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The Lord's Supper

What is the Lord’s Supper? The Lord’s Supper referred to as “The Supper” or “Communion” or “Holy Communion,” is a commemoration of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His blood and died for the salvation of sinful mankind. The Lord’s Supper is one of two ordinances or sacraments (the other is baptism) of the Church for the present age.

At the institution of the Lord’s Supper, after He celebrated the Passover with His disciples, the Lord Jesus commanded that born-again believers remember his death them by “eating and drinking bread and wine," which are emblems or symbols of His body and outpoured blood on the cross. This was also practiced by the “early church” (Luke 22:14-20). The Lord’s Supper is not only a memorial service but it is also a reminder of the “covenant” (agreement between God and His people) the Lord makes with believers. We read, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20). Jesus Christ is the “Mediator” of the new covenant, which was established in His death and brings us into a new relationship with Himself.

How often should the church observe the Lord’s Supper? The Apostle Paul writing on the subject says, “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Whereas the scripture does not specifically state the actual frequency that the church should observe the Lord’s Supper, different local churches decide their own frequency. For example, some churches do it weekly, some monthly, while others once or twice per year. The word “often” is an adverb meaning “frequently or many times.” Obviously then, once or twice per year is not often in keeping with the meaning of the Biblical text.

The Bible says this about the early church, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered to “break bread,” (meaning the Lord’s Supper) appears to be a weekly practice. Pastor, Bible teacher, and author Dr. Charles Stanley writes, “The Lord’s Supper not only looks back at Christ’s sacrifice and gives Him praise for His great gift of salvation to us, but it also looks ahead to that day when we will see Him again and enjoy our heavenly home with Him forever” (The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, p. 1374). Dr. Stanley is exactly right. As we celebrate this glorious occasion, shouldn't we rejoice at the prospects to "enjoy our heavenly home with Him forever?"

Who should participate in the Lord’s Supper? Only those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior and are in "good standing" with Lord and His church. The Bible makes it abundantly clear to those who are not to participate in the Supper, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment to himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1 Corinthians 11:27-30). "Unworthy" here means 'personal careless and irreverent conduct with a disregard for God's holiness and righteousness'. This is a solemn warning to all concerned.

This divine ordinance is intended to be observed by the local church only until the Lord Jesus returns for His people. At that time, believers will be escorted to heaven to live and reign with Him throughout the countless ages of eternity. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). So, until that day dawns and the shadows flee away, shouldn’t the local church endeavor to keep the feast “as often,” as Christ who ”loved the church and gave Himself for her” has commanded? Amen.