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Steadfast in Breaking of Bread

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How many Christians stop to consider the importance of the Lord’s Supper in relation to spiritual maturity? Yet the Scriptures make it plain that this feast of remembrance is indispensable to steadfast continuance in the Christian life.

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Introduction

Acts 2:42 KJV 1900
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
How many Christians stop to consider the importance of the Lord’s Supper in relation to spiritual maturity? Yet the Scriptures make it plain that this feast of remembrance is indispensable to steadfast continuance in the Christian life.
Having said this, however, it must be made clear that’ the Lord’s Supper is not a means of obtaining salvation or merit. In fact, as we shall see a little later, participation in this feast is restricted to believers only.
Another misconception which must be cleared up is that of associating the Holy Communion with transubstantiation or consubstantiation. Nowhere in the Word of God are we taught that the Lord’s Supper is a continuance of the one sacrifice offered forever upon the cross, or that those who partake of the bread and wine eat and drink the actual body and blood of Christ. Such notions as these only serve to rob this simple remembrance service of its essential meaning, purpose and blessing.
Let us understand that the Lord’s Supper was instituted by the Master himself in order to provide a means whereby we might uniquely demonstrate our Christian faith, hope and love to the audiences of heaven, earth and hell until Jesus comes again. It has been well stated that life’s most significant truths are not spoken, but are acted out. In the communion service we act out what we believe.
This feast of remembrance is indispensable to a steadfast continuance in the Christian life. It was instituted by our Lord as a demonstration of our Christian faith, ho and love to the audiences of heaven, earth and hell “till He come.”

I. The Breaking of Bread is an Act of Obedience

1 Corinthians 11:2 KJV 1900
Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
In introducing this statement, the apostle says, “Keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2).
1 Corinthians 11:24–25 KJV 1900
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
Then, quoting our Savior’s words, he reminds us that Jesus commanded, “This do”; and again, “This do ye” (11:24, 25).

A. Obedience Means a Willingness to Observe the Ordinance

1 Corinthians 11:26 KJV 1900
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup” (11:26).
Judging by the rarity of the occasions on which this feast of remembrance is observed in the Christian church today, we would have to conclude that the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, to most people, is a burdensome duty, rather than an act of willing obedience.
1. Amplify
… to show that the practice of the early church was the regular observance of the Lord’s Supper (see Acts 2:46 and Acts 20:7).
Paul said, As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.”
Acts 2:46 KJV 1900
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Acts 20:7 KJV 1900
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

B. Obedience Means a Worthiness to Observe the Ordinance

1 Corinthians 11:27 KJV 1900
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
“Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (11:27).
These words obviously exclude the unregenerate person from sharing in this feast.
But the statement does more: it lays a solemn responsibility upon every believer to examine himself—his attitudes and actions—before observing the Lord’s Supper (see 11:27–32).
1 Corinthians 11:27–32 KJV 1900
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

C. Obedience Means a Watchfulness to Observe the Ordinance

1 Corinthians 11:29 KJV 1900
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
Paul warns against not discerning the Lord’s body (11:29).
A believer at a communion service has a far more sacred and important duty to perform than to examine other people’s hats, or talk in undertones, or look bored; he is committed to an active and watchful obedience.
To discern the Lord’s body, he must seek by personal concentration and spiritual appreciation to see beyond the shadow to the Substance, and beyond the physical symbols to the Savior Himself.
2. Amplify
… by discussing ways and means of making the communion service meaning and precious.

II. The Breaking of Bread is an Act of Remembrance

1 Corinthians 11:24–25 KJV 1900
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
“This do,” said Jesus, “in remembrance of me” (11:24, 25).
The ordinance was not to be a mere memorial of an historical event, but a sacramental opportunity for “calling to mind” the Lord Jesus Himself.
The exact word “remembrance” is only employed in the New Testament four times, and three of these occasions occur in connection with the Lord’s Supper.
This is no mere passive recollection, but a specific activity whereby the whole personality is committed to a given purpose, a living encounter with Christ Himself.

A. The Spirit is Given over to Adoration

Both in the Gospels and here in 1 Corinthians 11, the breaking of bread is associated with giving; thanks (11–24, 25).
Deep thankfulness to God, in the light of Calvary love does, to a certain degree, find expression in “the fruit of our lips’ (Hebrews 13:15).
Hebrews 13:15 KJV 1900
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
But preeminently, thanksgiving and adoration are an activity of the spirit.
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
John 4:24 KJV 1900
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

B. The Soul is Given over to Contemplation

This do in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25).
We have already observed that adoration calls to mind the Person of Christ.
The deep reality of His death will necessarily occupy the heart at such a moment, but them should be, at the same time, the full recognition of Christ Himself as the Living One.
If our worship is “in spirit and in truth,” then Jesus will come before the soul’s contemplation through the meaning of the symbols (Luke 24:30–35), the ministry of the Scriptures (the greatest teaching; compare John 13–16; also Acts 20:7–12), and the miracle of the Spirit (John 16:13, 14).
Luke 24:30–35 KJV 1900
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
John 16:13–14 KJV 1900
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
4. Illustrate
… e.g. Stephen Olford recounts: I once heard Mr. Montague Goodman, an outstanding preacher and Bible expositor, say that truth had nowhere become so real to him as in a communion service. He went further and confessed that even though it was never his set intention to prepare messages at such times, nevertheless entire sermons emerged out of those periods of quiet contemplation of Christ.

C. The Body is Given over to Dedication

1 Corinthians 11:26 KJV 1900
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
“Eat this bread, and drink this cup” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
While we know that no merit is communicated through material bread and wine, it must be clear to the spiritual mind that the physical act of eating and drinking of these symbols is a faith identification of the believer’s body with the body and blood of Christ.
And when we recall that His body was separated to God, and His blood was sacrificed unto death, then identification with him demands the dedication of our souls, our lives, our all.
5. Amplify
… to show the true meaning of dedication (see Romans 12:1–2).
Romans 12:1–2 KJV 1900
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

III. The Breaking of Bread is an Act of Allegiance

“For as often as ye eat bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come” (11:26).
The words “ye do show” are better expressed “ye do proclaim.”
Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we show our allegiance to Christ and Him crucified, and since we are involved in His redemptive work, because of Calvary, we declare our allegiance in a threefold way.

A. We Show Allegiance to Christ in our Fellowship in Him

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do proclaim” (11:26).
The many loaves and multiple cups that are used throughout the world represent, in the last analysis, the one Christ in His broken body and outpoured blood.
Participation in this feast of remembrance is a testimony to the fact that we are one in Christ, “for we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).
1 Corinthians 10:17 KJV 1900
For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
Or as the hymnist puts it:
Yes, this table of communion,
Whither by the Lord we’re led,
Sweetly speaks of blessed union,
One the body, one the bread.
6. Illustrate
… e.g. Stephen Olford recounts: Perhaps my most vivid recollection of a communion service was when scores of African believers converged on a mission station for a week of meetings and a concluding feast of remembrance. The remarkable feature of this particular event was that at least a dozen different tribes were represented. Five or ten years before this, these people would have been at one another’s throats in mortal combat, but now they were quietly sitting around a rough camp table on which was spread a white cloth and simple vessels containing bread and wine. As I recall that scene of silent worship and sweet fellowship, I can think of no better caption than the words of the apostle, “All one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

B. We Show Allegiance to Christ by our Faith in Him

“Ye do proclaim the Lord’s death” (11:26).
The central fact of “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) is the death of Christ.
Jude 3 KJV 1900
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
All the other doctrines of the Christian Church are held together by this pivotal truth.
When a godly Jew observed the Passover feast, he looked forward, by faith, to the death of Christ.
When the Lord Jesus instituted the holy Supper, He directed His disciples to look back to His death.
And so both feasts—the Old Testament Passover and the New Testament Supper—testify to the centrality of the cross.
Whether to the world or to the Church, the Lord’s Supper proclaims that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
1 Corinthians 15:3 KJV 1900
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
7. Illustrate
… e.g. Stephen Olford recounts: In the African church in which I grew up as a boy, it was not an uncommon experience to see men and women gloriously born again at a communion service.
As they sat silently and watched the demonstration of the Christian faith in this simple ordinance of the breaking of bread, the meaning of the symbols, the, ministry of the Scriptures and the miracle of the Holy Spirit wrought transformations again and again.
In a very real way, therefore, the breaking of bread is a preaching service in that the ordinance heralds forth, proclaims, the Lord’s death.

C. We Show Allegiance to Christ by our Future in Him

“Ye do proclaim the Lord’s death till he come” (11:26).
Every time we meet to remember the Lord according to His prescribed pattern, we declare, in no uncertain terms, the doctrine of the second corning of Christ, which is the blessed hope of the Church. Indeed, the breaking of bread is the link between the cross and the crown, the first advent and the second advent.
Every time we gather in this way we should think more deeply of this blessed hope until we are purified by its sanctifying influence, even as He is pure (1 John 3:2, 3).
1 John 3:2–3 KJV 1900
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
8. Illustrate
… e.g. When orthodox Jews celebrate the Passover there is an empty chair at the table. It is there because it is believed that some day, at this feast, Elijah, the forerunner of the Messiah will appear. After the meal the elder son is commanded to go and see if the expected guest is coming. This is repeated until the head of the household is satisfied that for another year the Messiah has delayed His coming.
Although we, as Christians, believe that the first coming has taken place, we tend to lose sight of the glorious prospect of that second advent. This feast of remembrance is designed to remind us that Jesus is on His way back to rapture His waiting Church, “that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).
Ephesians 5:27 KJV 1900
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So as an act of allegiance, we not only declare fellowship and faith in Christ, but also our future in Christ.

Conclusion

The Christian life can never be kept fresh and progressive without this holy ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. So may the breaking of bread call forth from each one of us love and devotion to our precious Lord, as we press on to spiritual maturity.
May this ordinance of the breaking of bread call forth from us love and devotion to our precious Lord, as we press on to spiritual maturity.
[Outline Adapted from: Stephen F. Olford, Institutes of Biblical Preaching, Volume One (Memphis, TN: Olford Ministries International, 1980).]
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