Christian Life 

'Remembering His death' – in small groups

With the growing number of small groups now meeting together in much less formal structures and environments there is the need to look again at 'remembering the Lord's death until he comes'.

 


first published 20/03/2012

Ed preface: The following article focusses on a biblical view of  the Lord's Supper (aka Communion/ the Eucharist / Breaking of Bread / Mass) in the context of whether the common practices today have departed from the bibilical pattern described in the Bible and as practised by the early church.

 

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The Snack We Call Supper

by David Servant

 

bread and wine2AT the last church that I pastored, I required that our ushers wear a coat and tie on those once-a-month Sundays when we celebrated the Lord's Supper. It seemed to me that those who distributed the elements of Jesus' body and blood should demonstrate at least that much respect in performing their sacred duty.

On one of those Communion Sundays, while an usher was driving his family to the church, his five-year-old son noticed that he was wearing a coat and tie. He innocently asked, "Dad, is this the Sunday that we all eat God's holy snack?"

When his father later recounted that story to me, it was an emperor's-new-clothes moment of revelation. I had stood in front of congregations hundreds of times and said, "Let us prepare our hearts to receive the Lord's Supper," and then proceeded to pass out a miniscule cracker and a thimble-sized sip of grape juice. And nobody ever questioned it! And what we were doing had been done in millions of churches for hundreds of years! A five-year-old boy had exposed centuries of blind tradition - the snack we call supper.

The Way Things Were


Of course, just about everyone knows that the original Lord's Supper was a full meal, a Passover meal, shared by intimate friends who believed in Jesus. And anyone who reads the relevant passages from the New Testament can ascertain in minutes that in the early church, the Lord's Supper was indeed a supper - a full meal - shared by people who loved each other like family. [See Note 1. - Ed.] So when and why did the Lord's Supper become a holy snack? And what difference does it make if we celebrate the Lord's Supper as did the early church?

Before we tackle those questions, let's first take a look at Paul's words to the Corinthian Christians regarding the Lord's Supper. That will help us begin to understand what many of us have been missing.

Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,

"This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment (1 Cor. 11: 20-34).


From looking at the first and last verses of that passage, one often-overlooked fact stands out. Clearly, eating the Lord's Supper was a primary reason that the early Christians assembled. At least some of their gatherings revolved around a common meal, and that meal they called "the Lord's Supper." Take another look at those first and last verses to see for yourself:

Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first [that is, you say you are gathering to eat the Lord's Supper, but the way you are doing it reveals something else]; and one is hungry and another is drunk... So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat... (1 Cor. 11:20, 34, emphasis added).

Lords tableIt is also obvious from these two verses that the Lord's Supper was an actual meal. Once that is settled, a few other scriptures that describe early church life seem to take on new meaning. For example, Luke describes four activities that characterized the first Christians, one of which was eating common meals:

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42, emphasis added).

And just a few verses later, Luke again highlights those common meals:

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people (Acts 2:46-47, emphasis added).

Although Luke doesn't specifically refer to these meals as being the Lord's Supper, they certainly are similar to Paul's description of the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:20-34. And we might ask, If the Lord's Supper is a common meal, what would be the major difference between a common meal that is not the Lord's Supper and a common meal that is the Lord's Supper, especially when bread and wine were the most common elements of an average meal in that day? (We might even go further and ask, Because Jesus said "Do this, as often as your drink it, in remembrance of Me," is it possible that He wanted them to remember Him every time they drank the most common beverage of their day?)

Paul and Luke's descriptions of early church life expose the vast difference between what was typical then and now. The Lord's Supper is generally not the reason that we meet today. Rather, the modern version of the Lord's Supper is tagged on near the end of a Sunday service. Moreover, it is not a supper at all, but a little snack.
(Actually, the "pot-luck dinners" that some modern churches occasionally enjoy are closer to what the Lord's Supper looked like in the New Testament.)

The Agapé Meal


Triclinium1It seems safe to conclude that Jude also referred to common Christian meals in his little epistle, calling them "love feasts" (see Jude 1:12). Those common meals were indeed a feast of love, a meal at which those who could brought food to share with the poor among them, which is precisely what Paul described in 1 Corinthians 11:20-23:

Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you (1 Cor. 11:20-23).

Keep in mind that when Paul wrote, "Or do you despise the church of God?," he wasn't talking about despising a building where the Christians went to church. He was talking about the Christians themselves. Getting drunk and hogging all the food at a gathering of the saints is a sure way to expose how lightly one esteems God's children, the church. By so doing, one "despises the church of God." Perhaps those food hogs were the types of people Jude had in mind when he wrote, "These are men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves" (Jude 1:12).

But let's return to Paul's words. The Corinthian Christians could not rightfully call their common meal the Lord's Supper because selfishness pervaded rather than love. Everyone who was able brought food and wine to the meal, but not all arrived at the same time. The earliest arrivals were eating without waiting for the others, and by the time the rest arrived-who were apparently sometimes so poor that they were unable to bring any food-everything had already been consumed. Some of the earlier arrivals were even inebriated from drinking all the wine, while late-comers left hungrier than when they arrived. Not much of a "love feast"!

This is why Paul admonished the Corinthians in a concluding sentence,

So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home (1 Cor. 11:33-34).

A Unique Gathering


Clearly, the Lord's Supper in the early church was a gathering of Christians from different social and economic classes, something that made it absolutely unique on planet Earth, a veritable foretaste of the marriage feast of the Lamb. Caring for the poor is part and parcel of what Christianity is intended to be, so much so that it was a component of the Lord's sacred Supper that was regularly and frequently enjoyed by the early Christians.

By means of the Lord's Supper, the first believers fulfilled a commandment of Christ that seems to be virtually ignored today:

"When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (Luke 14:12-14).

Surely such a dinner would truly be a "love feast"!

But back to the Corinthians. They were, in part, fulfilling the commandment of Christ that we just read. They invited the poor among them to a common meal. However, before the poor arrived, they were eating all the food! And by so doing, they were setting themselves up for God's judgment:

If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment (1 Cor. 11:34, emphasis added).

Paul elaborated more specifically on that judgment in the preceding verses:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world (1 Cor. 11:27-32).

The judgment/discipline that some Corinthians were suffering was weakness, sickness, and even premature death. Those judgments fell upon them not simply for the act of hogging all the food or getting drunk at the Lord's Supper. Those were but symptoms of a larger heart-issue, what Paul referred to as "not judging the body rightly" (1 Cor. 11:29).

Perhaps Paul was speaking of the need for each person to properly regard the body of Christ, the body of believers, lest anyone, as he said earlier, "despise the church of God" (11:22) – an attitude that was revealed, for example, when they ignored or mistreated the poor among them at the Lord's Supper. The very act of eating all the bread with no concern for hungry late-comers made a mockery of what is represented by partaking of the single loaf-our unity with Christ and each other (see 1 Cor. 10:16-17).

The only other possibility is that Paul was speaking of each person judging his own selfish fleshy nature, again, something that was revealed by the inconsiderate behaviour of many at the Lord's Supper.

Both interpretations yield the same conclusion: Partaking of the Lord's Supper-what is supposed to be a remembrance of Jesus' amazing love for us and an expression of our love for one another-can be deadly if done in "an unworthy manner" (11:27), that is, selfishly. Selfishness as a tacit denial of everything the Lord's Supper represents. Imagine a few people hogging all the food and drink at the Lord's Supper so that some of the "least of these" among Christ's brethren went home hungrier than when they arrived! When that happens, the sheep look no different than the goats. And we know how God feels about the goats! (If not, see Matt. 25:31-46).

Thus you can then understand why God disciplined such goat-like sheep at Corinth. Amazingly, even that was an act of His mercy, as Paul wrote, "When we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world" (11:32). The world will one day be condemned to hell, but God disciplines us to call us back to the narrow path to eternal life. We can avoid His judgment if we, as Paul wrote, "judged ourselves rightly" (1 Cor. 11:31). That means to confess and forsake our selfishness.

I hope you are beginning to see that the little ritual we rehearse in our churches is a far cry from what the Lord originally intended for His special supper of love. And I hope no one thinks I'm calling for nothing more than a relocation of the Lord's Supper from church buildings to homes, along with an increase in the portion sizes of the food! The greater issue is our love for one another.

Naturally, a joyous meal in a home is a better opportunity to express our love for each other than is a two-minute snack that we swallow while staring at the back of someone else's head.

But more importantly, sharing some of our food with poor believers has a whole lot more to do with loving our neighbors as ourselves (a fairly important commandment) than piously participating in a church ritual that is based mostly on Roman Catholic tradition.
I tend to think that no matter if we partake of the Lord's Supper as a snack in a church or as a full meal in a home, we are just as guilty as the Corinthians if we aren't caring for those in the body of Christ who have little or no food, even if they live in another nation.
What a mockery is made of the Lord's Supper by professing Christians who sanctimoniously sip the wine yet who could care less about their brothers and sisters in Christ who are starving. They, like the Corinthians, are eating and drinking judgment upon themselves, and unless they repent, they too will be condemned along with the world, just as Christ promised in Matthew 25:31-46.

Spontaneous Lord's Suppers


I think it is quite possible that many of us have been enjoying the Lord's Supper to some degree without even knowing it, as we naturally have been drawn to share meals with those with whom we feel our relationships are sacred and spiritual. This occurs naturally when people are born again. As Paul wrote, "Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another" (1 Thes. 4:9). And John wrote, "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14).

Love is part of the salvation package. Yet how many sincere pastors have discovered that many of the people in their churches have no genuine interest in meeting with other Christians in small spiritual groups, much less actually gathering in a home to share a meal together? Such people will attend a Sunday-morning show and even shake a few hands during the "fellowship minute." But they really don't love each other. As soon as they've put in their time, the goats are running for the parking lot.

Meanwhile, for the sheep, church often really begins after the benediction. They stand around for a long time talking, or head out for lunch where the real food is spiritual and the fellowship is filling. And of course, they don't do it because they feel obligated, but because they really want to. The early Christians did not gather for common meals because they read something in the book of Acts about Christians sharing common meals and wanted to "get back to the biblical pattern." They did it because they wanted to do it! This principal is true for so much of what is truly the work of God. Any pastor who tries to motivate the goats to act like sheep is wasting his time. Rather, he needs to proclaim the true gospel until the goats run or repent. Those who repent God will turn into sheep. Then they'll start acting like sheep, naturally (or perhaps I should say, supernaturally).

True Orthodoxy


Christian history indicates that it wasn't until the end of the second century that the bread and wine began to be separated from the meal of the Lord's Supper. By the end of the fourth century, the love feast was actually prohibited by the Council of Carthage. In the centuries that followed, the Lord's Supper evolved into a sombre and mystical ritual during which the bread and wine actually changed into Christ's body and blood-a holy sacrifice that could only be administered by an ordained priest in a sacred spot of a sacred building.

I've asked pastors all over the developing world, "What would be your reaction if you heard that some of your church members were meeting in a private home to celebrate the Lord's Supper, without you or some other ordained minister being present to officiate and to bless and distribute the elements?" Most of them confess that their gut reaction would be one of extreme alarm, because such a thing would seem to be heretical! I then usually chide them that they are really just Roman Catholic priests! They have been blindly following an unbiblical tradition that goes back more than 1,700 years! They may not believe that the bread and juice actually become Christ's literal body and blood, but just about everything else is the same.

The truth is, however, that the Lord's Supper as practiced by the early Christians never occurred in a special church building, but in homes. And it was never a little snack but always a full meal. And there was never an "ordained minister" present to "officiate," because there were no "ordained ministers" and Scripture leads us to believe that ordinary Christians enjoyed the Lord's Supper together. [See Note 2. - Ed.] Moreover, at the Lord's Supper, the poor were fed. And every Bible scholar who has written about the Lord's Supper as it was practiced by the early church will affirm these things (if you don't trust me or the Bible!).


Ed footnotes:
1. The Last Supper
was indeed a full communal meal which Christ shared with his disciples the night before his death on the cross. This was not the Passover Seder as that special meal was on the evening of his crucifixion. See article 'Easter: myths and tradtional obscure amazing truths'.

2. As the text above states 'remembering the Lord's death' is, at one level, an ordinary everyday event but with a unique spiritual dynamic; and enjoyed as believers meet together to share a meal. It does not need a 'presiding clergyman'; indeed there were none in those days - nor does the Bible recognise such a role/responsibility. See article: 'The Westminster Confession; past help, present hindrance.'

3. David Shepherd is the founder and director of Heaven's Family with Shepherd Serve as part of that ministry. Having ministered in more than fifty of the world's nations, David has a special burden to equip pastors and Christian leaders in developing nations. To that end, he has authored a 500-page equipping manual titled The Disciple-Making Minister. He also carries a great concern for the purity of the gospel and the understanding of biblical stewardship. Two of his books, namely The Great Gospel Deception and Through the Needle's Eye, passionately address those important issues. The text of both books can also be read on our website.


David Servant, 25/09/2013

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John Miller 22/03/2012 10:16
The Lord’s Supper, Its Meaning And Importance.
1.Cor. ch.11 vs.26-34

There are only two ordinances or sacraments, outward observances of scriptural truths that are commended to Christian believers and in which they are asked to participate. For example we are not asked to observe Lent, Easter or Christmas as holy events. I will not criticise calendar-based observance of these events because anything that draws attention to our Lord Jesus Christ, the greatness of His Person and work can only be for His praise and our blessing. However we must recognise that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only sacraments that the Holy Spirit of God has placed within the canon of Holy Scripture for us to observe in obedience to the word.

Baptism as a Christian sacrament is observed once in a believer’s lifetime. Its deep, personal significance is intended to continue and have a profound influence on us for the rest of life’s journey in the company of the One who died and rose from the grave for us. We are not saved by baptism but it is the obedient expression of the victory over death that we share with our risen Lord. Being baptised a second time is not according to scripture.

To remember the Lord Jesus in His death by the sacrament that is described in our scripture this morning is not just a privilege, it is a responsibility in obedience to the command of Jesus. Note the words in verses 24 & 25, “Do this…” It is not optional. Paul also suggests that it is something that we do “often” (1 Cor.11: 26). When we gather round the Lord’s Table, what are we doing, why are we doing it and why is it important? We must have answers to these questions. They focus our hearts on the meaning and purpose of the death of our Lord Jesus on the cross.

First of all, we should note that it is Paul’s account in this scripture that primarily gives us our authority to partake of the Lord’s Supper. If the three Gospel accounts of the Supper were the only records, it might have been thought that it was only for the Lord’s disciples who had been with Him in His earthly ministry. We must therefore note how Paul emphasises the divine mandate he has in writing this letter to Corinth. Firstly, as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, called by the will of God (ch1.v1), Paul stamps his authority in his insistence on church order. Secondly he reveals that it is truth that he personally received from the risen, ascended Christ, not from any earthly source, not even from the other Apostles. He might have had the events of the upper room described to him by one or more of the Lord’s Apostles who had been present, but He does not take his authority from such information. This account is therefore given unquestionable and absolute authority towards the church, local and universal, in every succeeding generation because it came from its risen, ascended Head.

Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles. He was an Apostle by the will of God. It was through his apostleship that the church of God received teaching that has been its charter and guide down through nearly two thousand years. The letters that Paul wrote to the early churches and to individuals have the full authority of the Holy Spirit of God and must be accepted as God’s word. All departure from the truth and every schism in the church have been due to a failure to abide by some feature of Paul’s ministry.

In our passage Paul immediately directs our thoughts to the background against which our Saviour instituted this most holy of ordinances. It was the “night in which He was betrayed” (v.23) that He took bread and gave thanks. Note that there is no reference in Paul’s writing here to the Passover Feast. We have that in the Gospels. We are reminded there of the great typology of Exodus, the sacrificial lamb and the Jewish rituals that looked forward to the great anti-type. Here we only have the most simple details of the actual elements that our Lord ordained as a remembrance of Himself in His death. For that reason I believe that when we celebrate this love feast in remembrance of Christ in His death we should carefully restrict our actual method of doing so to the simplest possible form. We should not attach any formality, pomp or human ideas to the ceremony. We do not don fancy robes or uniforms. We need no incense or accompanying music. We should not attach the collection of money to the sacrament. We must not attach any importance to those who minister the word, serve in prayer or as stewards in this matter. We must fasten our thoughts, affections and hearts on Christ alone.

We have bread and wine, the simple basics of peasant diet peculiar to the time in which our Saviour lived as a lowly man in this world. He chose them carefully to represent His own body and His own blood. There should be nothing else on the table. The table itself is not an altar. The bread never ceases to be bread. The wine never ceases to be wine. The table on which they rest is only a convenient place to support the elements. The bread and the wine are symbolic. Our affections must be directed towards Christ and wholly focussed on the representation in these ordinary (note I use the word accurately) symbols of His Body and His Blood.

Let us return to that upper room. Judas had gone, greed blinding him to his own awful sin and the glory of the One whom he was about to betray. At the table with Jesus was Peter who would deny Him three times and the rest of His disciples who were ready to argue about who was the greatest. Outside, Satan was marshalling his forces for a final assault on the Holy One of God. His officers were the Jewish religious leaders in an unholy alliance with the power of the Roman invader. His army was the thoughtless rabble that had a few days previously cried, “Hail, King of the Jews”, and would soon cry, “Crucify Him, we will not have this man to reign over us.” Satan had recruited the most powerful force in existence at that time.

We cannot forget that Gethsemane with all its pressure lay before Him. Because of who He was in His Person, the Omniscient God of Eternity, He knew that He would face that alone too.

“Lo! At midnight, who is He
Prays in Dark Gethsemane?
‘Tis the Lord! Oh wondrous story!
‘Tis the Lord, the King of Glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! Crown Him Lord of all!”

We remember the prophetic words of Psalm 69, “I looked for comforters but found none.”

Though all these details are bypassed here apart from the mentioned of His accursed but un-named betrayer, we must gather them up in reverent meditation as we approach the Table. Our hearts must be affected by the devotion of our Saviour to the will of His God and Father, His love for those gathered around Him and for every born again believer to this day.
Just let us pause to consider that Christ at that moment of such significance to a church not yet formed, should have every one of us in His affections.

Paul says, “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal.2:20)”. I look with reverence upon these simple elements, infused with such rich meaning and see there the love that knew me before I was born and determined that this was the only means to secure my eternal salvation.

There are two important purposes in our participation of the Lord’s Supper. Both must be the result of our personal attachment to Christ. The Lord’s Table is not a place for the hand of an unbeliever. In verses 27 & 28 Paul makes it also very clear that it is no place for the hand of a believer burdened by unjudged sin in his or her life. Before we approach this most holy sacrament Paul demands thorough self-examination. That means that I have to examine ME! I am not asked to examine YOU. I am told to look inside my own heart. In Mat.5:24 the Lord forcefully points out the need of being right in relationships with one another before approaching God. That is the principle here. It teaches us that there must be preparation for the Supper, an inward examination of my fellowship with God and His people.

For example, am I marked by a lack of forgiveness? Do I treat the coming together of God’s people casually? How long do I spend in prayer, reading the scriptures or meditating on the things of God? Is my private life pleasing to God? What are my associations in life? Have I sought in God’s presence to spiritually prepare myself for remembering the Lord Jesus at His table? I must answer all such questions carefully. It is the Lord’s Table. It is the Lord’s Table!


We must consider the two purposes of the Lord’s Supper according to this scripture. The first is to remember the Lord Jesus Christ in His death. We have before us on the table these two symbols that He selected. The bread speaks to us of His holy body broken in death, a death of shame, humiliation and forsaking alone on the cross. The blood speaks of His atoning blood, the blood that flowed from the pierced side of His dead body, miraculously announcing a divinely provided atonement for sin, protection from God’s judgement, foreshadowed in the Passover lamb. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you”.

We remember that he laid down His body in death. We remember that He did it on a Roman gibbet. We remember that He shed His precious blood for our atonement. It flowed as a result of the brutal callousness of man and the eternal love of God. Above all we remember Him. We remember our Saviour, our Shepherd, and our Friend who died there for us and instead of us. We remember His love and worship Him for who He is and what He has done.

Paul says in this simple but powerful instruction that Jesus “took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it…” What does that mean? The Lord Jesus physically took a piece of bread; it would be ordinary Mediterranean style flat bread, tore it apart and ate a piece, after giving thanks to the Father for it. Then he handed it to His disciples and commanded them to follow His example. It was a wonderful demonstration of holy fellowship.

He associated Himself with His disciple in the inauguration of this ceremony of remembrance that was to be the central act of Christian worship for the next two thousand years or so. He sanctified the act with his words, “ This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Brothers and sisters in Christ, can I ask you to consider the depth of feeling that our glorious Lord must have had as He ate that bread in anticipation of His own death? May I ask you to consider the feelings of His sinless, perfect manhood as He likewise drank from that cup that represented His own blood before passing it to His followers? He was the Holy Lamb of God. He was about to offer Himself as a sacrifice for my sins, for your sins.

In the last opportunity that He would have, He made provision for generation after generation of His followers to remember Him in a manner that the humblest could afford and the most exalted dare not ignore.

In the first chapter Paul had reminded the believers in the Corinthian church that they had been called into the fellowship of God’s Son. Here we have the holy, exclusive rites of that fellowship that only the born again, self-judged child of God can be privileged to participate in. With the help and power of the indwelling Spirit of God we remember our Lord in Holy Communion. He is physically absent from us but according to His own promise is powerfully among us by the Spirit of God’s presence within us and service to us. My friends and brethren, can there be a greater privilege for lovers of God in this dark, sinful world? What comfort it must be to the heart of the Saviour to see this declaration of loyalty to Him; what a blessing, what a joy for every believer who has such a privilege! How the Father must approve of such recognition of the worth of His Son in a world where the cry still is, “We will not have this man to reign over us!” When we honour the Son, we honour the Father.

We come now to the second purpose of the Supper. In verse twenty-six Paul says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” The Lord’s Supper has two aspects as we can observe. Firstly the private, intensely exclusive aspect of the occasion; a secret feast or ceremony of remembrance, whose deep meaning can only be enjoyed and understood by true lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and from which all others are excluded. Secondly a public proclamation or announcement to the world that Jesus died, Jesus rose and Jesus is coming back! We are announcing that awesome truth to an unbelieving world.

If unbelievers could understood the meaning of this and grasp its holy implication, the result would be astounding. Those who mocked would heap more ridicule on us. Those whose consciences troubled them might seek after God. Those who really hate the Name of Jesus would be motivated to further great persecution of all that profess His name. The fact is that the Lord’s Supper condemns and warns of God’s approaching judgement on an unbelieving world in its enmity against Him and His Son. Men last saw the Son of God hanging in humiliation, suffering and defeat on a Roman cross. In our holy sacrament we proclaim to that unbelieving, ungodly world that He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords. He must reign until He puts all enemies under His feet (1 Cor.15:25)

The rapture of the saints of God will take place first according to scripture, but Christ will return to this earth in person. Paul explains exactly how this will take place in his first letter to the Thessalonian church and in his second letter deals in a most awesome fashion with the Day of the Lord, Christ’s return in majestic triumph to the earth. Many prophets of old starting with Enoch (Jude v.14) foretold this great event. It is no afterthought. God is not in the business of changing His plans or having afterthoughts. Jesus must reign until He puts all enemies under His feet, according to scripture. He will annul death; that will be the last enemy to fall in defeat before Him, according to scripture. This is what we look forward to when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is what we proclaim at the Supper! The future is glorious because Jesus died in our place on the cross. It is the eternal answer to that awful cry, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

We could say much more about this most holy of subjects but time has gone. Let me make an appeal to any who as yet have not received Christ.

If there is anyone reading this who has not received Jesus Christ personally, coming to Him in repentance and faith, then I ask you now not to delay. Your need is most urgent. You can come into the blessed knowledge and experience of having a part in the fellowship of God’s Son by repentance and faith. That is the promise of God.

There is a clear dividing line marked out in the word of God between those who are lost and those who are saved. Those who are lost can be saved. Those who are saved can never be lost. There is only one way to be saved. There is only one way of salvation. There is only One Saviour. I am not going to put words of a prayer of mine in your mouth. My words don’t count for you. My faith cannot save you. Look to Jesus now and live. The life He offers you is eternal. All a preacher can do is lift up the Saviour. All the sinner needs to do is to look to Jesus in faith, repenting of his or her sin. The Philippian jailor cried, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul’s answer to him is the answer the Spirit of God gives to you today, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

May God bless all and encourage us in our most holy faith.




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Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Small Churches and House Churches > 'Remembering His death' - in small groups