30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
October 8, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
"The Lord's Supper"
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, located at 407 W. Hwy 131 in Clarksville. I want to thank each and every one you for taking the time to listen this morning as we examine another truth of God's word. It is my hope and prayer that those of you that are listening today will honestly examine your heart to ensure that you are in fact doing only those things that are pleasing to our almighty God. As we discuss the topic of the hour,"The Lord's Supper", I want to encourage you to have your Bible readily available so that you can examine the scriptures to make sure that what I am presenting is in fact God's will for you. Remember, the Bible clearly states that we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). It is my hope that each one of you this morning will have the kind of heart that the Bereans did back in the first century. It was said of them that "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Also the apostle John warns us that we should"....not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). By looking at the Bible passages, you can see for yourself that what I am teaching this morning can in fact be backed up by book, chapter, and verse in the Bible. This is so vitally important as we strive to do only that which is authorized by God and not what some man may say about a given subject. Now I invite you to please have your Bible, pen and paper ready and let's study together another truth of God.
In Acts the 20th chapter and the 6th and 7th verses we find this reading: "But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days. 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 friends, I have read this section of the word of God for this statement,"upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread," and by it, invite your attention this morning to the study termed The Lord's Supper, the communion, or the breaking of bread. Surely this is a vital subject to all who are interested in Bible subjects and Bible things. There is hardly a denomination in the wide realm of the religious world that does not realize its importance, and in some measure include it in its practice. Unfortunately, there is much disagreement in both the teaching and the observance of this great feast, and so it behooves us, to examine it, in the light of the Bible.
In the reading of the text, we find that the party of apostles and New Testament preachers, with Luke as their recorder, came to the city of Troas and remained there for a full week, seven days, that they might meet and speak with the disciples. They understood, as we should understand this morning, that the disciples of Christ would assemble on the first day of the week to break bread. They were in a hurry to depart and purposed to do so on the morrow. Paul took advantage of this gathering to preach to them, and thus we have the story.
It is hard to talk about the Lord's Supper without talking about the Lord's Day and the Lord's House. When subjected to investigation, we find that the Savior has chained those things that belong to him together, and hence we have the Lord's Supper in the Lord's Church on the Lord's Day. Just as the Lord's Supper was instituted by Christ, and presented to us, so the Lord's church and the Lord's Day have Him as their founder, and bear the divine seal of His approval.
The Lord first gave the communion to his disciples on the historic night of his betrayal: That night of prayer and suffering, dear to the heart of every child of God. He is eating the Passover with the chosen few who in a few days are to bear His gospel to the ends of the earth, and the following is the record of its inauguration by Matthew in the 26th chapter, verses 26 to 30. "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."
Here we find that in the very shadow of the cross, the Son of God, eating with his disciples for the last time before He is to be crucified, gives them the great feast, that we call, the Lord's Supper. From this account we find many great lessons.
1. The Lord's Supper was given to the disciples. Many have been disturbed over the matter of who is eligible to take the communion. Men have written their creeds and propounded their theories. Denominations have been divided, and the religious world has suffered for many years when the simple answer could have been found in the record of that memorial night when Christ spoke it into power. It is for the disciples, It is for those who have heard the glad story of the cross and obeyed from the heart those commands of God, that make them His children. It is for Christians, those who wear His name and adorn His word. It is for those who, through baptism, have put off the old man of sin and have become new creatures in Christ. It is for and was given to the church of the living God. Its place is in God's House and for His people. The old passover was forbidden to those who were strangers to the commonwealth of Israel; it was for the people of God. Just so, when He changed His covenant and his people and we became circumcised in heart, neither Jew nor Greek, but all one in Christ, the Lord's Supper is for His house. The House of God is the Church of God. Listen to the scripture that Paul writes to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3: 15, "but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
Not only is the house of God the church of God, but also the disciples are in the house which is the church. Let the Bible speak:"But Christ is a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Hebrews 3:6). If the Supper was for the disciples, and the disciples are in the church, then the Supper must be for the church. Paul confirms this when he writes to the church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 11:23 concerning the breaking of bread: "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." He goes on to outline, step by step, the things we have studied in Matthew 26, the text passage. Hence, Paul had received it from the Lord and delivered it to the brethren at Corinth. The Lord's Supper would have no meaning to a man of the world, and would be without purpose to those who do not believe in God. Paul warns, however, against the practice of one's judging another and determining one's right to eat. Hear the word of God in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29: "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. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." The teaching of closed communion, that is, the theory of judging, and the practice of forbidding another the right that is his, under God, to take the Lord's Supper, cannot be proven by the Bible. If a man, who is not worthy, eats and drinks of the Lord's Supper, he harms only himself. Paul says he "eats and drinks judgment to himself" not to others. One man's worthiness does not determine the righteousness of the group. Every man must give his answer to God for his own deeds. Every man must stand on his own feet, working out his own salvation with fear and trembling. It is the right of every child of God to take the communion with the saints, and no council, board, or committee has a right to forbid him to do so. Let a man examine himself.
2. We find that bread and the fruit of the vine, and these only, are required on the Lord's table. Let us go back to Matthew 26:26-27, "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you." We cannot add to or take from these things and be acceptable unto God. They were to represent His blood and his body, the body that was bruised and the blood that was shed. They can be found over the entire face of the earth and are simple symbols of the simple gospel. It would be a plain act of sin for any man or group of men to add to these two elements, and just as great an error to take from them. It is the communion of Christ, in the church of Christ. It was instituted by him, portrays his death, and belongs to His authority, and is to be observed until He comes again.
It is plainly stated that these are not the actual blood and body of Christ, but they represent them. Matthew 26:26 says, "Jesus took bread." The loaf used in the passover is the bread referred to. If, as some men teach, the bread, by a miracle, becomes the literal and actual body of Christ, then we would not taste bread but actual flesh. Hence, not only would it take a miracle to make the bread the body of Christ, but it would take another miracle to make that which is now flesh taste like bread. Of course the answer is clear, the bread represents the body of Christ, and hence Paul in summarizing his arguments on the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:26 declaring, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." The same thing can be said of the cup which is the fruit of' the vine. Some teach and believe that it becomes the actual blood of Christ. If this were true, Christ could not have said in Matthew 26:29, "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." It refers to the fruit of the vine, and hence Christ says, "I will drink the fruit of the vine with you in my Father's kingdom." If it became the literal blood, those who drink it would not taste the fruit of the vine, but the actual blood of Christ. If this were not so, two miracles would be necessary instead of one. The bread and the fruit of the vine, represent his body and blood.
Thus far we have found that the Lord's Table is in the Lord's House, that the Lord's House is the Church, and that the Lord's Supper is composed of two elements: The bread and the fruit of the vine which are representative of his body and blood. It is for the disciples of Christ. Now, let us ask the question, why are we to observe the Lord's Supper? I want to suggest to you that there should not only be a reason for all that we do in religion, but also a Bible reason, a thus sayeth the Lord. We find the answer to this important question in 1 Corinthians 11:24-27, "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." 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." For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. 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." No question in the Bible is answered in any clearer fashion than this. We are to take the bread and the fruit of the vine in remembrance of him who died for us. Thus the Lord's Supper bears testimony to the world of our love for Christ. It looks back upon the grandeur of the cross, and keeps alive in the Christian's heart thanksgiving for the price of his redemption. Many have stood at the tomb of the unknown soldier in the nation's capital with bowed heads while memory goes back upon the wings of thought to those who died that we might be free. Crowds come and go and have realized the value of a memorial like that to ever make us mindful of those who gave their last full measure of devotion. Just so, when those who stand in the liberty of Christ assemble, and the table is spread, hearts and minds fly back to a scene on a little hill outside the gate where one man died that all might be free of death. "This do in remembrance of me." Not only is the Lord's Supper a constant reminder of events that took place long ago, but it is also a powerful evidence of the Christian's faith and hope in things to come. Paul says, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till he comes." Every time, therefore, that the disciples of the Son of God eat this supper, it is evidence to the world that they not only believe that Christ is coming again, but it is evidence also of the preparation that they are making to receive Him. One of the most pathetic pictures in religion today is the confused ideas about showing the world that man believes in Christ. Some invite the persecution of a government that is based upon the principles of the sermon on the mount, and think that by being confined to jail or prison they are testifying for Jesus.
Others go so far as to inflict bodily injury on their person, refusing to cut their hair or to abide by the simplest requirements of society, thinking that this shows the world their belief in Christ. This field is unlimited, and without question the thousands of misled men and women who, under the false impression that they are standing for Christ, refuse their country and their fellowmen that service that Christianity demands, need to be taught what true testimony or evidence is. Every time the Child of God takes the Lord's Supper he shows to the world, his faith in the Savior of men. He teaches in a fashion the facts of the gospel: The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and invites all to embrace the commands of the Bible and to have communion with Him, his brethren, and his Lord. May the God of heaven and earth hasten the day when men will meet together in sweet communion and with one heart and one mind and show His death "till he comes."
3. Men are in disagreement over the time that the Lord's Supper should be observed. Not only this but there are many men who believe that they are Christians who never take the Lord's Supper. Almost without exception, irregularity marks its practice. This was not the rule of the apostles and New Testament Christians. Let us read Acts 2:42, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Since the loaf was broken before it was given to the disciples by Christ, the apostles and New Testament writers refer to the Lord's Supper as the breaking of bread. The point that we need to have emphasized is that they continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread. There was no irregularity or lack of concern. They were just as diligent in the breaking of bread as they were in the doctrine of the apostles, or in the prayers. It was not a matter that could be used as a crowd-drawer, or as a matter of convenience. It is a definite command, and is just as binding as any other command of Christ. How could it be any more definite than, "This do in remembrance of me." If the Church at Jerusalem and the early Christians were steadfast in their observance, can we from the Bible determine when this breaking of bread took place.? Let the Bible speak! We can read from the 20th chapter of Acts and the 7th verse, the passage read in the beginning, "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread." Here is an approved example of the disciples taking the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week. Some one raises the point: Is it necessary then for us to take the communion on the first day? Let us see. Bible students have long agreed that there are two ways by which we know what we are to believe and observe in religion. The first is a direct command, and the second is an approved example. We have the command, "this do," and the approved example where Paul and the brethren at Troas met on the first day. This is conclusive and without answer. There is but one first day of the week just as there is but one seventh day. Under the old law that now has passed and gone, God told man to keep the Sabbath, and then informed him it was the seventh day, Exodus chapter 20, verses 8 and 10. The Sabbath is no more, and it is incorrect to refer to the first day of the week as the Sabbath. The New Testament never refers to it in this fashion. The first day is the Lord's Day. In Revelation 1:10, John declares, "I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day." It is His day because Christ came from the tomb on this day, Mark 16:9. The gospel was first preached on this day, Acts 2. The church had its beginning on the first day. The Holy Spirit descended on this day, Acts 2. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, commanded the Christians to give on the first day of the week. If we are to speak where the Bible speaks and to obey the things spoken, we will, upon the first day of the week, break bread as they did in Troas in the long ago, not on the first day of every other week, or on the first day of the first week in a month, or on the first day of the first week in a year, but upon the first day of every week we are to assemble to show His death until he comes again. Is this too often to remember the Savior of our souls, or to bear our testimony to the world that we believe He is coming again? There is not a man within the sound of my voice or upon the face of the earth, who could, if his life were at stake, read from the Bible where the disciples ever were careless about its observance without being condemned by the apostles, or where they ever observed the Lord's Supper after the death of Christ on any day but the first day of the week.
These are some things for us to seriously think about and consider this morning. The Lord's Supper is very important to every person that is a Bible Christian. In conclusion this morning, let's take a few minutes and read from the passage of 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 and reflect upon this memorial that we as Christians are to observe in a worthy manner EVERY first day of the week. Please open your Bible now to 1 Corinthians, chapter 11 and let's begin reading from verse 23 in closing this morning.
"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; 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." 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." For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. 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. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
Thank you for listening this morning and I invite you to listen next Sunday morning at 8:30 for a lesson that will expand a little further on the these thoughts today entitled "The Communion of Our Lord." We hope that you will join us Next Sunday for this message from God's word.
This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"