But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
2 Peter 3:18
THE LORD'S SUPPER
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
MEANING OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
New Testament Churches observe two ordinances -- Baptism and the Lord's Supper (some Brethren observe a third -- Foot Washing -- John 13:14). My last article (THE GREAT COMMISSION) dealt with Baptism.
Let's look now at the Lord's Supper (or Lord's Table). The Lord's Supper commemorates His Death and looks forward to His Return.
There is a look backward (“this do in remembrance me”). There is a look inward (“let a man examine himself”) -- all known sin should be forsaken. There is a look forward (“till He come”).
When our Lord said, “this is my body” referring to the bread, He meant it as a “symbol.” The same is true of His blood symbolized by wine. When you point to a snapshot of your family and say, “this is my family” you mean this is a “picture” of my family.
Thus, the Lord's Supper is a symbol (picture) of our Lord's Body -- His Flesh broken through with a scourging, with a crown of thorns, with nails in His Hands and Feet and with a spear through His Side, for our sins. The breaking of unleavened bread shows this.
The red wine is a symbol (picture) of our Lord's precious blood, shed for many for the remission of sins. Neither the bread nor the wine are PHYSICALLY the Body and Blood of our Lord, any more than your snapshot is PHYSICALLY your family.
ELEMENTS USED IN THE LORD'S SUPPER
Our Lord at the Passover meal used unleavened bread when He instituted the Lord's Supper. Leaven is usually a symbol of evil -- Levitical sacrifices were not to be offered with leaven.
Unleavened bread best symbolizes the SINLESS nature of our Lord's Humanity. In order to pay for the sins of others, our Lord Jesus could have NO SIN of His own.
Using unleavened bread as a symbol of His sinless body emphasizes this fact. Messiah was our Passover Lamb WITHOUT blemish or spot -- SINLESS -- sacrificed for us.
Wine was used at the Passover. The drinking of wine is not condemned in Scripture, but its abuse -- drunkenness -- is condemned.
There is a natural leaven in grape juice that is consumed by fermentation. As with unleavened bread, so too with wine, there should be no leaven in it.
PARTAKERS OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
Many Churches today practice an “Open Communion”. They claim that since it is the Lord's Supper (not the Church's Supper) anyone can participate. Are they correct? Or should either a “Closed” or “Close Communion” be practiced?
The Lord's Supper is to be observed in the local assembly of a New Testament Church. Paul wrote to the CHURCH at Corinth the verses quoted above. This is one of the things Christ commanded (Matt. 28:18-20) and was practiced regularly by His first Church (Acts 2:41-42).
There are four prerequisites for partakers of the Lord's Table. First, the partaker must be true convert to Christ. Second, the partaker must be properly baptized (immersed) upon his (or her) profession of faith.
Third, the partaker must be a member of a New Testament Church. Fourth, the partaker must exhibit an orderly walk in the light of God's Word.
The Lord's Table is not to be administered to unbelievers, or to believers who have not submitted to Scriptural Baptism. It is not for to those who will not submit to membership in a Scriptural Church.
PURITY OF THE CHURCH
The purity of the Church is at stake here. The Lord's Supper and Church Discipline go hand in hand. This is why Paul wrote such passages as 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 and Titus 3:10-11. While some have abused Church Discipline, its right use is still necessary.
“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). How do you purge out a sinning, unrepentant member -- if you let him (or her) still partake of the Lord's Supper?
Believer's Baptism (versus infant baptism) helps keep unbelievers out of the local Church's membership. And a Closed or Close Lord's Supper helps keep unrepentant, backslidden members out also. When they repent, they can again partake, with the Church's prior approval.
CLOSE VERSUS CLOSED COMMUNION
Some withhold the Lord's Supper from visiting members of sister Churches -- who are in good standing. They claim that the Lord's Table is only for each Church's members, not members of sister Churches.
But this contradicts Acts 20:7-11 (Paul partook, though not a member). I was a member of a Church that excluded visitors, who were members, in good standing, of sister Churches.
It grieved me in heart to see Missionaries, who had forsaken relatives, land and language for the Gospel's sake, REFUSED the Lord's Table, while home on furlough.
Therefore, based on Acts 20:7-11; “Close Communion” (which admits members, in good standing, from sister Churches) is more Scriptural that “Closed Communion” (which admits only its own members). Perhaps a word of caution is needed here.
The elders of the Church celebrating the Lord's Table should try to know in advance that visiting members of sister Churches ARE IN GOOD STANDING. A phone call, to the Pastor of the sister Church, is often all that is needed.
If the visitors show up SUDDENLY, unannounced, for the Lord's Supper, they should not be admitted -- unless it can be immediately confirmed that they are in good standing. Next, Lord willing, I'd like to look at “Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass.”
George Theiss is a combat veteran of Vietnam who now follows Lamb of God. He and his wife, Christy, have been married 41 years (in 2018). They have 8 grown children. You can contact George at email@example.com
Copyright © 2002 through 2018 by George Theiss