The Lord's Supper
By Charles Wages
It has been stated that, "when many differences of opinion on a subject prevail among honest believers, it goes without saying that there is room for re-examination." it might be also added that when there are as many differences in reasons for and observances of this "ordinance," that it is quite questionable that God intended such practice for His church today.
Here are a few Biblical points to consider in approaching this particular subject.
- The only time the expression, "the Lord's supper" is found in the Word of God is in I Corinthians 11:20 where it is stated, "When you come together, therefore, into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper." The reference to eating of bread in the book of Acts, if carefully studied, will reveal that no ritual or ordinance is intended, but rather the regular eating of meals in fellowship. It is far more than just interesting, but entirely noteworthy to see that this subject is not taught or developed anywhere else in God's book. The books of the Bible such as Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians in which the truth concerning the Church which is the body of Christ is developed, make no mention of anything related to the Lord's supper. In fact, just the opposite is given, notably such passages as Colossians 2:20 which warns,
"Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not, taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines men?"
Also we are instructed and admonished in Colossians 3:1-3,
"If ye then be risen with Christ seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
- The only time the expression, "the Lord's supper" is found in the Bible, it is connected with the Jewish passover. How anyone can attempt to disconnect and separate this subject from Jesus' teaching of the passover in Matthew 26 and related gospel passages, is hard to be understood in view of the fact that Paul quoted from these passages in I Corinthians 11:23-24.
- The only time the expression "the Lord's supper" is found in scripture, it gives no clear instructions for the manner, materials, or time in observance. This is in contrast to God's detailed and important instructions to His people Israel in regards to the passover. It is both devisive and disheartening to hear people talk about "closed communion;" "transubstantiation;" "sacraments;" "miracles;" "one cup or many;" "crackers or unleavened bread;" "wine or grape juice;" "quarterly participation, weekly, or once a year;" "in the evening or morning;" "at the altar by priest or served in the pews." Many feel that this observance is a "symbol" of the "body and the blood" of the Lord Jesus, somewhat according to their own peculiar feelings or leanings. Also, this is exactly the same reason given for all the "sacraments" including water baptism, last rites, joining the church, etc. These could go on and on as it reflects the traditions and teachings of men in various parts of the world.
- The only time the expression "the Lord's supper" is found in Holy writ is given in a portion of the Word that was written during a transitional period of God's dealing with Israel and the first revealings of the Body of Christ. The sign gifts such as unfamiliar "tongues," healings by men, hair requirements, and water baptism, are found in this period in which First Corinthians was written. However, it certainly appears that the people of Corinth were engaged in an unruly corruption of eating in trying to emulate the passover. Paul could do nothing more than correct and reprove them; which he did as God's apostle. A thought provoking question might be, what would be Paul's reaction to today's many and varied observances of a "Lord's Supper?"
The expression found in I Corinthians and the rebuke by Paul for this error by the Corinthians should make all believers think of real spiritual communion with our Lord.
What a wonderful meal the Word of God provides for those who will partake of it in an orderly and worthy manner. When we see that the Word of God is spiritual (I Corinthians 2:9-14); that believers have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13 and Romans 6:3-4); that the Holy Spirit is our teacher (I Corinthians 2:13); and that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), we should easily acknowledge a spiritual communion.
All of this should lead us to our glorious privilege, as heavenly citizens, of having real spiritual communion with our Lord. We have plenty of meaningful and clear instructions as to how to have this spiritual communion through the Word. The believer is not left in the dark as to how, when, where, and what is needed to partake of the Word! The believer doesn't have to wait until he or she gets to "church" on a prescribed "Lord's day" to have communion, but by "Seeking those things which are above," and "setting their affection on things above," can enjoy "close" communion with the Lord anytime and anywhere.
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