THE SCRIPTURAL OBSERVANCE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER
July 1,1991 Issue
by Bennie Cryer
The necessity of observing the Lord's Supper
Scripturally is found in the latter part of the commission given to the apostles in Matthew 28:19-20 where they were instructed to teach each obedient disciple "to observe all things" that Christ had commanded them. This requirement is also found in the correct usage of the word "worship" in the scriptures. In Genesis 22:5 the term "worship" is used for the first time in the written word. Abraham and
Isaac were going "yonder and worship." Certain characteristics of worship may be identified with this example that will be of help in determining whether you are worshipping God "in spirit and in truth." John 4:24. These characteristics are:
1. In Gen 22:2 God told Abraham the place to go worship Him.
2. He also told him what to offer and how to do it.
3. In Gen 22:12 Abraham learned that by doing the things revealed to him, God determined whether he feared Him or not.
Since it is revealed in Acts 20:7 that the communion was observed on the first day of the week (our Sunday) as a part of the worship service in Troas it is needful for the true worshipper to apply those same characteristics to his observance of this feast of the Lord so he also might show proper fear toward God and His Commandments.
GOD REVEALED THE PLACE HE WANTED TO BE WORSHIPPED IN
In Abraham's case it was "in the land of Moriah" on one mountain in that land that God would "tell" him of. God has the right to choose the place He wants to be worshipped in and has done so in The New Testament in regard to The Lord's Supper. He has even chosen a "mountain" for this. Daniel 2:44; Isaiah 2:2-4; and Luke 22:29-30. From these scriptures it is easily seen that both the Father and the Son have placed the table for the communion in the Kingdom or church. But the table is not spread just anywhere on this mountain. God has chosen a place for it. In 1 Corinthians 11:17-20 and Acts 20:7 the gathering together of the saints into one place is the location for this feast. Christians cannot separate themselves from the assemblies that are authorized by Christ, form an unauthorized group and observe the Lord's Supper by themselves. Matthew 18:20 should not be used in an attempt to justify such a group for the purpose of taking the communion on the road or as sort of a "picnic" while recreation is the main event for there is no example in the scriptures to indicate such a group is gathered "in the name of Jesus." In order for something to be done "in the name of Jesus" it must be authorized by Him and not something one simply verbalizes as being in His name. I personally want to discourage such practices because I believe God has revealed the place where He wants to be worshipped in the scriptural observance of the Lord's Supper. This also teaches one must be in the kingdom where the table of the Lord is in order to partake of it. John 3:3-5 instructs you in how to enter the kingdom.
GOD REVEALED WHAT HE WANTED OFFERED
AND HOW IT WAS TO BE DONE
God told Abraham to offer Isaac and to offer him as a burnt offering. Abraham obeyed even though his fatherly instincts might have prompted him to want to do something else. His faith in God was so strong he believed He would protect him and his son.
Revelation has also been made about what is to be used in the observance of the communion and how it is to be offered in worship. These things were revealed for the record to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and, last of all, to Paul. In 1 Corinthians 11:23 Paul delivered to this church what he had received from the Lord. He did not receive one thing from the Lord and then deliver to the congregation something else. It was the same thing because, for the congregation to provide true worship, they had to offer that which had been revealed from the Lord just as Abraham did. What did he deliver to them?
1. THE GIVING OF THANKS, 1 Cor 11:24. It is important for the congregation to give thanks Scripturally. The one leading this blessing, Matthew 26:26, should word it in such a way that each communicant can identify themselves with it, 1 Corinthians 14:16. This means that an unscriptural statement should not be made and that it should be loud enough for each one to hear. If a person cannot speak loudly enough for all to hear he should excuse himself from serving at the Lord's table.
2. THE BREAD OR LOAF, 1 Cor 11:24. Jesus took and revealed to Paul one loaf of unleavened bread. He delivered that to Corinth. That one loaf stood for the body of Jesus that had the life broken from it on the cross. This is immediately evident when one views a set communion table. Those items that stand for the body and blood are separated from each other. This "breaking" occurred on the cross just as the "giving" and "shedding" also happened on the cross, Luke 22:19-20, and is not a special act performed by the one serving at the table. Each communicate is to break his portion off the one loaf and eat it just as Jesus did. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 teaches that in doing this we declare that we are one with Jesus and each other. More than one loaf or a loaf broken into plurality of pieces is unscriptural, destroys the signs of the symbolized, and, therefore, constitutes an infraction of the Lord's revelation. It is not true worship.
3. THE CUP OF THE LORD, 1 Corinthians 10:21, 11:25. Paul received from the Lord one drinking vessel with the drink element in it. The drinking vessel or cup stood, not for the blood of Christ, but for The New Covenant or Testament and the fruit of the vine, Matthew 26:29, stood for the blood of Christ that ratified it and was shed to enable man to appropriate its blessings. The use of individual cups was unknown to the church of Christ until near the beginning of the twentieth century. They do not form a part of the revelation from the Lord and are therefore unscriptural and cannot be a part of true worship. The fruit of the vine is the unfermented juice of the grape. Isaiah 65:8.
4. THE SCRIPTURAL INTELLECTUAL ACTIVITIES, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25, 28. Each communicant must realize that God is not "worshipped with men's hands," Acts 17:25. In other words, it is not enough just to eat a piece of bread and drink a sip of the fruit of the vine. Your inner man, Ephesians 3:16, must actively do its part in the scriptural observance of the Lord's Supper. First of all, you must remember Jesus. Not just His death but the total Christ who did something for you and is now doing something for you. You need to be well acquainted with the way He lived while on earth. You need to think about His present mediatorial reign and what this means for you now. Of course, you must remember His death for you because this is what you proclaim as you jointly participate with your brothers and sisters in Christ. You must also examine your own life to make sure you are keeping the terms laid out for you in The New Testament. Where you see short comings or sin you can then correct them and become more like the One you are remembering. 2 Corinthians 3:18. Failure to do these things while partaking of the Lord's Supper constitutes partaking of it "unworthily" or in an unworthy manner, I Cor 11:27,29, and cause you to be "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." Furthermore this short coming will bring "damnation" to the individual and his spiritual life will be characterized by weakness, sickness and spiritual sleep or death. I Cor 11:30. In addition, we are told in I Cor 11:31-32 that if we would judge ourselves and submit to the chastening of the Lord in this examination that takes place during the communion we will escape the condemnation of God in the day of judgment.
By observing the Lord's Supper Scripturally we manifest proper respect for God and His instructions just as Abraham did when he obeyed God. James 2:20-24. Abraham can then be said to be the father of our faith in justification so far as this part of our worship is concerned.
Bennie Cryer 1991 OPA Main Page HOME