Celebrating Communion with Clarity

July 1, 2016

Good Afternoon Church,

One of the regular rites of the church often shrouded in confusion and ambiguity is the practice of Communion. This sad reality is further propagated by the ritualistic nature by which the contemporary church will often attach Communion at the end of a service as an addendum with little theological explanation or no biblical exposition. Therefore, to guard against our natural inclination toward mediocrity within ministry, and to help bring some clarity to the confusion that many of us have surrounding the Lord’s Supper, we will consider the critical nature of Communion during our service on Sunday. However, because we cannot fully exhaust all that needs to be said about this important ordinance in one sermon, I wanted to give you a precursor to Sunday’s message in order to help you prepare, as well as to practically equip you with some important truths surrounding this topic in writing.

Celebrating Communion with Clarity

Communion

 The Lord’s Supper, or Communion as it may be called, is no secondary issue in the life of the church, but should serve as a wonderful time of corporate celebration and fellowship¹. However, if this event of the Lord’s Supper is not understood properly, and not practiced biblically, it can actually serve to divide and distract the congregation from the exaltation and collaborate celebration of Christ². Consider the congregational disunity experienced in part through whimsically partaking in the Lord’s Supper by the believers in Corinth³. Moreover, contemplate the contemporary confusion and heretical teaching that pervades our cultural through the unbiblical propagation of the Roman Catholic Church’s “sacrament of the Eucharist” where salvific grace is said to be “infused” into those who participant in “holy communion.” The critical nature of the Lord’s Supper is biblically seen in understanding how it is one of the two New Testament ordinances specifically instituted by Christ⁴ and followed by the church because of the direct commands given to the body of Christ for such practices⁵. Therefore, it is imperative that every church has a clear and correct understanding of this ordinance, so that it may fulfill the Lord’s command and properly lead the Lord’s people!

Now, I believe it is important to clarify what is not part of the Scriptural practice of the Lord’s Supper. First, the elements of bread and wine or grape juice portrayed and used while practicing this biblical command of the Lord’s Supper are never changed into the literal body and blood of Christ. This idea promoted by the Roman Catholic Church finds no biblical substantiation.

Secondly, the “Communion” is never seen in the Scriptures as some sort of “re-sacrifice” or some physical “re-presentation” of Christ as this totally contradicts the clear call of the ordinance as a “remembrance” of what was sacrificed⁶. As a matter of fact, this concept stands totally contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible as it pertains to the “once and for all sacrifice of Christ”⁷.

Thirdly, Christ is never portrayed biblically as descending from Heaven to physically indwell or empower the elements in some spiritual sense⁸.

Fourthly, the Lord’s Supper is never declared to be a channel of meritorious, salvific grace. Thus, salvation is never found and experienced through celebrating the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, but the Bible declares that celebrating the Lord’s Supper is a ramification of the salvation believers already enjoy⁹ through faith in Christ alone¹⁰.

Lastly, Communion is not a recapitulation of the Jewish Passover celebration, but a New Testament ordinance highlighting the churches new covenant relationship with God through Christ¹¹.

So, how should the church view the Lord’s Supper? Ultimately, the church should view the Lord’s Supper as a special celebration whereby she corporately participates in¹², remembers¹³, and proclaims her new covenant relationship¹⁴ with God through Christ’s sacrifice¹⁵ while anticipating His future, literal return and reign¹⁶. Let me break this down for you to help elucidate the Lord’s Supper biblically and lucidly. First, the Bible declares this ordinance to be a time of celebration that is corporately enjoyed regularly within every local church setting¹⁷.

Next, it is meant to be a sweet time where the local body of Christ intimately “participates” together in deeper fellowship with one another as we personally commune with and celebrate Christ¹⁸. Thus, the Lord’s Supper is a time of intimate fellowship and communing with each other as we celebrate our great salvation and eternal life we now share together through the common bond of Christ. Communion helps unify the body of Christ as we realize that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross, and all believers stand there connected as sinners helplessly and hopelessly seeking the Savior.  All false piety and prideful religiosity is purged as we remember that we all come to the Cross depleted of all self-worth and in desperate need of our Savior. Therefore, we come together and are encouraged as we recall the eternal strength of our union found through faith in the life, death, and work of Christ¹⁹.

Thirdly, it is a time of celebratory “remembrance” upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and the new covenant relationship believers now enjoy with God²⁰. At the heart of the Lord’s Supper is the declaration and design of commemorating the person and work of Christ²¹. Hence, the Lord’s Supper is a memorial where the Lord’s people come together to seriously, and specifically contemplate how Christ died (a body broken and blood shed²²), why Christ died (for the removal and forgiveness of sin²³), and also for whom Christ died (a substitutionary sacrifice²⁴). The victorious nature of Christ’s work over Satan, sin, and death make this a triumphal event whereby the church praises God for His sovereign grace given through the Son’s worthy sacrifice²⁵. Moreover, the perpetual nature of this ordinance helps protect the church from forgetting her victorious position in Christ²⁶ and her continual duty to proclaim the message of Christ²⁷ to one another and the world²⁸.

Fourthly, this celebration is also protective, personal, and purifying, as the participants must examine themselves to make sure they partake in a worthy manner²⁹. This truly points to an intimate communion where the body of Christ is supposed to celebrate together with one mind and spirit, devoid of divisions and individuality³⁰.

Lastly, this ordinance is truly a celebration that not only looks backward to the cross but also forward to the risen King and His coming kingdom that will soon be fully consummated with the literal return and reign of Christ³¹!

I pray this will be profitable in your pursuit of obedience and your practice of celebrating the Lord’s Supper!   What a blessing that we have the opportunity to celebrate and exalt Christ together this Sunday, and I look forward to worshipping with you around the Lord’s Table. Also, I am excited that we will be hearing from one of our missionaries, as Ken and Brenda Jackson will be giving us an update on all that God is doing through their ministry with Wycliffe Bible Translators. May God’s grace in Christ encourage your heart today!

Celebrating Christ with you,

Pastor Matt

Scripture references:

¹ Acts 2:42-47

² 1 Cor 10:14-22

³ 1 Cor 11:17-22

⁴ Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:17-20

⁵ 1 Cor 11:17-34

⁶ 1 Cor 11:24-25

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