Baptism The Lords Supper


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Baptism The Lords Supper

  1. 1. Baptism And The Lord’s Supper by Richard W. De Haan The Meaning Of Baptism o begin our study on the ordinances of the church, I T would like to focus your attention on baptism. In the first two lessons we will explore its meaning and its relationship to salvation, then we will consider what the Bible teaches about the Lord’s Supper. You may have noticed that I referred to baptism as an ordinance—not a sacrament—of the church. I did so for a very definite reason. There are those who, in using the term sacrament to apply to baptism, view it wrongly as a means of imparting some special grace. I realize that there are some who use the word sacrament without any such intended application. However, because of the wrong connotation given the term by others, I prefer to call baptism an ordinance rather than a sacrament. © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. SACRAMENTALISM be washed away just before When the word sacrament he died. was first applied to baptism By the 12th century, as in the latter part of the many as 30 different rites second century AD, it and ceremonies were being was associated with some practiced in the church. These erroneous ideas that had been were called either “mysteries” drawn into Christendom from or “sacraments.” That number, the Greek mystery religions. of course, has been gradually The converts from paganism reduced, but the term were accustomed to having sacrament has been retained. cleansing ceremonies for And for many it still refers spiritual purification, and to something that provides a they began to think of special means of grace. These baptism as a means by which people therefore think of the stain of sin was removed. salvation as a combination These former pagans had of faith, good works, and been involved in practices the sacraments. The biblical they had looked on as having teaching of salvation by grace special powers, so it was only through faith alone has been a small step for them to view lost to them. the waters of baptism as Yes, sacramentalism is possessing redemptive value. still with us today. Because Constantine, the of the misleading connotation Roman emperor who attached to the word made Christianity the state sacrament, I repeat my religion in the fourth century, conviction that we should be reportedly postponed his very careful to refer to the baptism until he was on his ordinances rather than the deathbed. We presume that sacraments of the church. So he hoped all his sins would important is it that we make 2 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. plain the way of salvation by I would gladly encourage grace through faith —apart him to be baptized. from works or ritual—that In this series of lessons even in our terminology we will discuss only two we must avoid giving the ordinances, baptism and the impression that baptism Lord’s Supper, rather than the has any saving power. so-called “seven sacraments of I would never baptize the church.” There are those anyone who had the idea that who insist that baptism, doing so would wash away his confirmation, penance, sin. If I were the pastor of a the partaking of the bread local church and someone and the wine, ordination, requested to be baptized, I marriage, and extreme would first ask him if he unction are all to be knew its meaning. I’d make recognized as sacramental. sure he understood that it has They therefore look on each no saving power whatever. I of these observances as a would then want to hear from means by which supernatural his own lips a clear testimony grace is received. According that he has recognized what to this belief: the Lord Jesus accomplished • Baptism is thought to for him at Calvary through wash away the stain of His sacrifice for sin, and that sin. he has placed his trust in • Confirmation (which Christ, and in Him alone, for includes laying on of salvation. Being assured of hands, anointing, and that, and satisfied that he prayers) is said to recognized baptism as an bestow the sevenfold ordinance rather than a grace of the Holy Spirit sacrament of the church (that on the person who has it has no redemptive value), already been baptized. 3 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. • In penance, the near death are anointed forgiveness of post- with oil and prayed over. baptism mortal sins This is done, supposedly, is supposedly obtained to impart special grace, by those who are truly enabling the dying soul sorry for their sin, make to confide in the mercy confession, and perform of God and to resist the duties imposed the final attacks and on them. temptations of the devil. • In ordination, a special The idea of supernatural grace is said to be given bestowment of grace through for the work and the ritual is prominent in each temptations involved of these seven “sacraments.” in serving God. We don’t see it this way. • When the bread and Rather than recognizing seven wine are blessed, it sacraments which are claimed is asserted that they to impart some spiritual actually become the graces, we observe only two body and blood of Christ, ordinances: baptism and the and that the one who Lord’s Supper. We see them as partakes of them receives symbolizing certain spiritual a measure of grace. realities. • In marriage, the man Some religious groups and woman joined in recognize a third church wedlock are said to ordinance—foot-washing. receive grace to Following the example of discharge faithfully the Christ with His disciples, duties of the marital they engage in that practice state until death. as an outward expression of • In extreme unction, humility, and of their willing those who appear to be submission to one another. 4 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. Although we may not follow those phrases into a rather that custom, we do respect lengthy statement. those born-again believers You may wonder how we who do. can address all those differing With all of this in mind, views in only two lessons. let’s take a closer look at the Well, it’s impossible. But I am ordinance of water baptism. not interested in discussing those details about baptism WATER BAPTISM which do not affect our sense Now, I realize that I of oneness in Christ. My am discussing a very primary disagreement is controversial subject. with those who make Differing views about water baptism essential to the mode of baptism, its salvation—who teach that it recipients, and its formula actually washes away sin or are sincerely held and taught contributes to the new birth. by various churches. Some I am further troubled by say immersion is the proper someone who says, “Unless way to baptize; others think you are baptized by someone sprinkling or pouring is in our group for the remission acceptable. Some insist of sins, you cannot be sure that only believers should you are going to heaven.” So be baptized, while others in this chapter and the next, affirm that babies should I’d like to concentrate on the be included. Some ministers following two questions: say, “I baptize you in the • What is the meaning name of Jesus.” Others follow of baptism? the formula, “I baptize you in • Does baptism save? the name of the Father, and There should be no doubt of the Son, and of the Holy about the answers. First let’s Spirit.” Still others combine address the question: 5 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. WHAT IS THE Paul then drew an analogy MEANING OF between the first Adam, who BAPTISM? brought condemnation and The answer is found in death by his one act of Romans 6:1-7. To appreciate disobedience, and Jesus what the apostle was saying Christ, the last Adam, who here, we should keep in mind provided justification and that in the preceding chapters life for all through His (Rom. 3–5) Paul convincingly one act of obedience. established the truth that In the first five chapters salvation is by grace through of Romans, the apostle stated faith. After indicating the clearly that salvation is depth of human sinfulness received by faith and faith and emphasizing the failure alone. Knowing that some of the law to bring salvation, people would misunderstand he made it clear that the or deliberately misrepresent only way a holy God declares his teaching, Paul anticipated sinners righteous is through an objection by saying: their faith in Christ, the What shall we say then? perfect sacrifice for sin (see Shall we continue in sin Rom. 3:19-28). To demonstrate that grace may abound? that human works have (Rom. 6:1). nothing to do with salvation, In answer to his own Paul pointed out that question, he went on to say: Abraham was justified before Certainly not! How shall he was circumcised (see 4:1- we who died to sin live any 12). He said in Romans 5:1: longer in it? (v.2). Therefore, having been When a person receives the justified by faith, we have Lord Jesus as his Savior, he peace with God through dies to the domination of sin. our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, in Christ believers have 6 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. died to sin, and this is the condemnation and bondage of truth signified in baptism. By sin and brought into a life of going down into the waters of peace with God and triumph baptism, we who have placed over sin. Baptism, therefore, our trust in Christ testify that has served symbolically as an through our union with Him introductory rite from the Day we have been buried with of Pentecost onward. It is the Him in His death. Having new believer’s first step of died to sin, we are no longer obedience. It is his public under its condemnation or identification with Christ. bondage. Then, our emergence The apostle said: from the waters of baptism Do you not know that signifies that through our as many of us as were union with the living Lord we baptized into Christ Jesus have been raised from death were baptized into His with Him. We now have new death? (Rom. 6:3). life—that which gives us When Paul made reference spiritual victory. Here is what to believers being “baptized the apostle himself told us: into Christ Jesus,” he used an Therefore we were buried expression that’s identical in with Him through baptism construction to a statement in into death, that just as 1 Corinthians 10:2, where he Christ was raised from said that the Israelites were the dead by the glory of “baptized into Moses.” The the Father, even so we also Israelites, having already should walk in newness of chosen to follow Moses out of life (Rom. 6:4). Egypt, were openly identified Water baptism speaks with him when they passed of our identification with through the Red Sea. In like Christ. By that identification manner, we become followers we are delivered from the of the Lord Jesus the moment 7 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. we place our trust in Him. Logically they were And in our baptism “into distinguishable, but in Christ Jesus,” we openly practice they were all identify ourselves with Him bound up with the as our leader and guide. transition from the old In his book Epistle To The life to the new (Revell, Ephesians, F. F. Bruce made 1961, p.70). this statement in reference to Baptism, then, is a the words in Ephesians 4:5, testimony of our death to “One Lord, one faith, one sin, of our severance from its baptism”: domination, and of our pledge Baptism in water to live a new life through our continued to be the faith-union with Jesus Christ. outward visible sign by During the first century, which individuals who baptism quickly followed believed the gospel . . . salvation and was closely were publicly incorporated associated with membership into this spirit-baptized in the local church. fellowship—“baptized into No one should ever make Christ” (Gal. 3:27). It must the mistake of depending on be remembered that in baptism as a basis of his hope New Testament times for heaven. Whether baptized repentance and faith, by sprinkling, pouring, regeneration and immersion, or all three, a conversion, baptism in person may still be unsaved. water, reception of the The only way you receive Holy Spirit, . . . admission the forgiveness of sin and to church fellowship . . . the gift of everlasting life were all part of a complex is through a personal of events which took place acceptance of the Lord Jesus within a short time. . . . Christ as your Savior. 8 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  9. 9. Baptism And next day, weak as he was, he Salvation testified of his faith in Christ to everyone who entered his minister who was room. Then he lapsed into A called to the bedside of a dying man promised he would return to a coma and died without regaining consciousness. The question arises: Did serve him communion. Then that man go to heaven? Some he offered a formal prayer people would have serious and left. But the patient doubts about it. This is failed to find much comfort because they believe it’s in the preacher’s promise. He essential to be baptized in knew very well he had sinned order to be saved and to against God and needed have our sins washed away. forgiveness. How a ritualistic observance of the Lord’s Supper could possibly do m Does baptism him any good made no sense save? Does it to him, and he couldn’t sleep wash away sin? that night. When a nurse came in and found him Does it contribute awake, she engaged him in in any way to the conversation, read him some new birth? n verses from the Bible, and then had the joy of leading him to Christ. And what a Therefore, I would like transformation! That dying us to consider the questions: man experienced at once the Does baptism save? Does joy of forgiveness and the it wash away sin? Does it assurance of being accepted contribute in any way to the into the family of God. The new birth? The answers will 9 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  10. 10. become evident as we review In this verse Peter was the passages of Scripture that addressing the same people are usually referred to as who not only cried out for the proof that a person must be execution of Christ but also baptized by water to be saved. declared, “His blood be on We have already seen in us and on our children” (Mt. our first lesson that Romans 27:25). Here he commanded 6:3 does not indicate that them to repent—that is, to there is any saving power change their minds––and in baptism. to be baptized in the name Some people believe, of Jesus Christ “for the however, that several other remission of sins.” Does passages of Scripture do teach that mean that baptism or suggest that baptism is is the agent of forgiveness? essential to being born again. In other words, is a person So let’s look at those verses to baptized so that he can see if they really do portray receive forgiveness of sin? baptism as having power to No! Baptism is a testimony wash away sins. that the one baptized has already changed his mind ACTS 2:38 about Christ. Accepting This is the verse most often Him instead of rejecting quoted by those who believe Him, he has experienced that baptism is necessary the forgiveness of sin. for salvation. It says: What does Acts 2:38 Repent, and let every one mean when it says, “Repent, of you be baptized in the . . . and be baptized . . . for name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”? Here the remission of sins; and is a possible explanation. you shall receive the gift A. T. Robertson, a well-known of the Holy Spirit. Greek scholar, has pointed out 10 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  11. 11. that the Greek preposition centurion Cornelius, the Holy eis, translated “for” in the Spirit came upon the entire phrase “for the remission household when they believed of sins,” may also mean (see Acts 10:44-48). Even because of. An example of during that transition period this can be found in Luke in the early days of the 11:32, where the text says church, therefore, people that the people of Nineveh were saved and received “repented at the preaching the Holy Spirit before they of Jonah.” The word at is were baptized in water. a translation of the same A second verse quoted by Greek term eis found in those who teach that water Acts 2:38. The people of baptism has some special Jonah’s day, you see, did not spiritual efficacy is: repent for his preaching but because of it. ACTS 22:16 Then too, according to In this passage, Ananias said some Greek scholars the word to the recently converted Saul eis (translated “for” in Acts of Tarsus: 2:38) may also mean, “with Arise and be baptized, a view toward.” According to and wash away your that possible meaning, the sins, calling on the people to whom Peter was name of the Lord. preaching were to repent In trying to understand and be baptized with a view the meaning of the words toward the forgiveness of “Arise and be baptized, and their sins. Acts 2:38 does wash away your sins,” we not teach that baptism brings must follow this basic rule of the remission of sins. Bible study: Interpret every When Peter preached verse in the light of the clear the gospel to the Roman teaching set forth in the rest 11 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  12. 12. of Scripture. Since the truth waited in the days of of justification by faith is Noah, while the ark was declared plainly in the Bible, being prepared, in which we know that Saul was a few, that is, eight souls, forgiven the very moment he were saved through water. met Christ on the Damascus There is also an antitype Road and believed on Him. which now saves us— We are therefore safe in baptism (not the removal concluding that his baptism of the filth of the flesh, was the outward and physical but the answer of a good sign of his inward and conscience toward God), spiritual cleansing from through the resurrection sin by the grace of God. of Jesus Christ. Another passage often What did Peter mean in misinterpreted as teaching verse 21 when he said, “There that baptism plays a part is also an antitype which now in saving us is: saves us—baptism”? Was he indicating that water baptism 1 PETER 3:18-21 in itself has any saving The passage reads as follows: power? No, not at all! Rather, For Christ also suffered he saw the waters of baptism once for sins, the just for in much the same way he did the unjust, that He might the deluge in Noah’s day. bring us to God, being put Although those floodwaters to death in the flesh but destroyed a wicked world of made alive by the Spirit, sinners, they in turn saved by whom also He went and Noah and his family by preached to the spirits in buoying them up as they rode prison, who formerly were out the storm in the ark. In disobedient, when once that sense, Peter could say in the Divine longsuffering verse 20 that “a few, that is, 12 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  13. 13. eight souls, were saved good conscience toward God” through water.” We know, (1 Pet. 3:21). Peter was not of course, that the waters talking about the outward saved them indirectly. They washing of the body; he was escaped by floating in the ark speaking of what is really while everything else was necessary––an inward being submerged. And the spiritual cleansing that is deliverance of Noah’s family experienced only by those under those circumstances who have received Christ’s reminded Peter of baptism. forgiveness. No, baptism itself Referring to the “eight souls does not remove sin. It is a . . . saved through water,” symbolic testimony of an he said, “There is also an inner cleansing that has antitype which now saves already occurred. us—baptism” (1 Pet. 3:21). Now a few comments Even as Noah and his family about one other passage that in the ark were “saved” by the is sometimes mistakenly very same waters that judged related to water baptism. the rest of the world, so also the waters of God’s judgment TITUS 3:5 poured out on Christ at The verse reads: Calvary for the sins of the Not by works of world became the means righteousness which whereby all who are in the we have done, but ark of safety, the Lord Jesus according to His mercy Christ, are saved. He saved us, through the Please notice that Peter washing of regeneration went on to say baptism “saves and renewing of the us,” figuratively. It is “not the Holy Spirit. removal of the filth of the Paul indicated in this flesh, but the answer of a verse that God has saved us 13 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  14. 14. “through the washing of passed away; behold, all regeneration and renewing things have become new of the Holy Spirit.” This has (2 Cor. 5:17). been taken by some as a The implied reference reference to baptism, and to water in the word washing they therefore conclude in Titus 3:5 should be that baptism is essential understood in the light of to regeneration. the Old Testament. In the In speaking of the ritual of the Mosaic economy, “washing of regeneration,” as recorded in Leviticus, however, the apostle was water was used as a symbol referring to a cleansed life, of cleansing. And when the not baptism. In verse 3, he prophet Ezekiel portrayed had spoken of the unsaved as Israel’s future conversion, “foolish, disobedient, deceived, he quoted God’s promise serving various lusts and as follows: pleasures, living in malice Then I will sprinkle and envy, hateful and hating clean water on you, and one another.” In verse 5, he you shall be clean; I will went on to declare that “not cleanse you from all your by works of righteousness filthiness and from all which we have done, but your idols (36:25). according to His mercy The washing of He saved us, through the regeneration, therefore, washing of regeneration.” is a fitting symbol of the That speaks of the cleansing cleansing that the believer that accompanies the new receives from God through birth. the new birth. With this in Therefore, if anyone is mind, read what Paul wrote in Christ, he is a new to the Ephesians: creation; old things have Husbands, love your 14 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  15. 15. wives, just as Christ also option for Christians. Doing loved the church and gave the will of God is never an Himself for her, that He optional matter. The Lord might sanctify and Jesus gave His disciples this cleanse her with the clear command: washing of water by the Go therefore and make word (Eph. 5:25-26). disciples of all the nations, The “washing of water baptizing them in the by the word” is related to name of the Father and spiritual cleansing. Water of the Son and of the baptism is not a means of Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19). regeneration or spiritual And on the Day of cleansing; rather, it is Pentecost, the record says: symbolic of salvation and Then those who gladly the spiritual cleansing we received his word were enjoy through our union baptized; and that day with Christ by faith. about three thousand souls Even though baptism has were added to them. And no power to save us from our they continued steadfastly sins, we must be careful not in the apostles’ doctrine to minimize its place in the and fellowship, in the life of a Christian. Because breaking of bread, and in baptism has no saving prayers (Acts 2:41-42). efficacy and is not mandatory These 3,000 people for salvation, some believers converted on the Day of have concluded that it’s really Pentecost are models for quite unimportant. But us. They believed, they were they’re wrong! Although it’s baptized, they gathered for true that baptism is not instruction, they broke bread essential to salvation, this with one another, and they does not make it merely an prayed together. 15 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  16. 16. Baptism is important. penalty was paid in full. It’s a testimony to the Then receive Him. In other believer’s identification with words, by an act of faith, place Christ. And if you know Him your trust in Him. The Bible as Savior, the Lord wants you says that “whoever calls on to be baptized and to identify the name of the Lord shall with a local assembly of be saved” (Rom. 10:13). After believers who meet for you have done that, your next the preaching of the steps should be baptism and Word, the administration church membership—not in of the ordinances, and the order to be saved but because practice of mutual nurture, you have already experienced admonition, and discipline. the saving grace of God by If you are born again but placing your faith in Christ. have not been baptized, or The Bible gives this promise: have not united with a local If you confess with your church that is true to the mouth the Lord Jesus Word, I urge you to do so. and believe in your heart Perhaps you have never that God has raised Him accepted the Lord Jesus from the dead, you will Christ as your personal be saved. For with the Savior. I would remind you heart one believes unto that salvation through a righteousness, and with personal belief in Christ is the mouth confession is first and foremost. Admit made unto salvation your spiritual need. (Rom. 10:9-10). Acknowledge that the Lord Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for your sins. Agree that He arose from the dead as proof that the death 16 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  17. 17. The Paul wrote the following: Significance I received from the Lord that which I also delivered Of The Lord’s to you: that the Lord Jesus Supper on the same night in which He was betrayed took s we continue our bread; and when He had A discussion of the ordinances of the church, I’d like to consider given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is with you the significance broken for you; do this in of the Lord’s Supper. This remembrance of Me.” In wonderful event in the life the same manner He also of a Christian should be: took the cup after supper, • A Memorial Observance saying, “This cup is the • A Symbolic Observance new covenant in My blood. • A Continuing Observance This do, as often as you • A Church Observance drink it, in remembrance My prayer is that the Lord of Me” (1 Cor. 11:23-25). will use this study to give us When Jesus instituted the a better understanding of the Lord’s Supper, He said, “This communion service and lead do . . . in remembrance of Me.” us into a more meaningful Such a reminder hardly participation. seems necessary—for us nor First of all, the Lord’s for the disciples. After all, Supper should be: they would be firsthand witnesses of those awful A MEMORIAL scenes leading up to and OBSERVANCE culminating in the crucifixion. Beginning with verse 23 of How would they ever forget 1 Corinthians 11, the apostle the agony of Christ in 17 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  18. 18. Gethsemane? The cruel possible to become so busy maltreatment during His in the work of the gospel, and night of trial? His brutal so completely engrossed in scourging by the Roman contemplating the glory that soldiers? His journey to awaits us, that we fail to Golgotha under the weight reflect upon the awful price of the cross? His wracking that was paid to make it all pain when the nails were possible. driven through His hands Remembering the Lord and feet? Or His God-like as we gather with other conduct while hanging and believers fills our hearts dying on the cross? with gratitude. It brings to Sorry to say, it would our minds those scenes of our be all too possible even for Lord’s suffering portrayed in His followers to forget. So the Gospels––the Savior’s preoccupied could they arrest in Gethsemane, the become with proclaiming mocking, the scourging, the the message of forgiveness, abuse at the trial, and the declaring the truth of the pain and the shame of resurrection, and solving the His crucifixion. Indeed, the problems in the churches Lord’s Supper is a touching they had founded that they memorial. might seldom reflect deeply How fitting, therefore, is upon that which they had this hymn written especially witnessed in Gethsemane for the communion service and at Golgotha. by James Montgomery: And friend, we also According to need the Lord’s Supper as Thy gracious word, a reminder of what the Lord In meek humility, Jesus endured for us when He This will I do, died to pay for our sins. It’s my dying Lord: 18 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  19. 19. I will remember Thee. in His own body on the Remember Thee tree, that we, having died and all Thy pains to sins, might live for And all Thy love to me; righteousness—by whose Yes, while a breath, stripes you were healed a pulse remains, (1 Pet. 2:22-24). Will I remember Thee. Jesus, the sinless Then, too, the Lord’s Supper One, took our sins upon should be: Himself. Yes, He became our substitute, bearing our sins A SYMBOLIC in His own body on the cross. OBSERVANCE He died to provide forgiveness The elements of the Table of and life for a world of sinners. the Lord are symbols of what This is what we should was involved in His sacrifice remember when we partake as the Lamb of God in of the bread in our observance providing our salvation. of the Lord’s Supper. The bread represents the The cup symbolizes the body of Christ. In chapter 2 blood of the Lord Jesus, which of his first epistle, the apostle was shed to pay for the sins of Peter said this about the Lord the world. In verse 24 of Mark Jesus: 14, we are told that as Jesus Who committed no sin, nor and His disciples were eating was deceit found in His the Passover meal He said, mouth; who, when He was “This is My blood of the new reviled, did not revile in covenant, which is shed for return; when He suffered, many.” Therefore, in the He did not threaten, but communion service, as we committed Himself to Him hold the cup in our hands, who judges righteously; we should thank God for the who Himself bore our sins blood of Christ, which was 19 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  20. 20. shed to secure our redemption sure His disciples knew that and to cleanse us from sin. He was speaking figuratively. The bread and the cup They certainly did not expect are symbolic of the body and to see Him as an actual vine! blood of the Lord Jesus. Rather, they recognized what They remind us of what He He was saying to be symbolic. endured to provide salvation, With Christ portrayed as a pointing to that event on vine, and His followers as which we base our hope for the branches, the truth of our all eternity. union with and dependence Some people claim that on Him is taught in a forceful when the bread and wine are and unique manner. consecrated, they change into Our Lord also used the actual body and blood of figurative language when He Christ. They object to our said, “I am the door” (Jn. 10:9) speaking of the bread and and “I am the bread of life” wine as symbols. To support (6:35). Now, no one in Jesus’ their claim, they remind us day believed that Jesus was that Jesus said in reference to claiming to be an actual door the bread and the cup, “This made of wood or an actual is My body” and “This is My piece of bread. He was blood.” He did not say, they speaking figuratively. And argue, “This bread symbolizes when He referred to the My body” or “This wine bread and the wine, He symbolizes My blood.” We declared, “This is My body” should remember, however, and “This is My blood.” We that the Lord Jesus on should understand that He occasion used symbolic or was simply using figurative figurative language. In John language. 15, for example, He referred I should also point out to Himself as “the vine.” I’m a serious error in doctrine 20 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  21. 21. related to the claim that the but the life that He lives, bread and the wine actually He lives to God (6:10). become the flesh and blood And we find these words of Christ. Some who take this in the book of Hebrews: view go on to conclude that As it is appointed for men the Lord Jesus is crucified to die once, but after this again every time the bread the judgment, so Christ and the wine are partaken of. was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He m The Bible will appear a second time, makes it very apart from sin, for salvation (9:27-28). clear that the And Hebrews 10:12,14 sacrifice of says: Christ on But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice the cross was a for sins forever, sat down at once-and-for-all the right hand of God . . . . payment for For by one offering He has perfected forever those who sin.n are being sanctified. Christ died only once. The Bible, however, makes it He arose from the grave very clear that the sacrifice only once. He ascended into of Christ on the cross was a heaven only once. He is now once-and-for-all payment for seated at the right hand of sin. In the book of Romans, God, where He will remain Paul said this about Christ: until He raptures His saints, For the death that He died, judges them, and returns to He died to sin once for all; earth as its rightful king. He 21 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  22. 22. is in glory, exalted at the for I say to you, I will no Father’s right hand—and He’s longer eat of it until it is there in His glorified physical fulfilled in the kingdom body. He is spiritually present of God.” Then He took the everywhere, but in His cup, and gave thanks, and glorified body He lives in said, “Take this and divide heaven. The idea, therefore, it among yourselves; for I that the bread and wine say to you, I will not drink actually become the body of the fruit of the vine and blood of Christ, that He is until the kingdom of God somehow crucified repeatedly, comes.” And He took bread, is completely foreign to the gave thanks and broke it, teaching of the Bible. and gave it to them, saying, In addition to being a “This is My body which is memorial and a symbolic given for you; do this in observance, the Lord’s remembrance of Me.” Supper should be: Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, A CONTINUING “This cup is the new OBSERVANCE covenant in My blood, The Lord Jesus Himself which is shed for you” established this ordinance. (Lk. 22:14-20). Referring to Christ, the Following the example of Gospel writer Luke told us: Christ, assemblies of believers When the hour had come, from the earliest days of the He sat down, and the church to the present time twelve apostles with Him. have observed the Lord’s Then He said to them, Supper. We are told that the “With fervent desire I have first company of believers, desired to eat this Passover those 3,000 men and women with you before I suffer; converted on the Day of 22 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  23. 23. Pentecost, “continued A CHURCH steadfastly in the apostles’ OBSERVANCE doctrine and fellowship, in Communion should be the breaking of bread, and in observed in or under the prayers” (Acts 2:42). And that supervision of the local practice continued. In Acts church whenever possible. 20:7 we are told that “on the Celebrating the Lord’s Supper first day of the week, when is a solemn matter. It’s rich in the disciples came together significance and awesome in to break bread, Paul, ready what it portrays; so much to depart the next day, spoke so that carelessness in to them and continued his its practice among the message until midnight.” Corinthian believers had In Paul’s first epistle to resulted in illness and even the believers in Corinth, he death for some of them. made it evident that the Paul wrote: Lord’s Supper was still He who eats and drinks in being commemorated. In an unworthy manner eats fact, the apostle said: and drinks judgment to For as often as you eat himself, not discerning the this bread and drink Lord’s body. For this reason this cup, you proclaim many are weak and sick the Lord’s death till He among you, and many comes (1 Cor. 11:26). sleep (1 Cor. 11:29-30). And that is why believers We must therefore everywhere continue to be careful to make the remember Jesus’ death observance of the Lord’s Table through this ordinance. a meaningful experience. We Finally, the Lord’s must issue warnings against Supper should also be entering into it carelessly or recognized as: irreverently. We must also 23 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  24. 24. realize that this can best be say that one is right and done under the supervision the others are wrong. Rather, of the local church. “let each be fully convinced I’m not saying that the in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5). Lord’s Supper can only be Regardless of any differences observed in a church. There we may have about the are times when believers frequency of the communion might be isolated from an service, we should all agree organized body of believers on this: It must be conducted because of distance or with reverence and with a circumstances. I’m thinking of solemn reflection upon the Christians who are confined great price paid for our to homes or hospitals because salvation by the Lord of illness. These believers Jesus Christ. should not be deprived of the To summarize, privilege of remembering our the Lord’s Supper is a Lord’s death, though I believe memorial observance, they should be served the a symbolic observance, a elements by a representative continuing observance, and a of the local church. church observance. It reminds Before concluding, let me us of the great sacrifice say just a few words about involved in providing for our the frequency of observing the salvation. The bread and the Lord’s Supper. Some believers cup are symbols of the body “break bread” every Sunday, and blood of Christ. We are to others do it monthly, and still continue our remembrance of others only once a quarter. Christ “till He comes.” And, if The Scriptures give no possible, the observance of command as to how often the Lord’s Supper should it should be observed. We be under the supervision therefore cannot dogmatically of the local church. 24 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  25. 25. The imperfections, and so Observance frightened by Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 11 Of The Lord’s about eating and drinking Supper “unworthily,” that they either take communion with great n many churches today, fear or they stay away from I the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is simply tacked on to the end of a the service altogether. To help avoid these two extremes, I would like to regular service. It’s almost suggest three characteristics like an afterthought. A few of a proper observance verses of Scripture are of the Lord’s Supper. A quickly read, a brief prayer correct understanding of its is offered, and the elements significance will not keep us are distributed. In this kind of away from the communion atmosphere it is doubtful that table; rather, it will draw anyone can give much serious us to it and encourage us to thought to the significance participate in a conscientious of the occasion. As a result, and meaningful way. many worshipers leave their When the Lord’s Supper churches holding the same is observed properly, there grudges and nursing the should be: same hatreds they had • Sincere Appreciation when they entered. • Self-Examination Not everyone, of course, • Brotherly Consideration takes such an attitude toward My prayer is that this the observance of the Lord’s study will help God’s children Table. In fact, some go to come to the Table of the Lord the opposite extreme. They in a way that is pleasing to are so conscious of their Him and with an attitude 25 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  26. 26. that brings the greatest Please notice that we are blessing. told in verse 17, Jesus took The first characteristic the cup and gave thanks. And of a proper observance of the in verse 19 we read that He Lord’s Table is: took bread and gave thanks. When our Lord gave thanks, SINCERE He was not “asking the APPRECIATION blessing” at a dinner. He and The very sight of the bread His disciples had already and the cup (symbolic of the finished the Passover feast. body and blood of Christ, What our Lord prayed over reminding us of His great was only some unleavened sacrifice at Calvary) bread and a cup of wine. He should fill our hearts with may have been offering thanksgiving and praise to thanks for what the bread the Lord. Referring to the and the wine signified—the Lord Jesus, Luke told us: sacrifice that would provide He took the cup, and redemption for mankind. gave thanks, and said, Regardless of the subject of “Take this and divide it our Savior’s thanksgiving, among yourselves; for I however, there should be say to you, I will not drink sincere appreciation and of the fruit of the vine thanks in our hearts as we until the kingdom of God partake of the elements. comes.” And He took bread, The second characteristic gave thanks and broke it, of a proper observance of the and gave it to them, saying, Lord’s Supper is: “This is My body which is given for you; do this SELF-EXAMINATION in remembrance of Me” By looking into our own (Lk. 22:17-19). hearts and lives, we should 26 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  27. 27. make sure that there is penal effect of a deed.” Some nothing unconfessed and say, therefore, that to be uncorrected which might “guilty of the body and blood result in our partaking of of the Lord” means that God the Lord’s Supper unworthily. looks upon the offender (the Some of the Christians in the one who eats and drinks early church at Corinth had unworthily) as guilty of evidently taken a light and crucifying Christ. Ellicott’s frivolous attitude toward the Commentary On The Whole Lord’s Supper. The apostle Bible offers this word of Paul therefore wrote to explanation: “Sin was the them as follows: cause of that body [of Christ] Whoever eats this bread or being broken and that blood drinks this cup of the Lord [of Christ] shed, and therefore in an unworthy manner the one who unworthily uses will be guilty of the body the symbols of them becomes and blood of the Lord. But a participator in the guilt of let a man examine himself, those who crucified that body and so let him eat of the and shed that blood.” bread and drink of the Whether or not you agree cup. For he who eats and with such an interpretation, drinks in an unworthy there’s no escaping the fact manner eats and drinks that a careless and irreverent judgment to himself, not celebration of the Lord’s discerning the Lord’s body Supper is a very serious (1 Cor. 11:27-29). matter. The person who Please notice what the eats and drinks unworthily apostle said in verse 27. shows a disregard, almost The Greek word translated a contempt, for the broken “guilty” is enochos. It may body and shed blood of the mean “to be liable to the Savior. That’s why it is very 27 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  28. 28. important for us to engage in we wasting time? Are we careful self-examination when watching the wrong kind of we come to the Table of the television programs? Are we Lord. reading books that feed our The apostle Paul, souls? Are we faithful in our having indicated the sad spiritual obligations? consequences of eating and Then, in reference to our drinking “unworthily,” went motives, we can test ourselves on to say: by asking questions like But let a man examine these: Why do we go to himself, and so let him eat church? Why do we give our of the bread and drink of financial support to it? Why the cup (v.28). do we teach Sunday school? The word examine in that Are we doing what’s right for verse can mean “to test.” As the right reasons? Or are we we gather at the Table of the doing what is good to boost Lord, we have the obligation our own egos or to impress to test our lives. A good way our peers? Our service for to do this is to ask ourselves the Lord and what we do for some probing questions about others ought to be performed our actions, our motives, and because we love the Lord our relationships. supremely and our neighbors First of all, in reference to as ourselves. our actions, we might raise Finally, in reference to such questions as these: Are our relationships with we conducting ourselves like others, we should ask Christians at home, at work, questions like these: and in every contact with Are we kind, tenderhearted, others? Is our language and forgiving? Do we owe becoming to a Christian? anyone an apology? Do we What about our habits? Are have wrongs to make right? 28 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  29. 29. Are we harboring ill will our sin that nailed Christ to or an unforgiving spirit the accursed tree, we would toward those who may be guilty of sacrilege if we have wronged us? commemorated His great Yes, as we anticipate sacrifice at Calvary while eating the bread which living in deliberate sin with represents the body of Christ, no intention of confessing or and as we drink from the cup forsaking it. To partake of the which represents His blood, bread, a symbol of the body of we must be sensitive to our Christ that was given for us, sins, our faults, and our and to drink of the cup, a failures. We should see them symbol of His blood shed for in the light of the tremendous our sins, while harboring ill price Christ paid to secure our will toward a brother or sister redemption. And with that in Christ would be an affront awareness, we must confess to Him. It would be like our sins and determine with adding insult to injury. At the God’s help to forsake them. communion table, therefore, Doing that, we can claim as we engage in self- that wonderful promise in examination and our sins 1 John 1:9. and failures come to mind, If we confess our sins, we should confess them, He is faithful and just forsake them, and accept the to forgive us our sins forgiveness of God. Failing and to cleanse us from to do so—partaking of the all unrighteousness. elements of the Lord’s Table Having been cleansed with no concern for the sin “from all unrighteousness,” in our lives—can result in therefore, we will not be chastening. If we do judge eating and drinking ourselves, however, the unworthily. Since it was punishing hand of God 29 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  30. 30. can be avoided. Paul said: for the Lord’s Supper. He who eats and drinks What a difference it in an unworthy manner would make in the Christian eats and drinks judgment community, and in society at to himself, not discerning large, if we who profess to the Lord’s body. For this believe in Christ would be reason many are weak careful to avoid eating and and sick among you, and drinking unworthily at the many sleep. For if we Table of the Lord! If we all would judge ourselves, observed this, no believers we would not be judged would ever remain at odds (1 Cor. 11:29-31). with one another. We Of course, not all would all forgive each weakness, not all sickness, other freely, even as not all death is the result Christ has forgiven us. If of such judgment. In fact, we obeyed this command, it could very well be that the misunderstandings that God is not judging abuses cause so much strife and at the Lord’s Table in our tension would melt away. day in exactly the same Relationships in our homes, way as in the early church. in our churches, and in our Regardless of the manner places of employment—yes, in which the heavenly everywhere—would be Father chooses to chastise revolutionized. The watching His children, the apostle’s world would be impressed. words about the consequences And those around us would of eating and drinking see that Christ really does unworthily should encourage make a difference in the lives us to engage in sincere of those who have placed self-examination and honest their trust in Him. self-judgment in preparation The third characteristic 30 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  31. 31. of a proper observance of the truth that they all shared a Lord’s Supper is: common salvation and made up one body. Yes, as we gather BROTHERLY with our brothers and sisters CONSIDERATION in Christ at the Table of the The apostle Paul, writing Lord, we should be conscious in 1 Corinthians 10 said: of our oneness with those who The cup of blessing partake of the elements with which we bless, is it not us. Although we eat only an the communion of the individual piece of bread, we blood of Christ? The bread should keep in mind that as which we break, is it not believers we are all members the communion of the body of one body—the body of of Christ? For we, though Christ. As born-again many, are one bread believers, we all share the and one body; for we wonderful benefits of our all partake of that one Savior’s atoning work at bread (vv.16-17). Calvary. Some believe that Paul’s One of the glories of the words in verse 17, “we all Christian faith is that we are partake of that one bread,” all made spiritual equals may reflect a practice in through salvation. Rich the early church. A sheet and poor alike become the of unleavened bread children of God, members was passed through the of His family. The millionaire congregation. Each believer and the pauper, when placing broke off a piece for himself. their trust in Christ, both The smaller portion denoted experience the same new the truth that Christ died birth, are indwelt by the for each individual. And the same Holy Spirit, and share larger portion spoke of the the same hope. How glorious, 31 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  32. 32. therefore, the truth of our if we are completely equality in Christ! The sincere in our observance apostle Paul said: of it. We must enter into it You are all sons of God with sincere appreciation, through faith in Christ self-examination, and Jesus. For as many of you brotherly consideration. as were baptized into If these elements are Christ have put on Christ. present when we assemble There is neither Jew nor with fellow believers to Greek, there is neither remember the Lord’s slave nor free, there is death, it truly becomes a life- neither male nor female; transforming commemoration for you are all one in of our Savior’s love and Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26-28). sacrifice for us. Remembering our Lord as we gather for communion, we should be very conscious of our oneness in the Lord with our fellow believers. This booklet is taken from messages We should see them as our taught by Richard W. De Haan on brothers and sisters in the Day Of Discovery television Christ. When we do, there program. Richard was president is brotherly consideration, and teacher of RBC Ministries from another characteristic of a 1964 to 1984. He went home to be with the Lord on July 16, 2002. proper observance of the Managing Editor: David Sper Lord’s Supper. Cover Photo: Michael Forrest To summarize, the Scripture quotations are from the New communion service King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by should be an edifying and permission. All rights reserved. strengthening experience, © 1982, 1994, 2002 RBC Ministries, but this can happen only Grand Rapids, MI. Printed in USA. 32 © RBC Ministries. All rights reserved.
  33. 33. Get your free Bible Resources catalog! Discovery Series booklets can be valuable guides to help you learn what the Bible says about a broad range of topics. Each 32-page booklet can be used in your personal Bible study or in a small-group setting. Your free Bible Resources catalog includes a brief description of each Discovery Series booklet. To get your copy, write to us at the address below and ask for a catalog. Or follow the link below to request your copy today. USA: PO Box 2222, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2222 Canada: Box 1622, Windsor, ON N9A 6Z7