QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LORD'S SUPPER
I Cor. 11:23-30
Tonight we will observe the Lord's Supper. It is a beautiful time of worship. All members of the church should make a special effort to be present. In this sermon I want to ask and answer 4 questions about the Lord's Supper. Please keep an open Bible, mind and heart as we notice what the Word of God says.
1. QUESTION ONE: WHOSE SUPPER IS IT? I Cor. 11:23
The obvious answer to this question is. "It's the Lord's." Jesus initiated this supper. On the night He was betrayed, He called the 12 disciples together for this observance. The account of this occasion is recorded in all four gospels. Mt. 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:19-20, and John 13:21-31. He had the room prepared, He initiated the invitations, and decided that the bread and cup would represent His life and coming death. It is His because He initiated it.
It is also His because He instills the desire for it to be continued. We will have the Lord's Supper tonight because we want to honor and magnify our Lord,. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, instills in us the desire for this meaningful time of worship. He knew His people would continue this observance and He said He would partake with us someday in His kingdom.
The following experience was told by a member of the family referred to in this incident. A split in their church had taken place, leaving behind it much bitterness. One Sunday morning a member of the family arose from the breakfast table and said she was going to church. "What?" exclaimed the others. "Are you going back there after the way our family has been treated! Where's your pride?" The one addressed quietly answered, "This is Communion Sunday. I am going to sit at the Lord's table and remember His death for me. As for my pride, I haven't any when I survey the wondrous cross, and any bitterness I had has all vanished when I remember He is coming, and perhaps very soon."
This lady responded correctly to the Lord's Supper in the church of
her membership. She realized it was the Lord's Supper. The Holy Spirit
worked in her life and she responded. Her knowledge and obedience led her
to partake of the supper that is the Lord's. Now notice question two.
2. QUESTION TWO: TO WHOM IS THE SUPPER GIVEN? v. 25
It is the Lord's Supper and He has given it to His church. The following scriptures also speak of the church assembled for the purpose of observing this ordinance. Act. 2:41-46; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 10:21. There is little or no question that the Lord gave this supper to His church.
The question that must be answered at this point is, "Who is the Church?" J. G. Bow says in his booklet -"What Baptists Believe and Why They Believe It"- Baptists believe that a church of Jesus Christ is a body of baptized believers, associated together in one place to preach the gospel,, to keep the ordinances and represent the interests of Christ's kingdom in the world. (p. 20).
In addition, it has doctrines that agree with the New Testament. They don't baptize babies; teach that baptism is essential for salvation; believe in temporary salvation (falling from grace) or believe you have to be a member of their church to go to heaven. They don't have a book or traditions that supersede the Bible and they don't have a leader who supersedes Jesus. They believe Jesus is the uniquely divine Son of God and not just one of many sons of God.
I really like Kentucky Fried Chicken. But I've never purchased any of it at McDonald's. Neither have I purchased a McDonald hamburger at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Why? Colonel Sanders only allows franchised dealers to offer his product. Mr. Ray Kroc doesn't allow his product to be distributed anywhere but his franchised dealers.
The church is not in the food business. However, there is a similarity
in the franchising ides. The Lord instituted this supper and gave it to
the leaders of the first church. He gave it to the church for their observance
and their protection. He doesn't want it abused by going outside of His
house to make it some kind of a cute little addition to a wedding or retreat.
Dr., William W. Stevens says in his book "Doctrines of the Christian Religion,"
No individual has the right to partake of it alone, nor does a minister
have the similar right to administer it at the sickbed. When Paul gives
his instructions in I Cor, 11, he is talking to "the church which is at
Corinth." (I Cor. 1:2) (P, 344). Now let's look at Question three.
3. QUESTION THREE: WHAT IS THE PURPOSE? vs. 24-28
I want to answer from the positive and the negative side. Positively, the Lord's Supper has one primary purpose that results in at least two effects.
The primary purpose is stated in vs. 24 & 25. It is to remember the Lord. "This do in remembrance of me." Jesus said. But in v. 26th it states, "You proclaim the Lord's death till He come." One of the effects of this service is: the church never forgets the Lord's death. The second effect is stated in v. 28. A person examines their life in relationship to the Lord's life and death. There are tremendous benefits from remembering the Lord at His supper. But we believe it is a symbolic act of remembrance making a beautiful worship experience.
I must deal with the negative concerning the purpose of the Lord's Supper because of error or neglect in the interpretation of scripture by some. There are 3 major positions besides ours, on the purpose of this ordination. I refer you to Hobbs and What Baptists Believe, p. 84, and Stevens and The Doctrine of the Christian Religion, p. 345-347.
1. Roman Catholic
The Roman Catholic view, commonly called transubstantiation, is that the substance of the bread and the juice is actually changed into the body and blood of Christ. This was formally enunciated in 1551 in the Decrees and Canons of the Council of Trent. 2)
The Lutheran view, commonly called consubstantiation, is that the body and blood of Christ are truly present in the elements of bread and juice and are therefore taken by the communicant. The communicant eats the true body and drinks the true blood of Christ in the bread and juice, yet these elements, in contrast to the view of transubstantiation, do not cease to be material.
3. Calvinistic Presbyterians
The Calvinistic view is that the body and blood of Christ are dynamically present in the elements of bread and juice. Example. The sun is in the heaven, but his light and heat are present on the earth; so the body of Christ is in heaven, but from that glorified body there radiates an influence other than the influence of the Spirit (although through his agency) of which believers, in the Lord's Supper are the recipients.
Jesus never intended for people to think the Lord's Supper imparted
a special means of grace. The examination of self in light of Christ's
commitment to life and death should cause us to change our attitudes and
habits. I should move our commitment towards the kind he had but the elements
alone don't do that nor does the Bible say they are meant for that purpose.
A lady was lying dangerously ill. A clergyman had been sent for, and he gave her the Lord's Supper, but it failed to give her peace. After the minister had left, the sufferer turned to the occupant of the bed nearest her own, and said sadly, "I thought it would have done me more good." The other, an earnest Christian lady, quickly replied, "Ah, you don't want it; you want Him!"
Tonight as we observe the Lord's Supper, it will be for the purpose
of remembering Him. We will have unleavened bread to represent His body.
Grape juice will represent His shed blood on Calvary. We do not believe
the Lord is present in the bread or juice. His presence will be sensed
in direct proportion to our remembrance of Him. Now let's look at Question
4. QUESTION FOUR: WHO SHOULD PARTAKE? v. 27-29.
Dr. Harold L. Fickett, Jr. (American Baptist Convention) in his book, A Layman's Guide to Baptist Beliefs., on page 83, says in answer to this question "Baptized believers who are in fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ are eligible to partake of the supper." He stipulates 3 requirements for invitation to the supper and I agree with his observation.
First, a person must be a believer. That means they have acknowledged the Lordship of Christ in their life. They did their spiritual ABC's- A-Admitted they were a sinner. B-Believed Christ died for their sin and would forgive them. C-Confessed their need to Christ and committed their life to Him.
Secondly, they must have followed the Lord in Believer's Baptism. It must be scriptural baptism. That is, a saved person being immersed to symbolize the death, burial and resurrection by a New Testament church. Baby baptism doesn't qualify. Immersion for the purpose of saving doesn't qualify.
Thirdly, they must be in harmony with those that are going to partake of the supper. This means doctrinal harmony as well as personal harmony. If we would not accept a person's baptism, we cannot be consistent and welcome them to the Lord's Supper. If they believe the bread comes from the actual body of Christ, they are not in doctrinal harmony. If a person will not speak to a brother or sister, they are not in good fellowship. If they only attend every once in every three months, they're not in harmony. If they don't support the church financially, they aren't in harmony.
My mother's maiden name was Helen Christopher. The Christopher's are having a reunion July 9th. Some of the members of our church are invited. Nadine and Kenny Johnson and their children are; because Nadine is a Christopher (she's my Mom's baby sister). No one else is invited. Why? It's obvious - you're not part of the family.
We do not invite person to the Lord's Supper who are not born into the
family through belief, baptize in the scriptural manner, and in fellowship
with the church. Someone is thinking, but verse 28 says, "let a person
examine himself." I remind you that the verse is spoken to members of the
Will you partake of the supper with us tonight? You are welcome if (1)
You know Christ as your Lord. (2) You have been scripturally baptized.
(3) You are in good standing with the brothers and sisters in Christ called
the Manchester Heights Baptist Church.
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And Beyond. Amen? Amen!