30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
October 15, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
"The Communion of Our Lord"
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 Communion of Our Lord", 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.
Last week we studied the necessity of worshiping God exactly as God directs. We pointed out that many worship a supreme being because it seems to be inherent in man to do so. Man is a worshipful creature, and in every race and time seeks out something or someone superior to himself so that he may pay him homage. We read in the fourth chapter of John the famous instruction of Christ to the woman at the well, how Christ told her that we must worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. Here is the reading from John 4:23: "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
We give great emphasis to the word truth. It is not enough to worship God, for He must be worshiped in truth. Christ declared in John 17:17, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."Hence, men must worship God according to his word. Only as men are directed by the word of God can they worship him in truth. The apostles were guided into all truth, and repeated to the disciples the things that men should know regarding worship. Then to seal them for all generations, the apostles placed them in written form in the New Testament. Therefore the unescapable conclusion is that in our worship we are to be guided by the word of God which is the New Testament sealed by the blood of Christ. All things that we do in worship must be found in the pages of the New Testament or Covenant, for this is the only way that men can know they are worshiping in truth. To emphasize that premise, listen to the reading and condemnation of Jesus in Matthew 15:8-9: "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."
Instrumental Music Was Not In The Early Church
We have studied in the past on this radio program, the use of instrumental music in the service of God, and found that there
is no word of God for its place in acceptable worship. The apostles who were guided into all truth left it out of the New
Covenant. There is not a verse of scripture in the entire New Testament that even hints that it was a part of the early Church
worship. To be sure, singing was a part, and many passages tell us of its use: Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, etc. The
disciples were to sing with the spirit and with the understanding. There are many who will say, "Oh, there is nothing wrong
with the use of instrumental music. Well, friends, remember the premise. We must Worship God in truth, and his word is
truth. Christ said the worship after men's doctrine is vain.
But let us study again this morning another part of the true worship of our Heavenly Father that is approved and commanded in his word of truth, namely, the Lord's supper. We emphasized this aspect of worship in last week's lesson, but I want to once again stress the importance of this in our worship to God. Many churches who claim to be following the teaching of Christ, in many cases, do not even partake of the Lord's Supper, and others do so on an irregular basis. If we claim to be following the teaching of the Lord, the truth, then we must insure that we are doing all things that are pleasing to and commanded by our Lord.
Lord's Supper Instituted
On that fateful night before he was betrayed, Christ was in an upper room with the twelve, talking with them of His death and shame, for He knew that shortly he was to be taken and with wicked hands crucified and slain. He gave them the Lord's supper, and invoked upon them the task of keeping it in remembrance of him. Matthew records these events in Matthew 26:26-30: "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."
Let us notice, now, some of the simple lessons connected with this reading, before we take up some of the more complicated points.
1. This is a supper and food is served.
2. The food is composed of two elements and only two: bread and the fruit of the vine.
3. This supper was given to the disciples, those who believed and followed Christ.
4. The food was to represent the body and blood of the Son of God, and to be forever connected with him.
5. Christ was to one day eat it anew in the Father's kingdom.
This is an outline of the simplest character, but there are many creeds of men that deny even these elementary truths. With these we will deal at some length.
Bread and Fruit of the Vine
Christ said that the bread is My body, while He was still in His physical body sitting with the disciples. It could not, therefore, mean that the bread was actually his literal body for he had not yet put it off. They were eating the Passover feast and He took the bread connected with that Observance: literal bread specified in the Law of Moses. The bread was to be symbolic of the body of Christ, to be broken on the cross, and was to have no meaning until that event took place. His body was not yet broken, just as his blood was not yet shed. The Lord's death could not be shown until it was an accomplished fact.
Some say, in the face of these simple truths, that the Lord plainly said, "This is my body," and hence the doctrine of transubstantiation. That is the miraculous change of the bread into the body, and of the fruit of the vine into the actual blood of the Savior. Well, if this is true, let us apply the same rule to other parts of the scripture. Listen to the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:4: "and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." The lesson here is clear enough. Christ is not or was not a rock; the rock represented Christ, just as the bread represents his body. If the doctrine of transubstantiation is true, man would still have to possess the power to perform miracles for as that doctrine declares, a miracle takes place. If Christians had the power to perform this miracle, they would have the power to perform other miracles, and could say to the mountains, "Be moved" and they would obey. Not only is this true, but if the bread and the fruit of the vine are actually transformed into the literal body and blood of the Master when men eat and drink them, they would not taste like bread and wine, but like blood, it would have the flavor of blood only. How, then, if it becomes literal flesh and blood, could it taste like bread and wine to literal men? Another irrefutable argument to show that it is not literal flesh, is the fact that Paul refers to the loaf as bread after the Lord had blessed it, 1 Corinthians 11: 27-28: "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."
I am sure that enough has been said to convince all men that bread represents the body and the fruit of the vine is only symbolic of the blood of the Master.
Now let us notice the second cardinal doctrine of error, namely, that forgiveness of sins is connected with the Lord's Supper. Let me say simply that the Bible teaches no such doctrine. The teaching of the New Testament relative to the forgiveness of sins is separate and apart from the observance of the Lord's supper. The purpose of the Lord's supper, or the communion, is set forth by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 24-26: "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."
You Do Show the Lord's Death
The apostle to the Gentiles declares that it is to "show the Lord's death until He comes." That is, to make manifest or to demonstrate the death of the Lord. The revised text says, to proclaim the Lord's death. It is not to cleanse the guilty of sin but is a memorial for them that have already been cleansed from guilt and sin. The saints, therefore, who observe it teach, proclaim and show the gospel of Christ in symbolic form. They make public their belief in a crucified Lord, and invite the world to become Christians with them by obedience to the gospel. Any man who is ashamed of Christ would be, in like manner, ashamed of the communion that teaches the death of Christ. Those who rejoice in their salvation, in the saving blood of Christ, would be ready and willing to demonstrate that joy in sipping of the fruit of the vine that represents His blood.
'Thus, in the Lord's Supper we have a memorial that the world can see, and by it be led to the Savior of men. Just as we believe in both the body and the blood of the Savior, so must we take of both the elements of the supper, the bread and the fruit of the vine. Only when we do this, is the gospel preached by example in the observance of this feast.
"In Remembrance of Me"
Much could be said of the importance of the phrase "In remembrance of me." It is sufficient to say the Lord's supper is a memorial to keep alive in the Christian's heart the heroic deed of his Lord and Savior. Monuments are erected by men in memory of the deeds of those whom history has deemed great, in the hope that by the memorial others, even generations yet unborn, may learn and imitate the deeds of valiant men. Just so, in the memorial of the Lord's supper, we perpetuate the memory of him who died for us on the cross of Calvary. Man builds monuments of marble and granite; he seeks the imperishable; but despite all his toil and skill, they molder and crumble. God, through Jesus, selected the perishable bread and the fruit of the vine, as the material out of which he would build a monument that would endure with perennial freshness throughout all time. No mortal would ever seek to build an imperishable monument out of material so perishable as bread and the fruit of the vine. But by the power of God, and the commands of Jesus Christ, it is rendered immortal and is caused, in freshness, to continue until Jesus comes. The child of God looks back upon the gospel, that is, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, as an accomplished fact. His memory of these things sustains him in the time of trouble and lifts him up in the day of testing.
A Solemn Warning
To note the seriousness of this supper and the responsibility that falls upon every Christian who sits down at the table of the Lord, hear this solemn warning from the pen of Paul as found in 1 Corinthians 11:27: "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." This points out in a pointed manner that the communion of the God of heaven is a serious thing. The manner, in which it is observed must be pleasing to God. Listen to the verse from the revised version: "Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink tile cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord." How serious a matter to be guilty of the body and blood of Christ! Here is the point. The mob that crucified Christ was guilty of violating the body and blood of the Savior. This caused Peter to say on the day of Pentecost, "you with wicked hands have crucified and slain." They heaped upon him all the shame of a criminal death. Now if we by irreverence or material lust misuse the Lord's supper, we, like them, point the accusing finger at the Savior of the world in his death.
Notice now the cure for this sad condition, as found in the next verse (1 Corinthians 11:28): "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup." Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:11, had this to say about our ability to judge one another: "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." So it becomes apparent that the only one who could accurately judge our motives is God. It is folly for man to refuse the communion to his fellowmen, for he cannot judge their motives, purposes and intentions. Closed communion was not practiced in the days of the New Testament nor taught by the apostles.
Observed In The Assembly
The communion was observed in the assembly of the early church. Christ instituted the supper when his disciples were assembled, and gave it with these words, "drink you all of it," or all of you drink of it. It was designed to be a public act, and one that would show or publish the Lord's death, as we have seen. The disciples assembled for the purpose of observing the communion. Listen now to what is stated in Acts 20:7: "And upon the first day of the"week when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." Not only is this true, but other acts of worship, that is, worship in truth, accompanied the taking of the communion. For example, we have this record of the Jerusalem Church which has long been a model for us. As Luke writes the history of this historic congregation in its earliest days, this is what he has to say in Acts 2:42: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." Let us note that here the supper is referred to as the"breaking of bread." Listen to 1 Corinthians 10:16: "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?"
But notice now the final proof that it was a public observance. Notice the language of Paul to the Church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 11:20: "Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper." Paul's message shows that when they came together it must be to eat the Lord's supper in the proper way instead of making a physical feast of it.
"On The First Day of The Week"
The time for taking the communion in the early Church was the first day of the week. History, both sacred and profane, human and divine, is of one accord on this point. Acts 20:7 clearly says: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread...."
In this same connection, let us note that it was the custom of the Christians of the New Testament to meet upon the first day of the week at Corinth. Paul, in instructing them to take up a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem, gave detailed directions relative to the time and method that such a collection should be gathered. Since the disciples were in assembly on the first day of the week, this instruction was given. 1 Corinthians 16: 1-2: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come." It is also well to observe that the brethren in Galatia were meeting on this day as well. Thus we have all the proof any reasonable man would require that this is the day when not only the children of God at Troas met to take the Lord's supper, but that it was the day of meeting for the brethren at Corinth, in Galatia and, throughout the Christian world.
To worship God in truth, no man could change the approved example of the communion on the first day of the week for he would be without any authority from the word of God in so doing. Let us observe that no Bible significance is attached to the name Sunday and nothing depends upon its use. Much, in some quarters, has been made of the fact that it literally means the day of the Sun. It would compare with the use of the word August, named for one of the Caesars of the old Roman empire.
1) There are two elements, bread and fruit of the vine, that all are to take of.
2) They are not the actual blood and body of Christ but symbols.
3) There is no forgiveness of sin attached to them, for the blood of Christ in baptism cleanses the alien sinner, and prayer the child of God.
The purpose of the supper is to show the Lord's death until He comes. It is to be observed on the first day of the week.
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?"