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The Lord’s Supper

the supper

Do you Partake?

Supper is a dying routine. The family that prays together, stays together. Yea, I know, we all neglect praying together-at least in the capacity the scriptures command; much like the apostles, we sleep. You will notice that over the ages, society has slowly destroyed close family gatherings. Most all of us are so ingrained into our jobs and leisurely activities that we no longer have time for supper gatherings. When we do meet, we are all on our mobile devices. We are distracted. Has God allowed for these things.

Amos 6:1 Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, And trust in Mount Samaria, Notable persons in the chief nation, To whom the house of Israel comes! 2 Go over to Calneh and see; And from there go to Hamath the great; Then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory? 3 Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, Who cause the seat of violence to come near; 4 Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on your couches, Eat lambs from the flock And calves from the midst of the stall; 5 Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; 6 Who drink wine from bowls, And anoint yourselves with the best ointments, But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. 7 Therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives, And those who recline at banquets shall be removed.

Are we like those in the book of Amos who have all the good things of life, lying on our marble stone beds, ignoring what is most important. Have we been lulled into a place where even our spiritual lives are amiss?
I was reading a webpage the other day that was made up of final comments made by those who were about to executed under Texas’ death penalty. Right before these men and woman were about to die, they were given a final meal of their choice and then a chance to make a statement.

John Wayne Gacy requested 12 fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe KFC (he had managed 3 KFC restaurants), french fries, and 1lb of strawberries

Ted Bundy declined a special meal, so he was given the traditional last meal of medium rare steak, over-easy eggs, hash browns, toast with butter and jelly, milk, and juice.
This was their last supper…..

These men were monsters; they deserved the sentence they received for their horrendous crime. We thank God for magistrates that yield the hammer in our behalf and restrain the evils of the world. Even in the secular realm, God is sovereign. In contrast to this ‘last supper’ where these men were guilty as charged, Christ was innocent; His sentence was sacrificial. Many believe that the Jews were guilty of condemning Christ; remember, even Pilate says that his hands were clean and the blood be on the Jews. Christ was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. He laid down His life freely. No man could take it outside of the sovereignty of God. It was not the Jews, it was the Father; giving the Son, for the elect of God alone.

John 10:17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

Think about it; Christ, decreed before the foundation of the world, to be the perfect, unblemished lamb, to be sacrificed for His bride, the elect, once for all time:

Eph. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

If you notice, right before Christ’s passion, He left the bride two things: the Great Commission and the Lord’s supper. It is obvious that Christ saw these two mandates as paramount to the essence of the visible church; there are many things that the scriptures speak of that are beneficial to the church; these two things are beneficial and imperative-they are of the essence and benefit of the church. They are a reflection of the character of God and we must consider them a priority.

A local church, without these two essentials cannot be considered a true church. Remember, a true church is obedient to the commands of Christ. The true church has leadership. The leadership has authority. The commission and the distribution of sacraments must come from the hands of Christ through its officers and must be distributed routinely. Officers that neglect this responsibility are in grave error and need to rightfully repent, even step down from their positions.

Both the Lord’s supper and Great Commission are proclamations.

In the Hebrew:

GK H2410 | S H2199 זָעַק zāʿaq 73x
v. [root of: 2411; cf. 7590; 10237]. Q to cry out, call to, weep aloud, howl; N to be called, be summoned; be assembled; H to summon, cause to gather together, issue a proclamation. → call out; cry out; summon.

A proclamation is to ‘cry out’, ‘to call’ ‘be summoned’.

In the Greek, it is essentially the same thing:

GK G2859 | S G2605 καταγγέλλω katangellō 18x
to announce, proclaim, Acts 13:38; in NT to laud, celebrate, Rom. 1:8 → announce; make public; proclaim.

Acts 17:23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:

Acts 20:20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,

Acts 26:23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

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

All sacraments can only be understood and received spiritually. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

Heb. 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

The Last Supper has a direct relationship to the Passover of the Old Testament. It is not the Passover, however; let me make that clear at the onset. To understand the Lord’s Supper better, we must consider it’s Old Testament relative, the Passover.

What is the Passover?

Passover is the biblical account of Israel as they sat under Egyptian rule; Pharaoh was at the helm. God met w/ his disciple Moses and told Moses to deliver to Pharaoh a message to ‘let my people go that they may worship me’. In Pharoah’s hardened heart, he refused; God responded by sending plagues on Egypt. The final plague was the death of all of Egypt’s firstborn sons, passing over all of Israel’s children; if you recall, Israel was directed to kill a lamb.
Ex. 12:1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: “On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. 10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’S Passover.

How is the Passover similar to the Lord’s Supper?

Jesus was the true Lamb of God. Perfect. ‘Without blemish! John the Nazarene said it best:

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

John, being the priest, he knew well what the temple sacrifices accomplished. The temple sacrifices never served to pay for sin-they were imperfect.

Covering versus atonement; Old versus New.

The Old Testament saint had to offer up a various animals for sacrifice. This sacrifice was no more than a covering; it did not atone for sin. Do you understand this? There is only one way to be saved and only one sacrifice for sin and that being the man Christ Jesus! In the midst of these sacrifices, the men who represented Israel were true believers. They offered up the sacrifices in the same faith that we have today, in Christ alone. God commanded these blood sacrifices in light of this truth and hence, they were obedient.

Lev. 16:23 “Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and shall take off the linen garments that he put on when he went into the Holy Place and shall leave them there. 24 And he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place and put on his garments and come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 And the fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar. 26 And he who lets the goat go to Azazel shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. 27 And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. 28 And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. Lev. 16:29 “And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. 30 For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins. 31 It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. 32 And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments. 33 He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.”

And Aaron did as the LORD commanded Moses.

Is. 1:11 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.”

Heb. 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

Heb. 10:11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Micah 6:6 With what shall I come before the LORD, And bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, With calves a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, Ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Isaiah 51:16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.

The Reverend Bruce Buchanan writes:

“The sacrifices of Israel were atoning insofar as they were offered with a view toward the mission of Messiah, however that oblation should come to pass (as the OT waited for it in obscurity). The sins of believers were forgiven, as they worshiped in faith, hoping in the substance of which the offerings themselves were only shadows. Their sins were forgiven, then, not on the basis of the animal sacrifices, but on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice, united to those signs by faith.”

Do you understand that these temple sacrifices were being offered 24/7:

2 Chron 24:14 When they had finished, they brought the rest of the money to the king and Jehoiada, and with it were made articles for the LORD’s temple: articles for the service and for the burnt offerings, and also dishes and other objects of gold and silver. As long as Jehoiada lived, burnt offerings were presented continually in the temple of the LORD.

The Hebrew word used here in 2 Chronicles is:

GK H9458 | S H8548 תָּמִיד tāmiyḏ 104x
n.m. (used as adv.) (adv.) continually, constantly, regularly, daily. → always; constantly; continually; daily; ever; regular.

The same word is used here in Exodus in relation to the lamps at the tent of meeting:

Ex. 27:20 “And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.

Jer. 33:18 nor shall the priests, the Levites, lack a man to offer burnt offerings before Me, to kindle grain offerings, and to sacrifice continually.’ ”

Heb. 10:1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.

Taken from Jewishfaq.org/Judaism101:

When did Jews stop offering sacrifices, and why?

For the most part, the practice of sacrifice stopped in the year 70 C.E., when the Roman army destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, the place where sacrifices were offered. The practice was briefly resumed during the Jewish War of 132-135 C.E., but was ended permanently after that war was lost. There were also a few communities that continued sacrifices for a while after that time. We stopped offering sacrifices because we do not have a proper place to offer them. The Torah specifically commands us not to offer sacrifices wherever we feel like it; we are only permitted to offer sacrifices in the place that G-d has chosen for that purpose. Deut. 12:13-14. It would be a sin to offer sacrifices in any other place, akin to stealing candles and wine to observe Shabbat. The last place appointed by G-d for this purpose was the Temple in Jerusalem, but the Temple has been destroyed and a mosque has been erected in the place where it stood. Until G-d provides us with another place, we cannot offer sacrifices. There was at one time an opinion that in the absence of an assigned place, we could offer sacrifices anywhere. Based on that opinion, certain communities made their own sacrificial places. However, the majority ultimately ruled against this practice, and all sacrifice ceased.”

*Notice how God completely dismantled the Jewish religion. No temple, no sacrifice, no religion.

These sacrifices in the temple acted as shadows and ritual purification only.

The Lord’s Supper, The Lord’s table and communion. Out with the Old, in with the new!

The Last Supper was the beginning of the end: No longer would there need to be the ritual sacrifices of the temple; Christ would solve this problem once and for all.

Rom. 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

Heb. 7:27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

Heb. 9:12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Heb. 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Doolittle writes:

The Passover signified Christ who was to come; the Lord’s Supper signifies Christ already come.”

Jesus Himself infers:

John 6:32   Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:34   Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” John 6:35   And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

John 6:53   Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

The Lord’s Supper was instituted at the Passover meal between Jesus and His officers:

Christ met with His apostles on the night He was to be betrayed:

1Cor. 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 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.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, s“Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father psent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.

To not partake of the supper is to not have eternal life. The supper is part and parcel; it is the gospel laid out practically and physically.

Bavinck writes:

“In his doctrine of the Lord’s supper, Calvin proceeded from the beautiful idea that God has received us through baptism into His church, that it, into His house. He has welcomed us there not as bondservants but as children. Like a good father he fulfills the obligation to feed us and to provide everything we need in order to live. For that reason He provides not only for our physical needs, but because unto the life he has regenerated us is spiritual, the food that which he nourishes this life needs to be spiritual as well. Therefore, by the hand of the son, God has blessed us with a spiritual meal in the Lord’s Supper, where Christ presents Himself as the living bread that feeds our souls unto true and saving immortality. Christ is, after all, the only food for our souls. He is the substance and essence held forth in the Lord’s Supper.”

The Lord’s Supper is sacrament!

What exactly is a sacrament?

Sacraments are ordinances handed down by the second person of the trinity. You will not find the word ‘sacrament’ in scripture. It is derived from the Latin term, ‘sacramentum’. Where did that term originate?

Lutheran Minister Paul T. McCain writes:

“But where did they get this word and why did they choose it? They borrowed it from the Roman Army. A recruit for the Roman army became a soldier by undergoing a sacramentum. The sacramentum had two parts: the soldier took an oath of office, and the Army branded him behind the ear with the number of his legion. The sacramentum resulted in new responsibilities and new advantages. The soldier acquired the responsibility for conforming to military discipline and obeying military commands. He also acquired social and legal benefits, because living conditions in the Roman Army were very good and veterans received special privileges and benefits. Ancient Latin theologians seized upon sacramentum as the best Latin equivalent of the Greek word mystery when it referred to a church rite, because the church rite is simultaneously spiritual and physical, and because the person who undergoes the sacrament simultaneously receives new responsibilities and a new spiritual status before God.”

The great Divine, Robert Shaw agrees with McCain. In his exposition on the Westminster Confession, Shaw writes:

“The word sacrament is not found in the Scriptures, but is derived from the Latin language. It was used by the Romans to signify their military oath, or the oath by which soldiers bound themselves to be faithful to their general, and not to desert his standard; and it is supposed to have been applied to the symbolical institutions of the Church, because in these we, as it were, enlist in the service of Christ, the Captain of our salvation, and engage to follow him whithersoever he leads us. But it may be remarked, that the early Christian writers employed the term sacrament (sacramentum) as equivalent to the hand in the Vulgate the latter word is always translated by the former. There is reason to think that the term mysteries was early applied to baptism and the Lord’s supper, partly because, under external symbols, spiritual blessings were veiled, and partly also on account of the secrecy with which Christians, in times of persecution, were obliged to celebrate them; and as the Latins used the word as synonymous with mystery, it has been thought that we are in this way to account for its application to these symbolical institutions“

So that is how the word sacrament came into Christian theology in the west. For many centuries, the secular and the theological uses of the word existed side by side. By the time of the Reformation, it was solely a Christian theological term.”

We can think of the idea of sacrament as derived via the doctrine good and necessary consequence of God’s word and entitled as such based on a cultural identifier.

Here’s what the Confession says about sacraments:

The Westminster Confession draws some standards for us from the word of God:

Chapter 27 on the sacraments:
I. Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits, and to confirm our interest in him: as also to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word.
II. *There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.

*Genesis17:7. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. V10. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised Matt 26:27. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; V28. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Tit 3:5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
“The identification of sacraments as “signs” can be traced back to St. Augustine who said: “the signs of divine things are, it is true, things visible, but … invisible things themselves are also honored in them.” (De Cat. Rud. 26.50)
The Council of Trent in the Tridentine Creed interpreted this as follows in mid sixteenth century: “A Sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible grace”

~Above taken from: http://www.theopedia.com/Sacraments

III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.
IV. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the gospels, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord: neither or which may be dispensed by any but a minister of the Word, lawfully ordained.
V. The sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the New.

*The Old Testament sacraments were: circumcision, and Passover; However, some hold to these also: The passage of Israel under the cloud and through the Red sea, manna, The Tree of Life in the garden (bloodless).

Question 93 of the Shorter Catechism reads:

Q. 1. What were the ordinary sacraments under the Old Testament?
A. They were two: CIRCUMCISION and the PASSOVER.

Fisher’s Catechism states: “Circumcision was ‘instituted’ when Abraham was 99 years old.”

Chapter 29 of the WCF:

On the Lord’s Supper

I. Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in his Church unto the end of the world; for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death, the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.
II. In this sacrament Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sins of the quick or dead, but a commemoration of that one offering up of himself, by himself, upon the cross, once for all, and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same; so that the Popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect.
III. The Lord Jesus hath, in this ordinance, appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people, to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants; but to none who are not then present in the congregation.
IV. Private masses, or receiving this sacrament by a priest, or any other, alone; as likewise the denial of the cup to the people; worshipping the elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about for adoration, and the reserving them for any pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this sacrament, and to the institution of Christ.
V. The outward elements in this sacrament, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that truly, yet sacramentally only, they are sometimes called by the name of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ; albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly, and only, bread and wine, as they were before.
VI. That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common-sense and reason; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament; and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross idolatries.
VII. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this sacrament, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.
VIII. Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament, yet they receive not the thing signified thereby; but by their unworthy coming thereunto are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation. Wherefore all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with him, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table, and can not, without great sin against Christ, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto.

The Larger Catechism reads:

Q. 168. What is the Lord’s supper?
A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body.
Q. 169. How hath Christ appointed bread and wine to be given and received in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper?
A. Christ hath appointed the ministers of his word, in the administration of this sacrament of the Lord’s supper, to set apart the bread and wine from common use, by the word of institution, thanksgiving, and prayer; to take and break the bread, and to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants: who are, by the same appointment, to take and eat the bread, and to drink the wine, in thankful remembrance that the body of Christ was broken and given, and his blood shed, for them.
Q. 170. How do they that worthily communicate in the Lord’s supper feed upon the body and blood of Christ therein?
A. As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lord’s supper, and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses; so they that worthily communicate in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal and carnal, but in a spiritual manner; yet truly and really, while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death.
Q. 171. How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?
A. They that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ, of their sins and wants; of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance; love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation, and fervent prayer.
Q. 172. May one who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation, come to the Lord’s supper?
A. One who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation to the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, may have true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof; and in God’s account hath it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it, and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ, and to depart from iniquity: in which case (because promises are made, and this sacrament is appointed, for the relief even of weak and doubting Christians) he is to bewail his unbelief, and labor to have his doubts resolved; and, so doing, he may and ought to come to the Lord’s supper, that he may be further strengthened.
Q. 173. May any who profess the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s supper, be kept from it?
A. Such as are found to be ignorant or scandalous, notwithstanding their profession of the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s supper, may and ought to be kept from that sacrament, by the power which Christ hath left in his church, until they receive instruction, and manifest their reformation.
Q. 174. What is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper in the time of the administration of it?
A. It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance, diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions, heedfully discern the Lord’s body, and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings, and thereby stir up themselves to a vigorous exercise of their graces; in judging themselves, and sorrowing for sin; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ, feeding on him by faith, receiving of his fullness, trusting in his merits, rejoicing in his love, giving thanks for his grace; in renewing of their covenant with God, and love to all the saints.
Q. 175. What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s supper?
A. The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfill their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.
Q. 176. Wherein do the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper agree?
A. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper agree, in that the author of both is God; the spiritual part of both is Christ and his benefits; both are seals of the same covenant, are to be dispensed by ministers of the gospel, and by none other; and to be continued in the church of Christ until his second coming.
Q. 177. Wherein do the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper differ?
A. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper differ, in that baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ, and that even to infants; whereas the Lord’s supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul, and to confirm our continuance and growth in him, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.

The Lords Supper is a means of grace:

You recall in an earlier teaching that we discussed the means of grace; the church has 3; the preaching of the word, the sacraments and prayer.

Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Notice how prayer is aligned with ‘breaking of bread’. Both prayer and the sacraments are means of grace.

The smaller catechism question 88 reads:
“The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.”

Do you get that? In the Lords Supper, Christ is ‘communicating’ something; it is specific to His people; individually and corporately. In this communication is the ‘benefit of redemption’. We will discus a bit later the extent of this communication. When we think about this term, ‘means of grace’, it is easily seen that it implies a means of distributing grace to God’s people. In the case of the supper, the means are the bread and wine; the grace is communicated to us through these means by faith. It must be received by faith alone.

The Lords Supper is a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace. Taking the supper is an outward sign of an inward reality or as Calvin wrote: “ bread in the mouth, and Christ in the heart.”

Was the last supper the Passover meal?
John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.John 13:2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

When Jesus was before Pilate, it was the day of ‘preparation’ for the Passover:
John 19:13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”

Mark writes:

14:12-18 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”
Matthew’s account is very similar to Mark’s account; Luke 22:8 reinforces the idea that the last supper was indeed the Passover:
So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.”
God’s word does not contradict; it would appear that John’s Gospel would argue against the other three gospel accounts. One needs to think a bit about this first to fully understand.

Another theologian writes:

“The chronological reckoning between John’s gospel and the synoptics presents a challenge, especially in relation to the time of the Last Supper (13:2). While the synoptics portray the disciples and the Lord at the Last Supper as eating the Passover meal on Thursday evening (Nisan 14) and Jesus being crucified on Friday, John’s gospel states that the Jews did not enter into the Praetorium “lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover” (18:28). So, the disciples had eaten the Passover on Thursday evening, but the Jews had not. In fact, John (19:14) states that Jesus’ trial and crucifixion were on the day of Preparation for the Passover and not after the eating of the Passover, so that with the trial and crucifixion on Friday Christ was actually sacrificed at the same time the Passover lambs were being slain (19:14). The question is, “Why did the disciples eat the Passover meal on Thursday?”

The answer lies in a difference among the Jews in the way they reckoned the beginning and ending of days. From Josephus, the Mishna, and other ancient Jewish sources we learn that the Jews in northern Palestine calculated days from sunrise to sunrise. That area included the region of Galilee, where Jesus and all the disciples, except Judas, had grown up. Apparently most, if not all, of the Pharisees used that system of reckoning. But Jews in the southern part, which centered in Jerusalem, calculated days from sunset to sunset. Because all the priests necessarily lived in or near Jerusalem, as did most of the Sadducees, those groups followed the southern scheme.

That variation doubtlessly caused confusion at times, but it also had some practical benefits. During Passover time, for instance, it allowed for the feast to be celebrated legitimately on two adjoining days, thereby permitting the temple sacrifices to be made over a total period of four hours rather than two. That separation of days may also have had the effect of reducing both regional and religious clashes between the two groups.

On that basis the seeming contradictions in the gospel accounts are easily explained. Being Galileans, Jesus and His disciples considered Passover day to have started at sunrise on Thursday and to end at sunrise on Friday. The Jewish leaders who arrested and tried Jesus, being mostly priests and Sadducees, considered Passover day to begin at sunset on Thursday and end at sunset on Friday. By that variation, predetermined by God’s sovereign provision, Jesus could thereby legitimately celebrate the last Passover meal with His disciples and yet still be sacrificed on Passover day.”

God appointed both the Passover and the Lord’s Supper. Christ presides over both.

The Passover was looking unto Christ; the Lord’s Supper is the reality come. The Passover was commanded until Christ’s perfection and sacrifice came and became reality. A simple way to look at this would be to compare circumcision to water baptism.

Thomas Doolittle writes: ‘…the same benefits and privileges held forth and conveyed to believers in both, such as remission of sin, justification, spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.’
‘…in both, something as a sign and something signified’.

What are the obvious benefits of the supper?

1 Cor 10: 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? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.

You will notice that the word ‘communion’ is used here in this passage; the communion is, to a degree, mysterious. In taking, we are communing and fellowshipping with our Creator.

Look at the Greek; it’s a familiar word:

GK G3126 | S G2842 κοινωνία koinōnia 19x
fellowship, partnership, Acts 2:42; 2 Cor. 6:14; 13:13; Gal. 2:9; Phil. 3:10; 1 Jn. 1:3; participation, communion, 1 Cor. 10:16; aid, relief, Heb. 13:16; contribution in aid, Rom. 15:26 → communion; fellowship; participation; sharing.

This is the same Greek word used in:

Acts 2:42:”And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

2Cor. 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

2Cor. 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and jthe love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Gal. 2:9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

On this communion during the Lord’s supper, we have koinōnia with the Godhead.

Most of us miss this fact when we partake. When we sit under the means of grace, we are many times, complacent. We act as if this is a typical thing that we sit for. We would do well to appreciate who God is in light of who we are. Remember, nothing God does is typical or common.

Pastor Damon and I had a discussion the other day in relation to believers having the same power dwelling in us that raised Christ from the dead;

Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

We have this power, yet we reduce it to how the flesh perceives power. Power to us is like the gas we put in our cars. We have trouble relating to spiritual power. It was much easier in the days of Christ and His Apostles as there were miracles occurring. It was germane to the age. We need to remember what Christ told Thomas:

John 20:29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

This same power is part and parcel in the spiritual identity of the sacraments.

Sacraments are more than ordinances or memorials:

It is more than the Baptists claim when they call it an “ordinance” or “memorial”. In calling it an ordinance, they denigrate it, in my opinion. They take the holy and make it typical. The Romanists go in the opposite direction and do it as much injustice by actually believing that the wine is the real blood of Christ and the bread, His body. The Presbyterian takes the middle ground. The Baptist does not believe anything is actually being communicated and it is only a dedication or memorial. Although when they truly consider the implication, would agree that the event is appreciated differently when compared to say a Lord’s day sermon; both are means of grace; both are communicating grace.

The sermon, the word, the supper:

Mathison writes on Calvin:

“Calvin followed Augustine in defining a sacrament as “a visible sign of a sacred thing” or as a “visible word” of God. The sacraments, according to Calvin, are inseparably attached to the Word. The sacraments seal the promises found in the Word. In regard to the Lord’s Supper, more specifically, it is given to seal the promise that those who partake of the bread and wine in faith truly partake of the body and blood of Christ. Calvin explains this in terms of the believer’s mystical union with Christ. Just as baptism is connected with the believer’s initiation into union with Christ, the Lord’s Supper strengthens the believer’s ongoing union with Christ. All of this raises a question. How does Calvin understand the nature of Christ’s presence in the Supper? According to Calvin the sacraments are signs. The signs and the things signified must be distinguished without being separated. Calvin rejects the idea that the sacramental signs are merely symbols (for example, Zwingli). But he also rejects the idea that the signs are transformed into the things they signify (for example, Rome). Calvin argues that when Christ uses the words, “This is my body,” the name of the thing signified (“body”) is applied to the sign (the bread).

Calvin repeatedly stated that his argument with the Roman Catholics and with Luther was not over the fact of Christ’s presence, but only over the mode of that presence. According to Calvin, Christ’s human body is locally present in heaven, but it does not have to descend in order for believers to truly partake of it because the Holy Spirit effects communion. The Holy Spirit is the bond of the believer’s union with Christ. Therefore that which the minister does on the earthly plane, the Holy Spirit accomplishes on the spiritual plane. In other words, those who partake of the bread and wine in faith are also, by the power of the Holy Spirit, being nourished by the body and blood of Christ.
This, of course, raises a second question regarding the mode by which believers partake of the body and blood of Christ. Zwingli had argued that to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ was simply a synonym for believing in Christ. Calvin begged to differ. He argued that the eating of the body of Christ is not equivalent to faith; instead, it is the result of faith. Calvin often used the term “spiritual eating” to describe the mode by which believers partake, but he is careful to define what he means. He asserts repeatedly that “spiritual eating” does not mean that believers partake only of Christ’s spirit. “Spiritual eating” means, according to Calvin, that by faith believers partake of the body and blood of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit who pours the life of Christ into them.

Calvin also rejected the idea that we partake of the body and blood of Christ with the mouth. Not only Rome, but Luther and his followers, asserted the doctrine of oral manducation (that is, oral eating). According to the Lutherans, the body of Christ is orally eaten, but it is a supernatural or hyperphysical eating rather than a natural or physical eating. Both believers and unbelievers receive the body of Christ according to the Lutherans, although unbelievers receive it to their own judgment. Calvin denied that unbelievers receive the body of Christ at all. According to Calvin, the body and blood of Christ are objectively offered to all, but only received by believers.”

~The above quotation taken from:
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/calvins-doctrine-lords-supper/

Transubstantiation and consubstantiation:

Transubstantiation is the Roman Catholic doctrine that says that the bread and wine (eucharist) become the actual body and blood of the Lord Jesus. Even though the bread and wine look like bread and wine, they are no longer bread and wine.

Paragraph 1376 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states,

“The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation”.

Consubstantiation:

This is the Lutheran view of the sacrament; it says that the bread and wine remain bread and wine but that the presence of Christ is actually present in the elements.

Zwingli and Luther:
Luther held to transubstantiation and Zwingli was more of the way the credo understands the elements.

Mathison describes how the Reformed understand the supper;

“Corporately and individually, Christ is meeting with His body, the bride. The Presbyterian believes that Christ comes down, inhabiting the elements, spiritually. The elements remain as wine and bread, yet the reality is present. One way I explain this is to think of the elements as a cell phone. During the supper, the heavens are dialed in, Jesus rightly answers His sheep by completing the connection; there is a direct link to the savior. Sure, Christ is omnipresent, however, these different distinctions need to be considered: Christ is omnipresent always, but is He omnipresent differently at different times? For instance, when the scriptures tell us that when 3 or more are gathered in His name, He is in the midst? Does this mean that when my family prays, Christ is in our midst in the same way He is in our midst during the Lord’s Supper, baptism, or corporate worship or when discipline is being administered in the church? No! They all have different levels of communion. Is the Holy Spirit omnipresent? Why then did He lite on Christ at His baptism? Why did the Holy Spirit ‘come’ at Pentecost if He was already here? Because, Like the Godhead, they are present in different magnitudes at different times. Christ left us 2 sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; surely He is in our midst in a greater degree at these times than when I pray in my car or I am reading the scriptures with my family. Most fail to make this distinction.”

Having said all of the above, one of the benefits of the supper is communion with Christ. There is communion with the family of God when we partake. All of God’s people meeting corporately, seeking forgiveness for our sins, praying, repenting and by God’s grace, growing in sanctification. Having the supper is sanctifying. It gives us time to reflect on the contrast between our sinfulness and Christ’s righteousness; how we deserve hell and Christ graces us with eternal life. How we deserve flames and we are given water. It gives the believer time to reflect on the torment of the sacrifice. It allows us to attempt to taste that which is unpalatable. It gives us a view into the past where we can see the suffering servant, who died on our behalf, even while we were yet sinners.

I believe it is worthy to mention that the previous section could be a sticky wicket in regard to reflection. Be careful not to go too far in your thought processes as ‘seeing’ a hanging Christ in your mind would be sinful. In fact, you are actually doing exactly what Rome does-re-sacrificing Christ anew each Lord’s Supper. He’s not on the cross, yet we put him back up there often. Think the 2nd commandment. Tread lightly. You might inquire, “Scott, what its it we should focus upon then, if not Christ hanging and bleeding on the cross for us, what?” Is Christ on the cross? Are images of a man that you believe to be a true image of Christ aberrant? We just finished a class on idol worship; you recall some of the perimeters. You may respond with: “God’s word tells us to take the supper often and to remember!”. Yes, it does. One may need to define what ‘remembering’ is. Surely, we are not told to break the 2nd commandment in our remembrance, right? That would be silly and inconsistent. God would never tell His people not to make any graven images and then tell us to think about a thing that is graven. This may be shy of impossible-attempting to remember what Christ did for us; remembering all He has commanded, etc., without sinning. May I suggest a thing? Would it not be prudent to recite a Psalm in lieu of thinking:

Isaiah 53:2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked— But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

This may be one of the best ways to ‘remember’ what Christ did without sinning. Pray about it.

In 1 Cor 10:31 it says:

“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”

Here the apostle calls it the ‘lord’s table’. Since it is the Lord’s, one would assume it is God serving the supper to us. The communion is much closer than what the Baptists would have us believe; after all, it is the ‘Lord’s table’ no? As well, it is God who decides what it set at His table; it is not random. We have been given bread and wine, nothing else. There are two elements and one cup.

The Elements:

1Cor. 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 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.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

We have two elements, the wine and the bread. There are many that believe that to not use unleavened bread and alcoholic wine are a break in the regulative principle of worship; in the following, we will discuss these arguments and consider some of the alternatives (if there are any).

The elements:

What if we decided to use a twinkie and milk? What if all we had was a twinkie and milk? Would that be a problem? I cut up a twinkie into little bites and we use small glasses of milk. You may argue, ‘It is symbolic, Scott-it doesn’t really matter what we use’. To begin with, the scriptures are clear and call for bread and wine, right? A member of the Puritanboard made the point in saying:

“it is clear that Jesus used wine when he instituted the Lord’s Supper, and so it is altogether fitting and proper to do the same. However, if we are to take the wine as merely being a symbol, then what is important is what is symbolized, and not so much the symbol itself. Jesus likely used wine because it was readily available and was red, like blood. On the other hand, it is possible that there is some significance in the wine itself, i.e. its purifying properties, in which case wine would be necessary. Overall, I would have to say that the Lord knows our hearts and also our circumstances, and so if wine is truly not available, then he would certainly not forbid a substitute.”

Can we actually consider this in light of the regulative principle? There is only one truth and there is only one way to worship God; in the supper, we are seeing the gospel practically lived out in the elements. It is not just symbols and to deny that is a denigration of Christ’s intent. Using a twinkie is a mockery. Since the supper represents the gospel, we all would agree that there is only one gospel. Any diversion of the gospel is heresy; it is a lie and a tool of the devil.

What if I only had water and a potato stick? Say we were in prison in a Muslim land and that’s all we had, would that be okay based on a providential hindrance?

My opinion is that it is probably more sinful to take the supper in this fashion and misrepresent it than to not have the supper. There are many churches in the world that only celebrate the supper once a year. It would be more beneficial to the body if one held off in lieu of breaking the regulative principle. So, to summarize, it is not okay to use a twinkie and milk.

Who is allowed to partake of the supper?

The Lord’s supper or communion is a means of grace and an act of worship to the Lord. It is the gospel made real; it is practical and tangible. It is a direct and true communication with the Christ. This sacrament is for confessing believers, i.e. disciples. There is some argumentation as to whether a person who partakes should be baptized first and be a member of a local body, prior to taking the supper. In my personal opinion, this would be optimal but probably should not be etched in stone. Believers are called to examine themselves prior to partaking; nowhere does scripture say that one should be baptized and a member prior to.

1Cor. 11:27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

How could one eat in an unworthy manner? No one is worthy outside of Christ’s mediation; You will see in the Westminster definition below that sometimes unregenerate men partake. This is a good description of partaking unworthily. The Greek word used is:

GK G397 | S G371 ἀναξίως anaxiōs 1x
unworthily, in an improper manner, 1 Cor. 11:27*

You will notice that this Greek word is only used 1 time in the New testament. ‘in an improper manner’.

Men are called to examine themselves prior to partaking; so, in essence, we have two commands to examine; to make sure you are actually in the faith and if a believer, in the faith, that your house is kept in order.

Example: Matt 5:22-23:
22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother* will be liable to judgment; whoever insults* his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell* of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Surely, the point is taken in relation to broken relationships amongst the brethren. If you are at odds with a brother, your relationship with the body suffers. If one is bruised, it affects the whole body. This needs to be reconciled prior to worship; the fact that the supper is a means of grace and an act of worship, shows us that this issue needs to be dealt with prior to our worship.
The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 29 says:

“VII. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this sacrament, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death: the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.

VIII. Although ignorant and wicked men receive the outward elements in this sacrament, yet they receive not the thing signified thereby; but by their unworthy coming thereunto are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation. Wherefore all ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with him, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table, and can not, without great sin against Christ, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto.”

Do unbelievers partake? I am sure. Did Judas partake? The camp is split on that. Some believe he did, others no. You will notice in the gospel accounts that there are some considerations. You decide if Judas partook or not. As well, we know that the local church is made up of believers and unbelievers. All would agree that in this idea, unbelievers are partaking wrongly; in light of the exhortations about the supper, they continue on. Some people believe they are saved and yet, they may not be.

Matthew 26:20-27 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” 22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
Mark 14:18-23 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me – one who is eating with me.” 19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?” 20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” 23 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

John 13:18-13 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. 20 I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” 21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” 22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” 25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, 28 but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Luke 22:17-23 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
How often? Weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly?

There is no example in scripture to which we can define how often one should partake of the supper. Some people use Passover as an example; it was celebrated annually. Some believe that having the supper too often denigrates it’s value, others, emphasizes it. As mentioned earlier in this paper, if you visualize things you may be sinning more often when taking the supper more frequently. By taking the supper more frequently, you may be open to an issue of thinking the supper is just a typical walk in the park and not special. By taking the supper annually, you may be denigrating it tos a holy day when you partake and that is sinful as no day is any holier than the other; The Sabbath is the only holy day the church is to endorse. To endorse that annual day is a break in the second commandment. Having said all of that, it is helpful to be cognizant of all that I have said. Prudence is key. Not too much, not too little.

*Interesting to note, in light of this paper, I had the Lord’s Supper, twice today; morning and evening service. That was a first.

Who is able to distribute the sacraments?

You recall, the sacraments are means of grace; Christ gave these rights to the leadership alone. No one is able to baptize and pass the sacraments but officers in the local church.

Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom to His officers.

Chapter 27 of the Westminster Confession tells us:

“IV. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the gospels, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord: neither or which may be dispensed by any but a minister of the Word, lawfully ordained.”

You might ask, ‘Can I have the supper in my home in private devotions with my family? I am the federal head of my family; the bible calls us priests, right?’

Tina and I celebrated the Lord’s supper on our wedding day; I distributed it erroneously. We were taught, early in our walks that this was ok. We had a church full of people watching and we were the only ones partaking. This is as well an issue; nowhere in scripture, outside of those infirmed, does anyone take of the sacraments separately from the church body. When the supper is distributed, they are distributed to the whole local assembly. As well, as you can see from what Westminster says, a minister who is ‘lawfully ordained’ can only administer the sacrament.

Providential hindrances:

You are a believer in the middle of a jungle and there is no church for a hundred miles of brush. The federal head, based upon this hindrance could administer the sacrament of baptism on his child. It would be binding and efficacious if done in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The supper: I believe that it would not be needful to have the supper until you return to an area with an established church and pastor. This is my opinion alone. Some may believe it be ok for you to administer the supper as well and they may be correct, however, I do not see the same need as in baptism.

Intinction?

There is such a thing running the gamut here in the PCA called, ‘intinction’. It is not a new idea, per se; it was used in ages past in regard to those infirmed, i.e. those who were unable to masticate and drink properly due to illness; it made it easier to give the supper; one would take the bread and dip it into the wine. Many ill cannot chew; swallowing liquids is as well difficult. Aspiration of liquids happens often and patients can suffer a pneumonia secondary to faulty swallowing mechanisms. In the medical field, patients who have this problem are often given mixtures to assist in the taking in of fluid. Powders that make the liquids semi solid are used. In the same way, intinction was a way around these issues. Intinction made the supper not actually solid and not actually liquid. It did help, given the situation. However, one wonders if it is a greater sin even considering entertaining the practice as it is against the regulative principle. There is not an example in scripture where God does not take into consideration a providential hindrance. It is not denoted in holy writ to be sinful not partaking under these conditions, hence, relax. To utilize intinction to be novel is akin to calamity and must be considered sinful. Get a grip and quit trying got reinvent the wheel!

Food intolerances and addictions:

You have heard it said, ‘I am gluten intolerant!’ ‘I have a substance abuse problem-I am an alcoholic; I shouldn’t even taste a drop of alcohol as it will stumble me!’

What are believers to think and do about these issues when considering the supper? I would start with the idea that we could assume that there were people in the age of the early church who had a gluten intolerance and those who had a history of alcohol and drug abuses. Does God’s word warn of these things in relation to the supper?

Look at 1 Corinthians, chapter 11:
1Cor. 11:17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

1Cor. 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 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.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

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

1Cor. 11:27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

This passage seems to indicate that the supper was being abused. Were these people alcoholics? Were there alcoholics back in that day? Surely. It seems as if they were misunderstanding the supper. They were eating separately and probably overindulging, i.e. lots of bread and lots of wine causing drunkenness.

Given these facts, should the church make accommodations for these weaker brothers? Does making these accommodations assault the regulative principle? Possibly. We are exhorted to not eat meat if it stumbles our brother, right? How do we reconcile that in light of the supper and it’s elements? One way would be to understand that the regulative principle is fixed; it is not nebulous. It is an outward expression of the character of God. God is immutable as in His law, etc. Would God allow for us to use twinkies and milk for the supper. Or how about during worship, we use whatever we believe goes? That wouldn’t work, we would have no standard then. Everyone would do what they thought was right in their own eyes. You know what that gets you. Remember Uzzah, Dadab and Abihu?

Some people quote 2 Chronicles, chapter 30 as a standard for these accommodations:

“17 For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had charge of the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was not clean, to sanctify them to the LORD. 18 For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone 19 who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.” 20 And the LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.”

Bobby Phillips writes:

“Why, if He blessed them in spite of ignorance, should we not expect that He will bless us in spite of the lesser offense of having biological conditions that render strict adherence medically inadvisable?”

What you have here is an example where people were ceremonially unclean, yet the Levites took that into consideration. Are we able to contrast that to the supper and food intolerances? Possibly. What do we say about being new creations in Christ Jesus? I eat Paleo; I have problems with either wheat or the gluten in wheat. I am not a Celiac, however. Do I eat the unleavened bread when it is offered? Yes. I do take the smaller pieces if I can find one in the tray. One might say, “You have no faith! Don’t you believe God will protect you in your taking?” Maybe God will not. Maybe God decrees I have a reaction to the bread. The Lord does leave thorns in the sides of His saints at times. He doesn’t always heal in the way we might expect. I don’t believe that people with gluten intolerance would feel the effects of a tiny piece of cracker-I could be wrong.

My personal opinion is that the supper should be actual alcoholic wine and a bread; either leavened or unleavened. If a church is concerned about these things, they should find out who in the congregation needs special considerations and meets those needs, otherwise, they should stick to the words of Christ and the regulative principle.

Gluten free does not mean that the final product is any less than real bread. Gluten is a protein component of the wheat. I refrain from eating any wheat products due to the fact that the wheat that is produced in this day is not the same wheat our great grandparents ate; nor is it the same that the people in biblical times, ate. The Genetic manipulation of the wheat has actually changed it and this is why that there are so many celiacs today. Major corporations have endeavored to adjust the makeup of the wheat so that it is resistant to bugs, weather, etc. Dr. William Davis who wrote the bestseller, ‘Wheat belly’, calls it Franken-wheat! Whatever the case, removing gluten does not change the final product into a product that no longer remains bread.

One cup or many?

Luke 22: 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.

The question to consider in light of this passage would be: When Christ told the disciples to ‘divide’, was he implying that they take the common cup and ‘divide’ them into smaller containers or did He mean, take this common cup, which was typical in that day in light of Passover and by each taking a sip, they were dividing it?

Pastor Jerrold Lewis writes:

“In fact, every time the Lord’s Supper is mentioned in the New Testament, the single cup is also mentioned.

Notice,

“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it” (Matthew 26:27).

“And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it” (Mark 14:23).

“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come” (Luke 22:17).

“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20).

“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” (1 Cor. 10:16)?

“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (1Cor 10:21).

“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” (1 Cor. 11:25).

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26).

“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” (1 Corinthians 11:27).

“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).

By quoting these texts, we find that in every case the singular article is used when referencing the cup. The same is found in the original Greek. Never do we find the Greek using the plural noun or the plural article in reference to the wine of the Lord’s Supper. By doing this, the Holy Spirit has made it very clear as to how He expects the element of wine to be distributed. The emphasis is on one cup (singular), not personal cups (plural). In fact, there is far more biblical data to prove a common cup than there is to prove a common table or sprinkling in baptism. All three doctrines however, are biblical.

The command given by Christ is simple, and its conclusion, unavoidable. “Take this, and divide it among yourselves” is the command of Luke 22:17. Further, our Lord says in Matthew 26:27 “Drink ye all of it”. In both instances the Lord’s emphasis is on the single word “it”. We are to divine “it” (one cup), among the many, and drink, everyone, from “it” (one cup.) Let us remind ourselves of Paul’s words in Col 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Individual cups are not found anywhere in scripture, or the confessions, and has crept in by “the rudiments” (the thoughts), of this world.

“What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deut. 12:32).”

I will let you decide if dividing the common cup is erred. Personally, I am split on the issue, but Pastor Lewis does have a good case. He makes mention earlier in this paper that dividing the common cup into small thimble sized servers is essentially no more than 50 years old. Prior to that, everyone used a single cup and all the members came forward to partake.

I pray this paper exhorts you and blesses you. So much more can be said on the Lord’s Supper. At an 18 font, this paper is 68 pages. I believe that is enough from my little mind. There are far greater men who have dealt with this doctrine better than I. None the less, I pray you get something from it.

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