Category: Church and Discipleship, Word: LORD’S SUPPER
February 5, 2016 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
41. LORD’S SUPPER
And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20)
DEFINITION: The Lord’s Supper, also called Holy Communion or the Eucharist, is the fellowship ritual in which assembled Christians eat bread and drink from the fruit of the vine in worship, showing their participation in Christ’s death and life, as well as their life with one another.
Jesus asked His disciples to eat the bread and to drink the cup in memory of Him and His death. He taught that His death implemented the New Covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-33. Each biblical covenant had its God-ordained sign, and the sign of the New Covenant is the Lord’s Supper. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only two ordinances (or sacraments) because they are the only rituals explicitly commanded by Jesus. Sadly, the ceremony meant to symbolize the unity of believers has become a matter of debate and contention.
At least the following facts of common consent emerge:
- The Lord’s Supper is a ritual performed with bread and the cup of Christ’s command.
- Something recognizable as bread and wine (fermented or not) is to be eaten and drunk.
- Unlike the annual Jewish Passover, Communion is to be observed “often” (1 Cor. 11:26).
- The Lord’s Supper remembers both the Lord’s death and His second coming (1 Cor 11:26).
- The Supper is to be observed reverently and with self-examination (1 Cor 11:28).
Devout students have arrived at divergent understandings in other aspects of the Supper.
1. Who is eligible to partake of the Supper? Some highly restrict it to the baptized members of the particular congregation celebrating together; others believe it should be open for every baptized person present; yet others welcome all, even those not yet openly Christian.
2. Who is eligible to lead the Supper? Traditionally only ordained ministers—those authorized by a church or denomination—have led the Supper; others see no such restriction in Scripture.
3. What setting is appropriate for the Supper? Many have emphasized that this is a church ordinance and therefore limit the observance to recognized church services; others see it as a Christian celebration that can be enjoyed, for example, in retreat settings or in home groups.
4. How often should the Supper be observed? The first Christians probably celebrated weekly (Acts 2:46; 20:7), and many follow this pattern today; others observe the Supper once a month or several times a year; a few limit it to an annual observance.
5. Does Communion have value as a sacrament? Many view it as simply and ordnance, an act of worship ordained by Christ; others see it as a “means of grace” by which Christ supernaturally works in the lives of those partaking by strengthening and confirming their faith. Evangelical believers have resisted the teaching that eating the Supper is a way to receive Christ or that the bread and cup of Communion are transformed into the essence of Christ’s body and blood. [Roman Catholic doctrine]
Despite these challenges, throughout the ages thoughtful Christians have recognized celebrating Holy Communion to be the central act of worship in which they participate.
REFLECTION: What, if anything, have you decided about these five areas of disagreement? Is there someone with whom you should discuss these matters? How important is Communion for you?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for commanding the Lord’s Supper as an act of worship, remembering Your death so that I might live in fellowship with You and other believers. Amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.