The Lord's Supper
Memory Verse: 1Corinthians 11:26
Prayer: That God will lead us to see the great spiritual truths in the Lord’s Supper.
Key Verses: Matt. 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:15-20; 1Cor. 10:16-17,21;
The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by Him the same night wherein He was betrayed, to be observed in His churches unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and showing forth (1Cor. 11:23-26) the sacrifice of Himself in His death for the elect believing church members.
The Lord’s Supper is the second of the two ordinances set in the Lord’s Church, and in the New Testament, it is always second in order of observance to baptism. There is no record of any person in the New Testament ever partaking of the Lord’s Supper without having first been baptized. The rite which symbolizes creation, beginning, birth - namely the rite of baptism - of course precedes the rite which symbolizes sustenance, continuance and nurture. This ordinance is also called “Communion,” for it is a “sharing together” in symbolism, the body and blood of the Saviour (1Cor. 10:16-17) by the members of the local congregation. Church relations is a secondary symbolism of the broken bread, according to this text, for the partaking of the bread is a declaration that one is a member of that church observing the ordinance. This is why this ordinance is restricted, not open, and any person who is not a member of the church is not to partake, even though he might be a member of a sister Baptist church. At the original institution, it was observed by only eleven disciples and Jesus. Not even his mother attended it.
The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrament. The Roman Catholics make the Lord’s Supper, which they call the Eucharist, one of their seven sacraments. A sacrament is defined as follows: “Sacraments ... are not just symbols. They are signs that actually convey God’s grace and love.” (from: Pillar of Fire Pillar of Truth, The Catholic Church and God’s Plan for You. Pg. 13) This contradicts the real nature of grace, for grace is unmerited favor (Rom. 6:23-24; Eph. 2:8; Titus 3:5). The Catholic Church has always falsely taught her children that at the moment the priest, at Mass, pronounces the words of consecration over the bread and wine, they are changed into the actual sacred body and Blood of Christ. They claim that the celebration of the supper constitutes a repetition of the sacrifice of Christ. This denies the completeness of Christ’s one sacrifice and the assumption that a human priest can repeat or add to the atonement made by Christ once for all (Heb. 9:28).
In the observance of the Lord’s Supper there is very little scripture to guide us. We have the record of the institution of the Lord’s Supper by Jesus as recorded in the Gospels (Matt. 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:19-20). The only record we have of any church definitely observing the Lord’s Supper is found in 1Cor. 11:17-34. In this Paul severely condemns the Church for the manner in which it observed this memorial meal; thus we learn more about the rightful observance of the Lord’s Supper by implication than by direct word. The right way to observe the Lord’s Supper is inferred by the words of condemnation because of the wrong way of observing it.
To observe the Lord’s Supper the church (1Cor. 11:17-18) came together as an assembly. The proper place to eat the Lord’s Supper is only when a Baptist Church (the right kind) comes together as a body. Actually the Corinthian Church or any church was worse for having incorrectly observed the Supper. The Lord has placed certain restrictions and qualifications upon participants of the Lord’s Supper. The first pre-requisite to partake of the Lord’s Supper is baptism (Matt. 28:20; Acts 2:41-42). And of course it must be scriptural baptism (reference lesson on Baptism). Also the scriptural observance of the Lord’s Supper is inseparably connected with efficient church discipline (Matt. 18:l7; 2Thess. 3:6; Titus 3:10; 1Peter 4:17). If there be divisions or heresies in the church, the memorial meal is not to be observed (1Cor. 5:9-13).
I myself have been in a sister church (the pastor a friend) when they were observing the Lord’s Supper. The pastor’s wife urged us to partake but we declined. We stated afterwards that we would only observe the Lord’s Supper in our own church. If this principle is observed and adhered to, it will forever set at rest the argument centered in the age-long theory of Closed Communion. Neither can this Supper be observed in associational or conventional form; that is not a church. I, as others, while in military service was asked to observe the memorial meal served by Chaplains, in most instances by Roman Catholics or those similar. It was not according to scripture, therefore a mockery.
Now, There are three theories concerning the Lord’s Supper…
· The Roman Catholic teaching that the elements used in the Lord’s Supper actually become the literal flesh and blood of Jesus.
· Decreed by Pope Innocent III in the year 1215 (This Is The Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus, page 15).
· The teaching that Christ is received in the taking of Holy Communion (Christ and His Church, Knights of Columbus, page 5).
This is due to a misunderstanding and misapplication of Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20 and John 6:54-56 (which see). Some things are literal, some are figurative. Sometimes the difficulty is in knowing which is which. In these passages, e.g. Mark 14:24, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many,” Jesus cannot be talking about his literal blood, for it had not yet been shed! So it is evident he was talking figuratively. The Lord’s supper is figurative not literal. It is a picture; a remembrance of Him. Just like Baptism is a figure or picture of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
· The Lutheran and Anglican teaching, which is quite similar to transubstantiation except that the elements used co-exist with the literal flesh and blood of Jesus…whatever that means. Perhaps because the taste does not change to that of flesh and blood but I am just guessing.
3. The Scriptural way
· That the Lord’s Supper commemorates or symbolizes the broken body and shed blood of our Lord.
…then, there are three ways that folks who believe number 3 observe the Lord’s Supper.
1. Open Communion
· Fostered by a belief that the Church is universal.
· Anyone who is saved may partake.
2. Close Communion
· A Baptist universal church
· All saved Baptists may partake
3. Closed or Restricted Communion
· Fostered by the Bible teaching that the Church is both local and visible.
· That both ordinances delivered to the Church are Church ordinances.
· Therefore the only possible teaching is that only members of a particular local visible church may partake, and even then, only provided they meet the scriptural requirements.
· This is the only scriptural way of observing the Lord’s Supper.
But then - many folks are not that concerned with what the Bible teaches. They like what they like and do what feels good to them.
The memorial meal symbolizes the broken body and the shed blood of the Son of God and its observance points backward to the crucified Lord on Calvary and forward to the returning Lord in glory. As the O.T. Jewish feast of the Passover pointed backward to the Exodus from Egyptian bondage (Ex. 12:3-14), so the New Testament church feast of the Supper points backward to Christ (1Cor. 5:7-8). In this ordinance there is:
1. The Backward look - to Calvary
2. The Forward look - to the Return of Christ
3. The Upward look - of dependence upon the finished work of Christ
4. The Inward look -of self-judgment before we come to the Lord’s Table.
All these looks enter into the correct observance of this ordinance, and where these are neglected, there is danger of chastisement from the Lord (1Cor. 11:27-34), even to the point of sickness and death. “Unworthily” in these verses, is an adverb of manner and deals with how one observes it, not who observes it. Personal worthiness to partake is never a question, for none are worthy (Matt. 26:27).
There are four Scriptural Requirements which are easily remembered by the acronym S.P.A.M.
1. A PROPER SUBJECT
· A saved person (Heb 13:10).
· Scripturally Baptized (Matt 28:20).
· A member of the particular local church, in good standing, not under discipline (Matt 26:20).
· An orderly walk devoid of offense to his fellow church members.
· Participants must examine themselves (1Cor 11:28), so before we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we should examine ourselves as to whether:
1. We be in the faith (2Cor 13:5)
2. We have been scripturally baptized
3. We are in good fellowship with the church, our Pastor, and each member
4. Our life is orderly
5. We are partaking for the right purpose
2. A PROPER PURPOSE (1Cor 11:24-26)
· It is commanded, “This do ye...”
· It is a memorial, “This do ye... in remembrance of me”
· It has an evangelistic aspect to it, “ye do shew the Lord’s death”
· It is prophetic, “Till he come”; and He is coming.
3. A PROPER ADMINISTRATOR
· Only a New Testament church has the authority to administrate the ordinances (1Cor 11:22,23).
· Paul commits the Lord’s Supper into the charge, not of the body of officials, but of the whole church.
· The Lord’s Supper, as a church ordinance, is to be administrated by the church to its members through one of its members whom the church has appointed.
· Inasmuch as it is a church ordinance, to be observed in the local body, it is no reflection upon any individual from another church, nor upon any other church, to restrict the observance of the supper to members of that particular church only.
4. A PROPER MODE
· The elements are the “bread” and the “cup”.
· The bread is to be unleavened bread.
· The cup is to be the pure “fruit of the vine” (Matt. 26:29, Mark 14:25).
Our Confession does not deal with the elements of the Lord’s Supper - except to say, “unleavened bread and fruit of the vine” (Article III, Section 14) - but our church believes that the bread is to be of unleavened whole wheat flour (1Cor. 5:6-8) baked into a single loaf to picture the unity of church relations between all the partakers (1Cor. 10:17). Unleavened bread was the kind Jesus used, since it was that which was used in the feast of the Passover.
We use pure unfermented grape juice in the Lord’s Supper. The reason we do…is not due to the temperance movement, nor is it to avoid the appearance of evil (who is going to buy the wine, and where?), nor is it to avoid association with the Roman Catholic church. The reason we use pure unfermented grape juice is that we believe it is the proper element and is in fact what Jesus gave His disciples in the upper room when He instituted His memorial supper.
Read Matthew 26:27-29; Mark 14:23-25; Luke 22:17,18
In these three passages concerning the institution of the Lord’s supper, Jesus uses the term “fruit of the vine.” In Paul’s references in 1Cor 10:16 and 11:25-28, He uses the term “cup.” The Holy Spirit was careful not to use the word “wine” in these five passages. Let’s find out why.
THE USAGE OF THE WORD “WINE”
1. The word “cup” is a figure of speech for something to drink. The term “fruit of the vine” is a figure of speech for the extract of the grape. The symbolism is that of being crushed, so that it might be poured out. It is to picture the blood of Jesus as it flowed from His body on the cross.
2. While the word “wine” is used throughout the Bible, it is critical to note, it is not used in any reference to the Lord’s Supper.
3. The Hebrew word “yayin”, and the corresponding Greek word “oinos”; as well as the Latin word “vinum”, and the English word “wine” are generic words. They designate the juice of the grape in all of its stages.
4. In Bible Wines, Or The Laws Of Fermentation (pp 62,63), author William Patton says:
“Here then, are four generic words, yayin, oinos, vinum, and wine, all expressing the same generic idea, as including all sorts and kinds of the juice of the grape. Wine is generic, just as are the words groceries, hardware, merchandise, fruit, grain, and other words... But the misery and delusion are that most readers of the Bible, knowing of no other than the present wines of commerce, which are intoxicating, leap to the conclusion, wine is wine all the world over - as the wine of our day is inebriating, therefore the wine mentioned in the Bible was intoxicating, and there was none other.”
5. Advocates of wine for the Lord’s Supper say that only fermented “wine” is pure. But the scriptures declare otherwise... During Israel’s wilderness trek it is said, “Thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape” (Deut 32:14), which can be nothing else but the juice of the grape. This is proven from Gen. 49:11: “Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.” This indicates that the “pure blood of the grape” is found in the vine, not in the vat.
6. Another reason given for using fermented wine is that it was used at the Passover which was celebrated just before the Lord’s Supper was instituted. You may be surprised to learn that wine was never made a part of the Passover by divine command or even by example. That some Jews used fermented wine in the Passover may be true, but that does not prove that Jesus or His disciples used it. It was never commanded to be used, and to assume that Jesus used it is pure supposition. Many folks assume without proof that fermented wine was part of the Passover.
7. Another reason given for using fermented wine is that it was used at the church at Corinth. “Were they drunk on grape juice?” it is asked. Answer: The Greek word “methuo,” it is true, sometimes means inebriated, but also often has no other meaning than satiated or full. This same Greek word is used in Rev. 17:6 where we read, “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints...” which certainly does not mean inebriated. A synonym for “satiated” is “gorge,” suggesting gluttony to the point of bursting. In 1Cor 11:21, this word is obviously used in contrast with “hungry”, and so must mean only “satiated”. The majority of the church, being of the poorer sort, and not having abundance to eat as the rich did, would be separated from them, and a rift thereby be created in the church, in which case the Lord’s Supper could not be rightly observed.
However, even if we grant that these were drunken, it proves nothing as to the character of the “cup” used in the Lord’s Supper, for the drinking which produced the drunkenness, if there was such, was done at a feast before the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
Let me say again; in the five passages concerning the Lord’s supper, Jesus uses the term “fruit of the vine”, Paul uses the term “cup.” The word “wine” is not used.
The Absolute Prohibition of Proverbs 23:29-31
29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
One cannot read this passage without coming to the conclusion that God is speaking of something He loathes as an article for human consumption. There is no suggestion that it is a good thing He has given us to enjoy. It is viper’s poison (v32).
When Lot and his family were fleeing Sodom, they were told not even to look back at the city. So there is a wine that we are not even to look at. This is because if we gaze at something attractive, it is the first step toward partaking. Pastor I. D. Riddick always said, “It’s not the first look at a pretty girl in short shorts that is sin, it’s the second look.”
The prohibition of Proverbs 23:29-31 is not properly explained in any other way than total. In verse 29 we have a reference to redness of eye as a result of drinking. Since there was no other word in the ancient languages in which the Bible was written for alcohol or for alcoholic beverages, what is more natural than that some characteristic of the result of drinking should be used to designate such beverages? It could be called red-eye (as it was in the old western movies), referring to the blood-shot eyes of drinkers.
The Hebrew Word Yayin (Commonly Translated Wine)
Yayin is in Biblical Hebrew the appropriate word for the unfermented juice of the grape. But of course it is also appropriate for the fermented juice of the grape. This dual use of the same word is similar to that of the English word “cider” (either alcoholic or non-alcoholic).
Yayin is assumed by many people to be always an alcoholic drink. This is a mistake which has led to much confusion.
1.Isaiah 16:10 “The treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses.” Notice where the “wine” is. It is in the press. Now what do you put in the press? Grapes. What comes out of the press? Grape juice.... (non-alcoholic).
2. Proverbs 3:10 “Thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Notice again that this “wine” can only be pure unfermented grape juice.
3. Isaiah 65:8 “New wine is found in the cluster.” WHAT DID HE SAY? The Lord said “WINE is found in the cluster.” Well where do we find the cluster? On the vine. And God calls it “wine.”
What does this prove? Well for one thing, it proves that the word “wine” does not always mean alcoholic wine. Many times it means pure unfermented grape juice. And we have already seen that only unfermented grape juice is considered by God as pure (Deut 32:14).
The Wedding at Cana
Some folks like to use the wedding feast at Cana for an example of how Jesus Himself miraculously made wine from water, and they assume that the wine was alcoholic. Considering the prohibition of Proverbs 23:29-31, and having seen that the word wine means both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, why assume that the wine had to be alcoholic. To do so makes the Lord Jesus to put an intoxicating drink to the lips of his neighbors in clear violation of scripture.
“Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink” (Hab. 2:15)
I don’t believe that my saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, would in His first public miracle, violate scripture and make fermented, alcoholic wine, to be served to his neighbors and friends. I don’t believe it for a second. I believe that the “wine” that Jesus created was the sweetest grape juice ever to caress the human palate, and as Brother B. H. Hillary said in 1942 when my father was saved, was a “heavenly ambrosia”. My father asks, “Could not have Jesus with superhuman rapidity, produced that marvelous conversion of water into the best tasting grape juice ever?”
As for the wedding feast at Cana described in John 2:1-11, it is clear that Jesus was righteously indignant at His mother for her suggestion in verse 3 that He do something about the wedding party’s running out of wine. He said to her, “what have I to do with thee?” Why did He use such strong language? We must understand that the stern words were brought forth by the circumstances which our Lord observed. People at the wedding party were already intoxicated.
Stephen M. Reynolds in Alcohol And The Bible says:
“The situation appears to have been as follows: The wedding party had been indulging in cheap, foul tasting wine, made perhaps partly from diseased grapes, and having a high alcoholic content. The people were drunk and were behaving in a manner which moved to righteous indignation our Lord who was and is absolutely pure of mind and body. His mother’s sorrow that the party had run out of that sort of wine and her implied suggestion that He provide more of the same caused Him in righteous sorrow to speak stern words to her which have much puzzled Bible commentators.”
“He would not have blamed her for not knowing that His hour had not yet come if by this expression He meant the time for performing His first miracle. The reason for His indignation must be sought elsewhere. His time had not yet come (and never would come) to create an intoxicant, but the time had come, as He immediately demonstrated, to perform His first miracle.”
“The non-intoxicating drink which our Lord created was recognized by the governor of the feast, who because of his responsibilities had surely not become drunk, as the best wine (grape juice), seeming to have come from the very best grapes. He therefore said to the bridegroom, “thou hast kept the good wine until now.” This he said as a connoisseur of choice vintage without regard to alcoholic content.”
I agree with Mr. Reynolds’ comments.
Paul’s Admonition To Timothy
In 1Tim 5:23 the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” Was Paul telling Timothy to drink alcoholic wine for his stomach ache? It is well known that alcohol does nothing good for the stomach.
Doctors take people with serious digestive problems off of alcohol. But since there is non-alcoholic wine (pure grape juice), we conclude that this is the wine Paul was recommending to Timothy.
There is medical literature on the medicinal value of grape sugar. Ernest Gordon wrote in Christ, the Apostles and Wine,
“No better medicine for Timothy’s stomach and chronic infirmities could have been recommended by Paul than the juice of the grape.”
The whole Bible, studied in its entirety, enjoins total abstinence from intoxicants except possibly as a narcotic medicine under special conditions. We have not even looked at Noah, who got drunk and fell into sin that brought a curse upon an entire race of people.
We have not even looked at Lot who got drunk and committed incest with his daughters.
There are many cases such as these where drunkenness has led to sin and sorrow. And as the longest journey begins with the first step, the road to alcoholism and drunkenness begins with the first drink. I firmly believe that God would have us to never take that first drink, regardless of the reason.
Let me say again; In the five passages concerning the Lord’s supper, Jesus uses the term “fruit of the vine”, Paul uses the term “cup.” The word “wine” is not used.
Perhaps because the word “wine” might suggest to some an intoxicant, Jesus preferred to use another term less suggestive of alcohol. In fact, the words “fruit of the vine” really excludes alcohol. By using the words “fruit of the vine,” Jesus excluded from valid communion all but the juice of the grape.
Matt. 26:29 “But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
We have seen that “new wine” is found in the cluster of grapes hanging on the grape vine (Isa 65:8). We have seen that the juice or “blood of the grape” is pure. We have seen that Jesus, to avoid confusion, did not use the word “wine”, but instead to emphasize that the element is pure unfermented grape juice, used the term “fruit of the vine.”
The only conclusion is that we are to use pure unfermented grape juice in the Lord’s Supper.