJV
It is a time to celebrate OUR SALVATION!
So where did the somber introspective religiosity come from?
Proclaiming the death is like saying ‘I am saved because Jesus died for me’…not by my works…but by HIS grace alone!'
"THE PRICE HAS BEEN PAID!" ...."I have been REDEEMED"
1 Cor 11:17-22
Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
The Lord’s supper is a meal of celebration of the work of Christ…by dying for us He has made us all to be ONE family. We celebrate our UNITY in Christ not our divisions!
We gather not to exalt ourselves or to be recognised for our works ....but to exhalt Jesus
20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper.
Not every meal Christians have or share together is ‘the Lord’s Supper! This is especially so of meals we have while we are divided! (ie ‘in this house’ and ‘in this place’…rather than…. ‘with ALL God’s family’)…or without intention specifically to do so.
21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others;
This indicates that communion was intended to be part of a communal meal. It also indicates that they should be ‘waiting’ for others and that there is something we are to do together. At a point in this meal a ‘commemorative’ loaf was broken and ‘commemorative’ cup was raised …and proclamation made …ie someone saying out loud …(something like)
“Jesus gave himself to suffer and die for us that we might have life….and He gave his body to be broken and his blood to be shed for us that we might have the righteousness of God”
“Jesus died for us that we might by faith in Him be made righteous…HE bore our sins and our sickness upon himself on the cross that we might become children of God”
21 ... and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?
This shows that the primary purpose of the gathering should NOT be to eat a meal but to partake in a commemorative celebration! A communal meal was an appropriate time to do this but NOT exclusively so. A degree of decorum is appropriate (go easy on the wine)
22 ... Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. NKJV
Paul here addresses the gross selfishness and even drunkeness demonstrated by some of the people. In Christ we are to LOVE as we have been loved. The primary demonstration of love is to share with the poor and to consider the needy. If this is not done, it is a bit of a fallacy to call it a ‘love feast’
1 Cor 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. NKJV
The New testament church believed that Jesus would return before the temple was destroyed...within their lifetimes. It was a proclamation of victory which would soon be manifested to the world.
1 Cor 11:27-34
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
Therefore refers to the previous passage…that we celebrate Christ’s death until He comes….and confess who we are in Christ!
The unworthy manner is that which Paul criticized previously because it does NOT reflect appreciation of the fact that in Christ we are all brethren...part of Christ's body on earth...His church. By being able to do what the Corinthians did was an indication that some among them were NOT transformed by Christ’s Spirit dwelling. These among them had not accepted Jesus and were 'not of us'.
Salvation comes when we realise who Christ is and what He has done for us ...and accept Him as our savior.
Paul is literally saying that if this is what they are doing then they are probably NOT saved. (Jesus called these people ‘tares amongst the wheat’….Jude describes these people as ‘spots at your love feasts’….and ‘twice dead’… Peter describes them as spots and blemishes at your feasts…John describes them as ‘those who were not of us’… ie they have rejected the Gospel and have never really believed)
Those who REJECT Christ’s sacrifice for them are the ones who ARE guilty of the body and blood of the Lord! They are usually those who believe that they can earn their own righteousness by obeying the Law (Heb 6:4-8, Heb 10:26-31) (also Gal 5:2-4...showing that they usually are those who are about their religiosity of obeying the Law rather than a relationship with Christ)
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Most commentators take a bit of a detour here without support from the text and arrive at a conclusion contrary to the rest of Paul’s teaching. They claim the examination relates to ‘sin in our lives’. A legalist who believes that it is his own works of righteousness which saves him, could arrive at this conclusion. The cross CELEBRATES the GIFT of God’s righteousness…not our own righteousness!
Historically the priest examined the sacrifice to ensure it was without blemish…NOT the person offering it! So in the same way at the Lord's Supper we look at what Christ has done for us and not our own failures.
The context indicates that this examination is about whether we are relying only on Christ’s death on the CROSS on for us….as the perfect Lamb of God……OR our works. See if you are of ‘the faith’…or a ‘worker’. Are you saved because you chose to follow God… and live a righteous life…or because God by grace chose you and revealed Christ to you … and put you ‘in Christ’…and filled you with His Spirit…and gave you HIS righteousness?
If this is true then you are ONE with your brother.
(parallel text…2 Cor 13:5
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? NKJV)
Are you 'in the faith' and therefore IN Christ......or 'in your own works' and unbelief in Jesus ?
29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
The examination is one which looks to see whether we are saved or not. Failing to do this enables us to do communion in an 'unworthy manner'...and leaves us exposed to judgment. This act is one which reveals the state of our hearts and whether the Spirit is dwelling in us. If one does not see that it is only by Christ’s work that we are all brought to a position of righteousness…..then one has NEVER been saved and received GOD'S gift of righteousness.
'Not discerning the Lord’s body' has a two fold application. We are each to partake of Christ’s death and resurrection for us. This makes us part of His Body…the church.
Matthew Henry identifies this as
“The Corinthians came to the Lord’s table as to a common feast, not discerning the Lord’s body—not making a difference or distinction between that and common food, but setting both on a level”
I respectfully must disagree again. The Lord’s body is HIS people….the church and each of us individually. Christ lives in you BY HIS SPIRIT as He does in me…and in us communally. The emphasis is not on how special the meal was...but how special the work of Christ's was for ALL of the people were who are part of the body. This is confirmed by most of the following chapter #12 of Corinthians that we ALL have a part to play.
Transubstantiation is the natural mind trying to explain the spiritual matters. It fails the test of John 4:23-24 and John 6:63.
Consubstatiation comes closer but in my opinion still falls short. The truth is that it is by FAITH ALONE that participate in the reality of all spiritual matters ....rebirth…and the infilling of the Spirit (Gal 3:2&5). Faith, however opens our eyes to the REALITY of the Spirit of Christ coming to reside in us…and as we celebrate and commemorate that event we experience again the REALITY of that union. The true reality is that of the spirit world…the eternal realm. This visible world is a temporal one! (something like ‘The Matrix’) (Heb 11:3)
2 Cor 4:18 ...we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. NKJV
Eph 1:22… the church which is His body…Eph 4:3…the unity of the Spirit…Rom 12:4-5…so we being many are ONE body in Christ….1 Cor 10:17…for we though many are one body….1 Cor 12:12…there is ONE body….Phil 2:1 …the fellowship of the Spirit…1 Cor 6:17 …..the two shall be one Spirit…1 Cor 12:13…. baptised into one body….Eph 5:30-32….the two shall be one…Christ and His church…the ‘mystery of Godliness’…Christ in you, the hope of Glory
FAITH IS THE SUBSTANCE…The Holy Spirit is our GUARANTEE!...Our fellowship in the breaking of bread is the celebration!
Luke 24:32 And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" NKJV
Commemoration alone is a weak understatement without appreciating the reality of the Spirit’s infilling each of us and uniting us in Christ as one
1 Cor 6:17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. NKJV
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. NKJV
30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you (were they 'of them' ?), and many sleep.
The reason for being sick is NOT the unworthy manner but that that manner demonstrates our failure to discern the Lord’s body! This is the failure both to see Christ in us…and also Christ in others. (ie they were not saved)
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. NKJV
Matthew Henry again sees this differently…as God’s people being punished with sickness. I respectfully disagree as Jesus said Satan is the thief who comes to kill, steal and destroy people…and the scriptures tell us that He (Jesus) went about HEALING all who were oppressed of the devil…..NOT making people sick.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
'Judge yourself' is to judge our self-righteous self to be a failure…to judge our natural selves to be a sinner who needed to come to God and in faith rely on Christ and his righteousness for your salvation (Phil 3:7-11)
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
God did not save us for us to continue freely in our sins... but that by His grace we would overcome our sin. (2 Tim 2:19)
The judgment again is in the context of the unworthy manner…and this revealing the lack of the Spirit of Christ in people….and the fact that they need to GET saved…and then won’t be condemned! The judgement happens to us when Christ comes into our lives....we die to ourselves ....and live in Him!
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. NKJV
If you can participate ‘unworthily’…and feel judged by Paul’s comments….then perhaps God is reaching out to you to GET SAVED!
Those who believe in Christ, .... and ARE saved…and CANNOT be condemned by their actions (John 3:15-21, Rom 8:1, 1 John 3:14). People are judged only because of their LACK OF FAITH in Jesus (John 16:8-9).
Scripture MUST be used to interpret scripture!
33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. NKJV
If you are genuinely too hungry to wait have a toast and peanut butter at home before you come to the ‘Lords Supper’ rather than being selfish and not waiting for others’…because the other members of the body may judge you to be unsaved....and you could cause others to stumble!....instead of bringing glory to God.
As we examine what Paul was teaching…it becomes clear that the intent was not to make us introspective….or sin conscious…BUT to focus on the completed work of Christ……and encourage us to live the NEW LIFE which is ours!
AND if you are able to behave as SOME Corinthians did….ask yourself if you really are saved…and do you really KNOW Jesus as your savior.
2 Tim 2:18-19
19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." NKJV
(Please do not tell me you are saved UNLESS there is some movement away from sin…and selfishness…and self-righteousness) (1 John 5:18)
These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. NKJV
2 Peter 2:13-14
They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. NKJV
Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." And He went in to stay with them.
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
………..35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
This shows that it was not just a normal meal….it was to be a specific ‘ritual commemoration’ …an intermediate part of the normal meal…but MORE THAN THAT…it was a unique proclamation otherwise they would NOT have recognised Him.
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
This refers to a material ‘community of believers’……but this is not a doctrine taught elsewhere in the New Testament. In most places where it has been practiced it has been a failure over the long term.
The assumption by many is that the apostles …or ‘ministers’… did not work and lived off of what was given. The passage however actually indicates that those who were visitors…specifically those who were in need, were supported. The above assumption would also contrary to other passages such as Acts 6 which shows that the money was used to provide for the POOR and also would be contrary to the teachings of Paul which are given to us as COMMANDS for ALL to work.
The most reasonable explanation for the communal living was that Jerusalem was on ‘borrowed time’…its destruction was imminent along with the destruction of the temple and the Jewish nation. They KNEW that Jerusalem was soon to be destroyed and ALL their houses worth nothing in the future.
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. …NKJV
The indication here is that ‘breaking bread’ was also associated with eating food generally.
Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. ………… 11 Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. 12 And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted. NKJV
The purpose of the gathering was to ‘break bread’…the eating was incidental.
1 Cor 10:16-17
16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. NKJV
We are a community of believers united by the fact that we have each experienced the cleansing blood of Christ and unity with Christ whose life given for each of US and whose spirit is now living in each of US! This is the basis of our unity.
The old song… “I don’t care what church you belong to ….just as long as for Jesus you stand…and tonight, if your heart is as my heart …you’re my brother so give me your hand”…speaks a great truth.
It is reasonable to conclude that the Lord’s Supper was usually celebrated in the middle of a communal meal by the early church…but nowhere is this taught as a requirement. It was a special and separate activity…not just a ‘normal meal’.
Jesus words were ‘spirit and life’…the bread and the wine represent spiritual realities…not only physical items. (I am the bread of Life)
This was a special time of experiencing Christ’s presence for believers as they celebrated Jesus death for them...and the same Christ in our brethren
19 "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." NKJV
It was a time for answers to prayer…and healings.
It was to be a celebration of Christ’s completed work…rather than a time of examining ourselves and our own holiness.
The Gentile believers NEVER celebrated the Jewish festivals…they celebrated ‘Lord’s Supper’ and usually during their AGAPE/love feasts.