Summary: Teaching on the meaning of the Lord's Supper, its meaning, purpose and implication
The Lord’s Supper, Its Meaning And Importance.
1.Cor. ch.11 vs.26-34
There are only two ordinances or sacraments, outward observances of scriptural truths that are commended to Christian believers and in which they are asked to participate. For example we are not asked to observe Lent, Easter or Christmas as holy events. I will not criticise calendar-based observance of these events because anything that draws attention to our Lord Jesus Christ, the greatness of His Person and work can only be for His praise and our blessing. However we must recognise that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only sacraments that the Holy Spirit of God has placed within the canon of Holy Scripture for us to observe in obedience to the word.
Baptism as a Christian sacrament is observed once in a believer’s lifetime. Its deep, personal significance is intended to continue and have a profound influence on us for the rest of life’s journey in the company of the One who died and rose from the grave for us. We are not saved by baptism but it is the obedient expression of the victory over death that we share with our risen Lord. Being baptised a second time is not according to scripture.
To remember the Lord Jesus in His death by the sacrament that is described in our scripture this morning is not just a privilege, it is a responsibility in obedience to the command of Jesus. Note the words in verses 24 & 25, “Do this…” It is not optional. Paul also suggests that it is something that we do “often” (1 Cor.11: 26). When we gather round the Lord’s Table, what are we doing, why are we doing it and why is it important? We must have answers to these questions. They focus our hearts on the meaning and purpose of the death of our Lord Jesus on the cross.
First of all, we should note that it is Paul’s account in this scripture that primarily gives us our authority to partake of the Lord’s Supper. If the three Gospel accounts of the Supper were the only records, it might have been thought that it was only for the Lord’s disciples who had been with Him in His earthly ministry. We must therefore note how Paul emphasises the divine mandate he has in writing this letter to Corinth. Firstly, as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, called by the will of God (ch1.v1), Paul stamps his authority in his insistence on church order. Secondly he reveals that it is truth that he personally received from the risen, ascended Christ, not from any earthly source, not even from the other Apostles. He might have had the events of the upper room described to him by one or more of the Lord’s Apostles who had been present, but He does not take his authority from such information. This account is therefore given unquestionable and absolute authority towards the church, local and universal, in every succeeding generation because it came from its risen, ascended Head.
Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles. He was an Apostle by the will of God. It was through his apostleship that the church of God received teaching that has been its charter and guide down through nearly two thousand years. The letters that Paul wrote to the early churches and to individuals have the full authority of the Holy Spirit of God and must be accepted as God’s word. All departure from the truth and every schism in the church have been due to a failure to abide by some feature of Paul’s ministry.
In our passage Paul immediately directs our thoughts to the background against which our Saviour instituted this most holy of ordinances. It was the “night in which He was betrayed” (v.23) that He took bread and gave thanks. Note that there is no reference in Paul’s writing here to the Passover Feast. We have that in the Gospels. We are reminded there of the great typology of Exodus, the sacrificial lamb and the Jewish rituals that looked forward to the great anti-type. Here we only have the most simple details of the actual elements that our Lord ordained as a remembrance of Himself in His death. For that reason I believe that when we celebrate this love feast in remembrance of Christ in His death we should carefully restrict our actual method of doing so to the simplest possible form. We should not attach any formality, pomp or human ideas to the ceremony. We do not don fancy robes or uniforms. We need no incense or accompanying music. We should not attach the collection of money to the sacrament. We must not attach any importance to those who minister the word, serve in prayer or as stewards in this matter. We must fasten our thoughts, affections and hearts on Christ alone.