The Lord’s Supper – I Corinthians 11:2

 
We have been looking at some of the distinctive marks of the churches of the Lord. We need to do this in order to know how to avoid those which are NOT the Lord’s churches. And we need to make this study so that “unto God may be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Today we come to the seventh mark of one of the Lord’s churches.

In the Bible, the Lord’s Supper was observed only as a church ordinance.
Do we ever read of the Lord’s Supper being observed by Jerusalem Rotary Club or the Elks Lodge? You may think of that as a very stupid question, and I suppose that it is, because those sort of things didn’t exist in the days of the New Testament. But then again, did the Methodist denomination of churches, or the Roman Catholics exist in Jesus’ day? Why is it foolish to ask about the Freemason’s authority to observe the ordinances of the Lord, and not to ask about the authority of the Presbyterians or the so-called Church or Christ?

Is the Lord’s Supper described or discussed in many or few scriptures? In the Scriptures, do we ever read of the Lord’s Supper being observed by any group of Christians that was not organized into a church? When was its first observance? (Christ and the eleven before His death.) Isn’t this proof that it was observed outside of a church, because there were no churches until Pentecost?

The Lord’s Supper is a commemoration of the death of Christ for His people. Does the Bible ever suggest that it is an expression of personal fellowship between brethren? Does the Bible teach that participation of this ordinance somehow saves the soul of the sinner? Does the Bible teach that the Lord’s Supper somehow enhances or increases the chances of a person’s salvation? Does the Bible ever speak of the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament?

If our understanding is correct: that the Lord’s Supper is found only as a church based ordinance. What does this suggest about church membership? If church membership is involved, what does this suggest about the relationship between the Supper and baptism? Can a local church scripturally or consistently, extend the invitation to participate in the Lord’s Supper to people who are not baptized? Can a church be reasonably sure about the salvation and baptism of one of its own members? Can a church be reasonably sure about the salvation and baptism of a stranger or of a member of some other church? What should tradition have to do with the regulation of the ordinances? If our church was concluding a week-long missions conference with a dozen missionaries and pastors visiting from out of state, would there be anything wrong with celebrating the Lord’s Supper on the final night of that meeting? Should those visitors be invited to participate? Would it be wise or ethical to close a missions conference with a dozen missionaries and visitors pastors present? This sort of thing used to be common in Baptist group meetings. Are the traditions of the elders to be applied in special cases like this? What sort of rules should be applied?

The Lord’s Supper is a local church ordinance.
How are local churches linked together? Are two Baptist churches vitally connected? Can they live without each other? Is a member of one Baptist Church, at the same time a member of another church of like faith and order? Does the Bible teach a denominational relationship between church members which supercedes membership in each person’s church?

Can one Baptist church tell another Baptist church what to believe or how to behave? Can one church dictate or determine who, or who may not, be a member of another church? Does one Baptist church have any authority over the members of another Baptist Church? Does one church have any real business in judging the life of a member of another Baptist church? How then can some people justify offering the Lord’s Supper to the members of other churches? A church can not extend her privileges, any more than her discipline, beyond her organization. How sound is the logic to forbid a Methodist from participating in our Communion Service, but then opening the doors to a Baptist from another church? Did the Lord authorize denominational Communion Services?

When the Lord has given specific instructions about something, what He did not authorize, He forbade. If the Lord made the Lord’s Supper an ordinance of the local church, He forbade its being converted into a denominational or a social ordinance. Baptists, who can not see the argument that specifications about one thing prohibit another, can not blame Pedobaptists for not seeing that when Christ specified believers only in the commission, He forbade the baptism of unbelievers, bells, and babies.

When a person, having accepted Christ as his Saviour, seeks the privileges of Christ’s church, he unites with that local church only, and not with the denomination generally, and he receives and enjoys church privileges in that church alone. What right does that brother have when visiting another church of like faith and order, to vote on the question of building a million dollar auditorium, or raising the pastor’s salary to $1000 a week? He can vote on all questions of ecclesiastical polity in his own particular church but in no other. If he can’t vote on church matters in another church, why does he think that he can partake of their ordinances? He can participate in the supper in his church and no other, since he is under the watch and care of that church and no other.

Even within a local church there are things which determine a right to the Lord’s Table. Do all church members have an automatic right to partake of the Lord’s Supper at their own church? Who should be stopped from participating? What if someone who has been refused the Lord’s Supper at his church wants to take it at ours? How can our church know what has taken place at a church in another city? In giving the cup and bread of the Lord’s Supper to a stranger, we may be giving approval to a homosexual or an Arian.

Consider the symbolism of the Lord’s Supper.
What does the bread represent? What is the significance of the body of Christ? Should unsaved people be permitted to partake of the broken body of the Lord? When we invite outsiders to partake, how can we know for sure that they are truly Christians?

Why, in our observance of the Supper, don’t we offer people a choice of breads: wheat, white, soft, crispy, leavened and unleavened? What would that say about the body of Christ? We serve one bread because we have all been made one through faith in the one Christ. What if our church was filled with arguing factions: followers of Paul, Peter and Apollos; should we observe the Lord’s Supper? One of the requirements of a proper observance of the Lord’s Supper is unity. What kind of unity is there if some of the observants are not even members of that church?

What if we offered goat’s milk to our younger members, instead of the fruit of the vine? Do we have any right to alter the wine that we use? What does the fruit of the vine depict? What is wrong with using milk to depict the purity and innocence of the Lord Jesus Christ?

The Purpose of the Lord’s Supper.
What is a sacrament? Does the doctrine that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, hinder or advance the necessity of offering it to outsiders? What is the purpose of observing the Lord’s Supper?

Why do some people like to call the Lord’s Supper “communion?” What does the word “communion” generally mean? How is the Lord’s supper properly considered communion? I 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?” The Lord’s Supper is a communion, but with whom?

What business do Baptist churches have in recognizing other religious organizations which do not hold to the same opinions about the Lord’s Supper as we do?