*THE LORD’S SUPPER (COMMUNION)*
part 2 of 2
*C. THE MEANING OF COMMUNION*
–In 1215 at the Lateran Council, the Roman Catholic Church adopted transubstantiation as its official view of communion. Transubstantiation means that as a priest consecrates the elements they become the actual body and blood of Christ
–Reasoning that the body and blood of Christ are necessary to salvation, the Catholic Church could terrorize medieval nations by withholding mass from their populations. This practice of “interdiction” often brought fearful and ignorant people to revolt against kings who displeased a pope. The transubstantiation view was also the basis for denying the cup to the laity. They might profane the service by spilling some of the “blood of Christ”
–Protestants rejected the transubstantiation view of communion as HERESY. The biggest objection is that transubstantiation views Christ as being sacrificed again and again contrary to the New Testament which teaches His sacrifice was A COMPLETE SACRIFICE THAT NEVER NEEDS REPETITION, Heb10:10,14
–Another heresy fostered by the transubstantiation view is that of SALVATION THROUGH WORKS. Contrary to the Bible, transubstantiation makes our religious deeds and rituals the basis of salvation (Rom4:5; Eph2:8-9; Tit3:5)
–Those who believe in transubstantiation utterly fail to understand correctly to the phrase “THIS IS MY BODY.” Clearly, the Lord was speaking metaphysically because He was sitting right there in flesh and blood while He spoke these words! Literal interpretation means that words should be taken in the most normal, customary, usual meaning given the laws of language, the customs of the times, and the context. With Christ present in the body, the phrase, “this is my body” should be interpreted the same way as “I am the door,” or “I am the vine,” or “I am the light.” This is “My body” means “this represents My body.”
–True participation in Christ’s broken flesh and shed blood is defined in John6. The Lord in v.35 and 48 claims to be “the bread of life.” In Jn6:55 He teaches that His flesh is food and His blood is drink. It is helpful to remember that the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper had not yet been given at the time of John6. Thus, in the context, eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood has nothing to do with communion. Rather it refers to a personal appropriation of the benefits of Christ’s broken body and shed blood as the Lord Himself explains in the context, Jn6:47-48
–It must be noted that the last parts of Jn6:40 and Jn6:54 are clearly parallel and that “believes in Him” is the equivalent of “eats My flesh” and “drinks My blood.” Communion is not the subject of John6. Christ is teaching personal appropriation by faith in His broken body and shed blood.
The Lutheran view rejects the notion that the elements become the actual body and blood of Christ. It maintains that the body and blood of Christ are present in a mystical sense along with the literal bread and cup.
Providing one believes in the finished work of Christ and justification by faith alone (as most conservative Lutherans do), consubstantiation is much less objectionable than transubstantiation. Since Christ is spiritually present inside each believer Rom8:9 and present when two or three gather together in His Name Matt18:20, the same way Lutherans say the Lord may be spiritually present in the communion elements. One can heartily agree with the Lutheran view that the gospel is proclaimed in every communion service. Although the elements themselves do not save, the realities of the broken body and shed blood do save; and even the elements symbolically teach the means of salvation to all who understand the observance (see 1Cor11:26, “proclaim the Lord’s death”)
*3.THE MEMORIAL VIEW!*
–Churches in the Reformed, Presbyterian, and Baptist traditions generally adhere to the memorial view of communion. This means that the elements are not the actual or mystical body and blood of the Lord, but rather they are symbols to assist in remembrance. Several phrases reveal that this is one intent of the communion service: “do this IN REMEMBERANCE OF ME” Luke22:19, 1Cor11:24, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you PROCLAIM the Lord’s death until He comes” 1Cor11:26. I believe this memorial view is biblical
–Having established that the Lord’s Supper should be considered a memorial, it is logical to study the specifics of the memorial. What does God want His people to remember? This can be nicely classified by the three terms used for this ordinance: Eucharist, Communion, and the Lord’s Supper:
The term Eucharist is not just an ecclesiastical term that is the property of specific denominations. It is a form of the Greek word for “THANKSGIVING.” The observance of the Eucharist should cause us to remember with deep gratitude the sacrifice of Christ’s broken body and shed blood. Christ gave His life voluntarily out of sacrificial love (Jn10:18; Matt26:53; Heb12:3), and He deserves eternal thanks. The Eucharist assists us so that we never forget to be mindful of His death and the benefits of His broken body and shed blood
-Communion has a Latin derivation and refers to having something IN COMMON. The Greek word translated as communion in the English New Testament means “FELLOWSHIP.”
-The communion service should remind believers of their fellowship, union, oneness with Christ and with all other believers. By partaking of “ONE BREAD” and sharing of “ONE CUP” in communion, we remember our sharing with and union in Christ’s life and of the union of all believers in the church.
1Cor10:16-17 associates communion with both a union with Christ’s life (specifically the benefits of His shed blood) and union with all other believers in the body of Christ.
*(c) LORD’S SUPPER*
The Lord’s Supper reminds us that He is the UNSEEN HOST of the observance. Also, more than the other terms, it points back to the ORIGIN of the ordinance at the time of the Last Supper before the cross. It is the Lord’s Supper because HE IS THE ONE WHO HAS ORIGINATED IT. In observing the Lord’s Supper we should remember that Last Supper, and especially CHRIST’S PROMISE to come again and partake with us in His Kingdom. Although the ritual forces attention to the PAST DEATH ON THE CROSS and to the PRESENT UNION WITH CHRIST and with all other believers, it should also cause us to remember the promise that CHRIST SHALL RETURN. See Matt26:29, 1Cor11:26b
-The Holy Communion is intended of course for CHRISTIANS ONLY, even those that might not be baptized yet, for they are also Christians. Paul says in 1Cor.11:28,31 that each one should analyze himself, NOT ANALIZE OTHERS. Leadership must analyze others that desire to take a position of authority in the church 1Cor3:10, 1Tim5:22 but we don’t analyze those that desire to take the communion, it is between the believer – or one that testifies to be a believer – and God.
-Partaking of the Holy Communion does not remove your sins; faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross washes your sins 1Jn1:7-9, Rom3:25