This morning, we are taking a break from your study of 1 Peter, and I want to take the opportunity not only to lead us in taking the Lord’s Supper in just a few minutes but also understanding the Lord’s Supper before we take it.
Today’s sermon will be more of teaching than preaching as I attempt to answer some of the most important questions regarding the Lord’s Supper. As a matter of fact, you might call them our Top 10 Questions about the Lord’s Supper.
- Is the Lord’s Supper a sacrament or an ordinance?
Our friends from liturgical congregations, such as Catholics and Episcopalians and Methodists and Presbyterians call it a “sacrament.” When I say, “liturgical,” I mean related to liturgy or ritual in a worship service.
Those in the free church tradition, meaning there is no pope over us or hierarchy for that matter (autonomous), have chosen not to use the word “sacrament” because not only does it mean what is sacred, but also it has come to mean dispensing or giving out of grace or a tool or vehicle for salvation. In other words, it saves you.
Baptists believe that salvation is through grace alone and faith alone in Christ alone. Therefore, we have chosen to use the word “ordinance” which means ordained or ordered and specifically ordered by the Lord Jesus.
When we baptize here at EBC, we are practicing one ordinance. In a few minutes, we will practice what we see as the other, the Lord’s Supper.
Therefore, Baptists recognize only two ordinances in the NT for the local church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
- What should we call this ordinance that has many names?
There are actually several of what I would call biblical names for the ordinance that we most often call “The Lord’s Supper.”
In Acts 2:42, Luke called it “the breaking of bread.”
Acts 2:42, 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
In 1 Corinthians 10:16, Paul used the term, “communion.”
1 Corinthians 10:16, 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
By communion, we mean a mutual participation or sharing or fellowship with one another. As the body of Christ, we commune with the Lord and one another.
In 1 Corinthians 11:20, Paul used the term that is probably most common in Baptist churches, but this actually an indictment to the Corinthian Church.
1 Corinthians 11:20, 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.
They were coming together to sin rather than to take the Lord’s Supper.
Another term that is often used in more liturgical churches like I mentioned previously, Catholics and Episcopalians and Methodists and Presbyterians, is the word “Eucharist.”
It comes from a New Testament word that means to give thanks. Listen to 1 Corinthians 11:24.
1 Corinthians 11:24, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
A final term that I want to mention that does not have its origin in the Bible is the term “mass.”
It was used as the closing blessing or benediction of any worship service.
In the Roman Catholic Church, it eventually was applied to the liturgy of the Word or preaching and the liturgy of the Eucharist or Communion.
- Do we understand the Lord’s Supper to be a “Christian ordinance” or a “Church ordinance?”
In other words, are the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper given to any Christian to observe on any occasion and in any circumstance or were they given to the local Church to administer?
Historically, and I believe biblically, these ordinances were given to the local church, and here’s why. Listen to the 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 and notice the repetition of a particular phrase.
17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? 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 do not praise you. 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
On five occasions, Paul speaks of coming together. Individual Christians don’t come together. Churches come together.
Therefore, again, I would contend along with Baptists through the years, that believers are to participate in baptism and the Lord’s Supper under the authority and administration of a local church.
Consequently, when we take teenagers to youth camp and preteens to children’s camp, we don’t go to camps that baptize and take the Lord’s Supper. Why? Because that is not the local church.
Furthermore, the local church is also not your uncle Joe and your aunt Mary and your cousins. Therefore, we don’t recommend being baptized by your uncle in his pool or taking the Lord’s Supper on vacation with your grandparents.
Why? Because they aren’t Christians. No, because they aren’t a local church.
- When did the Lord’s Supper begin?
The Lord’s Supper began with Jesus and is recounted for us in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22.
Let’s look at Mark’s account beginning in Mark 14:12.
12 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?” 13 And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. 14 Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.” 16 So His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found it just as He had said to them; and they prepared the Passover. 17 In the evening He came with the twelve. 18 Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.” 19 And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said, “Is it I?” 20 He answered and said to them, “It is one of the twelve, who dips with Me in the dish. 21 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.” 22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. 25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
As you can see from Mark 14, the Lord’s Supper is closely tied to the Passover. However, do we remember what the Passover was?
- What is the Passover?
The nation of Israel was being held captive by Pharaoh of Egypt. The Lord had brought nine plagues on Pharaoh and his people in an effort to force him to let His people go. However, he still refused.
The Passover is then introduced in Exodus 11 and described in Exodus 12:12-14.
As a tenth plague, God had announced that He would take the life of every first-born Egyptian male child and animal.
Consequently, each Jewish family was to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and mark the doorway of their home with its blood.
The Lord would then see the blood and pass over that home in His looking for the first-born Egyptian male children and animals.
Exodus 12:12-14, 12 ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. 14 ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
Therefore, the Passover and the Lord’s Supper are tied together in that the Lord Jesus is the perfect Lamb whose blood was shed. When that blood is applied to your heart by Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, the judgment of God passes over you and gives you eternal life in heaven.
- What elements should be included in the Lord’ Supper?
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 mentions two: the bread and the cup.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26, 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
Therefore, we normally offer unleavened bread and grape juice.
Why unleavened bread? Leaven in the Bible is most often used to symbolize sin.
The first church probably used a single loaf of a bread, and drank wine from a common cup.
When church members ask me about using real win so we can be more biblical, I ask them if they want to use a common cup as well to be more biblical.
For some reason, they usually reconsider.
Christy and I, have actually used a common cup and real wine when taking the Lord’s Supper at a Baptist church in Kiev, Ukraine. I don’t recommend it.
- When should we take the Lord’s Supper?
Some of you will probably be surprised at my answer to this, but the Churches of Christ got it right.
In the New Testament, the Lord’s Supper was taken weekly…every time the church met…and probably on Sunday night.
When my family and I were in San Antonio a few weeks ago, we attended a non-denominational church that celebrated the Lord’s Supper every Sunday.
Acts 20:7, 7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
My experience growing up at FBC Venus and FBC Alvarado, the Lord’s Supper was observed on a quarterly basis.
I think that has also been true here at EBC in the past.
Personally, I prefer monthly compared to quarterly, and I understand but don’t completely agree with the argument against weekly.
- What does the Lord’s Supper mean?
The answer to this question is what separates denominations.
By the way, I don’t think having denominations is bad when we separate over Biblical interpretation.
While it won’t be that way in heaven, I don’t think it is bad here on earth…especially since we can’t interpret perfectly here, but we will there.
Our Catholic friends hold to what is called transubstantiation. Transubstantiation “simply means ‘the bread and the wine actually become (or are transformed into) the body and the blood of Christ. This happens at the moment the priest says, ‘This is my body’ during the celebration of the mass’” (White, 144).
Where did this idea originate? See John 6:53-56.
John 6:53-56, 53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
Our Lutheran friends differ just a little from the Catholic Church. They hold to what is called consubstantiation. This means “that the bread and the wine contain the body and blood of the Lord but the elements themselves are not substantively changed” (White, 146).
Our Presbyterian friends hold to the Spiritual Presence view of communion.
They believe that Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper, but it cannot be His literal body and blood because He ascended into the heavens.
Most Baptists believe in what is called the Memorial or Symbolic view of Communion.
This view is credited to Ulrich Zwingli who said the Lord’s Supper is taken in memory of what Christ has done, and the elements are symbolic of the Lord’s spiritual presence (Hammett, 280).
In other words, the bread symbolizes Jesus’ body. The cup symbolizes Jesus’ blood, and we do this in remembrance of Him.
- Why do we take the Lord’s Supper?
We find our answers to this question from 1 Corinthians 10-11, and there are four.
First, we take the Lord’s Supper to renew our commitment to Christ and to one another, brothers and sisters in Christ who are mostly committed to one church, Emory Baptist Church.
1 Corinthians 10:17, 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
Second, we take the Lord’s Supper to give thanks.
1 Corinthians 11:24,…24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Third, we take the Lord’s Supper to remember what Jesus did for us through His death on the cross.
1 Corinthians 11:24-25, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Fourth, we take the Lord’s Supper to proclaim the message of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:26, 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
- Who should be invited to take the Lord’s Supper?
The answer to this question will be different depending on how you interpret the Bible.
From my understanding of the Scriptures and as pastor of this church and not any other church, I believe the Scriptures speak to two general qualifications for taking the Lord’s Supper.
First, you should be a follower of Jesus Christ. It makes no sense for a lost person to take the Lord’s Supper. See 1 Corinthians 10:21.
1 Corinthians 10:21, 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s Table and of the table of demons.
Keep in mind moms and dads that this applies to children as well.
Caleigh and Sarah didn’t start taking the Lord’s Supper until they were in the fifth grade, and Caroline started taking it when she was in the third grade.
That is not meant to be mean or insensitive. That is an effort to be biblically responsible.
Therefore, don’t neglect the opportunity that taking the Lord’s Supper brings for you to share the gospel with your young children.
The second requirement for taking the Lord’s Supper is that you be in right standing with the Lord and with your neighbor. See 1 Corinthians 11:27-30.
1 Corinthians 11:27-30, 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
What does it mean to be in right standing with the Lord and with your neighbor?
- Is there any unconfessed sin in your life?
- Is there any unrepentant sin in your life?
- Are you fighting with your spouse?
- Are you fighting with your parents?
- Are you unforgiving and bitter toward your neighbor?
These are the types of questions that you should ask every time you take the Lord’s Supper, and on some occasions, it would be better if you don’t take it all.
Why? Look again at 1 Corinthians 11:29-30.
29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
In Corinth, these Corinthian Believers were using the occasion of the Lord’s Supper to engage in sexual and drunken debauchery.
As a result, the Lord disciplined them with sickness and even death. Don’t run that risk when you take the Lord’s Supper.
There is one last thought I need to share regarding being in right standing with the Lord.
I don’t think you have to be a member of EBC to receive the Lord’s Supper.
However, as Baptists, we understand believer’s baptism to be an act of obedience for every Christian, for every follower of Christ.
In the same we way that we invite those who are saved and baptized to join EBC every Sunday morning, we invite those that are saved and baptized to take the Lord’s Supper.
To require baptism for church membership but not to take the Lord’s Supper would undermine our commitment to baptism and an act of hypocrisy.
We invite anyone who is a member of EBC and anyone who could be a member of EBC to take the Lord’s Supper.
You can be Baptist or Catholic or Lutheran or Methodist or Pentecostal or Presbyterian as long as you have been born-again and are in right standing with the Lord and have followed through with believer’s baptism by immersion.
But before we take the Lord’s Supper, I invite you to repent and be saved from your sins? If you’re without Christ this morning, would you answer the call this morning to put your faith and trust in Him as Lord and Savior of your life?
Would you unite with Emory Baptist Church this morning if you are guest and the Lord is leading you formally join this church?
Our invitation is for you!