The Lordís Supper
What the Lordís Supper is not:
-The Lordís Supper is not a sacrament:
-The Roman Catholic Catechism defines a sacrament as follows: ďA sacrament is a visible sign or action instituted be Christ to give graceĒ.
-There is no saving grace or merit in the supper. The Lordís Supper is a righteous work, and we are not saved by works of any kind, however righteous they may be.
-The Lordís Supper is not the literal body and blood of Christ, but is symbolic in nature.
-The Lordís Supper is not a continual sacrifice of Christ. Jesus does not die over and over again in the supper as some teach. Christ died once for all the sins of all His people (Hebrews 9:28; 10:10). The teaching that Christ is literally sacrificed in the supper is blasphemous.
1.† The symbolism of the Lordís Supper:
1.† Commemoration of the Lordís death: ††
ďÖthis do in remembrance of me.Ē† 1 Cor. 11:24b
-The bread and wine picture the broken body and shed blood of Jesus upon the cross.
-Therefore the Lordís supper is a memorial of Christís substitutionary death on the cross for our sins. The blood wasnít shed for the world, but for the elect of God, and for each one of His children in particular. The supper, then, is a time to remember all that Jesus has done for you and me on the cross of Calvary.† It is a time to consider what we were before Jesus saved us, and what we are in Christ.
2.† The Lordís Supper is a proclamation of the Lordís death:††
ďFor as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death..Ē †1 Cor. 11:26a
-Therefore the supper is a preaching ordinance; it proclaims the gospel in a picture! Thus the supper is a gospel guard, which preserves the truth of the gospel message.
3.† The supper is a reminder of the Lordís resurrection and His second coming:†
†ďÖye do shew the Lord's death till He come.Ē† 1 Cor. 11:26b
-He is not in the grave, but is risen, and is coming again according to His Word.
4.† The supper pictures Christ in the believer
ďHe that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.Ē† John 6:56
-This verse in John is not referring to the Lordís Supper, but like this verse, the supper is symbolic of inwardly receiving Christ by faith in His broken body and shed blood. By faith we feast on the merits of Christís broken body and shed blood that was sacrificed for us. This is not literal, but spiritually we partake of Him by faith. This is what we are doing right now as we study about Jesus in His Word.
5.† The supper symbolizes the unity of the local church:††
-Just as the one bread pictures the physical body of Christ, the one bread also pictures the local church body, which is a unified spiritual body under Christ its head.
2.† The elements of the Lordís Supper:
1.† Unleavened bread:
1 Cor. 5:6-11† Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 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: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
††††††††† -Unleavened bread represents the sinless body of Christ, as did the Passover (vs. 7).†††††††††††
-Unleavened bread represents the sincerity of those who partake of the supper (vs. 8).
-Unleavened bread shows the need to purge the church of sin of which leaven is a type.
2.† Fermented wine:
-Christ used wine in the institution of the supper. This was evident by the use of the Passover elements, which any knowledgeable Jew knows that only wine was used in the Passover.
-The church of Corinth used wine for the supper and were not reprimanded for it (1 Cor. 11:21).
-Only fermented wine can properly represent the sinless blood of Christ, as grape juice
contains leaven, which causes fermentation.
3.† Eligible Participants in the Lordís Supper:
Only members in good standing of a local church may observe the supper together as a body of Christ.
1.† The supper is a local church ordinance, and therefore only the local church may observe it together.
Clearly the Lord instituted His Supper in His Church, which we understand from the Scriptures is always a local, visible body of baptized believers. Anyone outside of the local church fellowship does not qualify to partake of the supper in a body in which he is not a part. In the same way, I wouldnít expect to go over to Living Stone or Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and partake of the supper there, as I am not a member of those bodies. I am not offended about it, but rather I understand the Biblical teaching.
2.† Christ instituted closed communion:
Only the members of the first church, which at that time included only the Apostles, were invited to attend the first Lordís Supper. If Jesus instituted open communion, surely He would have invited all of Jerusalem, or at least all of the saved at that time, to participate in this new ordinance.† But He only invited the members of His first church.
3.† The Scriptural order observed on Pentecost requires closed communion:
Acts 2:41† Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42† And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.†
We see that those who took the supper were first baptized and added to the church.
4.† Church discipline and church unity require closed communion:
A church could not possibly know the spiritual condition of those who partake of the supper, if the supper was opened to everyone. Could a church disallow disciplined members from partaking of the supper, as the Scriptures plainly teach, and then allow those whom they donít know to partake of the supper? This is a contradiction of sound spiritual reason. You may have adulators or murderers or heretics, and unbelievers of all sorts taking of the supper. Those who advocate open communion have told me that the responsibility lies with the individual participant in the supper and not the church. But the Bible teaches that the church is responsible for those who partake of the supper. Therefore the supper must be open only to members in good standing if it is to be observed Scripturally.
We want to also notice that a church could not be as ďone bread and one body and be partakers of that one breadĒ (1 Cor. 10:17) if it allowed non-members to partake of the supper. And it could not be as a ďnew lumpĒ that is unleavened (1 Cor. 5:7) if the supper was opened to non-members. All of these passages clearly show the reason why closed communion is necessary.
5.† It is impossible to observe the supper by open communion:
1 Cor. 11:19† For there must be also heresies (or divisions or schisms) among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
There must be divisions and schisms in the body if it has individuals or groups of non-members partaking of the Lordís Supper. Paul said that, because there are divisions in the body, this cannot be considered the Lordís Supper.
4.† It is the Lordís Supper:
The government of the local church is administrative only, and not legislative. We canít make laws or change laws, but rather it is our place to simply obey the laws and the rules of practice that Jesus gave us in His Word.
Therefore, we donít have authority to open up the supper to others outside of the local church fellowship; even if we wanted to. We donít have authority to change the elements of the supper; even if we wanted to. We donít have the authority to change the symbolic meaning of the supper; even if we wanted to.
It is our place, however, to guard and preserve the proper observance of the supper, as with the other truths in the Word of God. It is our place to see that the supper is not perverted. In other words, it is our place to administer the supper as it was legislated by Christ.
5.† Some preparations for the supper:
1.† Purge out the old leaven in the church by practicing church discipline:
One of the purposes of church discipline is to insure that the body is properly fit to partake of the supper. This is one of the most difficult things for a church to do- and it should be difficult. But nevertheless, for the good of the member who is living in open, unconfessed sin, and for the good of the purity of the church body as a whole, and for the sake of the ordinance of the Lordís Supper it must be done.
2.† Purge out the old leaven in the individual member by self examination and confession:
Prior to the supper we should examine our hearts, and see if there be any unconfessed sin, and make sure that all things are right between us and the Lord, and between us and other members of the church. This should be done prior to the time of the supper. In this way sins and offenses are dealt with in short order and the purity and unity of the church body is maintained.
What it means to take of the supper unworthily:
1 Corinthians 11:27† Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 11:29† For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.†
These verses have caused many to fear taking the Lordís Supper. To take of the supper unworthily, however, is speaking about the manner in which we take it. None are worthy, but only through faith in Christ are we made worthy. But these believers at Corinth were taking the supper with clicks and divisions in the body, and not waiting on others, nor considering one another. They were not discerning the Lordís body; that is, the other members of the church. They were making the Lordís Supper a love feast, or a party of sorts, rather than a commemoration of Christís death.†
The supper is to be taken in church capacity:
1 Corinthians 11:33† Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.†
We donít believe that one church member or group of members may take the supper in one place and time, while a different group of members observe it in another place or at another time. We believe, rather, that all the members of the local body take the supper together in one place at the same time as we meet in church capacity. We donít take the elements around from house to house as the papists do.
How often should the supper be observed?†
1 Corinthians 11:26† For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.†
There is no set frequency given in the Bible. In the book of acts it appears they took it often; perhaps weekly at first. But there is no direct command or set example as to how often it should be observed. I would not want to take it so often that we took it for granted. I believe this is a church decision; and one of the liberties that Christ gave His Church.