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BCC004 The Ordinance of Communion

Understanding Our Faith  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:44
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Terms & Definition

The Ordinance of Communion is known by a few names. Communion which is found in
1 Corinthians 10:16 NKJV
16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
And we will define this a little more later.
The Lord’s Supper is also a common name found in
1 Corinthians 11:20 NKJV
20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.
And lastly Eucharist which has been a traditional name in the established churches, that is the Catholic and Orthodox Churches for well over 1000 years and is found in
1 Corinthians 11:24 NKJV
24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Hang on, you say. Where was the word Eucharist there? Well, this is where it is helpful to know Greek for the ‘giving thanks’ is eucharisteō
The root of this word also means to rejoice.

How did we come by Communion?

The three Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, known as Synoptic Gospels records for us at the Last Supper when Jesus recast a centuries-old Jewish religious meal, the Passover, in terms of a new-covenant relationship with him accomplished by his death, burial, and resurrection . I’ll read two now:
Mark 14:22–25 NKJV
22 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. 25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 22:19–20 NKJV
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
In the final plague on Egypt, God sent the angel of death to pass over the entire land, killing the firstborn male of every household and all livestock. To escape this judgment, Israelites were commanded to sacrifice an unblemished lamb for each household and to smear blood from the sacrifice on the doorposts of their homes. When the angel of death saw a home with sacrificial blood over its doorposts, he “passed over” that home. The blood turned away the judgment of God from that home. During the exodus, God commanded Israel to commemorate their flight and deliverance from Egypt with a special meal (Exodus 12).
Ever since that fearful night, faithful Jewish families ate the Passover meal and explained the extraordinary deliverance of God to the next generation of Jewish children. No doubt Jesus’ disciples had these things in mind when Jesus instructed them to prepare for the Passover (Matt. 26:17–19). But during that Passover meal, Jesus spoke remarkable and surprising words about the true meaning of the meal itself:
Here is where we will read the one in
Matthew 26:26–30 NKJV
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

What does Communion Signify?

Body and Blood

Baptism and the Lord's Supper The Elements: Body and Blood

The night that Jesus instituted Holy Communion, he redefined the elements of the meal. The bread and wine stood for centuries as reminders of the lambs slaughtered on that first Passover. But Jesus revealed what even that first Passover signified: his body broken and his blood shed for sin. In the simple act of eating and drinking, the disciples were to remember that Christ our Passover Lamb was sacrificed (1 Cor. 5:7). He sacrificed himself “for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

We eat and drink in faith, and we are reminded that we have forgiveness through Christ and his atonement.

Nourishment

Baptism and the Lord's Supper The Meal: Nourishment

Jesus continues to be the food that nourishes Christians

Baptism and the Lord's Supper The Meal: Nourishment

This means, in part, that the Lord’s Supper belongs to the weak Christian. No one comes to the Table in unblemished worthiness or undiminished strength. We come to the Table in need. We come to the Table fresh from battles with sin, discouragement, unbelief, and the world. We need to be fed again. We need to receive the sustenance that Christ affords. By faith we receive the nourishment we need

Participation

In so doing we are also participating in the crucified Christ. He gives life and strength to the soul just as food and drink sustains the body. It also signifies our union with Christ and makes a visible difference between believers and the world and also reveals our communion with one another as well as Jesus.
Another translation says:
1 Corinthians 10:14–16 HDNT (ESV)
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Eating and drinking this meal indicates the believer’s union or participation with Christ. Believers appropriate the benefits of Jesus’ atoning work and rely upon the continuing sustenance of Christ, the bread of life.
Calvin said:
This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us; that, becoming Son of man with us, he has made us sons of God with him; that, by his descent to earth, he has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that, by taking on our mortality, he has conferred his immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, he has strengthened us by his power; that, receiving our poverty unto himself, he has transferred his wealth to us; that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself (which oppressed us), he has clothed us with his righteousness.

Unity of the Church

The Lord’s Supper also represents the unity of his people:
1 Corinthians 10:17 ESV
17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
When the church gathers at the Lord’s Table, believers must recognise this spiritual unity. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for failing to reflect their unity in Christ. He had no praise for them, saying that their “meetings do more harm than good” (1 Cor. 11:17). The troubled divisions in the Corinthian church were manifested in divisions at the Lord’s Table of all places (1 Cor. 1:10–13; 11:18–19). Selfishness and gluttony so prevailed at the Table that Paul concluded that it was “not the Lord’s Supper you eat” (1 Cor. 11:20).
For the meal to truly be the Lord’s Supper, members of the church needed to eat and drink in a worthy manner, in part by “recognising the body of the Lord” at the Supper (1 Cor. 11:27, 29). Are we talking about Jesus Himself or the body of Christ, as in the Church? Undoubtedly, from the criticism that Paul makes of the Church, it is the Church Paul is speaking about. They were to recognise the unity of the church as one loaf, one people, joined together with Christ through his sacrifice on our behalf. Failure to do so constituted “sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:27). In such cases, the Table also became a place of judgment and self-examination (1 Cor. 11:28–34). This means we should be seeking unity and keeping unity and getting ourselves right with anyone that we hold a grudge against or know someone has a grudge against us.

The Lord’s Supper and His presence

The Roman Catholic Church has what they call 7 sacraments:
Baptism
Eucharist
Confirmation
Reconciliation
Anointing of the sick
Marriage
Holy orders
We do not teach these as sacraments.
We have ordinances of which there are two: Baptism and Communion

Difference between sacrament and ordinance:

Sacrament means that this is how you receive grace from God, that is salvation
and ordinance is a practice that demonstrates one’s faith in obedience to Christ.
There are three ways of understanding the presence of Jesus at Communion:

Real Physical Presence

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that during the celebration of the Eucharist a miracle happens wherein the bread and wine continue to look like bread and wine but are really turned into the physical body and blood of Christ. This view, known as transubstantiation, also claims that in the Eucharist there is a re-presentation of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, not just a sign remembering the Lord’s death.
Their insistence that the Mass re-presents Jesus’ sacrifice plainly contradicts the Bible, for example:
Hebrews 7:27 ESV
27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
And there are other verses such as Rom. 6:10; Heb. 9:12, 26; 10:10). Christ Jesus died once-for-all-time and now lives forever to intercede for his people.
The Lutheran view of Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Supper also takes the words of Christ’s institution literally. But Luther maintained that the elements were not transformed; they remained bread and wine, but Jesus’ body and blood are present in, under, and along with the elements of the sacrament. This view is called “consubstantiation.”

Memorial View

On the other end of the spectrum there have been Christian bodies that deny that Christ is present in any way in the Lord’s Supper. The memorial view emphasises “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:24–25). So the Supper becomes a remembrance or memorial. Many commonly associate this view with the Swiss Reformer Huldrych Zwingli, who opposed the Roman Catholic and Lutheran views of Christ’s presence in the Supper.
I certainly have no issue with those who believe this but there is a third view which, I think, carries more weight:

Spiritual View

When we behold and partake of the elements in Communion, we receive by faith all that they signify regarding the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. By faith, Christ joins us at the Supper, and we anticipate the day when faith gives way to sight and we eat with the Savior in the Father’s kingdom (Matt. 26:29).

How old must you be?

So the proper participants in the Lord’s Supper are those who trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation as offered in the gospel and who have received been baptised in the body of Christ, his church. The Lord’s Supper is for professing believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who have “discerned the body of the Lord,” that is, the church (1 Cor. 11:29).

Conclusion

Let us remember how this used to be celebrated in the past. It was always as part of a meal. It was always joyous celebrating what Jesus had done for us. This does not mean that it cannot be done with contemplation for that is what is what we are reminded of by Paul, to be minded of what we are doing. But in it we rejoice in our Saviour giving us liberty from sin and death and hell. Whenever the early Christians got together it was normally to eat. And they would always also celebrate communion as part of fellowship.
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