The Lord’s Supper – The Christian’s Holy Meal

Recently in a ladies Bible class we were discussing things considered holy today. Our study was centered upon the Valley of Achor where Achan took of the devoted thing and desecrated it (Joshua 7). One of the discussion questions at the end of our study was as follows: “How is it possible for us to sin today as Achan did? How is it possible to desecrate what God declares as holy?” I asked the implied question to the group, “What do we consider holy today?” The first response I received was, “The Lord’s Supper.”

The thought of desecrating that which is holy also brings to mind the story of Nadab and Abihu. After their tragic deaths, God tells Aaron to “put a difference between holy and unholy and between clean and unclean” (Leviticus 10:10). The principle proffered here is the same presented to Peter in Acts 10:15 “What God has cleansed, that call thou not common.” Desecration of that which is holy has always brought divine disapproval and condemnation.

With these things in mind, the comment in ladies Bible class reflects an understanding by all Christians which transcends both time and culture: The Lord’s Supper is holy. It is a sacred feast sanctified by Christ and set by the Holy Spirit in the annals of apostolic authority. So sacred is this supper within the thoughts of early Christians that when abuses of it were reported at Corinth, Paul deals with these abuses in a clear and convincing manner. The Lord’s supper was not to be made common or subjected to such a context. In fact, the actions of the Corinthian church were not even acknowledged by Paul as an instance of this holy meal (1 Corinthians 11:20). Today, unauthorized innovations within the Lord’s Supper should cause us to reflect upon the mistakes of the Corinthians and to preserve its holy and uncommon nature.

The apostle’s call was for the Corinthians to abandon the common and respect the holy. To observe the Lord’s supper the Corinthians needed to recognize that when they came together as the church, they transcended the common family relationship and common meal (1 Corinthians 11:22). By fostering the familial distinctions they despised the church. Feeding one’s family was to occur within the home where common meals were appropriate. In contrast, within the church a spiritual feast should occur. It is not a feast of the body, but of the soul. It is not for physical nourishment, but for spiritual edification. The emphasis is not upon physical quantity, but spiritual quality.

Even with the clear discussion Paul gives regarding the observance of the holy feast there is still some confusion today regarding its institution within the context of the Passover meal. Does this imply, as some have suggested, that the communion is incomplete without the context of an additional fellowship meal? To the contrary, the Lord’s supper is not to be observed as supplemental to the Passover feast, but in substitution of it.

To the Jewish mind, the Passover was a holy observance that memorialized the atonement of their firstborn and their redemption from Egyptian bondage. The paschal lamb itself was not looked upon as merely a holy feast, but an atoning sacrifice made to God. In place of the life of the firstborn, God allowed them to substitute the life of a lamb. The blood of the lamb was to be placed upon the lentil and they were then to roast it and consume it. The consumption of the lamb was to be accompanied by unleavened bread and bitter herbs. It was to be wholly consumed by every member of the family and whatever remained was to be burned with fire (Exodus 12:1-20).

The suggestion some have made that Jesus, in instituting the Lord’s supper, borrowed from the Passover and reinterpreted the elements is inconsistent with His fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17). In contrast, it is consistent to say that He made application of the elements in the context of the perfect Paschal Lamb–His own atoning sacrifice. (Is this not how he partakes of this meal in His kingdom today? [Luke 22:16, 18]) The context of the Passover meal becomes moot to the Lord’s Supper because Christ as our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8) replaces the sacrificial and atoning lamb; His sufferings replace the bitter herbs (Isaiah 53). Remembrance of the redemption of Egypt becomes remembrance of our redemption from sin through the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ (Luke 22:19; Matthew 26:28). We consume not the flesh of the sacrificial lamb of the Passover, but the body and blood of the sacrificial Lamb which is Christ (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25). And just as the sacrificial lamb was to be wholly consumed by every member of the family, every member of the body of Christ is to partake of the supper without division (1 Corinthians 11:18). The Lord’s Supper as representative of the ultimate passover of the sins of man through Christ replaces and transcends the Mosaic meal (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8).

Why some will want to inculcate elements of a common meal or elements from a dead system of atonement into the sacred supper of the Savior mystifies me. The Lord’s supper is holy. Efforts to innovate this divine communion will only result in God’s displeasure. May we seek to respect God’s ways and make the appropriate distinction between the holy and the common.

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The Original

The trip to De Leon, Texas was productive on a number of levels. I had a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my grandmother both going to De Leon and on the return trip. She lives in Graham, Texas, just south of Wichita Falls.

My grandmother’s maiden name is Daily and I had opportunity to see the grave site of the original Daily’s that moved to Texas sometime in the 1860s. The couple were James and Susan Daily. James was born in 1834 and Susan was born in 1843. They married in 1859 and moved to Texas from Mississippi sometime in the 1860s. They were buried in the Farmers cemetery outside of Loving, Texas. They were the original Texas Dailys.

Just south of De Leon, Texas about 10 miles, is the town of Dublin. Dublin has the distinction of being the place where the popular soft drink Dr. Pepper was first bottled. It had existed merely as a fountain drink prior. Moreover, in the mid 1900s, the price of cane sugar went up and most companies changed to corn syrup as the primary sweetener in their drinks. The bottling company in Dublin, however, did not; they stayed with the cane sugar. To this day, they continue to bottle the original Dr. Pepper.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, Upon this rock, I will build my church. It was on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 that the original church of Christ began. Today, there are many churches in existence. How do we know which one is the original?

The Catholic church claims that it is the original due to descendency. That is, they claim that they are the original because they descended from the original. Such might be a reasonable argument were membership based upon blood-line. However, one doesn’t become a member of the church by physical birth, but by spiritual (John 3:3-7).

This means that the only way to know the original church isn’t by descendency, but by formula. It is those churches who follow the original formula for Christ’s church today that are the originals. We can know that we are the original church of Christ when we follow the pattern that is set forth in the scriptures for the church (2 Timothy 1:13) for the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11).

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God Has Given! Will You Receive?

Before the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan into the Promised Land, Moses spoke to them to encourage them to remain faithful to God. This series of speeches that Moses gave are recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. Near the beginning of the book Moses says the following: “The LORD your God hath given you this land to possess it” (Deuteronomy 3:18). After Moses had died and the people were about to go into the land to possess it, Joshua told them, “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land” (Joshua 1:13). The land that the children of Israel were to live on had been given to them by God; it was the gift of God. Yet, they still had an obligation to go in and take what was given to them. If they had turned around and went back to Egypt, they would not have received the gift that God gave to them.

Shortly after the children of Israel entered the land, they came upon the walled city, Jericho. In the ancient world, a walled city was a particularly formidable thing to conquer unless an army was prepared to wage a long campaign. But God said to Joshua, “See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour” (Joshua 6:2). God had given Jericho to Joshua and the children of Israel. Yet, the children of Israel had to take the city. They were given special instructions about marching around the city once each day for six days and then seven times on the seventh day. After that they were to blow their horns and shout and God said the walls would come down and they could go straight up into the city and conquer it. The city of Jericho was the gift of God, but if the children of Israel had not obeyed God, then they would not have received God’s gift.

In Ephesians 2:8 Paul writes, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” There are many today who say, “Salvation is God’s gift to man and so there is nothing that one must do to be saved.” Of course many say that one has to “believe,” but they turn around and say that “belief” isn’t a work that you do (regardless of the fact that Jesus said it was � see John 6:29). These fail to take into account the fact that Israel’s land was a gift of God yet Israel had to take that gift; they had to receive it. So also it is today; the salvation that God gives to man through Jesus is a free gift! That concept, however, doesn’t do away with the fact that God expects us to obey Him in order to receive that gift. In fact, the Bible teaches that obedience is necessary for one to be saved. In Hebrews 5:9 God’s grace teaches, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Indeed, salvation has already been given for those who obey.

What must we do to receive salvation? After having heard God’s word we must believe it (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6). We must then repent of our sins (Acts 17:30). We must then confess Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 10:32,33; 1 Timothy 6:12-13). We must then obey the command of Jesus in Mark 16:16 and Matthew 28:19 to be baptized. It is at that point that we receive God’s gift of salvation as Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:1-11, Colossians 2:11-13, and 1 Peter 3:21 teach. Praise God that salvation is a gift! Praise God that we can receive that wonderful gift through our obedience and be saved!

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