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Definitions of Doctrine
by C. D. Cole

Volume III- THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH


CHAPTER 8-The Lord’s Supper

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

The old covenant religion of the Old Testament was characterized by ritual or ceremonies and the priest was the important person in worship. He offered sacrifices for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. These ceremonies were typical. They found their end and fulfillment in Christ when He offered one sacrifice never to be repeated. This made them of a temporary nature.

The new covenant religion of the New Testament has only two ceremonies or ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These, are not sacraments of saving efficacy, but symbols of what does save. Together they give us a picture of the whole gospel. Paul defines the, gospel as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures,” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Baptism is a picture or symbol of the burial and resurrection of Christ and the Lord’s Supper sets forth His death. Baptism takes us to the place where Christ was buried and arose again. The Lord’s Supper takes us to Calvary where He died for OUR sins. Baptism tells us what we are in Christ; dead to sin and alive unto God through Christ. As a burial, baptism presupposes the believer to be dead and alive. Baptism is for a dead person.

We have met as a church, to observe the Lord’s Supper. We should be as Scriptural as possible; and to do this, we shall ask three questions:

1. What is it?

2. Why should we observe it?

3. How should we observe it?

1. WHAT IS THE LORD’S SUPPER?

1. It is a memorial service. It is to be observed in memory of Christ. This implies His absence from us. We never hold a service in remembrance of someone who is still in our midst. Christ is present with us in the Holy Spirit, but not in person. While alive, He instituted the Lord’s Supper as a means of remembering Him after He was gone.

 2. It is a church ordinance a church act. There is no example of the Lord’s Supper being observed by an individual or in a private home by the family. Christ is one bread or loaf and the church that observes the Lord’s Supper is one body. At Corinth it was observed individually, or, in groups for gratification of appetite and resulted in some being drunk and others hungry. Paul says tarry one for another—wait until all members are present. Do not make a common meal of it.

Thinking of it as a church ordinance, we might ask; Who is to come to the table? Is it for everybody or are there

restrictions? In one sense it is for everybody—nobody is barred. But there are certain steps to be taken in coming to the table.

2a) One must be saved. He must come to Christ before coming to His table.

2b) One must be a baptized believer. Baptism is the initial ordinance to be observed only once; Lord’s Supper is the recurring ordinance to be repeated again and again. No differences among denominations on this question.

2c) One must be a church member. The believers at Corinth were members of the church there and as such were told to wait for one another.

2d) There must be self examination. We will consider what this is later on.

2. WHY SHOULD WE OBSERVE IT?

 Because Christ commanded it. Why did he command it? As a way of helping us remember His death. Paul said: “ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come,” (1 Cor. 11:26) The word for “shew” here is translated “preach,” 10 times, “declare,” 2 times and “show,” 3 times. It is a sort of visual aid-a picture of Christ’s death to the eyes.

 As a mother might tell her children to meet at her grave to commemorate her sacrificial toll for them, so Christ bids His people to meet to commemorate His dying love for them.

3. HOW SHOULD WE OBSERVE IT?

 We are not left in the dark about how to observe the Supper.

1. It must be observed worthily, that is, in a worthy manner. It is not a question of personal worthiness, or else none could come to the Lord’s table. It is not to honor ourselves as if we were worthy. It is to honor Him, Who is altogether worthy.

2. Now what is the worthy manner of observing it? There must be the exercise of three faculties: memory, faith, and hope.

2a) Memory must work. Memory looks back. We must remember Christ; not father, mother, wife, brother, sister or any other person. We must look back to Christ dying on Calvary. He said, “This do in rememberance of me,” (1 Cor. 11:24). We must do this to show His death. We are taken to think of Christ as a baby in the manger, or as going about doing good. We are to think of Him as He hung on the cross.

2b) Faith must be exercised. What does faith do? It discerns His body. By faith we commune or participate in His broken body and shed blood. We do not have His actual body and blood, but only the emblems of them and we are symbolizing our faith in His death for our salvation. Just as eating is appropriating food for our body, so faith is an act of appropriating the benefits of His death. We symbolically appropriate or eat the emblems of His body and blood and thus declare our faith in what He did for us at Calvary.

2c) Hope must be exercised. We show His death till He comes. He is absent now. The Romanist insists that the real body and blood of Christ are in the elements, “That by and at the consecration of the elements they are changed into the real body and blood of Christ; and that it is bread and wine only in appearance.” What a travesty of the truth! Paul taught the very opposite. He said, “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come,” (1 Cor. 11:26). Paul says we eat of this bread and drink of this cup, emblems of His body and blood.

Communion is a much misunderstood word. We are talking about communing with one another. It is not communing with one another but with Christ. Dr. Bob: “It is a spiritual participation in the blood of Christ which is symbolized by the cup.” While He is away we show our faith in His death by eating and drinking the elements that represent His body and blood.

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