Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lord's Supper, Questions & Answers

“Do this in remembrance of Me.”  -Jesus Christ; 1 Corinthians 11:24

What does the Lord’s Supper represent?
When we partake of it we memorialize the sacrificial death of our Savior and remember that one day He will come again.

What does the bread represent? 
The body of Jesus given for us on the cross for our salvation.

What does the cup represent?
The blood that Jesus shed for our sins.

Why is the bread unleavened?
At the last supper Jesus was sharing a Passover meal with the disciples when He instituted the Lord’s Supper. Passover bread was always unleavened. Also, in the Bible leaven (or yeast) is sometimes used as a symbol of sin. Jesus, of course, was without sin.
Our church uses matzo, the bread Jews use for their Passover today (it can be purchased at larger grocery stores). It tastes like an unsalted cracker. Some churches have someone bake an unleavened loaf of bread; but it should be unleavened!

Do the bread and cup really become the body and blood of Jesus?
No. They are only symbols to remind us of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. If they did literally become the body and blood of Jesus, Jesus would be sacrificed again each time we observe this supper. Jesus’ death and resurrection was the once for all perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity.

But, didn’t Jesus say of the bread, “This is My body” and of the cup, “This is My blood?”
Yes, but we believe He meant it symbolically rather than literally. A man may point to a 3”X5” photo and say, “This is my wife.” He does not mean it literally, but that it is a symbol, a representation of his wife. Other examples: Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” and “I am the door.” Jesus, however, is not a literal loaf of bread or a door that swings on hinges. These are statements obviously meant to be taken symbolically.

There are three views in different church denominations:
Transubstantiation - the bread and cup literally become the body and blood of Jesus.
Consubstantiation - the bread and cup spiritually become the body and blood of Jesus.
Symbolic - the bread and cup are not changed at all. They simply represent the body and blood of Jesus. Baptists take the symbolic view.

Who has the authority to observe the Lord’s Supper?
We believe Jesus gave that authority and commandment to the local church. A Baptist Association or convention should not present the Lord’s Supper. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are local church ordinances, not denominational ordinances.

Who should partake of the Lord’s Supper?
Only those who have personally received Christ as their Lord and Savior. The proper order should be: Salvation, Baptism, Lord’s Supper.

Is the Lord’s Supper a sacrament? 
No. Sacrament implies that it has saving power. Faith in Jesus saves us, not good works (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are to do good works, not to save ourselves, but because we are saved.

Is the Lord’s Supper an ordinance of the church?
Yes. An ordinance is a special commandment that Jesus gave to the church. Baptists believe Jesus gave two ordinances to the local church, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

How often should we partake of the Lord’s Supper?
Jesus said, “As often as you eat this bread…” He did not say how often. Most Baptist churches have the Lord’s Supper about every two or three months. Since the Last Supper, where Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, took place in the evening, churches usually have it during the Sunday Evening Service. Of course, it can be observed in either a morning or evening service.

How should we prepare to take the Lord’s Supper?
With a reverent, serious attitude. If you are not right with God, you should either get right with Him or not partake of the Lord’s Supper until you do so. The Bible says we should examine ourselves. Never partake of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner.

Should fermented wine be used in the Lord’s Supper?
No. Though the biblical word for wine can mean either fermented* or unfermented grapejuice, that word is never used in reference to the Lord’s supper. Rather it is either the “cup” or the “fruit of the vine.” Using fermented wine supports an evil industry that wrecks countless lives. Alcohol impairs your judgment and causes medical, spiritual, and moral problems. It presents a bad testimony and would be harmful to children and those having a struggle with alcohol. The best, safest Christian practice is to avoid beverage alcohol altogether (Proverbs 23:31-32).
* The words for wine in Scripture were used of either alcoholic (fermented) wine or non-alcoholic (unfermented) wine. Non-alcoholic wine was common in Bible times and could easily be preserved (see Ancient Wine and the Bible). The first century Jewish historian Josephus referred to unfermented wine as “wine,” and as the “fruit of the vine.”

Is the Lord’s Supper to be a big meal?
No. Only the bread and cup are served. Dinner-on-the-grounds, a fellowship meal, etc. should be enjoyed at another time.

Should I let my young children or grandchildren partake in the Lord’s Supper.
Only if they have personally and publicly trusted Jesus as their Savior.

Won’t my children feel left out?
Perhaps, but it gives you the perfect opportunity to teach them the meaning of the Lord’s Supper and the importance of them one day accepting Jesus as their Savior. Parents send a terrible message to their children when they allow them to partake of the Lord’s Supper when they have not yet been saved. You are saying it really doesn’t matter whether you trust Jesus or not.

What is open, close, and closed communion?
Communion is another term used for the Lord’s Supper.
Open Communion is when all believers are welcome to partake when a church has the Lord’s Supper.
Close Communion is when only believers of that particular church denomination or fellowship can partake.
Closed Communion is when only members of that particular local church can partake of the Lord’s Supper.
If you are visiting a church that is having the Lord’s Supper, it is best not to partake unless their view is plainly spelled out to you. Be respectful of the beliefs of others. It should not bother you in the least if they are practicing Closed Communion; that is their right.
Many churches today take the position of Open Communion and say, “let a man examine himself” (1 Corinthians 11:28). Rather than the pastor, deacons, or church having to examine each person, that responsibility is placed on the individual. These pastors also explain, “This is not my table, it is the table of the Lord.”

I saw someone who did not partake of the Lord’s Supper. I wonder why? 
That is really none of your business and should not be a topic of gossip. That is between them and the Lord. They may have good reasons of which you have no idea.

What Bible passages tell about the Lord’s Supper? 
Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:19-20; Acts 2:41-42; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:23-29.

“The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.” -Baptist Faith & Message, 2000, doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” -1 Corinthians 11:26

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, August 15, AD 2012. 

Other Articles:
Why We Don't Use Alcohol For The Lord's Supper
Basic Baptist Doctrines / Beliefs
Charles H. Spurgeon on Alcohol
Flee Immorality
Baptists on Tithing
More articles in lower right margin

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