"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me, For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come," (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
The Lord’s Supper, called Communion in 1 Corinthians 10:16, is the second of the two ordinances that were given to the Lord’s churches to observe until His return in glory. It was not only second in order of institution, but it must be second in order of practice, for no unbaptized person has a right to partake of it. The very symbolism of each requires this order of observance. It is not mentioned many times in the New Testament, yet the few mentions of it are enough to give us an overall view of what are the principle elements in it. The fact that not every little detail is spelled out makes evident that churches have a certain liberty granted to them in their observance of it, and we must be careful that we do not try to speak authoritatively where Scripture is silent.
For all of the details that are set forth to be observed in this ordinance, the interested reader is referred to chapter five of the Author’s two volume set on Studies On Church Truth. The purpose of this chapter is to suggest without being dogmatic a possible order of observing this beautiful ordinance. In announcing this ordinance in the church bulletin we have often announced it as "A Sermon In Symbol—Observance of the Lord’s Supper." This terminology is justified by the word "shew" in 1 Corinthians 11:26, which is the same Greek word rendered "preach" in 1 Corinthians 9:14. This ordinance symbolically preaches the Gospel to all that see it. And this very fact evidences that it was not meant to be observed secretly and apart from any unsaved people. Though no unsaved person has a right to partake of the Lord’s Supper—even Judas Iscariot was sent on his way to make his foul betrayal before the Supper was instituted—yet there is in this ordinance when
properly observed, a powerful witness of the Gospel. And who knows but that this symbolic preaching of the Gospel may be blessed to the salvation of souls.
Suffice it to say that there is no inspired requirement as to how often it is done, Scripture only saying "as oft" as ye do so. Acts 20:7 is not an observance of the Lord’s Supper, and to think so is to base the idea on seven or more misconceptions. Nor is the time of the observance a matter of revelation, for though Jesus observed it at night after the Passover was eaten, there is nothing to indicate that a nighttime observance is required. In 1 Corinthians 11:18, 20, the only thing shown is that it is to be done "when ye come together" in church capacity. It cannot be observed by individual Christians as such, for the very symbolism of the one bread requires it to be restricted to those that constitute the "one body" —the local assembly—that is symbolized by the "one bread," (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
Likewise the elements are stated simply as "the bread" and "the cup," which is a figure of speech denoting what is in the cup, which is "the fruit of the vine," (Matthew 26:26-30). We know from I Corinthians 5:6-8 that the bread must be unleavened since it symbolizes the sinlessness of Jesus’ body. Leaven always symbolizes corruption and evil. By the same token, the cup must conform to this same unleavened state, for it is the symbol of Jesus’ pure blood. Pure, mind you, not purified, as would be symbolized if the liquid element of the cup had to undergo some process to purify it, Any encyclopedia will tell you that fermentation is a form of leavening, producing a much higher degree of leaven than is in natural grape juice. Fermentation does not purify the extract of the grape from leavening. Rather it makes the whole element a pure leaven—leaven with nothing else but leaven in it, as the word "pure" means in this context. For documentation of this, the reader is again referred to the author’s work cited above.
Before the planned observance of this ordinance it is wise for the church to announce to its members well in advance when this ordinance will be celebrated. This will enable each member of the church to solemnly examine himself or herself as to whether one is qualified to partake of this ordinance rightly. It is not enough that the church is satisfied to receive a member at the Lord’s Table. It never knows all that is in the members’ hearts. Neither is the individual Christian’s self-examination all that is required. It is, in fact, the last of several requirements. Without going into detail and citing Scripture references for these, these requirements are the following. (1) Saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (2) Scripturally baptized by a sound church. (3) A member of the church that is observing the ordinance. (4) A member in good standing in the church, not a disorderly member. (5) Not out of fellowship with the church or other members. Schisms and divisions in the Corinthian church were some of the things that made it impossible for it to observe this ordinance. (6) Observing the ordinance for the right reason—to discern Christ symbolized in it not to remember departed loved ones or any others nor to merit anything. To eat without having Christ as the principle object in view in the ordinance is to eat unto judgment, (1 Cor. 11:27-31). (7) Finally, after all the other criteria are met, is self-examination to enter in, but it is always last, and subsequent to the church’s judgment as to one’s qualification to eat of the ordinance. Many ignorant and rebellious Christians want no authority over the Supper but their own self-examination and will. That is not Scriptural.
It is the practice of most churches, including some Baptist churches, to purchase individual communion wafers with which to observe the ordinance. This is not Scriptural, for 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 requires a single loaf at the beginning of the ordinance in order to symbolize the unity of the church that observes it. And while this singleness is not scripturally applied to the cup, yet it is a single cup in the original institution of the ordinance, (Matthew 26), and this, like the bread, was divided in the process of the ordinance.
In all of the churches that this writer has pastored it has been the practice for one of the women of the church, either the pastor’s wife, a deacon’s wife, or some other woman, to bake the bread for the Lord’s Supper. In his first pastorate, these ladies were sometimes frustrated at the result, for this was made by only mixing flour and water and then baking it, which resulted in a bland, tasteless bread that was very hard to chew. Then someone found the following recipe that was much better in all ways yet meets all Scripture requirements. This recipe will suffice for around seventy-five or one hundred communicants, so that for smaller churches the recipe maybe quartered.
UNLEAVENED BREAD FOR THE LORD’S SUPPER
1 Cup wheat flour, 1/3 cup oil (scant), 1/4 cup cold water, 2 tsp. sugar, 1/4 tsp. Salt. Mingle oil with water and add to flour, sugar and salt and mix well. Roll out thinly into shape of the plate on which it is to be served. Prick with fork to prevent bubbles. Score lightly into half inch squares to make it easy to break. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned. This will be sweet and tender. Be careful in transferring it from the pan in which it is baked so that it does not break, as it will easily do.
When the time comes for the observance of the Lord’s Supper it is well for whoever is in charge of preparations to have both the elements arranged on the Communion Table and covered with a tablecloth. The pastor or whoever is in charge of the service may read pertinent passages of Scripture and make comments upon them to instruct all the communicants. Though no one but members of the church celebrating the ordinance has a right to partake of it, all qualified members have a duty to do so. For in the original institution, Jesus commanded all of them to drink of the cup, which implies the same duty regarding the eating of the bread, (Matthew 26:27). Here "all" modifies "ye," not "it," according to the structure of the Greek text. Observance of this ordinance is not optional, but is a declared duty for all those that are qualified. Personal preference and will does not enter in where the Lord has given a command.
We have long felt that the comments of B. H. Carroll were very instructive and helpful to the understanding, and we have often quoted this in the preliminary remarks before the ordinance. Though it is somewhat lengthy, we insert it here.
"The first scene of the drama displayed in this ordinance then, is what we behold first of all, in each of two succeeding symbols, the loaf and the cup, the appointed and accepted Lamb of sacrifice. Whether we look at the loaf or the cup, we see the same thing, as in the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream (Gen. 41:25, 32).
In the second scene we behold the appointed sacrifice ‘blessed,’ or eulogized, and thus consecrated by the benediction, or set apart for the sacrifice (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22), with thanksgiving (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24), that an acceptable sacrifice has been found. This second scene is repeated in both ‘blessing’ and ‘thanksgiving’ in the case of the ‘cup’ (Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25). The import is one, but the scene is double, to show that ‘God hath established it.’
In the third scene: (1) The consecrated loaf is broken to show the vicarious death, i.e., for them, of the substitutionary Lamb (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24). (2) The wine is poured out from the cup into the distributing vessels (Luke 22:20) to show the vicarious death of the sacrificial Lamb by the shedding of his blood for the remission of sins. The scene is one, but doubled.
In the fourth scene: (1) The distribution of the broken loaf to all the communicants present and their participation, each by eating a fragment, signifying their appropriation by faith, of the vicarious body given for them. (2) The distribution of the outpoured wine to all the communicants present and their participation, each by drinking a sip, signifying their appropriation by faith, of the expiating, sin-remitting blood. The scene is one, but doubled.
This ordinance is pictorial, showing forth by pictures, or scenes, earth’s greatest tragedy. To make the ‘showing forth’ complete, four double scenes must be exhibited, or made visible to the eye: (1) The appointed spotless Lamb; (2) The consecration to sacrifice with thanksgiving; (3) The sacrifice itself of vicarious death—‘broken’—‘poured out’; (4) Participation of the beneficiaries, by faith, in the benefits of the sacrifice. The order of the scenes must be observed. The visible consecration and thanksgiving must follow a view of the appointed and suitable substitutionary victim; the visible sacrifice must follow the view of consecration with thanksgiving; the visible participation must follow a view of the sacrifice." An Interpretation of the English Bible, Vol. XI, pp. 308-309.
In some churches at the beginning of the actual observance of this ordinance, all those wishing to participate are asked to stand or otherwise indicate their intention to take part so that those passing out the elements will know to whom to pass them. The pastor, or whoever is leading in the ordinance may ask the deacons or whoever is to help in the distribution to come forward and uncover the elements if they are covered with a cloth. One of the assistants is asked to break up the single bread into portions. And as he does so, the pastor or whoever is leading in the celebration may explain in detail all of the things symbolized by the constitution of the bread, its baking, its unity, its being broken, and its being eaten.
As soon as all this is done, one of those helping in the ordinance is asked to pray as thanksgiving is expressed for, and a blessing sought upon, the bread and all that is symbolized by it, and those partaking of it. At the ending of the prayer, the assistants distribute the broken bread to those that wish to partake. At the beginning of this, it is well for the one leading in the observance of the ordinance to admonish the participants to hold the pieces of bread that they have received and "tarry one for another," (1 Cor. 11:33), until all have received theirs, so that all can unitedly partake of it. When all have received the broken bread, the leader in the observance quotes 1 Corinthians 11:24: "Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me," and solemnly leads in eating of the bread.
Another of the assistants is then asked to pour out the contents of the single cup of grape juice into individual portions. As he does so, the leader may again explain in detail all that is involved in the liquid element. This, in order to rightly picture the pure blood of the Lamb of God, must be the "pure blood of the grape," (Deut 32:14), which is found only in the vine, (Gen. 49:11), the only kind of "wine" of which Israel knew while in the wilderness, (Deut. 29:5-6). These verses show what God reckons to be a pure enough "wine" to symbolize Jesus’ blood. The pouring out took place when Jesus voluntarily went to the cross, and faith remembers this and rests in it in the symbolism of the cup. When the portions are ready, another prayer is offered for the liquid element and what it symbolizes, and for the privilege of sharing in the benefits purchased by the Saviour. As these individual portions are distributed to the communicants, they are once more admonished to "tarry one for another" until they can all partake together. When all have received their portions, the leader of the ordinance quotes 1 Corinthians 11:2526: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do ye as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come." Then he solemnly leads in drinking it.
After this, the assistants are instructed to pass through the congregation and take up the communion glasses and return them to the communion table. Or, in some churches these are left in specially prepared places for them in the hymnal holders to be collected at a later time to be washed and put away. In either case, the leader may wish to make some closing remarks regarding the ordinance. The writer has sometimes said something like the following in order to admonish the communicants.
"Let us REMEMBER THE LORD’S LIFE-GIVING DEATH. The bread symbolizes Jesus’ sinless body that was broken on the cross for His people. The cup symbolizes Jesus’ pure blood that was shed for the remission of the sins of His people, for whom He came to die, (Matthew 1:21). Thus His death was substitutionary—in our place, (Isa. 53:6; 2 Cor. 5:21)—that we might not have to die eternally, for He was punished for all our sins. His death was propitiatory—a sacrifice to God the Father that makes peace for us before Him, (Rom. 3:25; Eph. 2:14-18).
"Let us REMEMBER THE LORD’S LOVE. All that He did, He did out of love for us, who by nature were unlovely. Scripture says in 1 John 4:10: ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’ We could apply to ourselves the words of Song of Solomon 7:10: ‘I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.’ Or, Jeremiah 31:3: The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’ In this beautiful ordinance we commemorate the Lord’s love to us.
"Let us REMEMBER THE LORD’S LORDSHIP. He commands all that are qualified to partake of the elements of this ordinance, but forbids all others. This is the Lord’s Table, and He alone has the right to dictate who may and who may not partake of it. But He has committed the ordinance to His churches alone to observe and to protect. In 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 He tells the church to not let those partake of the Supper that are not qualified."
"The faculties employed in the observance of the Lord’s Supper are Memory, Faith and Hope. We remember Christ’s sacrificial and substitutionary death for us. Indeed, we have no right to think of anyone else than Him at the Lord’s Table. Not of friends, nor departed infants, nor even of mother. Nor are we to remember Jesus otherwise than as the bleeding, dying Lamb. Not as the infant in the manger, or as the great teacher, nor as the worker of miracles, nor as the noble martyr, but solely as the sacrificial Lamb of God. To fail to see in the ordinance its reference to Jesus’ sacrificial death is to partake in an unworthy manner, which brings upon one the judgment of God, which can be in the form of weakness, sickness or even physical death, (1 Cor. 11:29-34). Faith is exercised when we apprehend and appropriate by faith the saving benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection for us, and we are to exercise a daily living faith in Him as our only, but all-sufficient hope for time and eternity. We symbolize this in our participation in this ordinance. We exercise Hope as we give heed to the prophetic aspect of this ordinance, 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). Then He is coming again! This is the believer’s hope. Hallelujah!"
The Scripture declares that after the original institution of this ordinance, "When they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives," (Matthew 26:30). They apparently were not dismissed by prayer, nor with any other preliminaries, and so a church may be dismissed to quietly leave the building without any visiting, so that nothing will disrupt their meditations on this blessed ordinance.
As we said in the beginning, this is not intended to be an exclusive order of observing this beautiful memorial ordinance. Others may have other orders of service that might be even more orderly and beautiful. We only set this forth as a possible order to be followed, and one that we would hope would be helpful to others. Most of it did not originate with this writer, for he obtained an early form from his pastor before entering into the pastoral ministry, and that original form has been modified by ideas obtained from various Baptist writers of the past, as well as from study of the Scriptures. The main purpose must always be to honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, and we do this only by strict obedience to revealed truth.
The Lord’s Supper is a holy and solemn ordinance, and should never be thought of or observed lightly. The very warning sounded in 1 Corinthians 11:29ff shows that God does not take lightly the inappropriate observance of the Lord’s Supper. At the same time, though it conveys no grace to those partaking of it, contrary to the extravagant claims of false religionists, it is a blessed ordinance, and one well fitted to encourage us by its symbolic representation of the saving and securing work of Christ. It is with the desire that the Lord’s churches may be strengthened and encouraged that this chapter is sent forth.