The Communion is also presented in scripture as the Lord’s Supper and the Breaking Of Bread. When the Gospel was presented to the Jews there was as far as Apostolic history reveals very few if any problems regarding this Biblical feast, as the Jews were well acquainted with the use of things used in a representative manner. They knew for example the need to recognize a specified day for sacred things, the terror of the Lord when a deviation was engaged altering an ordinance of the Lord. Therefore, when they were shown the Lord’s Supper they grasp immediately the truth. The one loaf represented the slain body of the Savior as the only and final sacrifice for sin. The cup represented the New Testament the final revelation of God sealing and making binding a new approach to God. And, the fruit of the vine picturing the blood that obtained redemption and ratified the New Covenant. However, when it was finally understood that the Gentiles were to be received into the kingdom on the same terms as the Jews, the matter of the Lord’s Supper and various other things was an entirely different matter. These populace people had little understanding about the ways of the eternal God of heaven. They knew nothing of the significance of the Passover Lamb, the Table of Shewbread, the Ark of the Covenant covered with the Mercy-seat and having the Pot of Manna, Arron’s Rod and the Covenant within it. The things “written aforetime” (Rom. 15:4), had to be studied by them to allow them a knowledge of their value. One need but read the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians to grasp this lesson. We find ourselves in the exact situation today as they then. People reject the significance of the items connected with eating the Lord’s Supper often times because they have not studied the pictures, figures, types, symbols and representative things in the Old Testament that present principles that help us greatly today. I say “principals,” because the execution of these principals is not done in the same acts, but through the acts ordained by the authority of, or to use the expression of the Apostles “in the name of” the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17).
This past month two events occurred in my presence that reminded me of how little regard some Disciples of Christ have for the authority of the Scripture as exemplified in their view and practice of eating the Lord’s Supper. Perhaps my judgment is amiss, but I think that these cases are not to far afield of what many think the Lord will allow as excuses for supplementing for what is revealed to us. Remember, the only things we know about God is what is expressly stated in His word. And, the only way we can please Him is by obeying what He has commanded us to do, stipulated for us to accept, or left as an approved example for us to follow. Otherwise, His terror shall be dispensed—a terror the disobedient surely will not escape. It is said of two servants of God in olden times, “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” (Lk. 1:6). Of all the requirements God has given surely all of us must strive to obey Him by eating the Lord’s Supper blamelessly.
SITUATION NUMBER ONE
When a good friend died, I gathered with many others to show respect to the family. Upon departing a lady following us out the door called out to us, “you go to Sharonville don’t you?” I responded, “Yes.” She said, “I know where that building is.” I said, “why don’t you come and meet with us sometimes?” She asked, “you all use one cup, don’t you?” I replied, “Yes, we partake of the Lord’s Supper, just as Jesus said.” Then, she said, “Oh, I can’t drink from one cup, I have a medical background.” I said, “well, we either do what the Lord said or we don’t” She shock her head, as she continued to her car. There are several lessons we can learn from her.
- She was honest. She knew and stated exactly what the cup is. She knew it is a drinking vessel. It is sad that many preachers among those who use individual cups to distribute the fruit of the vine are not as honest. They preach and write that the cup is the contents. This sister more than likely has heard that from the pulpit, but it did not settle in her mind, as it is contrary to common sense as well as what is revealed. Matthew says (26:27), Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, gave it to the disciples commanding them to drink from it. Mark chimes in (14:23) telling us “they all drank of it.” All New Testament Greek dictionaries are in agreement that the word “cup” (poterion) means “a drinking vessel” some commenting “the vessel out of which one drinks.” Webster agrees! At a yard sale recently I spotted “A Dictionary For Children” (published by Macmillan), turning to the word cup it said, “a small bowl with a handle to drink from.” That reminded me of an experiment I conducted some years ago. On our dining table, I placed a cluster of grapes, a bottle of grape juice and a cup. While in another room, I asked my granddaughter (then 3 years old) to go in the dining room and get me the cup on the table. What do you think she brought back? She was as honest as the Sister—she knew what a cup is.
- She thinks she is excused from doing what the Lord said. Because she “had a medical background,” she could discard or substitute for the Lord’s command. She stated the REAL REASON that people reject the common cup in communion. All the arguments presented by preachers, elders and others are (in my opinion and experience) nothing but a smoke screen, as sanitation (in their view) grants a license to do what the Lord did NOT command and disobey what He DID command. Let us allow Doctor Luke to weigh in. “And he took the cup, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves” (22:17). This medical man and servant of the Lord, demanded that we commune using one cup. We are to divide the fruit of the vine as we commune; partaking of that which is already divided spells disobedience. Considering the accounts given by Matthew, Mark, and Paul, we “divide” the fruit of the vine by “drinking from the cup.” Of course, when we consider a “medical” background we cannot leave out the Great Physician who set the example and commanded that we use one cup to divide the fruit of the vine among us. More than fifty years ago when I began traveling around the country preaching, there were few baptisteries meaning that to baptize we went to rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. Those practicing sprinkling for baptism complained that animals had used these places for a variety of purposes, therefore, it was more sanitary to sprinkle people than to immerse them. They thought this excused them from doing what the Lord said. We are all concerned with sanitation, but as all people with a “medical background” know, there are many more germs spread by touching a doorknob or shaking hands then by the common cup. “Without faith, it is impossible to please him…he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” and “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Heb. 11:6, Rom. 10:17).
SITUATION NUMBER TWO
A little over two weeks later, a man and his family were present in the assembly where I worship regularly. After worship he said, “I am from Murfressboro, Tennessee, I am 58 years old, have been a member of the church for over 40 years and this is the first time I have drunk out of one cup.” I responded, “I am sure there are many like you, but we here try to follow the Lord’s will, especially when it comes to worship. We practice using one cup and one loaf as we commune.” He then said, “I know the scripture says to break bread. Where I worship little pieces are used, but I take my piece and break it.” By this time, his family had made their way out the door, so I moved to our tract rack and gave him a copy of “This Do In Remembrance Of Me” by Ronny Wade. As in the previous case, there are some lessons we can learn from this.
- People do not take the word of God as seriously as we should. Just as there are many who are ignorant of the New Testament teaching on the importance of the Church, that there is one Church built by Jesus, and that belonging to a Church just because it pleases us does not please God, I am persuaded that there are many members of the Church of Christ in the same situation as this brother. Is ignorance justification for practicing things contrary to what is revealed? Evidently not! “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his will.” (Heb. 2:3-4). The words of the Lord establishing the Communion are presented to us in the Scripture. His words are confirmed to us by those inspired by the Holy Ghost. It ill behooves a people who are constantly pointing denominational folks to the Scripture for faith and practice to turn around and neglect the Savior’s words regarding the Lord’s Supper. Neglecting is one of the easiest yet most dangerous things for human beings. We must pay strict attention to anything we do in the “name of the Lord” (Mt. 7:21-23, Col. 3:17). Shame on us when we do less!
- His presence demonstrated his confidence in the Apostolic example of time and place to break bread. Although far away from home in the spirit of the Apostle Paul, he sought out a place to worship on the Lord’s Day according to the example given us of the disciples at Troas. The writer Luke informs us, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them…” (Acts 20:7). Obviously, he had scruples about a failure to assemble for worship. He is not of the opinion that anywhere will do as long as one breaks bread. He did not remain in a motel room with his family; instead, he found a place where disciples commonly gather for the purpose. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25). The question must be asked, why assemble to “break bread” if that very breaking is not in accord with example of Jesus and in compliance with the Apostolic commandments handed down for us to follow?
- He realizes that where he worships the truth is not practiced. When Jesus took bread, after giving thanks, He break it, telling His disciples to “take, eat.” Breaking is one thing, eating another. He trying to sooth his conscience “breaks” his morsel. However, that action does not comply with the Lord’s example and teaching. The word bread is presented in the Margin of the American Standard Version “a loaf.” Each disciple broke from this one loaf. The loaf represents the body of Christ. Our Lord had but one body, which was sacrificed for us, not many bodies. As each disciple looks at that one loaf, he is able to remember the one sacrificial body given for all men. In addition, Jesus has but one spiritual body (the church) of which He is the head, each member of this spiritual body partakes of the blessing of salvation and fellowship Christ brought to the world. After partaking of the one loaf, it is passed to another member and the picture is untarnished for that participant—the representation of the one body is in tact. Many loaves on the Lord’s table or the passing of many small morsels is a picture of—I don’t know what. The picture is destroyed. The communion is perverted by the usual practice of this brother.
Paul wrote, “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are partakers of that one bread.” (I Cor. 10:16-17). Communion means the act of partaking or sharing, that is, jointly participating or communing. When our brother picks up a small morsel of bread and eats it or, lifts a small individual cup from the tray of several and puts it to his mouth, he is not communing with anyone. It is sometimes said that communion is a time when we share with the Lord not with others. My question is: where does the New Testament reveal that a man partook of the Lord’s Supper by himself. Communion is a sharing in the loaf and the cup with every disciple assembled for worship.
STANGE HOW SOME DISREGARD THE COMMUNION
We have stood together opposing innovations that have rendered worship to God ineffective and vain. Rising up among men have been those who altered the day of worship, some who established missionary and tract societies supplanting the local congregation’s work, others who have added instrumental music to the singing of God praises, and still others who have appointed women to preach the gospel in public places. Rejecting these and like things contrary to revelation—united us, yet division gained the upper hand through departures in the Communion. Strange, very strange indeed.
Barney Owens 1507
He who is a Christian in small things,
is not a small Christian.