TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

I.  INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITION OF TERMS.. - 1 -

II.  THE PROPER AUTHORITY OVER THE LORD’S SUPPER.. - 10 -

III.  THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS OF THE PARTAKERS.. - 13 -

IV.  THE PROPER PLACE AND TIME. - 19 -

V.  THE PROPER ELEMENTS.. - 23 -

VI.  THE REQUIRMENTS OF THE PARTAKERS.. - 33 -

VII.  PROPER LOGISTICS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER.. - 41 -

VIII.  EXAMPLES AND SUMMARY.. - 54 -

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

I.  INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITION OF TERMS

 

      James Smith, in the commentary, Handfuls of Purpose, wrote:

            There is no symbolic ordinance left us to show forth His incarnation, or His transfiguration, or His ascension, but there is for His Crucifixion.  Why?  Because all our salvation has come out of it, and all the hopes of the ungodly are in it.1

 

Observing the Lord’s Supper is important for it causes men to remember the high cost Christ paid for their sins.  All else may be forgotten but men are never to forget what Jesus did for them that day on Calvary.  The Lord knows that men are prone to forget.  Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:” (Deuteronomy 8:11).  The Children of Israel forgot all about what God had done for them in Egypt just days after they had left that land. The Lord has left mankind only one ordinance which is to be observed repeatedly during the life time of the believer.  Believers are baptized but once but they will observe the Lord’s Supper many times until their death.  The observance will not stop even then, but the observation continues into Christ’s coming Kingdom, according to the Gospel of Matthew.   “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”  (Matthew 26:29)   A. A. Rees wrote these words which reflect the impact of the Supper:

In mem’ry of Thy cross and shame,

I take this Supper in Thy name;

This juice of grape, and flour of wheat,

My outward man doth drink and eat.

Oh, may my inward man be fed

With better wine and better bread;

May Thy rich flesh and precious blood

Supply my spirit’s daily food!

I thank Thee, Lord, Thou diedst for me:

Oh, may I live an die to thee!2

 

            “The Lord’s Supper” is the name by which this memorial ordinance is called.  Many people call the prayer which Jesus taught to His disciples in Matthew chapter six “The Lord’s Prayer,” because it originated with Jesus.  Jesus composed this prayer for His disciples as an example of how to pray properly.  Some have argued that it should be called the model pray which would be a better description of the prayer and its purpose.  However, the Lord’s Supper is not a misnomer.  Jesus authored it and set the rules of its observance.  The Supper is to be observed for the purpose of remembering His suffering and death for sinful men.  In all aspects it is indeed the Lord’s Supper.  No other name describes it better.  For this cause, within this thesis it shall be referred to as the Lord’s Supper.

            The Lord’s Supper has been called by many names.  It is called an Ordinance, Communion, Eucharist, and a Sacrament.  James Smith, along with Missionary Baptists of today, called the Lord’s Supper an ordinance.  It is well observed by John R. Rice that: “The Lord’s Supper is not called an ordinance in the Bible…The Lord’s Supper is not law in the sense of the Mosaic Law but is a command for New Testament Christians and Churches.” 3 A close look at what constitutes an ordinance is in order.  Hershel H. Hobbs well states the definition and justifies calling the Lord’s Supper an ordinance:

            In the Bible the word “ordinance” is used to refer to either governmental or divine laws.   An ordinance is therefore a decree or a command.  It is the latter sense that the word “ordinance” is used with regard to baptism and the Lord’s Supper; both are things which Jesus commanded that believers observe.4

 

That the Supper is commanded is not debated, for the scriptures plainly record Jesus’ command saying, “…this do in remembrance of me.”(Luke 22:19)  The fact that it is commanded by the Lord justifies calling it an ordinance. 

            The Lord’s Supper is sometimes called communion.  This is a term which denotes a common bond.  S. H. Ford, in Baptist Waymarks, states: “There is… a unity with each other and with the Lord. This is communion.  Men, because of this, have called the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper “Holy Communion.”5 The word “communion” was used by the Apostle Paul in connection with the Lord’s Supper in his first letter to the Corinthians.  “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16)  Paul here uses the word communion to describe the cup and the bread.  Since these constitute the elements of the Lord’s Supper, it would seem that Paul would not be opposed to calling the Lord’s Supper communion.  The Cup is the communion of the blood.  The bread is the communion of the body.  The Supper then as a whole is the communion of the body and blood of Christ.  It is not improper, then, to call the Lord’s Supper communion.

            The Lord’s Supper is often called “The Eucharist”.  S. H. Ford, tells why: “… Because of the word for thanks in the Greek men have called it ‘Eucharist.’”5 In Matthew 26:26 and Mark 14:22 the Greek word euloghsav is used to describe what Jesus did before distribution of the bread.  This word is a participle and is translated “Having blessed.”  It is the word from which we get our English word eulogy. The word eulogy is defined by Webster as, “eulogy n., pl. gies. 1. a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, esp. a set oration in honor of a deceased person. 2. high praise or commendation.”6  In Matthew 26:27, Mark 14:23, Luke 22:17, and 1 Corinthians 11:25 eucaristhsav is the word used to describe what Christ did before passing the cup.  Also in Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:24 eucaristhsav is used to describe what He did before distributing the bread.  This Greek word is also a participle and is translated “Having given thanks”.   Thus the Lord’s Supper has been called “Eucharist.”  Webster defines Eucharist as, “Eucharist n. 1. the sacrament of Holy Communion; the sacrifice of the Mass; the Lord's Supper. 2. the consecrated elements of the Holy Communion, esp. the bread. Eucharistic, Eucharistical, adj.”7  The use of this name for the Lord’s Supper places the emphasis upon the prayer which is said during the course of its observance.  The emphasis which Jesus places upon the symbolism of the Supper is not the giving of thanks but the remembrance of His suffering and death.  The calling of the Lord’s Supper by the name “Eucharist” may be proper but would be less descriptive of the importance of the Supper and its symbols.  The term Eucharist does not adequately describe the main purpose of the Lord’s Supper.

            The Lord’s Supper is referred to as a sacrament.  Webster defines a sacrament as:

            sacrament n. 1. a rite considered to have been established by Christ as a channel for grace: the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox sacraments are baptism, the Eucharist, the anointing of the sick, confirmation, holy orders, penance, and matrimony; the Protestant sacraments are baptism and the Lord's Supper. 2. (oftencap.) the Eucharist. 3. the consecrated elements of the Eucharist, esp. the bread. 4. something regarded as possessing a sacred character or mysterious significance.8  

 

The use of this term by any religious group indicates its belief concerning the Lord’s Supper.  The Roman Catholic Church calls this ordinance a sacrament.  They believe some mystical grace is given by God to those who partake of the Supper.  This view of the Lord’s Supper has its basis in the doctrine called transubstantiation.  The Catholic Bible has this foot note concerning the “Eucharist”:  “The Eucharist is really the body and blood of Christ.  The Mass is a sacrifice.  The Mass is one with the sacrifice of the Cross.”9  From this is seen that the Catholic Church believes the elements of bread and fruit of the vine are turned literally into the body and blood of Christ.  They attach to its observance saving power.  S. H. Ford addressed this view when he wrote:

            Men have changed this into a “Holy Mass”, “an un-bloody sacrifice, a reoffering of the body of Christ.  Baptists hold that the Supper is a memorial and declarative act or ordinance, conveying no special grace, having no magic charm and with no sacrificial character.10

 

            There is no justification for teaching that the Lord’s Supper is anything but an ordinance of memorial to the suffering Christ.  Massey H. Shepherd Jr. denounces those who claim that the Lord’s Supper is a re-enactment of the crucifixion by stating, “The notion that the Lord’s Supper is, in any sense, a repetition or re-enactment of Christ’s sacrifice, to appease an angry God, is not held by any reputable theologian, Catholic or Prostestant.”11 It is important to the proper observance of the Lord’s Supper to know which view is correct.  If the ordinance is to be observed as a form of salvation or retention of salvation then the purpose for its observance as a memorial has been lost.  Alvah Hovey in his book “Baptist Pamphlets” says concerning these opposing views:  “Which view is correct?  This is not a merely curious or speculative question, but a living and practical one.”12  On this question much has been written.  Richard H. Bube in his book To Every Man an Answer makes an excellent argument against transubstantiation:

            If Jesus had meant literally…that the wine was His physical blood…what purpose does the Holy Spirit have in telling us that the wine is both “blood of the New Testament” and “New Testament in my blood?” If the wine were literally “Blood” how then could it be literally “New Testament?”  But if we consider the wine to be the symbol of Christ’s blood, then it may also be considered to be the symbol of the New Testament ratified by Christ’s blood which is the true meaning of the words “New Testament in my blood.”13

 

Further consideration of such phrases will help one to understand the term used by Jesus, “this is my blood.”  B. W. Johnson calls to our attention such an example:  “This is My body.”  Is this literal?  “I am the true Vine”, “these women are the two covenants”,(Gal. 4:24), etc. are kindred expressions.   The idea is: “this represents my body.”14 There are many such phrases in the Bible which are not taken literally.  Alexander MacLaren, pointed to the first Lord’s Supper as proof that Jesus’ words “this is my body” did not mean his literal body when he stated,  “‘This is My body” could not have meant, to the hearers who saw Him sitting there in bodily form, anything but “this is a symbol of My body.’”15 Richard Glover brought out the fact that in the language of that day there was no word which meant “to signify” by saying, “The poetic Aramaic language which Christ used had no word meaning “to signify.”  They habitually said “this is” where we should say “this signifies.”16  E. H. Haight concurs with this statement:

            “This”, He said, “is my body.” Speaking in his native Aramaic language, He would not use the verb “to be” (“is”), and therefore this should not be stressed in English.  Moffatt has translated this sentence, “this means my body.”17

 

To call the Lord’s Supper a “Sacrament” is not proper.  There is no special grace imparted by God upon those who partake of it.  There is no saving power connected to its observance and it has no power to keep one saved.  For this reason it should not be called a “Sacrament.”  Jesus Himself said in John chapter six when referring to the eating of His body and drinking His blood that he was speaking spiritually.  (John 6:63)

            Jesus instituted this ordinance and set the rules which guide in its proper observance.  The proper observance of the Lord’s Supper is an issue of utmost concern to those who wish to please the Lord.   Some of the church members at Corinth had suffered illness and some loss of life over the improper observance of the Supper.  1 Corinthians 11:30-31 states: “For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”  J. R. Graves, in his commentary on the New Testament, indicates how serious the Lord takes the observance of the Lord’s Supper for he says:

            It seems that He has left one ordinance at least that He will not allow profaned with impunity.  The least these words can imply is certainly fearful enough to influence a Christian to the most serious inquiry for the proper observances of this rite.18

 

            Observance of the Lord’s Supper has the purpose of keeping before the minds of men the most vital element of the work of Christ.  To the disciples who were with Jesus at its institution it served more than one purpose.  Richard Glover, concerning these purposes, recorded these words:

            He will in this rite make several things clear; His dying is His own free act; That His death is not calamity, but Salvation; His glory is most radiant in His cross; His death is to bind them closer to Him, and to one another.  Thus, the rite interpreted Calvary… This rite simply prepared them to adore instead of lamenting their dying Lord.  It has kept high and clear in view of sinners the fact that a dying Jesus is the world’s Salvation.19

 

Today there is ample reason to observe the Lord’s Supper.  E. C. Gillentine gives seven reasons for observing this ordinance:

1. It is an act of obedience.  Mark 14:22, 23; Matt. 26:26,27; I Cor.     11:23-25, It is included in the commission, Matt 28:19-20

2. It is an act of Remembrance of the Lord’s death. Luke 22:19; I         Cor.     11:24, 25

3. It is an Act of Testimony to His death.  I Cor. 5:7, 8; 11:26

4. It is an Act of Confession that salvation is through His blood.             Matt.    26:28; Luke 12:8, 9; Rom. 10:8-10

5. It is an Act of Fellowship. Acts 2:41, 42; I Cor. 10:16, 17;                Heb. 13:9,10

6. It is an Act of Praise and Thanksgiving. Luke 22:19; I Cor. 10:16;     11:24

7. It is an Act Silently but Powerfully Proclaiming the Lord’s Second     coming.  I Cor. 11:26 20

 

            There are many restrictions placed upon the observance of the Lord’s Supper.  Albert Garner, in his book “Defense of the Faith”, lists 12 specific restrictions:

1. The elements.  Matt. 26:26, Luke 22:19, I Cor. 5:7

2. The place.  Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:18, 20

3. The personal motive of individuals.  I Cor. 11:22, 26

4. The purpose. Matt. 26:26

5. The persons are restricted.  Matt 29:19, 20; Acts 2:41, 42

6. The conduct of church members.  II Thess. 3:6-15

7. The moral practice of individuals.  I Cor. 5:11

8. The design.  I Cor. 11:15-22; Luke 22:19

9. The members of only one faith.  Heb. 13:8-10

10. The united in Doctrine.  I Cor. 11:16-20

11. The individual was self restricted.  I Cor. 11:28

12. Only the members adjudged worthy by the church.  I Cor. 5:1221

 

These twelve restrictions may be grouped into five categories.  These are authority, eligibility, place and time, elements, requirements of the partakers, and logistics.  The restrictions on the observance of the Lord’s Supper will be the major focus of this thesis.  It is restricted as to who has the authority over its observance.  The Lord’s Supper is restricted as to who may properly partake.  It is restricted as to what elements may be used for the bread and the fruit of the vine.  It is restricted as to where and when it may be observed.  Even those, whom are held responsible for its proper observance, are specified. 

            A misconception must be dealt with at this point concerning the word “unworthily.”  There has been much confusion by the laity concerning the need for one to be worthy of partaking the Lord’s Supper.  The confusion comes from the misinterpretation of a passage of scripture found in the book of First Corinthians.  “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 11:27)  Albert Barnes has well said about the word “unworthily” that: “The word here used is an adverb and not an adjective.”22 No restrictions are placed on the worthiness of the partakers of the Lord’s Supper.   W. A. Criswell says, “The Christian should make sure that there is no un-confessed sin within him before he comes to the Lord’s Supper.”23 This opinion is held by more than a few.  Earl L. Douglass said, “A grievous sinner can participate worthily if he comes in repentance, gratitude and a spirit of obedience.  A moral Christian leader can partake unworthily if he comes casually and takes the Lord’s grace for granted and as his due.”24 Such statements speak to the worthiness of the partakers.  Jesus did not require his disciples to pause before taking the Lord’s Supper and confess all their sins, as they would upon the head of the sacrificial animal under the Law of Moses.  Earl L. Douglass pointed out the grace factor in the observance of the Lord’s Supper when he said, “The key word in this passage is unworthily.  Notice that it does not say “unworthy” for all of us are unworthy of participation in the Lord’s Supper. We partake by grace, not by merit.”25 The restrictions have to do with the proper observance of the Supper, not the worthiness of its partakers.

            The following chapters will examine the proper authority over the Lord’s Supper, the proper eligibility requirements of the partakers, the proper time and place, the proper elements, the proper requirements of the partakers, the proper logistic factors, and some practical examples of the proper observance of the Lord’s Supper.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

II.  THE PROPER AUTHORITY OVER THE LORD’S SUPPER

            The name of the ordinance, itself, implies who has the authority over it.  It is the Lord’s Supper.  He instituted its observance and it is He who sets the rules governing it.  E. C. Gillentine says: “It is His Supper and He has a perfect right to say who shall partake of it, and what the restrictions governing it are.”1 It was neither left in the hands of the Apostles nor in the hands of Pastors or Deacons.  The authority over the observance of the Lord’s Supper rests solely with each individual church.  J. R. Graves stated it this way:

            To each local Church is committed the sole administration and guardianship of the ordinances. …All the instructions and directions, both as respects the doctrine and the ordinances, Paul delivered, not to the ministry, but to the churches.2

 

This authority resides in the church and not in any other organization.  B. H. Carroll elaborates on this point:  “A theological seminary, a district association, a state, national, or international convention, cannot set out the Lord’s Table and observe this ordinance, because it is strictly a church ordinance.”3

            The Lord’s Supper is to be observed in local church capacity under the authority and supervision of the church body.  It is not for individuals to partake alone, but there must be at the least two or three gathered together in local church capacity. 

            All authority related to God’s earthly kingdom business has been left to the Lord’s churches.  Jesus said, in Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.”  The word power in this verse is the Greek word exousia (exousia) which means authority.  All authority was given to Jesus and He has given His churches the authority over the observance of the Lord’s Supper.

            The command to observe the Lord’s Supper is found in the book of First Corinthians.  Concerning this Alexander MacLaren observes: “The account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, contained in this context is very much the oldest extant narrative of that event. It dates long before any of the Gospels.”4 Paul tells the Corinthians that he received this directly from the Lord himself:    

            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. (I Corinthians 11:23-24)

 

It is apparent that the Lord is commanding His churches to observe this Supper in that He used the phrase “this do in remembrance of me.” 

            There are commands in the scripture which are given to all men.  One such example is found in the book of Isaiah: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else.” (Isaiah 45:22)  Unlike this command, the command to observe the ordinances of the church was given to the church and none else.  Matthew 26:20 establishes that Jesus was with His disciples when He instituted the Lord’s Supper.  Men and women outside of the local church are neither commanded nor invited to observe the Lord’s Supper.  The fact that the church has been given authority over the observance of the Lord’s Supper is seen also in the fact that she is held responsible for its observance.  The church at Corinth was rebuked and chastened by the Lord for having misused the Lord’s Supper.  The Lord was just in His treatment of them for He had left them the authority and responsibility for this sacred ordinance.  The authority a church has over the Supper requires them to teach believers its proper observance.  The individual is held responsible for proper observance of the Supper.  The church is held responsible for teaching its members to examine for themselves to be certain that the Supper is being properly observed.

            In order for the Lord’s Supper to be properly observed, it must be administered by the Lord’s Church to the members of that Church over whom she has the right to discipline.  The church may say who is to partake and who is not.  They are instructed not to eat the Supper with an unruly member.  Paul wrote these instructions to the Corinthians: 

            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.  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.  (1 Corinthians 5:11-13) 

 

The term “no not to eat” refers to the eating of the Lord’s Supper.  This is the only meal prescribed by scripture that is connected to the church.  The Church has the authority to forbid the eating of the Supper with an unruly member.  This necessitates restricting the Lord’s Supper to those of its membership. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3

III.  THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS OF THE PARTAKERS

            Albert Garner wrote: “The Lord’s Supper, like salvation, is offered universally to everyone on the Lord’s conditions.”1 In order to properly observe the Lord’s Supper the partakers must meet certain eligibility requirements.  The eligibility requirements of the partakers are few but important.  Ben M. Bogard lists the eligibility requirements in this way:

Note the order of Acts 2:41-42:

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Act 2:41-42) 

1. Received His word.

2. Were Baptized

3. Were added

4. Continued in the Apostolic doctrine – Sound in faith

5. And in fellowship – united in faith and love.

6. Lastly “breaking of bread” – partaking the Lord’s Supper.

This is the Divine order and no man has a right to change it.2

 

            To be eligible there are three conditions the partaker must meet.  The first of these conditions is a state referred to as “saved.”  The partaker must be saved.  This condition is achieved when one has, because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit of God, realized his guilt of sin and accepted his condemned condition as the action of a just and holy God.  Upon this realization, he goes to God confessing his sin and begging forgiveness, mercy and pardon.  He does this believing that God is faithful and just in granting forgiveness, mercy and pardon because of the vicarious death of Jesus Christ for his sin.   This is a spiritual condition.  It has little to do with the flesh.  The word “little” is used here because those who are saved will show some outward evidence of their new inward, spiritual state.  This is part of the self examination, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:28, which is required of those who partake of the Lord’s Supper.  Each partaker must examine himself and if he has not been saved he should not partake of the Lord’s Supper.  He must first repent and be saved, then submit himself to the church for baptism and membership before he may properly partake of the Lord’s Supper.  The Supper has no meaning to those who are not saved.  Charles Spurgeon has well said, “He who does not know Him cannot remember Him.”3 The Scriptural terms of communion as stated by Robert Howell are three.  “They are repentance, faith, and Baptism.”4 The proper observance of the Lord’s Supper requires that the participants be repentant believers who have been baptized.

            D. N. Jackson observes, “At no time and place did Jesus or any of His apostles offer Salvation to the lost on condition of their partaking the Lord’s Supper.”5 There is no saving power in the act of observing the Lord’s Supper.  J. R. Rice agrees with this view stating, “It must be understood that no one is saved by taking the Lord’s Supper.”6

Those who observe the Lord’s Supper and who meet the proper eligibility requirements are already saved. 

            The second eligibility requirement involves church membership.  There are three schools of thought on this subject.  They are called open, close and closed communion.      First, there are those who teach that the Lord’s Supper is to be open to all believers regardless of their denominational affiliation.  This position is referred to as open communion.  It allows for any group of believers in any capacity to observe the Lord’s Supper.  It allows a church to offer communion to any who visit with them during its observance.  It permits the offering of communion to those who have believed and have not been baptized.  The individual, who according to 1 Corinthians 11:28 is responsible to God for meeting the eligibility requirements, must make a self examination and determine if he meets the requirements to partake of the Supper, and must also be sure that all the requirements for its proper observance are being met.   If one believes the open communion doctrine, then all he is required to do is to be certain that he is a believer.  This position is not founded in scripture.  Ben M. Bogard points out that, “To invite un-baptized people to partake of the Lord’s Supper is a sin.  Open communion is therefore a sin.  Only baptized believers have a right to partake of the Supper.”7 Never is there any indication in scripture that un-baptized, non church members were invited to observe the Lord’s Supper.    There seems to be a general consensus among most Christian denominations that baptism is a prerequisite for one to properly partake of the Lord’s Supper.  George W. McDaniel observes that, “All agree that baptism comes before Communion in the New Testament order.  Roman Catholics, Episcopalians,… etc, baptize their babes directly after they are born but do not give them the communion for years.”8 They base this upon the fact that never in scripture do un-baptized people partake of the Lord’s Supper.  J. R. Graves said: “It is admitted that the Supper can only be enjoyed by one: 1. Who has been scripturally baptized and thus: 2. Has become a member of a scriptural church; and 3. Is in heartily fellowship with its doctrines and: 4. Is walking in Gospel order.”9 Here he puts forth the idea that baptism is needed for the partaker to be qualified.  Most believe that church membership follows baptism.  Baptism is administered by the Church to those who come professing Christ as their Savior.  Baptism is an act of discipleship.  One becomes a member of the church by acceptance.  A person is added to the membership by consent of the church members.  After the approval of the Church has been gained they are placed within its membership.  This qualifies them to observe the Supper. 

            The second school of thought is close communion.  This position allows for those who are members of churches of like faith and order to partake of the Lord’s Supper together.  Ben M. Bogard held to this position for he plainly stated, “The New Testament teaches close communion.”10 Close communion forbids those who are not members of a true New Testament Church from partaking of the Supper.  Albert Garner strongly states the feelings of this prohibition saying, “Do not ask those who are in the Devil’s churches, founded by men and not by Jesus, to eat at the Lord’s Table.  It is an insult to Jesus Christ.”11 Ben M. Bogard expressed it this way: “In 1 Cor. 11:16-20 Paul forbade the church to partake while division continued.  This would eliminate different denominations from coming together and observing the Lord’s Supper. It takes a united congregation to scripturally partake of the Lord’s Supper.”12   The argument seems to be strong indeed for at least close communion rather than unrestricted or open communion.  Bogard also points out that one of the favorite texts used by the open communion proponents is actually one more in favor of close communion: “‘Let a man examine himself” this passage is used by open communionists more than any other passage against the Scriptural doctrine of close or restricted communion. The passage is a close communion text for the reason that if everyone has a right to eat the Supper of the Lord there would be no need of any examination at all.  Those who practice open communion violate these plain passages and thus are guilty of sin.’”13 The case is well made that only members of the Lord’s true New Testament Churches may partake of the Lord’s Supper. 

            The final position, called closed communion, will build on the arguments used by the proponents of close communion and go one step farther, restricting the observance to the members of the local church body only.  This position holds that only the members of the local church may observe the Supper together.  A close look at First Corinthians 5:11-13 is in order here to see the closed communion position:  

            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.  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1 Cor. 5:11-13)

 

            The Church may only discipline its members for it has no authority over those outside its membership.  If they were not to eat with an unruly member, then it required that they have authority over that member to forbid him access to the Supper.  The eating in this text refers to the eating of the Lord’s Supper.  This is plain for there is no other ordinance or church function connected to eating in church capacity other than the Lord’s Supper.  This text teaches that only members in good standing are to partake of the Lord’s Supper.  The responsibility, then, of the participant is to examine himself for this qualification as well.  If one is not a member in good standing with the Church he is to refrain from partaking of the Supper.  It is well established in scripture that one must be saved, baptized and a member of the Lord’s true church in order to properly take of the Lord’s Supper.  It then comes down to a matter of authority.  The church has the right to discipline only its members.  Paul said that God judges those who are outside the church.  The church judges those who are within her membership.  The discipline sited in first Corinthians chapter five involves the eating of the Lord’s Supper.  Thus only the members of that local congregation over whom the Church has authority may properly partake of the Lord’s Supper.   

            With closed communion being the scriptural position, it stands to reason that to be eligible for taking the Lord’s Supper one must be a member in good standing with his local church. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 4

IV.  THE PROPER PLACE AND TIME

            Where should the Lord’s Supper be observed?  Is there a proper place for its observance?   The proper place for its observance is determined by the presence of those who are gathered in local church capacity.  The Supper can be observed in a house or in a building which is used for a meeting place by the local church.  It may be observed outdoors.  The place is not restricted in scripture.  The only restriction which would apply to place is that of the reason the partakers have gathered and in what capacity.  If they have gathered to meet as a church to observe the Lord’s Supper then the place is proper.  This does not mean that all places are expedient or suitable for the observance of the Supper.  J. R. Graves said:

            We conclude, that, since the Supper was divinely appointed to be observed as a church ordinance, it would be a profanation of the ordinance for a Christian to attempt to observe it privately; or for a company of such to observe it socially, since the symbolism would be vitiated.1

 

The word “vitiated” used by Graves is defined by Webster as, “vitiate v.t., ated, ating. 1. to impair the quality of; make faulty; spoil. 2. to impair or weaken the effectiveness of. 3. to debase; corrupt; pervert. 4. to make legally invalid; invalidate: to vitiate a claim.”2 Thus, he believes that to observe the Supper in non-church capacity spoils its symbolism.

The place is proper when there is, in that place, a group of baptized believers who have covenanted together to carry out the commands and commission of the Lord.  The presence of the church makes the place proper.  John R. Rice observes that, “There is no record in the New Testament of individual’s or families taking the Lord’s Supper alone.  It was observed in public congregations”3.

            The examples set by scripture concerning where this ordinance is to be observed set the restrictions as to the place.  This example, then, would not allow the Supper to be observed outside of church capacity.  B. H. Carroll condemned the practice of private observance of the Lord’s Supper in any form when he wrote, “The officers of the church cannot carry the elements of this Supper to a member who, for any cause, was absent at the assembly observance, and administer them to him privately.”4 The private observance of the Supper by one or two deliberately apart from the general assembly renders that place and time improper.  Albert Garner says, “The church is to be “together” (gathered together) in order properly to observe the Supper according to Luke 22:29-30.”5 The text he sites says: “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  (Luke 22:29-30)  This text would not tend to teach that the church is to be together in order to properly observe the Supper.  This eating and drinking at the Lord’s Table may well speak of the Lord’s Supper observance in the coming kingdom.  At that time there can be no doubt that God’s people will observe the Supper together with Christ as He has promised.  The proper place for the observance of the Supper is one which has been decided upon by the church, and at that time and place of their choosing, the place of the observance is proper. 

            The proper time for the observance of the Lord’s Supper is, like the place of its observance, left up to the local church.  The scripture has examples of breaking of bread daily and the original was observed in the evening at the Passover.  Jesus said “as oft as ye drink it” and thus did not specify a set schedule for its observance.  Albert Barnes notes, “It was permitted to them, as in prayer, to celebrate it on any occasion of affliction, trial, or deep interest when they would feel their need of it!”6 This seems to agree with Jesus’ intentions.  The early church observed it on a daily basis at one time.  This is pointed out by Alexander MacLaren:

            Jesus Christ, who cared very little for rites, who came to establish a religion singularly independent of any outward form, did establish two rites, one of them to be done once in a Christian’s lifetime, one of them to be repeated with indefinite frequency, and, as it appears, at first repeated daily by the early believers.7

 

The observance is proper as to time when it is observed by consent of the church.  Howard Marshall notes that,

We can assume that the Supper was held at frequent intervals, and not merely as an annual remembrance of the Lord’s death at the Passover season.  This view is confirmed by the evidence of Acts which shows that the church met to “break bread” as often as daily in Jerusalem.8

 

If they met to observe the Lord’s Supper daily at times and on a different schedule at other times what is the determining factor as to how “oft” it is to be observed?  The early church may have made their decision based upon the need to remember.  B. W. Johnson writes, “the observance points to two great facts – the Lord’s death, and to his second coming; one past, the other future.”9 The need to remember both of these factors may well have determined the frequency of its observance.  J. R. Rice points out, “this blessed Supper is meant to picture to every Christian the death of Christ, as a holy reminder.  It is to be continued by Christians to “shew the Lord’s death till he comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26)”10  Since the Lord’s Supper is to be observed as a reminder of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ then it should be observed as often as needed to keep this truth before the minds of the believers.  John R. Rice stated this point well when he wrote, “It should be observed often enough to keep fresh in our minds the death of Christ for our sins and not so often as to become meaningless and a matter of ritual only.”11

            The Lord’s Supper can very well become a meaningless ritual if observed too often and without seriousness.  There should be time enough before its next observance for the partakers to prepare their hearts and minds for a serious time of reflection upon the greatest act of love ever known to man. 

            It may be rightly concluded that the proper time and place for the observance of the Lord’s Supper is that time and place set by the church.  The proper place is one where it may be observed without distraction and with the general assembly of the church present.  The proper scheduling is one which provides for the needs of the memory of the partakers and the protection of the ordinance from becoming mundane and ritualistic.  A church should not be condemned by anyone for observing the Supper too much or too little.  The how “oft” is left up to the local church by our Lord and is to be observed as often as seems best to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CHAPTER 5

V.  THE PROPER ELEMENTS

            The word “element” is defined by Webster’s dictionary as, “the bread and wine of the Eucharistic service.”1 The word “Eucharistic” is derived from Eucharist.  In chapter one this word was listed as one of the names for the Lord’s Supper.  Eucharist means the giving of thanks and refers to the Lord’s Supper.  The two elements are indeed the bread and the drink, called wine by Webster, which the Lord used in the first Supper.  This is seen in Paul’s account of the Supper as written to the church at Corinth:

            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 shew the Lord's death till he come. (1 Cor. 11:23-26)

 

That there are two elements is also confirmed by the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, and Luke:

            And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.  And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; (Matthew 26:26-27)

 

            And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.  And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. (Mark 14:22-23)

 

            And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.  Likewise also the cup after Supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)

 

 

There is much debate over the proper elements for the Lord’s Supper.  The correct elements are disputed by many even among Baptists.  Some say that wine, which is the result of fermentation of grape juice, is the proper drink element, and it is a sin to use anything else.  Others say that grape juice is proper, and that the use of wine is sinful for its abuse is forbidden in scripture and its use as a beverage breaks the church covenant.  Some say that any bread not containing yeast is permissible for the Lord’s Supper and others are adamant that wheat flour and water are to be the only ingredients in the bread.  The writer researched the division on this subject and a careful and logical examination of the facts, as established by the scriptures, concerning the elements of the Lord’s Supper determined what is proper. 

            The bread that was used in the Lord’s Supper was the left over parts of the Passover meal.  This fact is not contested by any credible Bible scholar.  This bread was unleavened bread.  The Passover meal and the feast of unleavened bread, which continues seven days, are observed at the same time.  There was to be no leaven in the houses of the Jews at the time of the observance of the Passover meal.  The bread, therefore, without dispute, was unleavened bread.  Webster defines leaven as:

            leaven n., v., ened, ening. -n. 1. a substance, as yeast or baking powder, that causes fermentation and expansion of dough or batter. 2. fermented dough reserved for producing fermentation in a new batch of dough. 3. an element that produces an altering or transforming influence. -v.t. 4. to add leaven to (dough or batter) and cause to rise. 5. to permeate with an altering or transforming element2

 

J. R. Graves says of leaven, “Leaven is dough in a state of partial fermentation and decomposition – rottenness.”3 Leaven is used to add a pleasing flavor and texture to bread.  Adam Clarke insists that only unleavened bread should be used as he wrote, “Unleavened, un-yeasted bread should be used.”4 The reasons, given by most Bible scholars, for using unleavened bread have more to do with symbolism than with example.  Albert Garner states, “Christ became our Passover in death and bore the leaven of judgment for our guilt of sin to the cross.  It is therefore proper that unleavened bread and fruit of the vine be used in the Lord’s Supper as symbols of our Lord’s broken body and shed blood.”5  

            Was the use of unleavened bread absolute?  When the Supper was observed on occasions other than the feast of unleavened bread did they still use unleavened bread?  Jesus gave no specific command concerning the ingredients in the bread.  In the first five books of the Old Testament great detail is given concerning the making of the objects used in the worship of the Lord.  The symbolism of the objects is not explained.  There are no details given which tell, for example, what the Lamp Stand of the Tabernacle symbolized.  Moses was instructed to be certain that he made everything according to the pattern that was shown to him in Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:40).  These details are meticulously written down by the inspiration of God for all to know.  The Holy Spirit of God was silent in these Old Testament books concerning the meaning of the objects or what they symbolize.  The emphasis is plainly on the elements and the importance of their adhering to God given particulars.  Jesus gave no details as to the make up of the bread which He used for His Supper.  There are hints in Leviticus chapter two as to the ingredients of the unleavened bread used in the Tabernacle and there may be a connection between this bread and that used by the Lord.  He did give the details as to what the elements symbolized.  The emphasis was clearly placed upon the anti-type represented by the elements and not on the elements themselves.  It is a fact that unleavened bread was used.  The controversy is in the ingredients, wheat or barley, salt and oil.  Two thousand years later, churches must decide by the evidenced presented.  Jesus left no instructions as to the recipe.  From historical accounts the bread was not leavened and it was made of grain grown in the fields of Palestine.  One could very easily duplicate the anointing oil used to anoint Aaron as the high priest and fabricate the priest’s garments worn by Aaron’s sons for they are described in great detail.  The ingredients of the bread of the Lord’s Supper, on the other hand, remain clouded in mystery.  To err on the side of caution one must attempt to duplicate, as far as is practical, the elements as they were used originally.  The least ingredients needed for making bread was grain and water.  Bread is what He specified (even allegorized in John chapter six) and bread is what the church must scripturally use.  To be scriptural one must use unleavened bread for that indeed is what the Lord used.  To make this bread Israelite cooks mixed flour with water to make dough and baked it until it was done.  If salt or oil is added to the mixture it would not violate the example set, for neither of these is considered leaven, they are even required in Jewish unleavened bread sacrifices, Leviticus Chapter 2.

            The cup.  “The cup” referred to the contents of the cup and makes up the second element of the Lord’s Supper.   A close examination of the four places the Supper is found in Scripture reveals the description of the second element of the Lord’s Supper.

            And he took the cup, (to  pothrion) and gave thanks, and gave [it] to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, (tou gennhmatov thv ampelou) until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. (Matthew 26:27-29)

 

            And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave [it] to them: and they all drank of it.  And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.  Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. (Mark 14:23-25)

 

            Likewise also the cup after Supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:20)

 

            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 shew the Lord's death till he come. 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. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. (1 Cor. 11:25-29)

 

            The word “wine” is not used in any of these verses, rather the term “fruit of the vine” is used twice to describe the contents of the cup.  The word for cup is to  pothrion (poterion) which is translated “the cup.”  It is in the nominative case (subject) and is singular in number, neuter gender.  This same word is used metaphorically to signify ones lot in life.  Jesus said let this “cup” (pothrion) pass from me which referred to His suffering.  Albert Barnes, in reference to these verses, says, “by the cup he meant the wine in the cup and not the cup itself.”6 He believes that the phrase “the cup” refers to its contents.  Others, such as Howard Marshall, believe that the cup is the symbol and not the contents.  Marshall states:

            It may also be important that neither Paul nor any other New Testament writer refers to the wine as the symbol of the blood of Jesus; it is the cup which is the symbol, and the wine as such is not significant.  The only mention of wine – the word itself is not used in a directly Eucharistic context in the New Testament – is in the reference to the fruit of the vine in Jesus’ prophecy of his death and the heavenly meal which was not taken over into the Lord’s Supper.7

 

The term “fruit of the vine”, which they drank, is a reference to the liquid contents of the cup. J. L. Wright says:

            In Matthew 26:29, Mark 14:23, Luke 22:20, all of these in the Living Gospels are paraphrased wine – and He took the cup of wine, which is better understood by the average reader than the King James translation, “And he took the cup and said, drink ye all of it,” which we have said we do not drink cups.8

 

When Jesus speaks of the future observance of the Supper in the Kingdom He says nothing of the cup but of the fruit of the vine.  Since cups do not grow on grape vines one can logically conclude that the second element of the Lord’s Supper is the liquid form of the fruit of the vine, the juice of the grape, since they must “drink” it. 

            All credible sources of the debate agree that it was the juice of grapes in some form or other.  Some are adamant that it was then, and should be now, fermented grape juice or wine.  Some are just as staunch in their stand that it was fresh grape juice then, and should be now.  Albert Barnes defines the term: “Wine, the fruit or produce of the vine, made of the grapes of the vine.”9 John R. Rice, believes that the term “fruit of the vine” refers to grape juice for he wrote, “the grape juice … pictures the blood of Jesus,”10 He acknowledges that the term may refer to alcoholic wine:

            The cup the disciples drank at the Lord’s Supper is nowhere called wine but “the fruit of the vine.”   We believe it was simply grape juice.  Even if the word wine had been used, wine in the Bible means grape juice, whether fermented or unfermented.  Fermented wine, with microbes of decay, would not picture the perfect blood of a sinless Christ.11 

 

There are still others who believe that either is appropriate.  D. N. Jackson writes, “Neither the Lord nor His apostles ever referred to the cup Supper as wine…. While I have no objection to the use of distilled wine in the Supper, I think it is unwise to insist upon the use of this sort alone.”12 

            Those who believe that it was fresh grape juice fail to explain how this juice might have been available at the time of the Passover.  The time of year when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper is known due to the timing of the Passover.  It was at the Passover meal in early April when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper.  The Passover was observed on the fourteenth day of the month Abib or Nisan.  This would fall in the spring of the year between mid March and mid April.  According to Hitchcock’s New and Complete Analysis of the Holy Bible, the word Abib means, “green fruit; ears of corn.”  The meaning of the name indicates the time of year at which it falls.  The fruit in the field was green and thus not ripened.  There would be no fresh grape juice available at this time of the year.  Grapes of that region would still be green at the time of the Passover for they do not ripen until early September and even as late as mid October. 

            Wine was not commanded to be a part of the Passover meal.  The elements of the Passover meal were the bitter herbs, the lamb and the unleavened bread (Exodus 12:8).  The fruit of the vine which Jesus referred to could not be fresh grape juice for there would have been none available at that season of the year.  There would be only preserved grape juice.  Preservation of grape juice, according to Scripture, was done by placing the juice into bottles made from animal skins.  The skins would stretch and expand as the fermentation process proceeded.  Jesus referred to this process when He said, “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.”  (Matthew 9:17)  Job referred to this same preservation technique when he said, “Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.” (Job 32:19)  Noah was the first recorded drinker of wine in the Bible and it was fermented (Genesis 9:20-21).  There is no other process described in scripture for preserving grape juice than that of fermentation.

            Though we may rightly conclude that preserved grape juice was used by Jesus as the second element of the Lord’s Supper, is it right to insist upon its use by this generation?  Is it improper to use grape juice which has been preserved by pasteurization and vacuum packaging?  Both are preserved, one without chemical change and the other with chemical change.  Is there any significance or symbolism connected to fermented grape juice in the Scriptures?  There is, connected with its abuse, foolishness and vanity.   There is, connected to its use, healing.  There is nothing, recorded in Scriptures, which speaks of wine as representing God or the worship of God.  Jotham indicated its use in worship of God and use for the enjoyment of men: “And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?” (Judges 9:13)  The incense burned in the temple of the Old Testament is described by the Scriptures as representing the prayers of the saints (Psalm 141:2; Luke 1:10; Revelation 8:3).  No such thing is said of wine in the Old Testament.  The fruit of the vine, referred to by Jesus, represents His blood.  In this, there is no direct statement that it was to be fermented in order to properly represent His blood.  As it has been pointed out, the word wine is not used in connection with the Lord’s Supper.  There is but “the cup” and the “fruit of the vine.”  Without a specific command, we are at liberty to use the “fruit of the vine” in either its preserved state or fresh from the vine.

            The proper elements, then, are bread which contains no leaven and preserved or fresh grape juice.  The bread which Jesus used contained no leaven and the “fruit of the vine” was grape juice which had been preserved by the standard technique of that day and time.  The reason wine is made today is not for preservation of grape juice, but for the alcohol which it produces.  Grape juice, today, may be preserved by methods which do not alter its original state.  Having no specific command to use fermented grape juice we are at liberty to use unfermented grape juice, which is now available year round.  If wine, which has been allowed to ferment for preservation, is used, the practice should not be condemned, for Jesus used such wine.  If fresh grape juice is used, the practice should not be condemned, for it too is the fruit of the vine. 

            Some claim that fresh grape juice contains leaven.  They say that it would have been forbidden during the feast of unleavened bread when all leaven was to be removed from the houses of the Israelites.  As pointed out earlier, there would have been no fresh grape juice available at the time of the Passover and thus it would not have been a factor in the prohibition of leaven at the Passover.  The leaven of the Passover had to do with the leaven in bread and not with any that may be contained in grape juice.  Proponents of the use of alcoholic wine say that it may be proven that leaven is contained in grape juice for if left un-refrigerated it will spoil just like yeast bread.  They claim that wine and unleavened bread will not spoil because there is no leaven in either of them.  In fact the bacteria called leaven in bread representing sin, is the exact same bacteria used to ferment wine, thus inserting the symbol of sin into the fruit of the vine.   To answer these concerns one must look to the Bible. 

            If grape juice contains leaven does it disqualify it for use in the Lord’s Supper?  The word leaven is not used in connection with wine anywhere in the scriptures.  Leaven is used in connection with bread often in scriptures but never with wine.  The presence of leaven in wine is then suspect as far as scripture is concerned.  The feast of unleavened bread had to do with bread and nothing more.  Notice in these verses that leaven was eaten and not drunk:

            Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.  Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. (Exodus 12:19-20)

 

The use of grape juice which has been preserved by fermentation is not necessary, for it contains no special symbol nor is its use in the Lord’s Supper commanded or condemned in Scriptures. 

            The church is thus free to use grape juice preserved by present day bottling techniques.  Because of the church covenant’s prohibition of the use of alcohol as a beverage and the stigma attached to the use of alcoholic wine, a church would be wise to avoid its use.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 6

VI.  THE REQUIRMENTS OF THE PARTAKERS

            In order to observe the Lord’s Supper properly, the partakers must accept certain responsibilities.  They must be able to remember, they must make a self examination, and they must be in harmony and good standing with the Lord and His church.

            The first requirement of the partaker of the Lord’s Supper involves the use of the mind.  The Supper is to be done in remembrance of Christ.  The Lord’s Supper is observed properly when the partakers remember the suffering and death of Jesus Christ for their sins.  The scripture says, “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.”  (Luke 22:19)  Jesus commands, in this verse, that those who partake must use the memory.  Memories are well within ones control.  He may choose to call to mind any thought which he desires at any time.  A person can force himself to think upon things which his mind does not desire to contemplate.  In the case of the Lord’s Supper, the memories of Christ’s Suffering are not pleasant to the mind but, for the good of the believer, they are to be recalled.  

             The bread.  While the bread is being eaten, the partaker should have his mind upon the suffering of Christ.  Thoughts of the beatings and physical abuses and God’s wrath poured out upon Him connected with the crucifixion should flood the mind.   The partaker is to have his mind on the Lord’s suffering if he is to observe the Supper properly.

            The cup.  While the cup is passed and as its contents are consumed, the partaker should have his mind upon the shed blood of Christ.  The mind should be filled with the picture of the blood shed by Jesus during the scourging and the blood upon His brow which came forth because of the crown of thorns.  The mind should remember the blood coming from the nail pierced hands and pouring forth from the wound in His side as it mingled with the water that came forth with it. 

            C. H. Irwin states the seriousness of using the mind in this way:

            So whoever partakes “unworthily,” i.e. without a devout remembrance of works and claims of our crucified Redeemer, sins against His “body and blood,” the only sacrifice for sin.  Therefore every communicant should “test” his state of heart respecting Christ, partaking only if he can “discern the Lord’s body,” or discriminate between it and ordinary food, appreciating His death as represented in the ordinance.1

 

            Indeed, the mind must be used for discernment and recollection.  B. H. Johnson points out that it is not a sacrifice which emphasizes the use of physical things but it is for remembrance.  He said, “It is not a “sacrifice of the mass,” but a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice.”2 The physical elements are not for the purpose of saving but for the purpose of reflection.  Charles Spurgeon placed emphasis upon the person of Christ as being that which should be the focus of our minds when he said, “We are to remember not so much his doctrines or precepts, as his person.”3  Everett F. Harrison spoke of the full use of ones mind remembering not just His death but His person as well when he wrote, “‘In remembrance” involves more than just memory; the word suggests an active calling to mind and the phrase “of me” is wider than “of my death.”  The person who did the work is the object of the calling to mind.”4 The Lord’s Supper is about the suffering and death of more than a mere man.  It is the suffering and death of the God Man, Jesus Christ. 

Robert Jamieson notes that the Old Testament sacrifices involved the memory as well:

“The old sacrifices brought sins continually to remembrance.  The Lord’s Supper brings to remembrance Christ and His sacrifice once for all for the full and final remission of sins.”5 The Lord has always expected man to use his mind when performing acts of worship.  God says in His Word, “Come, let us reason together.”  It comes as no surprise that God would require the use of our minds as a major factor in the observance of the Lord’s Supper. 

            Alexander MacLaren says, “The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is simply the commemoration, and therein the proclamation, of His death.”6 With this fact in mind that we proclaim the death of Christ when we observe the Supper, it is required of the partaker that he allow others to see him partake of the Supper.  W. A. Criswell saw the Lord’s Supper as a personal testimony of the believer.  He wrote, “As the Christian takes the bread and eats it, making it part of himself, he says by this action, “Yes, Lord! You died for me, and I am again showing my response to your death.  I am relying upon You to save me.  I renew my vow of obedience to you.”7 The partaker must then allow others to see his actions and proclaim to others his participation in the partaking of the Supper.  Howard Marshall said of the Lord’s Supper, “To eat and drink at the Supper is to proclaim the death of the Lord.  The Supper is a memorial of Jesus in that each time it takes place it transforms the participants into preachers.”8 Each participant is expected to be a witness to those who are lost.  They are to proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.  Robert Jamieson speaks of this individual responsibility in this way: “Show – announce publicly. The Greek does not mean to dramatically represent, but “ye publicly profess each of you the Lord has died for me.”9 

            It is required of the partaker that he be in good standing with the church and not be at odds with a fellow member.  The Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthians for the divisions that existed among them.  These divisions were manifested in the observance of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-22).  They were abusing this solemn occasion by turning it into a farce.  The Supper should symbolize the local Church’s unity and thus it would be wrong to use it to promote division (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).  J. R. Graves said:

            Thus we symbolize our personal relations to Christ our life.  But by eating of the one loaf with our brethren, we symbolize that we are fellow members of the same particular church with them – members one of another of the self same body.  While the act only implies that all who partake are professed Christians, it is appointed by Christ to symbolize church relations i.e. That all who partake are incorporated in the same local church - one body.10

 

W. A. Criswell pointed out that eating together is a sign of unity to those who lived in the Orient.  He said, “The Oriental considers eating together a sign of the bond among those present, and the Lord’s Supper points to the bond among the various people present and between each participant and the Lord.”11 

            The importance of being in good standing with ones fellow members is ignored by some.  Jackson said, “Whether we use the term Communion, fellowship, participation, let it be remembered that it is an expression of our relation to the body and blood of Christ and not necessarily our relation to one another.”12 It is true that the Supper has its central focus upon the suffering and death of Christ and that He died for each individual.  The focus is definitely upon the relationship we have to the body and blood of Christ.  However, Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  Jesus commanded that His people love one another, and when we do this the world will know we are His disciples.  There should be no division among the members of the local church when they come to the Lord’s Table. 

            The next thing required of those who participate in the Lord’s Supper is self examination. 

            For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.  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.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup. (1Cor. 11:26-28)

 

This examination is to be done by each participant.  The Greek word is an adverb.   The examination is to be done by the individual of the manner in which the Lord’s Supper is being observed.  Each individual is to examine the elements to make certain they are the correct elements.  He is to examine to see if he is in good standing with the local church of which he is a member.  He is to examine to be sure that he is using his mind and controlling his thoughts.  His thoughts are to be upon the remembrance of Christ.  He is responsible before God, personally, for observing the Lord’s Supper in a proper way. 

            This examination is not for the whole world as pointed out by B. H. Carroll, who wrote: “That part of it, i.e. this examination, does not apply to the whole world, as if to say, “let every man in the world examine himself,” but when church members come to church to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, then let them put the examination to themselves.”13 Persons who partake of the Supper, knowing that they are doing it in an improper way, will answer to God.  Alexander points out this fact saying, “No Christian is ever “worthy” to come into God’s presence, but that is not the point here.  Judgment has overtaken the Corinthians not for insufficient self-examination, but for stuffing themselves at the meal as if it had no connection with the Lord’s death.”14 It is not the responsibility of the church to police the Lord’s Supper, though they have the authority over it.  The individual must police himself.  If he deems something about the observance to be unscriptural then he must refuse to partake for he will answer to God.  It is impossible to know for certain if every one who claims to be a member of the local church is truly a member.  The responsibility and consequences of properly observing the Supper fall upon each individual.

            Johnson points out an unusual possibility.  He describes an act that would be a violation of the rules for proper observance of the Lord’s Supper.  He says, “Any who takes the bread without the wine, or the wine without the bread, “unworthily” communicates and so “is guilty of Christ’s body and blood.”15 It would seem that there would be no need to specify that both elements must be partaken.  One may not refuse the bread and drink the fruit of the vine only.  One must not accept the bread and refuse the fruit of the vine.   The Supper requires that both be consumed.  The broken body of Christ is to be remembered in eating of the bread, and the shed blood of Christ is to be remembered by the drinking of the cup.  

            That the individual is responsible to God is seen in the penalty assessed by God upon those who misused the Lord’s Supper.  Johnson writes:

            For this cause many are weak, etc. Some have held that this means that the improper observance of the Supper has made many weak and sickly Christians, and some had even died spiritually.  Others hold that physical judgments had been sent, and some sickened and others died. The last view is most generally held.16

 

The penalty was real and physical.  Those who would partake of the Supper unworthily are weak and sick spiritually.  They do not become so because of the misuse of the Supper.   They misuse the Supper because they are spiritually weak and sick.

            One should never approach the Lord’s Supper without examining for himself that all is proper.  W. A. Criswell warns of the consequences of coming to the Lord’s Supper carelessly.  He wrote:

            Some of the Corinthians were coming to the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner. This unworthy approach had to do with breach of fellowship, doctrinal heresy, and attitudinal problems.  To approach the Lord’s Table so carelessly is to eat and drink judgment to oneself.17

 

To come to the Lord’s Supper without examination is to approach it with an unholy frame of mind.  Just as Johnson states, “In a light, disorderly way or with an unholy frame of mind.”18 One must look at all of the factors which make up the proper observance of the Lord’s Supper.  With each in place he must bring his mind into subjection and soberly partake of the Supper.

            Some have suggested that participants are required to have all known sin confessed before he partakes of the Lord’s Supper. Richard H. Bube writes,

            Our presence at the Lord’s Supper demands that we separate ourselves from sin and from the enticements of evil in the World.  If we partake of the Lord’s Supper with an improper attitude toward it, or with a conscious blot of sin un-confessed and un-repented before God,…19

 

 No such command exists in the scriptures.  The confession of sin is good and should be a moment by moment practice, but it is not set forth as a requirement of the participants of the Lord’s Supper by scripture.  The Lord said nothing about confession of sin before passing the bread and cup.

            It is required of the participants in the Lord’s Supper that they make an examination of the whole Supper for proper content, method, and authority.  The participant is to remember the suffering and death of Christ, His broken body and shed blood as he partakes of each of the elements.  He is to take both, not refusing either of the elements.  He is to do this publicly and unashamedly before men.  With these in place, the participant has fulfilled that which is required of him for proper observation of the Lord’s Supper.  It is important to note that all of this becomes vain religious ceremony if the heart is not right with God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 7

 

VII.  PROPER LOGISTICS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

            The proper observance of the Lord’s Supper requires proper logistics.  Logistics is defined by Webster as, “the planning, implementation, and coordination of the details of any operation.”1 S. H. Ford wrote:

            There was no ritual associated with its institution, there is no reference to a ritual or prescribed form in Paul’s instructions concerning its ministration.  Baptists have consequently no ritual connected with it.  It is the Lord’s Supper, - Bread broken and eaten, no more and no less than a memorial rite.2

 

There are no specific details left to the Lord’s churches regarding observation of the Lord’s Supper.  Old Testament writings of Moses give many details concerning the worship of God.  Such details would allow one to duplicate everything from the tabernacle to all of its furnishings and even the garments that the priests wore.  The specific recipe for the anointing oil is given in great detail.  Instructions are given regarding which side of the altar and mercy seat the priests were to stand on when they sprinkled the blood.  No details are given as to what the colors of the Tabernacle symbolized.  The Law of Moses stressed only the details of the physical objects and the procedure for their proper use.  No details on their anti type were given.  The reverse is true concerning the Lord’s Supper.  Christ explained exactly what each of the elements represented.  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul also plainly stated what these things symbolize.  On the other hand, no details are given as to the exact makeup of the elements, the bread and the cup.  One can only imagine if there was salt or olive oil in the bread that Jesus broke that night.  The one detail given was the bread should contain no leaven.  God did not stress the details of the physical aspects of the Supper.  He did stress the symbolism of the Supper.  Also, it is not clear what was in the cup, only that it was the fruit of the vine.  It is properly concluded that this was the juice of the grape in some preserved form.  Fermented or not, these details are not made available to us.  The Holy Spirit of God inspired men to write that which was important to God.  The symbolism is the important focus when taking the Lord’s Supper, a memorial ceremony. 

            The Logistic factors addressed will be the preparation of the elements, the distribution of the elements, the prayers to be offered, and the beginning and ending of the service.  The ceremony, to match the original, should be kept simple.  On the problems at Corinth Frost writes, “It shows, too, the importance of holding the service to the simplicity of the original form and to the single purpose of a memorial in discernment of the Lord’s death and in memory of the great love wherein he loved the church and gave himself for it.”3 Keeping it simple is the best answer to any logistic problem.  Since the observance of the Supper, as Jesus instituted it, is devoid of details, we need not stress the details of its observance.  Nor should we put more emphasis upon how it is observed than we do upon the reason for its observance. 

            The prayers at the service have been the subject of debate among some.  The proper way to end the service has been debated as well.  Two major logistic factors that some feel very strongly about are:   1. Only the Pastor of the church should pray during the observance of the Lord’s Supper.  The reason is based on example; Jesus did all of the praying at the institution of the Supper.  2.  The service should close with the singing of a hymn and there should be an exit from the service without any speaking whatsoever one with another.   The reason given is the Matthew account which states that when they had sung a hymn they went out to the Mount of Olives.

            Based upon these two issues, many believe the Lord’s Supper should be observed in the following manner.  The Pastor, or someone who stands in for the Pastor, should pray and give thanks for the bread and its symbol and then have it distributed to the congregation.  The Pastor should also pray and give thanks for the cup and its symbol and then have it distributed to the congregation.  After these have been consumed the Pastor should call for the singing of a hymn and then instruct the people that they are dismissed and without a word all should leave the building and return to their homes.

            Many respected Bible scholars agree that there is nothing unscriptural about this kind of service.  If a church were to observe the Supper in this way, provided the elements were correct and members only were partaking in the Supper for the right reason, then all would fulfill the requirements of the scriptures. 

            The question arises, then, is it necessary for the Pastor to do all of the praying, and was it considered part of the Lord’s Supper when they sang a hymn and departed for the Mount of Olives?  Would it be just as scriptural if the Pastor did not do all of the praying and a hymn did not close the service, but a prayer closed it instead?  Would it be just as scriptural for the brethren to visit and talk with each other at the close of the service as they are departing?

            Most Bible scholars do not think that it is necessary for the Pastor to do all of the praying, nor do they think that the hymn is a necessary part of the Lord’s Supper.  In his course at seminary, “Ministerial Practicalities”, Dr. George Crawford taught his conception of the proper method of observing the Lord’s Supper.  In this course he reviewed the various methods he had seen and used in the observance of the Supper.  He taught that his favorite method was calling on a deacon to pray over the bread and another deacon to pray over the cup, ending the service with a hymn.  He did not condemn other methods and traditions which, though different, he deemed scriptural, concluding most importantly, use of the right elements and observing it for the right reason. 

            The prayer.  That there should be prayer is clear.  In all of the accounts prayer or giving of thanks is found.  A prayer should be said over each of the elements.  Jesus led this prayer at the institution of the Supper.  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul all confirm this.  The Gospel writers were recording the event as a matter of history.  Titus and Timothy were both young preachers who ministered to the Corinthians.  In the letters Paul wrote instructing these men, he gave no instructions concerning the details of how to observe the Supper. 

            There is occasionally a difference between doing what Jesus commands and doing what Jesus did.  For example, Jesus did not baptize anyone.  Yet, He commanded His church to baptize.  It is generally thought that, because the Pastor is a member of the church and well studied in the execution of the ordinances, he is the preferred person to perform baptisms.  Another example is public prayer.  Jesus did not call upon His disciples to pray in public at all.  When Jesus fed the thousands He did the praying.  He did not ask one of His disciples to pray.  In the garden Jesus asked three of His disciples to pray with Him but nowhere in scripture does He instruct or invite them to pray publicly.  Should the Pastor then do all of the public praying, for that is what Jesus did?  Again it may well be that Jesus does not intend for us to follow His example in never calling on someone else to pray.  Perhaps, then, He did not intend for His action to be taken as a command that only the Pastor should pray during the observance of the Lord’s Supper.

            The singing of a hymn after the Lord’s Supper is a practice which many do in memory of the first Lord’s Supper.  Most do not consider the singing of a hymn to be a part of the ordinance.  The singing of a hymn was customary as a part of the Passover observance.  Erdman’s Handbook to the Bible states, “The ritual concludes with the singing of the remaining ‘Hallel” (or Hallelujah) Psalms (115-118) and the ‘Great Hallel’, Psalm 136.  These psalms are probably the ‘hymn’ Matthew mentions (Matt. 26:30)”4 This singing was done because of religious tradition and not because it was commanded by Moses.  Whether they sang a hymn or not, was of no consequence as far as the letter of the Law of Moses was concerned.  It is appropriate to sing praise to God anytime churches we feel the need.  The Psalmist David encouraged all people to shout to the Lord and sing His praise in the following passage,  “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” (Psalm 98:4) Matthew and Mark record the singing of a hymn at the close of the Lord’s Supper.  Luke does not record the event.  Paul also left this part out of the instructions given to the church at Corinth.  There is no command to sing the hymn, though certainly singing praises at this solemn occasion is desirable and appropriate.  Jesus did not say that the singing was to be done “in remembrance of Me.”   It is prior to this point that the observance of the ordinance ends.  Jesus said to eat and drink to show forth His death till He comes.  He also taught that He would eat and drink with us in His coming Kingdom.  He did not include the singing of the hymn as a part of the keeping of the Supper in the Kingdom age.  The Supper includes only the eating and drinking in remembrance of Christ.  Everything after this is a matter of tradition and individual church preference.  Closing the service with a Hymn is a matter of choice and not of commandment.  Closing the service with prayer is also a matter of choice.  Paul said, “pray without ceasing.” Prayer is always desirable and to close any worship service with prayer is appropriate. 

            As to the issue of departing without talking, one must examine Matthew 26:31-36 to determine what occurred after the hymn was sung:

            And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.  Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.  But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.  Peter answered and said unto him, Though all [men] shall be offended because of thee, [yet] will I never be offended.  Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. (Matt. 26:30-36)

 

In these verses there is a conversation between Jesus and His disciples.  This conversation occurred as they journeyed out to the Mount of Olives.  This is seen in verse 36 where it says, “then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane.”  They did have conversation as they departed the place where they observed the Lord’s Supper.  Again, a search of scripture reveals no commandment as to our conduct after the Supper.  It is a matter of choice.  The practice of departing without speaking to each other, if based upon the profound impact that the Supper ought to have had upon our minds, is completely understandable.  There are times when ones mind is so impacted by events that he needs time alone to reflect.  This practice should not be one of hypocrisy nor for the purpose of being seen of men.  It must be the result of motivation and not of commandment.  There should never be a condemning of those who are “less spiritual” on the part of any.  If one is less impacted by the observation of the Supper then that is a matter between them and the Lord.  If one is withdrawn and sober due to the observance of the Supper it is well for him to depart and reflect without speaking to others.  If the thought of Christ’s suffering on one’s behalf causes them to rejoice and sing for joy and leave the Supper with a desire to tell others how wonderful their God and Savior is then that is appropriate as well.

            Such details should not be dwelt upon and made a point of contention or of fellowship between brethren.  Since God did not give specific commands concerning these issues, there importance is minimized.  The right attitude and mind set during the observance is more important than who prays and how the people depart the service.

            The bread and fruit of the vine are not taken for bodily nourishment.  Paul instructed the Corinthians to eat at home to meet their nutritional needs.  The Lord’s Supper is not for that purpose.  To thank the Lord for providing the bread that we might be able to remember the suffering and death of our Lord is appropriate but to thank him for its nourishment would be somewhat out of place.  The prayer may contain more than this.  Certainly reflection on the suffering of Christ should cause a feeling of gratitude, and thus, a thanksgiving to God for the suffering of Christ.  Adam Clarke addresses this subject in his commentary:

            But what was it that our Lord blessed?  Not the bread, though many think the contrary, being deceived by the word it refers not to the bread, but to God. . . The Jewish form of blessing, . . . on taking the bread they say: - Blessed be thou, our God, king of the universe, who bringest forth bread out of the earth!  Likewise, on taking the cup, they say: - Blessed be our God, the king of the universe, the creator of the fruit of the vine!  No blessing, therefore, of the elements is here intended; they were already blessed, in being sent as a gift of mercy from the bountiful Lord; but God the sender is blessed.  Blessing and touching the bread are merely Popish ceremonies, unauthorized either by scripture or the practice of the pure church of God.5

 

The prayer then should include praises to God and an acknowledgement of His grace and mercy.  The prayer is then needed and should be led by a willing participant.

            The practice of breaking the bread.  Some do not deem this a necessary part of the observance.  Albert Barnes placed importance upon this practice when he said, “This breaking of the bread represented the sufferings of Jesus about to take place – His body broken or wounded for sin.” I Cor. 11:24 adds which is broken for you.”6 The symbolism will not exist without the action which portrays the symbol.  Jesus did not assign a meaning to the act of breaking.  John Gill sets forth another picture portrayed by the breaking of the bread when he wrote, “And death in scripture is expressed by breaking, see Jeremiah 19:11, His body might be truly said to be broken.”7  The verse Gill refers to states, “And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as [one] breaketh a potter's vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury [them] in Tophet, till [there be] no place to bury.”  (Jeremiah 19:11)  This does indeed place a connection to breaking and death.   

            Adam Clark believed that is was necessary to ceremonially break the bread before distributing it to the partakers.  He writes, “The breaking of the bread I consider essential to the proper performance of this solemn and significant ceremony; because this act was designed by our Lord to shadow forth the wounding, . . . of his body upon the cross.”8 Again, as with all controversies surrounding the Lord’s Supper, a close examination of scripture is needed.  Do those who do not break the bread at the time of the observance of the Supper violate the scriptures?  Matthew’s account says, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed [it], and brake [it], and gave [it] to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26)  In this account Jesus broke the bread.  It would seem that He broke it for the purpose of distribution.  This was done for a logistical purpose.  To distribute the bread among the many who were present it would have to be divided into smaller pieces.  Mark’s account also records the breaking of bread with the same logistical purpose implied:  “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake [it], and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.” (Mark 14:22)  Luke also confirms the same process for what seems to be the same reason:  “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.”  (Luke 22:19)  Paul’s account is quite different.  He says nothing of distributing the bread to the partakers but does of the breaking of the bread:  “And when he had given thanks, he brake [it], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken (klwmenon) for you: this do in remembrance of me.”  (1 Corinthians 11:24)  The word “broken” (klwmenon) is not contained in the best manuscripts.  There is no real reason to believe that Paul intended the breaking to have any more significance than the logistical purpose of distribution.  When Jesus fed the multitudes, he broke the bread and the fish for the purpose of distribution: “And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake [them], and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.”  (Matthew 15:36)  The breaking then seems to be more the solution to a logistics problem rather than one of symbolism.  Jesus did not say take and break this bread then eat.  This, coupled with the fact that Jesus gave no direct connection between the act of braking the bread and a specific symbol, would indicate that there is no significance or importance in the act of breaking the bread.  It must be broken to solve the problem of distribution.   Also, the act of breaking the bread would almost seem to contradict the fact that none of the bones of Jesus were broken during His crucifixion.  If the bread is broken prior to the actual observance of the Lord’s Supper for the purpose of distribution, there would seem to be no violation of scripture. 

            The distribution of the bread must be done in order for the Supper to succeed in its purpose.  There are various ways to distribute the bread.  The Roman Catholics have the priest distribute the bread one at a time to those who partake.  Adam Clarke condemns this practice saying, “And gave it to the disciples – Not only the breaking, but also the Distribution, of the bread are necessary parts of this rite.  In the Romish Church, the bread is not broken nor delivered to the people.”9 The bread may be handed out by men appointed to that task.  They distribute the bread to the congregation in broken pieces on a plate or in a bowl.  The congregation may file by the plate and thus come themselves to acquire the bread.  Jesus gave it to the disciples in each of the Gospel accounts.   Paul’s account in first Corinthians omits this detail.  Adam Clarke calls to our minds first Corinthians chapter ten verse 16, “‘Take, eat, this is my body, Broken for you”, (I Cor. 11:24).  But when the elements are not broken, it can be no more said, This is my body broken for you. . . . The apostle, by saying, The bread which we Break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?  sufficiently informs us that the eating of his broken body is necessary to that end, I Cor. 10:16”10  This verse sited by Clarke states, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”  (1 Corinthians 10:16)  There is here no indication that the breaking of the bread has any symbolic meaning.  It is the bread that is the subject of this sentence and not the breaking.  There is no proof here that the bread was broken for any other reason than that of distribution.  Robert Jamieson agrees that the breaking has to do with the distribution for he states, “The breaking of the bread involves its distribution and reproves the Corinthian mode at the love-feast, of “every one taking before other his own Supper.”11 The act of breaking would indicate that small portions are appropriate.   This, after all, is not a feast as Albert Barnes points out: “when he had supped.”  “The apostle introduces this evidently in order to show them that it could not be as they seemed to have supposed, an occasion of feasting.”12 There being no significance to the breaking of the bread except for the purpose of distribution removes any hint of ceremonial rite.  The Supper is then reduced to a very simple form as Matthew Henry states: “Our saviors actions, . . . taking, giving thanks, breaking the bread . . . giving about both. . . . The actions of the communicants which are take the bread and eat, take the cup and drink, and both in the remembrance of Christ.”13

            The order of events is quite clear from scripture though sometimes debated.  Howard I. Marshall says, “However, in the Lucan/Pauline form of words we are told that Jesus distributed the wine ‘after Supper’ and from this it has been concluded that originally the church separated the bread and the wine by the common meal.”14 To solve this debate one must go to the Bible, observing the order as found in the book of Luke:

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide [it] among yourselves:  For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.  And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.  Likewise also the cup after Supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.  (Luke 22:17-20) 

 

It seems, by Luke’s account, that Jesus had them to “divide” the fruit of the vine among themselves.  While this was going on, He made the explanation about not taking of the cup until the Kingdom of God had come.  They were still dividing the cup or perhaps had just finished when Jesus broke the bread and distribute it to them.  After this, they were told to drink the cup and the symbol of it was explained.  Matthew, Mark, and Paul all agree as to the order of events.  The bread was consumed first and then the cup.  Everett F. Harrison placed significance upon this order when he said, “The bread is distributed first, since it represents the incarnation.  Then the wine follows, representing the death that ends the old covenant and established the new.”15 The bread and the fruit of the vine were both distributed to the partakers.  They each took of both.  This would tend to discredit the practice of withholding the fruit of the vine from the partakers as is practiced by some.  Matthew Henry says on this subject: “Our Lord bade them all drink of it, Matt. 26:27, as if he would, by this expression, lay in a caveat against the Popists’ depriving the laity of the cup.”16 The word caveat, as used by Henry, is defined by Webster as, “caveat n. 1. a warning or caution; admonition. 2. a legal notice to a court or public officer to suspend a proceeding until the notifier is given a hearing.”17  The bread and the cup must be given to the participants.

            The Roman Catholic practice of placing a wafer dipped in wine upon the tongue of the recipient violates the scripture, for both elements were distributed independent of each other.  Their symbols are separate and so should be their distribution and consumption.

            The breaking of the bread is not the only logistic factor under dispute.  There are some who believe that the fruit of the vine must also be ceremonially presented.  B. H. Carroll is one such advocate.  He writes:

            The modern provision of many tiny glasses for sanitary reasons does not violate scriptural order or symbolism, provided only that there has been one vessel of wine “blessed,” or eulogized, before the outpouring into the distributing vessel or cups.  It is against the symbolism if the outpouring into the distributing vessel is private and not visible to the congregation, since the outpouring does not come in its order, the blessing and the thanksgiving coming after the outpouring and not before.18

 

It is true that the blessing and the thanksgiving came before the distribution of the fruit of the vine even in Luke’s account.  However, this does not necessitate the pouring of the fruit of the vine into separate cups before the prayer.  There is no significance placed upon this procedure by Holy writ.  Since there is no command or instructions given as to pouring the fruit of the vine only after the blessing, then it may be concluded that it is not necessary to do so.

            The Lord’s Supper must be prepared ahead of time.  The bread must be baked and broken for distribution and the fruit of the vine must be placed in cups to be dispensed.  Since the preparation of the bread and wine are not a part of the Supper itself, then these are considered as preliminary logistic details.  The Supper should begin with the prayer of blessing and thanksgiving for the bread.  The bread is distributed and consumed.  There is, next, the prayer of blessing and thanksgiving over the fruit of the vine.  This is distributed and consumed.  The Supper is over at this point and what follows is left to individual church preference. 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 8

 

VIII.  EXAMPLES AND SUMMARY

 

            The Lord’s Supper, according to the Scriptures, should be observed by a local church body with only its members participating.  The bread supplied should be made without leaven.  It must contain flour, made from grain, and water, for these are the minimum requirements for bread.  The fruit of the vine should be pure grape juice.  These should be prepared for distribution before the observance.  The service should begin with the prayer of blessing and then the bread should be distributed and consumed.  A prayer should follow, next, which includes a blessing and a giving of thanks.  The fruit of the vine should be distributed to the partakers and consumed.  During this time, the partakers should have their minds upon the remembrance of Christ.  The observance ends when all have consumed the fruit of the vine.  A song may follow, or not, depending upon the individual churches preference.  There may be other activities, such as a sermon, to follow.  Anything that comes after the consumption of the elements is not a part of the ordinance itself. 

            Time to reflect is needed.  It does not take long, in some instances, to take the Lord’s Supper.  If the congregation is small there may be only a few seconds of time to remember Christ’s suffering and death.  A moment of time for remembrance would be appropriate at the consumption of each of the elements.  A deliberate pause is needed.  Jesus did not specify how long we should spend in deliberate remembrance.    

            Ben M. Bogard raises some questions in his book Fifty Two Doctrinal Lessons which should be answered.  He asks,

                        1.  Must the supper be eaten in church capacity?

                                     Answer: 1 Cor. 11:18

                        2.  Must those who eat the supper have the right motive?

                                     Answer:  1 Cor. 11:21, 22

                        3.  Must those who eat the supper be able to discern the Lord’s Body?

                                    Answer:  1 Cor. 11:27-29

                        4.  Must those who eat the supper be baptized?

                                    Answer:  Matt. 28:19, 20

                        5.  Must those who eat the supper be church members?

                                    Answer:  Acts 2:41, 42

                        6.  Must those who eat the supper be sound in the faith?

                                    Answer:  Acts 2:41, 42

                        7.  Must those who eat the supper be in fellowship?

                                    Answer:  Acts 2:41, 42

                        8.  Must those who eat the supper lead orderly lives?

                                    Answer:  1 Thess. 3:6

                        9.  Must those who eat the supper have good moral character?

                                    Answer:  1 Cor. 5:11

                        10.  Must those who eat the supper be of the same faith?

                                    Answer:  Heb. 13:8-10

                        11.  Must the elements used be restricted to bread and wine?

                                    Answer:  Matt. 26:26

                        12.  Must those who eat the supper remember only the Lord?

                                    Answer:  Luke 22:19

                        13.  Must the supper be restricted to a united church?

                                    Answer:  1 Cor. 11:16-20

                        14.  Is it the business of the church to judge who shall partake of church                                                privileges?  Answer:  1 Cor. 5:12, 13

                        15.  After all these restrictions have been complied with must the                                                           individual still examine himself?  Answer:  1 Cor. 11:281

                       

 The first question is, “must the Supper be eaten in church capacity?”  He sites for his answer First Corinthians 11:18 which reads: “For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.”  (1 Corinthians 11:18)  This text indicates that there is a difference between gathering for social reasons and gathering for church purposes.  The Lord’s Supper must be taken in church capacity for it to be proper. 

            The next question he raises is, “Must those who eat the Supper have the right motive?”  He sites First Corinthians 11:21-22 which states:

            For in eating every one taketh before [other] his own Supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.  What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise [you] not.  (1 Corinthians 11:21-22)

 

The reason the church observes the Lord’s Supper is important.  The question of motive was not raised at the first Lord’s Supper.  But Jesus gave the motive, that being the remembrance of Christ.

            The next question is, “Must those who eat the Supper be able to discern the Lord’s Body?”  He says the answer is found in First Corinthians 11:27-29 which reads:

            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.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup.  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.”  (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)

 

The word discern is defined by Webster as:

            discern v., cerned, cerning. -v.t. 1. to perceive by the sight or other sense or by the intellect; see, recognize, or apprehend. 2. to distinguish mentally; recognize as distinct or different; discriminate: to discern right from wrong. -v.i. 3. to distinguish or discriminate. discerner, n. discernible, discernable, adj. - Syn. See NOTICE2

 

The church at Corinth was taking the Lord’s Supper improperly, and by their actions they were not discerning the Lord’s body.  This meal was not to be like any other.  It was different in that it represented the suffering of the Lord in the flesh and the shedding of His blood for man’s redemption.  To discern the body of Christ, in this case, is to place a difference in ones mind and action between this Supper and other meals. 

            The fourth question raised is, “Must those who eat the Supper be baptized?”  He sites Matthew 28:19-20 as proof.  The members of a scriptural church are all baptized believers.  Since the Supper is observed in church capacity, those partaking should have all been baptized.  The answer is, yes, they must have been baptized in order to properly partake of the Lord’s Supper.

            The fifth question asked is, “Must those who eat the Supper be church members?”  He sights Acts 2:41-42 as the verse which contains the answer.  It states:

            Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:41-42)

 

Those who were added to their membership were allowed to break bread with them.  The term “to break bread” means that they were allowed to participate in the observance of the Lord’s Supper. 

            Must those who eat the Supper be sound in the faith?” is the sixth question.  The answer is to be found in Acts 2:41-42 which is quoted above.  “They continued in the Apostles’ doctrine” would indicate that they were sound in the faith.  But is this a must?  Can someone be in doubt, or even hold to a doctrine which is heretical, and still be able to observe the Lord’s Supper?  The church at Galatia was not completely sound in the faith.  Paul wrote to them saying, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:” (Galatians 1:6) They were not sound in the faith and yet Paul did not forbid them from taking the Lord’s Supper.  The Apostle Paul did not include this as a prerequisite for taking the Lord’s Supper.  There is no place in the scripture which sites heresies as disqualifying someone from observing the Lord’s Supper. 

            He asks, “Must those who eat the Supper be in fellowship?” and sites again Acts 2:41-42 as containing the answer.  Those who are unruly may not take of the Supper.  The better proof text might have been taken from First Corinthians chapter eleven, for there were divisions among them for which Paul rebuked them.  They needed to correct this and be in fellowship.  The disciples were divided over the issue of who was to be the greatest in the Kingdom, yet the Lord did not specify that they must be in fellowship and perfect harmony in order to partake of the Lord’s Supper

            “Must those who eat the Supper lead orderly lives?” This is the next question raised.  He sites Second Thessalonians 3:6 as the answer.  This verse reads, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:6)  The word “orderly” is defined by Webster as, “characterized by or observant of law, rule, or discipline; well-behaved; law-abiding.”3 Those, which are not orderly, are to be disciplined by the church.  This withdrawal would include not allowing the disorderly one to partake with them of the Lord’s Supper

            The next question raised by Bogard is, “Must those who eat the Supper have good moral character?”  He sites 1 Corinthians 5:11 as proof which states, “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.’”  (1 Corinthians 5:11)  Those who are not of good moral Character are to be disciplined by the local church.  Part of this discipline is denial of participation in the Lord’s Supper.

            He asks, “Must those who eat the Supper be of the same faith?” and sites Hebrews 13:8-10 as the verses which contain the answer. This text reads:

            Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.  Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For [it is] a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.  We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.  (Hebrews 13:8-10) 

 

The altar “whereof they have no right to eat”, Bogard believes, refers to the Lord’s Supper.  This text has more to do with being sound in the doctrines rather than being of different faiths.  Since unity is emphasized by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, the partakers must be of the same faith. 

            His eleventh question is, “Must the elements used be restricted to bread and wine?” and he sites Matthew 26:26 as proof.  As discussed in the chapter on the proper elements, there are but two elements of the Lord’s Supper, the bread and the fruit of the vine.  There is no mention of any other elements and so the elements must be restricted to bread and fruit of the vine.

            He asked, “Must those who eat the Supper remember only the Lord?” The answer is found in Luke 22:19.  This verse, along with the other accounts of the Lord’s Supper, confirms that the purpose is to remember the Lord and His suffering and death.  There is no mention of any other event to be remembered.

            Question thirteen asks, “Must the Supper be restricted to a united church?” His answer is 1 Corinthians 11:16-20.  In this text, the church at Corinth was rebuked for their division, and the observance of the Lord’s Supper had been perverted by their division.  If this be the case with a church then, they should not partake of the Supper.  If the division does not affect the observance of the Supper, nor does it cause the participants to partake for the wrong reason, then the unity of the church may not restrict them from observing the Supper. 

            The fourteenth question asks, “Is it the business of the church to judge who shall partake?” and the answer listed as 1 Corinthians 5:12-13.  The command to not eat of the Supper with those who are unruly necessitates the church have the ability to judge who shall partake.  This also requires closed communion.  If the church may say who partakes and its authority is restricted to its membership then only the members of that local church whom the church deems qualified may partake.  

            The last question raised is, “After all these restrictions have been complied with must the individual still examine himself?” 1 Corinthians 11:28.  Since it is the individual who is held responsible for the manner in which he takes the Supper, then it stands to reason that he must examine for himself to assure that the Supper is observed properly.

            In summary there are a few additional questions which may need to be addressed. Did Jesus eat the bread and drink of the cup with His disciples?  Does the answer to this question impact the factors governing the proper observance of the Lord’s Supper or the purpose of its observance?  If He did not then should the pastor also not partake?  Must a church have a pastor in order to observe the Lord’s Supper?  There are a myriad of such questions. 

            As to the question of whether Jesus did or did not partake of the Supper, it would not effect the meaning of the Supper nor impact the rules of its proper of observance.  Jesus said, “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”  (Matthew 26:29)  The word henceforth and the phrase “new with you” indicate that Jesus did drink of the cup with them.  In Mark 14:25 the words “ouketi  ou mh” {not any more in any wise} “piw” {will I drink} are the words used by Jesus. These words also indicate that Jesus partook of the Supper with His disciples.  Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist just like His disciples.  It would stand to reason that He would also partake of the other ordinance He left to be observed by His church.  If Jesus did not partake of the Supper, it would not prohibit the Pastor from taking of the elements.  The arguments given earlier, concerning whether the Pastor should do all of the praying at the Lord’s Supper because that is what Jesus did, also apply here.  There is no reason to assume that the Pastor should not take of the elements just because that is what Jesus did.  Since it is most likely that Jesus did partake of the Supper, then the Pastor should partake of the elements as well. 

            As to the question, “must a church have a pastor before they can partake of the Lord’s Supper?” the answer must be sought in the role the Pastor plays in the observance of the Lord’s Supper.  Is there symbolism found in having the Pastor conduct the service.  No instructions to this end were given in the scriptures.  Anyone of the members of a church could conduct the service for conduction of the service only requires the calling for prayer and instruction to consume the elements.  The position of a conductor or overseer is one of logistics and has no symbolism.  Thus, there is no need for a specific person to oversee the Lord’s Supper, and it follows that a church may observe the Supper without a Pastor.

            The proper observance of the Lord’s Supper is not a matter of opinion.  The lack of detail concerning the contents of the elements and the logistics of its observance allows for much flexibility.  There is no such flexibility when it comes to what the Supper elements symbolize.  Nor is there flexibility when it comes to what we are to remember while partaking of the elements. 

            Proper observance of the Lord’s Supper is based upon very few rules.  The rules concerning who has the authority over the Supper, who dictates participants, and where and when it may be observed are most obvious.  The church has been left this authority by Jesus.   This requires that the ordinance be restricted to the membership of the local church. 

            The rules concerning the elements are bread and fruit of the vine.  When these are kept to their simplest forms there is no danger of violation.  Since no specifications have been left as to the ingredients in the bread, nor the chemical content of the fruit of the vine these are best kept as unleavened bread and grape juice.

            The rules concerning what is required of the participants are limited to two.  The first involves the use of the mind.  The participants are to remember the suffering and death of Jesus.  The second is a self examination.  Each individual partaker is to examine for himself that all things concerning the Supper observance are proper, and if they are not, he is to refuse to partake.

            The rules, concerning the logistical factors, dictate the distribution and consumption of the bread and fruit of the vine.  This distribution is to be preceded by a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving. 

            With these simple rules, devoid of ritualistic details, firmly in place a church may properly observe the Lord’ Supper.  The purpose of its observance will be achieved and God will be glorified.    The remembrance of Christ’s suffering and death in our place and on our behalf compels us to serve God motivated by love for Him which love we have because He first loved us.