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                          "THE LORD'S SUPPER"


INTRODUCTION

1. An act of worship in which we engage each Sunday is The Lord's
   Supper...
   a. Known also as The Communion (1Co 10:16) and The Breaking Of Bread
      (Ac 2:42)
   b. Today, some refer to it as The Eucharist, from the Greek
      eucharisteo, "giving of thanks", which Christ did at the time of
      its institution - Mt 26:26-27

2. It is a simple act, in which those who are Christians...
   a. Partake of unleavened bread
   b. Drink of the fruit of the vine

3. It is an important act, one that we should understand why we do it,
   lest our participation be...
   a. Meaningless to us
   b. Displeasing to God
   c. Detrimental to us - cf. 1Co 11:27

[Therefore it behooves all Christians, especially those new in the
faith, to be well acquainted with the meaning and practice of the Lord's
Supper.  Let's begin by carefully noting...]

I. THE MEANING OF THE SUPPER

   A. IT IS A MEMORIAL...
      1. Note Paul's account as given by the Lord Himself - 1Co 11:
         23-25
         a. We eat the bread in memory of His body
         b. We drink the cup (fruit of the vine) in memory of His blood
      2. We therefore commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross - Mt
         26:28
         a. Whose death make the new covenant possible - He 9:16
         b. Whose blood was shed for the remission of sins - Ep 1:7
      -- As the Passover was a memorial commemorating Israel's
         deliverance from Egypt through the blood of the lambs on the
         door post, so the Supper is a memorial of our Lord's death who
         makes our deliverance from the bondage of sin possible

   B. IT IS A PROCLAMATION...
      1. We proclaim our faith in the efficacy of the Lord's death
         - 1Co 11:26a
         a. That His death was indeed for our sins
         b. If we don't believe He died for our sins, why keep the
            Supper?
      2. We also proclaim our faith in the Lord's return - 1Co 11:26b
         a. For it is to be done "till He comes"
         b. If we don't believe He is coming, then why keep the Supper?
      -- Thus the Lord's Supper looks forward as well as backward, and
         will ever be observed by His disciples who trust in His
         redemption and anticipate His return!

   C. IT IS A COMMUNION...
      1. A fellowship or sharing in the blood of Christ - 1Co 10:16a
         a. As we partake, we commune with the blood of Christ
         b. Perhaps in the sense of reinforcing blessings we enjoy
            through the blood of Christ - cf. 1Jn 1:7,9
      2. A fellowship or sharing in the body of Christ - 1Co 10:16b-17
         a. As we partake, we commune with the body of Christ
         b. Perhaps in the sense of reinforcing fellowship together in
            the body of Christ (i.e., the church), as we break bread
            together
      -- The extent to which we share in the body and blood of the Lord
         as we partake may be uncertain, but dare we neglect whatever
         may be the benefits of that communion?

["The Lord's Supper" certainly has great significance and should not be
taken lightly.  We do well therefore to consider what the Scriptures
reveal about...]

II. THE OBSERVANCE OF THE SUPPER

   A. TO BE DONE WITH REVERENCE...
      1. That is, "in a worthy manner" (NKJV) - 1Co 11:27,29
         a. The KJV says "worthily", which some have misunderstood
         b. It is an adverb, describing how we take it, not whether we
            are worthy (none are truly worthy)
      2. With respect for the supreme price Jesus paid for our sins
         a. E.g., the cruel torture and humiliation of His physical body
         b. E.g., the spiritual anguish suffered as Jesus bore the
            punishment for our sins ("My God,
            My God, Why have You forsaken Me?")
      3. Failure to observe with proper reverence brings condemnation
         - 1Co 11:27,29
         a. One will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord
         b. One will eat and drink judgment to himself
      -- To make light of this memorial puts one in the same category as
         those who mocked Him as He hung on the cross!

   B. TO BE DONE WITH SELF-EXAMINATION...
      1. Such as reflecting upon one's spiritual condition - 1Co 11:28
      2. Are we living in a manner that shows appreciation for His
         sacrifice?
         a. By accepting the grace of God in our lives? - cf. 2Co 5:18-
            6:1
         b. By living for Jesus who died for us? - cf. 2Co 5:14-15; Ga
            2:20
      3. Or are we by willful sinning, guilty of having:
         a. "trampled the Son of God underfoot"?
         b. "counted the blood by which [we were] sanctified a common
            thing"?
         c. "insulted the Spirit of grace"? - cf. He 10:26-29
      4. Do we, by refusing to repent of our sins, "crucify again for
         themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an shame"? - cf. He
         6:4-6
      -- In one sense, the Supper is a very private matter between a
         Christian and his or her God; a time to reflect on the past and
         to resolve for the future

   C. TO BE DONE WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS...
      1. There is ample indication the Supper is designed to be a
         communal meal
         a. The disciples "came together" to break bread - Ac 20:7
         b. When they came together, they were to "wait for one another"
            - 1Co 11:33
         c. Partaking together of "one bread", they demonstrate they are
            "one bread and one body" - 1Co 10:17
         -- We commune not just with the Lord, but with one another
      2. For this reason I personally question such practices as:
         a. Observing the Supper by one's self when camping or traveling
         b. Observing the Supper on Sunday night when just one or a
            couple of people in the congregation are partaking
         c. Taking the elements to the sick or shut-in who were unable
            to assemble
         -- While such issues may fall in the realm of opinion, let's
            not forget that the Supper builds fellowship with one
            another as well as with the Lord!

   D. TO BE DONE OFTEN...
      1. The Biblical evidence is that it was done weekly
         a. Christians came together on the first day of the week to
            "break bread" - Ac 20:7
         b. Other indications of a weekly observance:
            1) The church at Corinth was coming together to eat the
               Lord's Supper, though they were abusing it - cf. 1Co 11:
               17-22
            2) Instructions concerning the collection suggest their
               coming together was on the first day of the week - cf.
               1Co 16:1-2
         c. Following the divinely approved example of Christians in the
            Bible, we know God approves of a weekly observance on the
            first day of the week
      2. The earliest historical evidence outside the Bible confirms the
         day and frequency
         a. The Didache (ca. 95 A.D.) indicates Christians were to come
            together on the first day of the week to break bread
            - Didache 14:1
         b. Justin Martyr (ca. 150 A.D.) records how Christians
            assembled on Sunday and partook of the Supper - Apology I,
            67
         c. "...the early church writers from Barnabas, Justin Martyr,
            Irenaeus, to Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Cyprian, all
            with one consent, declare that the church observed the first
            day of the week. They are equally agreed that the Lord's
            Supper was observed weekly, on the first day of the week."
            - B. W. Johnson, People's New Testament
      3. Religious scholars confirm this was the practice
         a. "As we have already remarked, the celebration of the Lord's
            Supper was still held to constitute an essential part of
            divine worship every Sunday, as appears from Justin Martyr
            (A.D. 150)..." - Augustus Neander (Lutheran), History Of
            Christian Religion And Church, Vol. I, p. 332
         b. "This ordinance (the Lord's Supper) seems to have been
            administered every Lord's day; and probably no professed
            Christian absented themselves..." - Thomas Scott
            (Presbyterian), Commentary On Acts 20:7
         c. This also is an important example of weekly communion as the
            practice of the first Christians." - A. C. Hervey
            (Episcopalian), Commentary On Acts 20:7
         d. "It is well known that the primitive Christians administered
            the Eucharist (the Lord's Supper) every Lord's day."
            - P. Doddridge (Congregationalist), Notes On Acts 20:7
      4. Some believe that a weekly observance diminishes the importance
         of the Supper
         a. Which is why they may do it monthly, quarterly, or annually
         b. But does the frequent practice of:
            1) Assembling diminishing its value and importance?
            2) Singing praises and offering prayers devalue their
               benefits?
            3) Preaching and studying God's Word decrease their
               significance to our lives?
      -- Our spiritual lives are dependent upon the value and benefits
         of our Lord's death on the cross; a weekly observance of the
         memorial helps us to live appreciatively and accordingly!

CONCLUSION

1. "The Lord's Supper" is a very special memorial of His death for our
   sins...
   a. Instituted by Jesus Himself, He asked His disciples to do it in
      His memory
   b. Jesus told His disciples that He would not eat of the elements
      again until:
      1) "...that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's
         kingdom." - Mt 26:29
      2) "...that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." - Mk
         14:25
      3) "...it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God." - Lk 22:16
      4) "...the kingdom of God shall come." - Lk 22:18
   c. There are two plausible explanations for what Jesus means:
      1) Some think it refers to Jesus having fellowship with us as we
         observe the Lord's Supper in the church, which is His kingdom
         - cf. 1Co 10:16-17
      2) Others propose that it refers to the special communion we will
         have with Jesus in His Father's kingdom, spoken often in terms
         of a heavenly feast - cf. Isa 25:6-8; Mt 8:11; 22:2-14; Lk 14:
         15-24; Re 19:9

2. The first Christians "continued steadfastly" in its observance...
   a. Just as they did in the apostles' doctrine, fellowship and prayer
      - Ac 2:42
   b. Coming together on the first day of the week for that very purpose
      - Ac 20:7

3. Christians today should never lose sight of its significance for
   us...
   a. A constant reminder of the great sacrifice Jesus paid for our sins
   b. A communion or sharing of the body and blood of the Lord
   c. A time for self-examination and rededication of our service to the
      Lord
   d. A means for building fellowship with one another in the body of
      Christ

May such thoughts encourage us to never neglect opportunities we have to
observe the Lord's Supper, but to continue steadfastly and in so doing
"proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."
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