by Bob Thompson
Can you answer these questions
without relying on
the law of Moses or traditions of men?law of Moses or religious
q The “Supper” that Lord took with his apostles, was taken once a year in. Why do our churches take it once or twice a month?
q If it is truly a “supper,” why is it generally taken in the morning? Why not call it breakfast so the very young, as well as unsaved visitors, won’t be confused?
q Should there be one cup, as it was with the Lord and His disciples, or should there be individual cups for sanitary purposes?
Should the cup or cups contain real wine, which the Lord used, or will a
substitute, such as commercial grape juice, do just as well?
q Should unleavened bread be broken and passed around, (as did Christ with his disciples) or will a box of saltine crackers, cut up in little pieces, do?
q Who is eligible to participate? Should it be limited to members of a local congregation? Should it be confined to those in doctrinal agreement? Or should it be open to all believers?
q Who is qualified to decide who is qualified to partake of the Supper?
q Should present-day participants gather ‘round a table, as did Christ and his disciples? Or, should they sit in their pews and be served? Or should they line up in the aisle to have a priest place a wafer on their tongues?
q Where are the signs today of 1 Cor. 11:27-30, the judgments of God that brought (i.e. weakness, sickness or death) to those who participated in the supper “unworthily”??
q What Biblical evidence is there to support the idea that “breaking bread from house to house” (Acts 2:46) and “breaking bread on the first of the week” (Acts 20:7) were communion services, as is being taught?
Brethren, when one of you finds the answer to these questions in your Bible,
please let the rest of us know, remembering 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
If these questions do nothing else, they make it quite clear that the manner in which men’s churches partake of the “supper” today is a far cry from the way our Lord took it with His disciples.
Roman Catholicism, being more dramatic than her Protestant daughters, has turned a simple meal that Christ ate with His disciples into an elaborate re-crucifixion of Christ. Like a movie in slow motion, each participating priest goes through an elaborate routine involving a swinging censer from which emanates perfumed smoke, a silver chalice containing the wine that by means of so-called “transubstantiation” the wine is reportedly changed into the actual blood of Christ, or so Rome teaches. And a paper-thin circular wafer becomes by the same means the actual body of Christ under the appearance of bread (so so we’re told) of Christ perfume emanating from a swinging censer, greets each parishioner with its parishioners, perfume emanating from swinging golden censers, paper-thin wafers (supposedly the actual body of Christ under the appearance of bread by what Rome calls transubstantiation) and wine (reportedly the literal blood of Christ under the appearance of wine), to be enjoyed by priests only, the confession box where good Catholics may confess their sins, thereby (allegedly) cleansing their souls so they may partake of the Eucharist Celebration - Rome’s soul-damning counterpart of the Protestant supper.
In 2 Tim. 3:16-17 we are told in no uncertain terms that we Christians have been furnished “UNTO ALL GOOD WORKS.” If physical ordinances, then, are for today, we will have been told in Scriptures, when, where, how and why such rites should be observed. We would not have been left with a list of unanswered questions, for “if the trumpet gives forth an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle.” 1 Cor. 14:8.
You who are familiar with your Bibles know that Israel was given detailed instructions as to the time and place and the elements to be used in partaking of the Passover supper. For the next 1500 years, that nation observed the supper as a memorial to her deliverance from Egyptian bondage.
After the cross, however, believing Jews (please note, I said BELIEVING Jews) of the transitional period (transition from law to grace – as covered by the book of Acts) continued to observe the Passover supper according to the Law of Moses. (e.g. Acts 21:18-25) But believing Israelites no longer kept it as a memorial to their deliverance from Egypt, but rather as a memorial to their deliverance from sin through the death and resurrection of their Paschal Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It can not be overemphasized that when Christ said, “This is my body….this is my blood…eat…drink, for I say unto you, I will not eat thereof, until…I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God shall come,” Luke 22:15-20 He was giving a new meaning to an old supper” - a fact almost universally ignored, overlooked, or not understood. I.e., the supper remained the same with its four elements: lamb, wine, bitter herbs and unleavened bread, but the disciples, now, were to forget Egypt and keep the old Passover in remembrance of Him.
Christendom over the centuries, while setting aside the old supper with its four elements, has invented one of its own with two elements, each sect putting its own spin on it. This variegated spin on the new supper is due to the fact that Scripture recognizes no such thing as a two element supper, therefore it can offer no guidelines.
If you question this, brethren, I urge you to read 1 Cor. 11:20-33 slowly and thoughtfully, noting such words as “eating” (instead of a sip and a swallow), “his own supper,” (not a supper prepared by the pastor), “hungry,” (in the modern suppers, everyone leaves the service “hungry,”) “drunken,” (one would find it hard to get drunk on the sip of grape juice as offered by churches these days. But under the old supper, a fifth of a hin of wine – 5 cup - was required for each lamb). “shame them that have not,” (some Jewish brethren in Corinth could not afford a lamb) “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” (But we are not under the new covenant today – see attached study. “unworthily,” (a failure to remember the Lord in His death) “eateth and drinketh damnation to himself,” “many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” (God’s punishment, even unto death, fell on disobedient Christians as it pertained to the supper. Where is such judgment in evidence today, anywhere?
Unbound by Scripture, Catholics over the centuries have embellished the two element supper while Protestants and independents have modified it.
In both cases, it has evolved into a “highly esteemed” program in both camps and is more alive than ever!! Matt. 15:3; Luke 16:15.
In contrast to the present observance of the supper, the Scriptures remind us that “Ye are complete in Christ…” Col. 2:10 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” Col. 2:6. “Wherefore, henceforth, know we no man after the flesh.” 2 Cor. 5:17. “God dwelleth not in temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men’s hands…” Acts 17:24. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.” John 6:63. “We walk by faith; NOT by sight.” 2 Cor. 5:7. “We…have no confidence in the flesh.” Phil. 3:3 “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24.
Brethren, let’s echo these declarations of present truth and walk in them. When we stand before the Lord Jesus for rewards, we’ll be glad we did! 2 Cor. 5:10.
I challenge anyone to find where Christ instituted a new supper!
It’s interesting that after 1 Corinthians eleven, we do not hear another word about the Lord’s supper. Why? The fact that the book was written to the most carnal, rebellious, immature Christians of the first century, should speak volumes to us.
Consider some foundational facts concerning the body of Christ during the book of Acts. (1) The apostles recognized two classes of believers during that period. Note, for example, Acts 21:20-25, “Thou seest, brother [Paul] how many thousands of Jews there are which believe, and they are ALL ZEALOUS OF THE LAW…thou thyself also walkest orderly and keepest the law…” (vs. 24) “As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing [as the law of Moses]. Two classes of believing Christians are in view here: Believing Jews and Gentiles.
EXPLANATION: As long as God was dealing with Israel as a nation—which included the Acts period (during which time Jewish believers walked in Judaism and
Gentiles believers refrained from it—Acts 15:19-20; 21:25)—the Passover Supper, instituted in Egypt, was observed by both saved and unsaved Jews alike.
But, then, so was water baptisms, circumcision, feast days, fast days, Sabbath days, Jewish vows, blood sacrifices, head shaving, tithing, and other Jewish customs—all were observed by the apostles and law-keeping Jews.
So were tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecies, healings, raising the dead, and drinking poison without ill effects…..all were part of God’s program during the approx. 30 year period covered by the book of Acts. Today, Acts is treated like a grab bag where people, including preachers, come to pick and choose whatever suits their (religious) fancy.
The truth is that all the above mentioned items were dropped from God’s program for the body of Christ after Eph. 2:14-15 where it was revealed that “the law of commandments contained in had been abolished at the cross “that He might reconcile both (Jew and Gentile believers) unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off (Gentiles) and to them that were nigh (the Jews), for through Him we both (Jew and Gentile believers) have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Eph. 15:15-18.
Because of Israel’s stubborn and rebellious attitude, God pronounced judgment on that nation, cutting her off from His favor and allowing her to be scattered world wide, where they remain to this day. But Israel will one day be restored to her land, her heart mourning for the shameful part she played in the crucifixion her Messiah. Rom. 11:24-28; Zech. 12:10.
During the Acts period, God permitted the saved Jews to continue with their law keeping practices (which included the Lord’s Passover Supper. See Luke 22:7-20; Acts 18:21; 16:3; 20:6; 20:16; 21:18-24, etc. Gentile believers, on the other hand, were forbidden to observe any such thing.” See Acts 15:28-29; 21:18-25.
The observance of the Supper was clearly one of Israel’s solemn feasts, called the Passover (Matthew 26:17-29; Luke 22:7-20; 1. Corinthians 11:23-26). It was also associated with the New Covenant, made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31-34) not the body of Christ.
As other Bible students have pointed out, the New Covenant was a thing prophesied (Jeremiah 31:31) whereas the mysteries concerning the body of Christ, its function in the world and its operations were unprophesied, “NOT REVEALED IN OTHER AGES….” as we’re told in Eph. 3:1-10; Colossians 1:25-27) It is imperative to recognize this distinction.
You who are familiar with your Bibles know that Israel over the centuries observed the Passover annually, and that all the details as to time, place and method had been made crystal clear to that nation.
After the cross, however, believing Jews of the transitional period (covered by the book of Acts) continued to observe the Passover, not as a memorial to their deliverance from Egypt, but as a memorial to their being delivered from sin through the substitutionary death of their Paschal Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ! Christ told his disciples, (in effect) “do this in remembrance of Me”
During the Acts period, the promise was held out to Israel that if they would repent as a nation and accept their Messiah, He would return, forgive their iniquities, and establish His earthly kingdom in Jerusalem. (note Acts 3:19-21 and Romans 11:26-29)
That was Israel’s “hope,” wherein the nation would inherit an earthly kingdom with their Messiah-King reigning over the kingdoms of the world. Our Hope, on the other hand, is unearthly and can be found in Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed Hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” i. e. the rapture!
As a result of Christ praying on the cross, “Father, forgive them (Israel) for they know not what they do.”, Israel was granted 30 more years of national life and the preaching of the kingdom continued on through the book of Acts. But Israel, as a nation, in her stubbornness and pride, rejected the kingdom and its messengers. This resulted in her being temporarily set aside as a nation at the close of the book of Acts, approximately 64 A.D. (Usher’s chronology) See Acts 28:28.
With Israel set aside until “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) has run its course, (at the end of the tribulation)) the promised earthly, Messianic Kingdom has been postponed. After Israel has been restored to her land, Christ will once again eat the Passover with His disciples—See Luke 22:29-30 with Romans 11:25-28). Thus, the Lord’s Supper had a forward look. It looked forward to the establishing of Christ’s kingdom on earth
Since Acts 28:28, there has been no sign gifts (contrast 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 with Ephesians 4:11-16), The saints of God are no longer recognized as a body of believing Jews and believing Gentiles, but only as ONE BODY, “where there is neither Jew nor Gentile, bond or free…for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. 3:27-28)
We’re informed by Paul that the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile believers, was broken down at the cross (Eph. 2:14-16) and Jew and Gentile
Christians are to now walk as one new man in Christ, without religious or national distinction. Our calling is spiritual (Eph. 4:1-6) our position is “far above all” (Eph. 1:21); our hope is the Blessed Hope of His glorious appearing, and our appearing with Him in the glory. (Col. 3:4 1 John 3:1-3); We are new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17); made complete in Him, (Col. 2:10) and blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 1:3)
Imagine Christians today, who have been taught these truths, leaving their heavenly position to engage in such carnal things as water baptism and the cup and bread of a Jewish Passover! It would be tantamount to the famous Rockerfeller family huddled together on a street corner in New York begging for bread while their billions of dollars languished in the vaults of the City National Bank right behind them.
Here are a few choice references from the prison epistles of Paul.
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. …Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ....” ( Col. 2:14-16)
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Col. 3:1-4)
Surely, these verses speak for themselves and offer a striking contrast between the earthly ritual and ceremonial program of Israel under the law (that continued among Jewish believers throughout the book of Acts) and the members of the body of Christ today who stand complete in Christ, having had a circumcision made without hands, a spiritual baptism which is the operation of God, and communion and fellowship with each other as well as with our risen and exalted Head, are seated together in heavenly places in Christ. (note Colossians 2:10-11; Ephesians 2:4-7).
Brethren, I have not found a line of Scripture in any of the epistles of Paul, James, Peter and John, written after the transition period of Acts, that even hints at the observance of a physical Supper for today. Check it out, beloved, and see if you can find it. In fact, the Supper is not mentioned or even alluded to after 1 Cor. 11.
Those who would have us partake of physical elements today would be hard pressed to explain this absence of the supper, water baptism and tongues after 1 Cor.
We are the circumcision which worship God in the Spirit,
rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
June 16, 2004
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