Understanding

The Lord's Supper

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THE UNLEAVENED BREAD OF COMMUNION SYMBOLIZES THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST: "For we, though many, ARE one bread and one body, for we all partake of that one bread"

 

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

6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
7 Therefore, purge out the old leaven, that you may BE A NEW LUMP, since you truly ARE unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
8 Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1Corinthians 5:6-8

4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same FUNCTION,
5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us USE them;
Romans 12:4-6

27 Now you ARE the body of Christ, and members individually. 1Corinthians 12:27 (The entire chapter of 1Corinthians 12 teaches that each member has his God given gifts and functions; and that the members need each other and their gifts and contributions. Read chapter 12 with the bread of Communion in mind.)

15 Do you not know that your BODIES are members of Christ?... 1Corinthians 6:15a

5b "… a BODY You have prepared for Me.
7b " … to DO Your will, O God.' "
10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the BODY of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:5-10 (Think of this scripture with the bread of Communion in mind)

24 who Himself bore our sins in His own BODY on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness ----by whose stripes you were healed.
25 For you all were like sheep going astray, but now have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24-25 (Think of this scripture with the bread of Communion in mind.)

Every so often, I hear the assertion that the bread and cup of Communion, and the body and the blood, have the same meaning. This is absolutely false. The meanings for the body and blood are wonderfully complementary, but are not identical. In order to show some of their differences, I would like to use two very ridiculous examples. Please bear with me on these. Hopefully, these two examples will give the reader some understanding of the unique meanings of the bread and the cup:

Example 1: Suppose I were to say to a Christian, "You are the blood of Christ. You are also the cup of Communion." He would probably say back to me, "I am redeemed by the blood of Christ; I am covered with the blood and forgiven by the blood of Christ; but it makes no sense to say that I am the blood. That is a totally ridiculous statement!"

Suppose I were to say to that same Christian, "You are the body of Christ; you are the bread of Communion." He might say back to me, "Well, I am a member of the body of Christ. In fact, 1Corinthians 10:17 says that we are one bread and one body. 1Corinthians 5:6-8 exhorts us to be the unleavened bread, and it even says that we are unleavened. Obviously, I am not a crust of bread (or a crumb), but I am what the unleavened bread stands for."

Thus, there is a fundamental difference between the meanings of the body and the blood. We ARE the body, while we are redeemed BY the blood and blessed BY the cup. (Also, regarding Christ's death mentioned in 1Corinthians 11:26, the bread speaks of being delivered from sin so that we can be a functioning member of His body; while the cup speaks of forgiveness for sin [deliverance from judgment and curses] so that we, His body, can have life, blessing [cup of blessing], support, and sustenance.)

Example 2: Suppose I was sitting with someone at a table and I said to them, "I want you to move this glass from point A to point B. For arguments sake, let's assume this glass belongs at point B. But, I want you to do something a little different here. I want you to move this glass by only using your blood; do not use your body or any part of it. I want you to sprinkle some of your blood on that glass and make it go from point A to point B where it belongs." The person would look at me quizzically and say, "Silly, it takes my body or some part of it, to DO things on this earth. The purpose of my blood is to support and give life to my body, so that my body can do things on this earth. I cannot move that glass where it belongs using only my blood. My blood was not created and designed for such purposes. This is a ridiculous request."

Thus, in example 2, we see that the body is for doing things on this earth; while, according to how the Bible sees things, the blood supports and gives life to the body. When we die and our bodies cease to function, we lose the right to do anything on this earth.

5b "… a BODY You have prepared for Me
7b " … to DO Your will, O God.' "
10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the BODY of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:5-10

In Hebrews 10:5-10 above, we see that Jesus was given a body and He used it to do God's will; which was to set us free at the cross so that we can do God's will. Verse 10 is about our sanctification won at the cross. Our sanctification is all about being set free for the purpose of doing God's will. The apostle Peter makes a similar point.

24 who Himself bore our sins in His own BODY on the tree, THAT we having died to sins, might live for righteousness-by whose stripes you were healed. 1Peter 2:24

Again, in the above verse, the body of Christ was given up so that we can be set free from doing sin, so that we can do right, and be right functioning members of His body on the earth.

Referring back to example 2; the problem with modern day Protestantism is that they say that the glass is moved to point B where it should be, positionally, or in God's mind; when it clearly hasn't been moved in reality (in anybody's mind). It's like they understand something about the blood, but have inadequate understanding of the body. They ignore or discount the importance of what people do because they distort and misuse the concept of imputed righteousness. They also misuse the teaching that we are not saved by works. They forget or ignore an ocean of scriptures , such as those found in Revelations regarding the seven churches. Jesus said to EACH church, "I know your works." Some modern day Protestant theologians teach that God doesn't see our works because of our "position" in Christ. Well, Jesus was judging each of the above mentioned seven churches according to their works. Paul obviously didn't have this "positional" mentality when he wrote 2Corinthians 5:9-11:

9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the BODY, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord …
2Corinthians 5:9-11

Obviously, Christ can't judge us if He doesn't know what we are doing in these bodies on this earth. I believe that the word "positional," which is not in the Bible, has been used to lull more people to sleep; and to lead more people to hell than any other word. It lulls people into not concerning themselves with their actions, and consequently they lose the fear of God (2 Corinthians 5:11, Acts 9:31, Acts 5:11, Philippians 2:12, Isaiah 11:2-5; etc.). We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for the purpose of good works (Ephesians 2:1-10; etc.) "…we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…" (Ephesians 2:10)

The apostle John writes,
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
8 He who sins is of the devil ….

1John 3:7-8
(Throughout the book of 1John, John teaches that those who PRACTICE sin are not of God)

3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar,
and the truth is not in him.
1John 2:3-4

The apostle James teaches thus:
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
22 …and by works faith was made perfect?
James 2:14-22

Jesus had many, many teachings like the following:
21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who DOES THE WILL of My Father in heaven. 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you: depart from Me, you who PRACTICE lawlessness!' Matthew 7:21-23

Everything we do, think or say is important. Our actions either proclaim and testify that we are redeemed and part of His body; or our actions clearly show that we are not members of His body, and are not His. All that we do is of the utmost importance. Our actions and life styles are the surest evidence of who we are and where we are going (2Peter 1:10-11, 1Timothy 3:13, etc.). As James wrote above, our actions complete and perfect our faith. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 5:6 that one little sin, one little bit of leaven, can grow and leaven the entire lump. One little sin, if left un-judged and unchecked, can grow into a monstrous problem; and turn you into a monster.

Going back to our original scriptures and teaching; "For we, though many, are one bread and one body" (1Corinthians 10:17). We are the new lump which is unleavened (1Corinthians 5:6-8). The body of Christ is all about doing God's will (living for righteousness, walking in love) on the earth. Each member was set free at the cross to do their part in God's will, as a member of His body. The Spirit of God flows through each member of His body and each member contributes, according to the grace given to them, for the benefit and growth of the whole. Each member does something.

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
11 And He Himself gave some to be ….
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the BODY of Christ,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect MAN, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the HEAD-Christ-
16 from whom the whole BODY, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part DOES ITS SHARE, causes the growth of the BODY for the edifying of itself in love.
17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk ….
Ephesians 4:7-17

Thus, Ephesians 4 above gives us a spectacular view of what it means to be one bread and one body. What great teaching to include when eating the bread of Communion! Do we get this picture?

Remember that the bread of Communion is unleavened bread (Luke 22:1,7; 1Corinthians 5:6-8). Leaven represents sin. Our unity in the body of Christ is based on deliverance from sin won at the cross. Selfishness, sin, and pride are like a spiritual disease or a sickness in the body of Christ. They weaken it and cause it not to function properly. They are like dirt in the oil, clogging up the engine. Selfishness or sin cause the members to resist and fight with one another instead of flowing with and edifying each other. Thus, the need to purge out the leaven. Not surprisingly, sin and selfishness which are spiritual sickness in the body of Christ, can lead to physical sickness. In 1Corinthians 11:27-34, Paul teaches that some are sick and dying basically because of their arrogance and selfishness; i.e., they were not respecting financially poor members of the body. They were not showing proper respect for some members of His body who are also an incarnate expression of His will.

In fact, the unleavened bread of Communion represents the church of Jesus Christ. I consider this statement to be a major insight into Communion. The Greek word for "church'" is "ekklesia," which means "called out assembly." The unleavened bread, also, is all about being sanctified (leading to righteousness, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8) which means, "set apart," especially from the world and sin. Also, remember that "we, though many, ARE one bread and one body." (1 Corinthians 10:17) Another way of saying this is that we ARE the church of Jesus Christ. There are numerous scriptures that directly state that the church is the body of Christ, and vise versa. (Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18, Colossians 1:24, Ephesians 5:28-31)

18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who …. (Colossians 1:18a)

24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of the body, which is the church. (Colossians 1:24)

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,
23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
(Ephesians 1:22- 23)

Now, also, by eating the bread and by drinking the cup, we proclaim the Lord's death (1 Corinthians 11:26). Through Christ's death He birthed the church. The suffering and death of Christ brought forth, and made the way for, and was the doorway to a resurrection and His resurrected church and body. His body was delivered up so that we, having died to sins, could be right living, right functioning members of His body (1Peter 2:24, in a manner of speaking). His blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins; so that His church can be blessed (cup of blessing, 1Corinthians 10:16) and have life (the life is in the blood) instead of judgment and cursing.

Thus, communion proclaims the entrance into the kingdom of God and Christ's church by proclaiming the Lord's death. Communion also symbolizes living in the kingdom and Christ's church. His body was given up so that we can be members of His body. His blood was shed so that we, His body, could have life and blessing (cup of blessing, 1Corinthians 10:16). To restate the above; His body was given up so that we can be His body. His blood was shed so that we can experience His life and blessing (the life is in the blood; the blood sustains and gives life to the body so that the body can do things on this earth). To state it a third time; His body was given so that we can be His body. His blood was given so that we can experience His life and blessing.

Teaching on the body of Christ also leads us into another vital aspect of our salvation. Consider the following scripture:1

20 which He worked in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His BODY, the fullness of Him, who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:20-23

The book of Acts church had a basic confidence that Jesus was seated at the right hand of God Almighty. Paul taught that we believers are the body of the One who is seated at the right hand of the power of God (Luke 22:69). We should know that He is not just up there somewhere, but we are vitally connected to Him who is at the right hand of God; we are members of His body as it states in Ephesians 1 above. The point being that Biblical teaching on His body should include the practical realities of being connected to the ascended Christ. What does it mean in a practical way, that He is seated above all power and authority; and we are His body (EphesIans 1:20-23)? The Bible actually teaches that we are seated with Him in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).

The Apostle's creed, recited by church people for centuries, states that Jesus died, was buried, rose again on the third day, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. But there is a world of difference between believing that Jesus did all this, and believing that by the grace of God, I was included and united with Him in His death, burial, resurrection (Romans 6:1-11) and ascension. The difference is the difference between heaven and hell, victory and defeat, and a changed life and an unchanged life. Baptism (Romans 6:1-11) which is for new believers, teaches us about our being united with Christ in most of these events. The fact that we are united with Him in these events by faith is the grace of God. The apostle Paul had this view of salvation in Philippians 3:7-14.

There is another effective way of saying that we were united with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection by grace through faith. By making each spiritual truth involved here, an identity issue, the believer begins to settle in and establish him or herself in genuine faith. By saying and believing that I am forgiven because of Christ's death; I am crucified with Christ; I am therefore, dead to sin; I am healed by His sripes; I am raised with Christ and therefore alive to God; I am therefore a member of the body of Christ; I am therefore a son of God. I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies. By declaring and believing these truths about me in Christ, I am settling in and establishing myself as being united with Christ in all of these events by grace through faith. Please don't use the word, "positional," in this. That word is not in the Bible, and it will dilute, weaken and eventually wreck your faith.

And so we have this magnificent picture of salvation. We, the believers, have authority over our bodies of sin (Romans 6:6) by having been united with Him in His death; and we have been forgiven for our past transgressions. We also are united with Christ in His resurrection so that we can be His body on the earth; and be alive unto God (Romans 6:11). And Christ who ascended to the right hand of the power of God (Luke 22:69) was given the Holy Spirit who He supplies to us, His body (Galatians 3: 5, Philippians 1:19, Luke 11:13). We are the body of this Ascended One, and even sit with Him in the heavenlies.

Additionally, as His body, we have been freed from the power and penalty of sin at the cross, so that we can be lead by the Spirit and be filled with the Spirit. In Acts 10:38 Peter taught how God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power. In turn, Jesus now baptizes and fills us with His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, so that all of the wonderful attributes of God can flow through us, His body.

As His body we cooperate with and seek for His Spirit to flow in us like a river (John 7:37-38). We seek to be lead by His Spirit (Romans 8:4,14). We seek and believe for His Spirit's attributes (Isaiah 11:2-4, lots of New Testament prayers ask for these attributes). We seek and believe for His compassion and love (1Corinthians 13, 1Corinthians 14:1) to flow through us. We seek and desire for His gifts (1Corinthians 14:1,39) to be manifest through us. We believe and desire for the fruit of the Spirit to flow out of us (Galatians 5:22-23). Through corporate prayer and worship the Spirit is supplied to His body (Galatians 3:5, Philippians 1:19, Luke 11:13). Through corporate prayer and worship the Spirit is supplied and manifested in a special way (Acts 4:24-31; 1Corinthains 5:4; Matthew 18:20 ). Where there is unity of the Spirit, the Spirit blesses and manifests Himself in a wonderful way (Psalm 133, Acts 1:14, Acts 2:1-2). We can pray in the Spirit like the apostle Paul did (1Corinthians 14:5,15,18-19). We can be edified by praying in the Spirit as it states in Jude 20.

All of the above prayers, faith and seeking are to see and experience Christ in us the hope of glory. As a member of the body of Christ, my responsibility is to seek and believe for God to move through me by His Spirit in the above ways. When I am in my car or in my daily prayer, I believe for the attributes of the Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11:2 (wisdom, understanding sought for in Ephesians 1, knowledge, fear of the Lord, might sought for in Ephesians 3, counsel); I believe for God's love and compassion to flow through me; I believe for the fruit and gifts to flow through me; I pray in the Spirit; I worship; and more.

All of these prayers and seeking are to see some aspect of Christ's person to flow through me by His Spirit. The promise of the Father who is the Spirit, was given to His anointed one, Christ, who sits at His right hand, who in turn supplies His Spirit to us, His body. It is my responsibility as a member of His body, to by faith seek for (and cooperate with) His Spirit to flow through me. "… How much more will He give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?" (Luke 11:13) "He who supplies the Spirit to you … by the hearing of faith …" (Galatians 3:5) Jesus sought for the Spirit to flow through Him; and now He supplies us with the same Spirit so that the Spirit can flow through us, His body, in a similar way.

The apostle John wrote, " 'Abide in Me, and I in you ….' " (John 15:4a) He wrote again in John 15:5a, " '... he who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit …. ' " In John 14:20b He wrote, " 'you in Me, and I in you.' " To make this short and sweet; Christ in us, would include the reality of the Holy Spirit in us. Us in Christ refers to all that we ARE by virtue of His death, burial and resurrection. Because He died for us, we ARE forgiven; we ARE crucified with Christ; we ARE redeemed, we ARE healed; we ARE accepted; etc. Because He rose from the dead for us, we ARE alive to God (Romans 6:11); we ARE sons of God; we ARE members of His body (1Corinthians 10:17); etc. (Sound familiar?) We ARE all of these wonderful things IN Christ; and He is all kinds of wonderful things (wisdom, understanding, knowledge, compassion, power, etc.) IN us. Just like Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit while on this earth; so we, His body, are "a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22b).

To sum things up; over the years, there has been much discussion among church people as to whether the bread of Communion becomes the actual body of Christ. This is truly the wrong question. The real question is whether the partakers of Communion actually are the body of Christ. And if we are, then we need to show it. As it says in Matthew 5, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." James wrote that he will demonstrate his faith by his works. By repentance and faith, be a member of the body of Christ. Prove and demonstrate your identity by your actions. Let God's Spirit use you to fulfill your God given purposes in life. Find and take your God given place in the body of Christ.

 

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