By Pastor Stephen W. Pyle
Elkins Church of God of Prophecy
This article is dedicated in loving memory of Bishop Stan Lambert and Dr. Joseph Roby.
While reflecting on this subject and writing under Holy Spirit inspiration, this writer realizes a great burden of sensitivity to be shared, and the nature of its importance. Christ tells us, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Most article references will be based on Paul's text (KJV) in 1 Corinthians 11:20-34.
Paul gives us these words in verse 23, "For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you ..." When partaking of the sacraments of The Lord's Supper, we're reminded of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who said to his disciples "this do in remembrance of me." Paul writes to the Corinthian Church in verse 26, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
There are many traditions with "The Lord's Supper or Communion," a.k.a. The Eucharist, Divine Liturgy or Sacrament. Differing theological terms are expressed as: Commemoration, Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation and other forms. Chaplains serve the bread and wine in military venues and to wounded or dying soldiers. Some in ministry offer this to persons in nursing facilities, homes, hospital and other places.
Many congregations have a monthly communion service schedule where different settings are used. Others may receive Holy Communion more or less often. As much as possible, a feet washing service should accompany The Lord's Supper (see John 13:2-17).
The celebration must be carefully administered to those "truly saved or born again" by grace through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. Eighteenth century reformer Jonathan Edwards was persuaded "that a wrong principle of admission to the Lord's table imperils the whole nature of the church, for then the world and the church cease to be distinguished." Partaking of communion should not be a frivolous or careless experience.
"Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man 'examine' himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh 'damnation' to himself, not 'discerning' the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (or are deceased). (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)
Christ preaches in John 3:7, "Marvel not that I said unto thee; Ye must be born again." Peter warns us not to take God's holy word lightly, "And account that the long-suffering or our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which 'are some things hard to be understood,' which 'they' that are 'unlearned' and 'unstable' wrest as they do also 'the other scriptures,' unto 'their own destruction.' (2 Peter 3:15-16)
"Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (1 Corinthians 5:8)
Once as a young Christian adolescent, the communion service was given and I was afraid to participate. My grandmother encouraged me that if I'd committed sin, I could ask forgiveness from the Lord by faith, and then partake. On another occasion as an adult, upon examining myself and realizing that 'not' to partake was wrong, but yet feeling unworthy to receive it, I burst into tears. After the minister's council, with faith and heartfelt peace from God, I received the Lord's Supper.
Jesus mentions "the fruit of the vine" (Luke 22:18); which refers to grape juice and 'not' an intoxicant version of wine. In many of these celebrations, we've partaken with various types of bread elements including: the bread loaf and unleavened wafer or cracker.
The orthodox traditions of Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation are pseudo theological doctrines that attempt to describe the nature of Christian Eucharist in concrete 'metaphysical' terms. It holds that during the sacrament the fundamental substance of the body and blood of Christ are present alongside the substance of the bread and wine, which remain present.
Soon after the death of the apostles, creeds and man made ideology mingled and choked out Spirit and Truth. Ignatius of Antioch was apparently influenced by the doctrine of Transubstantiation in A.D. 106. Constantine and the 325 A.D. Nicene Council further politicized the true church that Jesus established in 28 A.D. and inaugurated at Pentecost. The church apostatized while plunging into centuries of erroneous superstitions, idolatry and spiritual darkness. (Isaiah 60:1-2 and Jude 3) God mandated the true light of the Church's Protestant Reformation and Restoration; and many groups haven't abolished Transubstantiation dogma.
Queen Elizabeth the First issued this response, "Christ was the work that spake it, ... He took the bread and break it, and what his words did make it, that I believe and take it."
In these orthodox methodologies, the wafer or bread substance is often 'dipped' into the grape juice and 'then' partaken. Most would agree that Jesus used one cup among his disciples. Microbiological studies have proven the existence of bacteria in the common cup, and because of widespread concern about STD's and other infections, extreme caution should be exercised with the administration of the bread and wine.
A certain Jacksonville, Florida, woman is quoted as being "creeped out" by the common cup used. "That's not for me and there is no way I am putting my mouth where five million mouths have been." In my lifetime while being served this Christian ordinance, we've mostly drank the grape juice from sanitized individual miniature glass or plastic cups.
While eating the Paschal meal, Jesus dipped bread into the sop with Judas. This sop is believed by many, to have been a liquid substance such as bitter herb broth, sauce, gravy or olive oil. To the Church at Corinth, Paul is clearly and only speaking of "Commemoration." In John chapter six, Jesus symbolically refers to his blood as 'drink' and his body as 'meat' indeed. He is the "Living Bread come down from heaven."
As the resurrected Son of God, he no longer has a 'mortal body of flesh and blood' and according to the Bible, we 'do not' have the human ability to bring back his 'broken' crucified body to be consumed in any 'mystical' way, "Because thou canst not make one hair white or black." (Matthew 5:36b) "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." These elements of 'bread' and 'wine' are representative 'only' of Christ's bodily sacrifice and should be partaken separately as Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 11. We no longer know Christ after the 'flesh' but in 'Spirit and in Truth.' (2 Corinthians 5:16, John 4:23-24 and Isaiah 53:5)
In his third appearance to his disciples after the resurrection (Luke 24:39), Jesus proclaimed that a 'spirit does not have (a celestial body of flesh and 'bones') as you see me have." "Flesh and 'blood' (terrestrial or human bodies), will not enter into the kingdom of heaven." In the wilderness temptation, Jesus rebukes Satan when he declared, "Man shall not live by bread along, but by every word proceeding out of the mouth of God."
"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, "This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." Likewise also the cup after supper saying, "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:15-20) There is "A prepared table and cup." (Psalms 23:5)
Some of the laity now partake of the Lord's Supper in a home 'self-service," televangelist fashion. Even from 'house to house,' (except for the common practice of the breaking of bread), without the ordained or authorized Christian clergy administering this sacred communion; to partake unworthily and individually, is spiritually and physically dangerous.
When David hungered in the temple, he ate the priestly shewbread. This however, was 'not' during a Jewish worship celebration. The Corinthians would gorge themselves with food and drink and then partake of the Lord's Super. Paul admonished all, "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another (examining ourselves). And if any man hunger, let him eat at home that ye come not together unto condemnation." (1 Corinthians 11:33-34) The apostle explains to us, "Behold, I show you a more excellent way."
Real, holy and spiritual communion with the Lord, is experienced with blood bought, born again, sanctified, Holy Spirit filled saints of God, who are properly administered this ordinance as the apostle instructs us: The bread substance should be broken and eaten first, then we should 'drink' the juice.
Jesus calls us in Revelation 2:17, to draw a close relationship with him. "To him that overcometh will I give to 'eat' of the 'hidden manna'." "Behold I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)
"Soon the lamb will take his bride, to be ever at his side, all the hosts of heaven will assembled be, it will be a glorious sight, all the saints in spotless white and with Jesus we will feast eternally. Come and dine the master calleth, come and dine, you may feast at Jesus' table all the time, He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine, to the hungry now he calls come and dine." (PD)