NOTE: If desired, at the conclusion this presentation, an interactive video option is available to viewers to celebrate Communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper, with Pastor Doug Laird. If you wish to do so, set aside a small piece of bread and a small cup of wine before activating the link at the end of the presentation.
The interactive video that is provided may also be utilized for future celebrations of Communion (The Lord’s Supper), as an individual or when worshiping as a group.
As we will cover in this teaching session, Church Age believers can "gather together (Hebrews 10: 25)" by means of any of the remote means of communication that modern day technology has made available to us, as well in the traditional manner. This differs from the "religious" rituals that have developed within the Christian Community during the course of the Church Age concerning the celebration of the Lord's Supper (Communion). As we will see in this presentation, the last (and only) and ultimate sacrifice that God acknowledged was the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The last altar (for this purpose) was His cross. The stated purpose for celebrating the Lord's Supper (Communion) was/is to "bring into r-e-m-e-m-b-r-a-n-c-e ()" the Lord's Humanity and what He accomplished with it while on the cross. This ritual is not for the purpose of literally transforming the symbolic elements into the Lord's body and blood, nor is it for the purpose of re-offering a new sacrifice .
"For where (wherever/however) two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst (Matthew 18: 20 NASB italics mine)."
Modern technology has made it possible for individuals such as shut ins, inmates, military personnel, or anyone else to take part in this sacred ritual at any place or any time where Internet Access is available.
The devil and the forces of evil are certainly making use of such technology to promote the devil's. Edified Christians who do not "put God in a box" can worship God as He desires to be worshiped without the boundaries that have been established by Man made religion.
It is not where or how we gather together, but what it is that takes place that gives authenticity and legitimacy (John 4: 23) to the worship service that takes place. Much of the pageantry and activity that takes place in the present day worship services, especially when it comes to the celebration of the Lord's Supper, are no more than the religious traditions that Man has established, that is some cases, actually run contrary to what the Bible teaches.
The celebrating of the Lord's Supper (Communion) is a POST (after) salvation activity. Those who have a-l-r-e-a-d-y been born again are COMMANDED (not an option) to participate in this ritual on a regular and ongoing basis until the RETURN of the Lord Jesus Christ takes place (1Cor. 11: 23). Because it is a POST salvation activity, it is not the means through which one is SAVED. Neither, it is the means to retain or regain salvation. The issue and the integrity of one's salvation has ALREADY been forever resolved BEFORE one takes part in the ongoing celebrations of the Lord's Supper.
Salvation is an i-r-r-e-v-o-c-a-b-l-e gift (Romans 11:29) that God gives the moment that one is born again.
The stated purpose for born again believers to participate in this ritual is to "bring into REMEMBRANCE (1Cor. 11: 24, 25) the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the atoning Work that He accomplished while on the cross.
It is NOT for the purpose of reproducing His humanity, nor is it for the purpose of making a sacrificial offering to God at the hands of human priest, as some of the traditions of Man-made "religion" would have us believe.
During the Old Testament dispensation, there WERE (past tense) "holy" structures in the forms of a tent, a temple, and altars in, on, around which rituals of sacrifice and worship WERE (past tense) to take place. Such worship DID (past tense) require the involvement and participation of an officiating priest from the tribe of Levi.
Holy buildings, tangible altars with officiating priests, however, were NEVER prescribed for the type of worship that God desires for the Church Age. The early Church gathered together in a variety of indoor and outdoor meeting places. Tangible altars and "officiating" priests did not exist within the Christian Community during the early centuries. The re-introduction of holy buildings, tangible altars, and officiating priests was the work of Man made religious practices that have NO Biblical authorization for the Church Age.
The unauthorized reintroduction of the Old Testament concepts of officiating priests, holy buildings, and tangible altars took place after three hundred years of CHURCH History had come and gone. In addition to the celebration of the Lord's Supper, many more unauthorized functions were assigned to the type of Church Age priesthood that was established under the umbrella of Man made religion.
Although such things were and are held in high esteem by Man, such things were never authorized by God for the dispensation of the Church Age.
The ultimate and final (Heb.10: 12) offering (for the purpose of securing the means of salvation) that God acknowledged was the shed blood of the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ while He nailed to the last altar (His cross) that God acknowledged.
By eating the bread AND drinking the wine during the celebration of the Lord's Supper, born again believers fulfill the ritual's intended purpose by bringing into r-e-m-e-m-b-r-a-n-c-e (1Cor. 11: 24, 25)what these elements symbolically represent.
The first time that the Lord's Supper was celebrated was when it was introduced during the Passover Meal that our Lord shared with His disciples on the same night in which He was later betrayed (1Cor. 11: 23). It did not take place in the Temple or in the synagogue, but in an upper room of a private residence. There were no tangible altars set up in the room. The celebration took place around the table where the disciples had gathered to celebrate the Passover Meal.
There were there no "officiating" priests of that day present. Ironically, the Lord Jesus Christ, not being of the Tribe of Levi, did not qualify for the priesthood of that day Heb. 7: 14/Heb. 8: 4). Holy buildings, officiating priests, tangible altars were not involved when the ritual of Communion/Lord's Supper was introduced in the upper room, and such buildings, priests, and altars are not required to continue to celebrate it now.
The Lord Jesus Christ, is the "High Priest (Heb. 4: 14)" of the new royal priesthood (1Peter 2: 9), consisting of EVERY born again believer of the Church Age, but born again believers of the Church Age are not priests in an "officiating" capacity.
As Church Age priests, all born again believers have direct access to the throne of God where they can approach and represent themselves, and represent God to Man in their daily lives, here on Earth. This access was given to them through their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 3.:12). Representing God to Man, here on Earth, is a part of the post salvation spiritual life.
The Lord's Supper, aka Communion, is the ONE and ONLY r-i-t-u-a-l that was to be incorporated into the worship services of Church Age.
The Church Age began in the approx. year 30-33 AD at the Feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 2) several weeks after our Lord's Ascension (Acts 1: 9), and will come to its prophesied end (Matthew 14: 14) when the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 15, 16) takes place.Human history did not begin, nor will it end, with the dispensation of the Church Age.
In addition to practicing this ONE ritual on a regular basis, the assigned mission (AKA the Great Commission-Matt. 28: 19, 20) of the Church is to present the Gospel Message to unbelievers and to make disciples (students/appliers of the Word of God) out of those who are born again (John 3: 5, 7).
Man, in the name of religion has chosen to establish a hierarchy that has added many positions with accompanying functions to the Church that He designed. But nowhere in Scripture was there a call or the need to reestablish the Old Testament position and function of officiating priests to celebrate the Lord's Supper/Communion.
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1John 1:9 confession of sin is a part of the process of preparation to participate in the celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion. Sin is to be confessed to God in prayer. Receiving the elements during a Communion Service with known sin that has not been confessed (to God) is one of the primary ways in which a person can celebrate this ritual in an "unworthy manner (1Cor, 11: 27, 28)." Celebrating the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner can result in experiencing the most severe form (!cor. 11: 29) of divine discipline.
Once again, Man in the name of religion, has gone against Scripture (1Tim. 2: 5) by mandating the unauthorized inclusion of its priesthood in the confession process. Even the religious Pharisees understood that only God can forgive sin (). What they did not accept was our Lord's claim of deity, and that God forgives sin on the basis of one's faith in the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many "religious" persons within the Christian Community have been taught that they must receive absolution from a priesthood that has never been given this authority by God.
My first question that I would ask such persons, is how were the sins committed by the believers of the first two hundred years of the Church Age addressed BEFORE this alternative confessional and practice were introduced? The over-whelming majority of Roman Catholics that I interact with on a regular basis do not follow the prescribed manner of confession promoted by Roman Catholicism. This is interesting to note, as in the not too distant past, many of them would not receive Communion of that had not done so.
Adding penance as a requirement to receive forgiveness implies that one's faith in the "finished - John 19: 30" work accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ was/is not enough. Doing penance and/or good deeds in order to receive forgiveness from God is not only contrary to Scripture, it is blasphemous in that it challenges the very words and integrity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The "binding" on Earth being bound in Heaven (Matt. 16:19/Matt. 18:18) principle is speaking about the chosen response that others make when advancing disciples present them with the Gospel Message (John 3: 18." It is the Gospel Message that is the "keys to the Kingdom (Matt. 16: 19)" that "opens the gates of Heaven.
Biblically-qualified pastor teachers are trained and ordained to take on the teaching and leadership duties within the local assembly/ministry they serve. Being ordained does not make them "a cut above" other born again believers, but does put on them more responsibility and accountability (James 3: 1).
Pastor-teachers, in their position of leadership, traditionally lead the congregation in the celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion, but this function can be accomplished by any born again believer in fellowship with God.
What the duties and the functions of a pastor teacher are to be are clearly outlined in Scripture (2Timothy/Titus/etc.). NONE of these involve any activity ON or AROUND a tangible altar. The only "furnishing" that a pastor could use to do the primary job that God assigned to him is a pulpit.
In the times in which we are living, such pulpits can consist of the traditional types where face to face teaching takes place, OR they can involve many of the modern means of remote communication. It is not the type of pulpit that matters.
It is the messages that comes forth from the pulpit and the "fruit" that is produces that gives any given pulpit credibility. The "fruit" of a pulpit that God approves are saved and edified souls.
The job and function of an evangelist is to proclaim the Gospel Message to persons outside of the Christian Community. The primary job and function of a pastor-teacher is to study and teach the Word of God to those who have already been born again. Sometimes these functions will overlap. The evangelist will use the Bible to set the stage for the presentation of the Gospel Message. The pastor teacher will often include the opportunity for an unsaved soul to hear and to respond to the Gospel Message while presenting an edifying sermon to the congregation. There are those who "go to Church" on a regular basis who have never been born again, and there are born again believers who are weak in the faith as far as having a true understanding of the integrity of the salvation that they have already received.
It is through the celebration of the Lord's Supper that the principles of salvation are reiterated and reinforced.
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The Lord Jesus Christ, on the same night that He was to be betrayed, gave His apostles specific instructions regarding
how the Lord's Supper was to be celebrated and for what the purpose. Church Age believers are to eat the bread and drink the wine. The purpose is to bring into remembrance what each element (bread/wine) symbolically represents. (1Cor. 11: 23-26).
Interesting to note that God the Holy Spirit LATER selected the Apostle Paul (who was neither present nor even a believer at the time it was introduced) to reiterate the essential teachings and procedure concerning the celebration of this sacred ritual.
The stated purpose, as it pertains to the generations of the Church Age, for the ritual was/is to "bring into remembrance - 1 Cor. 11: 24, 25" and not to reproduce, the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The idea that a religious priest was/is to make/offer a sacrifice during the celebration of this ritual is contrary to Scripture (). The final sacrifice that God the Father accepted for the salvation of Man was the bleeding Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ on the final altar. The final tangible altar that God approved of was His cross.
The New Covenant (1 Cor. 11: 25/Luke 22: 20) that was set in motion by the shedding of His literal blood did not take place until He nailed to the cross, the following morning AFTER this ritual was introduced.
It was (Matthew 22:12) on the night that our Lord was later betrayed (1Cor. 11: 23) that the ritual was introduced, with His impending arrest only a few hours away. Born again believers were/are commanded to celebrate this ritual on a regular basis throughout the course of the Church Age, bringing to remembrance the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Work that He accomplished while shedding His blood on the cross. The Church Age began at the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2: 1) in Jerusalem a few weeks AFTER our Lord's ascension (Acts 1: 9), and will come to its prophesied END (Matthew 24: `14) when the Rapture takes place (1Thess. 4: 16, 17).
"For as often as you EAT THIS BREAD and DRINK THIS CUP) (celebrating the Lord's Supper/Communion), you proclaim (the significance of) the Lord's death, until He comes (again at the Rapture)." 1 Cor. 11: 26 NASB italics mine.
When celebrated in the manner that God desires, the Lord is glorified, and the participants grow in their faith by being continually reminded of all that God did for Man ON THE CROSS. When celebrated in the prescribed manner, the participant avoids the negative consequences (1Cor. 11: 30) of the sin of disobedience (1Cor. 11: 24, 25) for NOT participating on a regular basis (1Cor. 11:27-29), and/or for participating, but an "unworthy" manner.
Participating in the celebration of the Lord's Supper is NOT a suggestion; it is one of the 300+ commands found in the New Testament (1Cor. 11: 24, 25) that are in force throughout the Church Age. It is one of such commands that carries with it specific consequences for not participating or for participating in it in an unworthy manner.
If a believer merely goes through the motions while participating in the celebration of the Lord's Supper without having made PROPER PREPARATION (1Cor. 11: 28/1 John 1: 9) he/she is committing the sin of taking Communion/The Lord's Supper in an "unworthy" matter. PROPER PREPARATION requires self-examination (1Cor. 11: 28) with the intended result of confessing (1John 1: 9) all known sin that such an examination will reveal (1John 1: 8).
"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us (1John 1: 8)."
PROPER PARTICIPATION involves the bringing into remembrance ALL that the elements represent as one EATS THE BREAD and DRINKS THE WINE that symbolize the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly, one must have a clear understanding of the Gospel Message and/or what is to take place, he/she will not benefit from what the ritual was intended to accomplish. If one is not sure that he/she has a-l-r-e-a-d-y been forever saved, he/she does NOT have a clear understanding of the Gospel Message. If one does not bring into remembrance the Person and Work that the Lord Jesus Christ "finished - John 19: 30), he/she is not going to benefit from what the ritual was intended to accomplish.
There is a major difference between the ATONING WORK that was finished ON THE CROSS nearly 2,000 years ago, and the ongoing RITUAL that takes place thorough the course of the Church Age that was/is intended to bring what was accomplished into our consciousness. The RITUAL does NOT reproduce either the Humanity or the one time sacrifice that His humanity accomplished on the cross.
The sin of omission (not participating) and the sin of commission (taking part, in an unworthy manner) regarding the celebration of the Lord's Supper can result in the more serious forms of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6), here on Earth.
"For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep (1Cor. 11: 30 NASB)."
This 1Cor. 11: 30 "weakness" is spiritual weakness evidenced by the lack of advancement towards spiritual maturity. One cannot bring into remembrance what took place on the cross if he/she has never been taught or fails to understand what took place. This understanding is the foundation on which our soul structure is to be built (1 Cor. 3:10/Matt 7: 24-27). Any cracks (lack of faith/understanding) in the foundation (the Gospel Message) places in jeopardy one's ability to establish and maintain a sold soul structure. The celebration of the Lord's Supper, as God desired it to be celebrated, is what reinforces the foundation of our faith.
This 1 Cor. 11: 30 "sickness" and "sleep" refer to physical illness and physical death.
Any cracks (doubts/fears) about the integrity of our foundation and/or the permanency of the salvation that a born again believer has already received will negatively impact the quality of one's post salvation spiritual life. A baseball player will not run the bases with all his might if he has doubts about having stepped on each base along the way.
Failing to remain focused on what the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished (past tense)on the cross opens the door to many false teachings and practices that are promoted in the name (authority) of religion. Without having a firm grip on what the Gospel Message has to say, there will always be room for doubts and insecurity in one's soul structure. Participating in the celebration of the Lord's Supper in the manner and for the purpose that it was established is what builds one's trust and confidence in God and in the things of God.
Taking part in the next Communion Service is something that a born again believer in fellowship with God looks forward to within his/her soul. For believers out of fellowship, it can become something that one feels obligated to attend and to take part in, but experiences no intimacy in the process. Avoid the participation long enough, it will be placed on the list of things that one used to do when he/she walked with the Lord.
When one is focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, the pursuit and execution of ANY part of the TRUE post salvation spiritual life will NOT be a burden or obligation, but the primary daily desire of an advancing disciple. A well-edified believer will come to realize that taking part in the celebration of the Lord's Supper is as much for his/her own spiritual benefit, as it is for bringing glory to the Lord.
RELIGION has really done a number on the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Much of the pageantry surrounding this ritual found within the Christian Community is without Biblical substantiation, and promotes false teachings. Among the false teachings is the idea that the elements are literally transformed into the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ at the hands of an officiating priest, as opposed to the elements having symbolic significance. Another false teaching is that each time that the ritual is celebrated, a new sacrifice is being made and offered to God at the hands of the officiating priest at an altar, when Scripture is clear () that the ONE TIME sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was the ONE and ONLY ultimate sacrifice that God the Father acknowledged. The last altar (for this purpose) for the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
RELIGION has introduced varied ways in which the elements (bread/wine) are to be dispensed to the recipients. At least one major "Christian" RELIGION provides the wine to only a select few while withholding the wine from the members of congregation. Others argue over the appropriateness of alcoholic content when wine is used. Religion has established and enforces its own rules as to who can take part in the ritual that go way beyond the preparation requirements of 1Cor. 11: 27-29).
What was intended to be the foundational and unifying ritual of the faith, the religious traditions of Man has managed to turn the issues of the Lord's Supper into a major bone of contention and division within the Christian Community at large. In this the devil is well pleased.
The ONE and ONLY way to establish and maintain pure doctrine and practice is to establish and maintain it by what (and only what) the Word of God has to say. One must avoid "selective" reading and/or application. Selective reading and/or application takes place when ONLY the verses or passages that supports one's position are applied while disregarding other passages of Scripture that keeps the matter in the proper balance.
Adding to, taking from, misinterpreting,and misapplying Scripture has been the downfall of the people of God in every dispensation. The dispensation of the Church Age is NO exception. The end result is replacing what God intended with meaningless traditions of Man-made religion (Matt. 15: 9).
"But in vain do they worship Me, teaching (and practicing) as (if they were ) doctrines (from God, what are merely) precepts of men (Matt,: 15: 9 NASB italics mine)."
Many "religious" persons attend worship services on a regular basis, but do so in order to fulfill a perceived obligation, experiencing no fellowship or intimacy with God in the process. Such believers are clock watchers, going through a check list of activity, waiting for the end to come so that they can engage in whatever activities that have in mind for the rest of the day or week. This is NOT a frame of mind that is conducive to celebrating the Lord's Supper as God desires it to be celebrated.
The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is for the stated purpose of bringing into remembrance the Person (Who He is) and the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord implemented the 1Cor. 11: 24, 25 commands to do this in remembrance of Him after first identifying what the elements (bread/wine) were to be, and what each one symbolically represents.
Concerning the BREAD, "This is My body which is for you; do this (eat the bread) in remembrance of Me (1Cor. 11: 24 NABS italics mine)."
Concerning the WINE, "This is the cup of the New Covenant in My blood; do this (drink the wine) as often as you drink it in remembrance of Me (1Cor. 11: 25 NASB italics mine)."
Note that recipients were given the BREAD to EAT and the WINE to DRINK.
"This is My blood of the *covenant which is poured out (to be offered as a sacrifice on the cross) for many (Mark 14: 24 NASB italics mine).'
It is as one eats the bread that the believer is to focus on and bring into remembrance the Person (Humanity) of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is as one drinks the wine that the believer is to bring into remembrance HIs shed blood, which activated the New Covenant.
A *covenant is "contract" between two or more parties. The "parties" in the New Covenant in His blood are God and Man. Man fulfills his part by believing, that is to place his full confidence and trust, in who the Lord Jesus Christ is, and what He accomplished on the cross. God part is to give eternal life to every soul that fulfills Man's part in the New Covenant.
In short, the bread represents His humanity in the capacity of the sacrificial Lamb of God (John 1: 29), the wine represents not only His blood, but the Work that He performed on the cross while shedding His blood while on the cross in our behalf. THIS is what it means to focus on the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. THIS is what we are commanded to remind ourselves of when participating in the celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion.
Note that the shedding of His blood at any other time or in any other circumstances other than while on the cross would NOT have resulted in the atonement of sin.
It was while He was ON THE CROSS that God placed the world's sin debt on His Humanity. It was ON THE CROSS, that His shed blood made atonement. The Lord Jesus Christ himself, in prayer to God the Father (Mark 14: 35, 36), asked if there were any other way other than the cross, but immediately received His answer, and acknowledged the will of God the Father.
"And He was saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup (the need for the cross) from Me; yet not what I will (if that won't fulfill Your will), but what You will (Mark 14: 35, 36 italics mine). The part of the cross that He dreaded the most was not the physical agony awaiting Him, but the period of time that He, in His humanity, would be forsaken and separated from God the Father.
If the shedding of His blood at any time could have secured the means for the salvation of the human race, then God could have accomplished His goal by allowing many different things to take place that would have resulting in the shedding of His blood. But for one thing, this would have resulted in our Lord not fulfilling many of the prophecies that had been announced and recorded in Old Testament Scripture. It is by fulfilling ALL of the DETAILS that Man could and should clearly see that He was WHO and WHAT He claimed to be. It was not until AFTER His death and resurrection that even His closest followers understood why and when things went the way they did while He was here with them.
The coming of the Savior was mentioned as early as in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 3: 15), and is spoken of in many of Old Testament Books. Just a quick review of the detailed prophesies in the 22nd Psalm alone is a faith-building study in light of the fact that the detailed prophecies there were written 1,000 years BEFORE the crucifixion took place (Psalms 22: 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18).
If it were the shedding of His blood at any time that could have secured the means for the salvation for the human race, then God could have allowed the Lord Jesus Christ to have been among the infants and children slaughtered in Bethlehem that was ordered by Herod (Matt. 2: 16) in an attempt to kill the new born "King of the Jews."
If it were the shedding of His blood at any time that atoned for the world's sin, the Lord Jesus Christ could have accomplished that by jumping off the high place when Satan tempted Him to do (Luke 4: 9) so, or when crown of thorns was placed on His head (John 19: 2).
If it were the shedding of His blood at any time, it could have been accomplished during the beating He received (Luke 22: 63) and/or scourging (John 19: 1) that took place BEFORE He was nailed to the cross.
In the foreshadowing animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, the hand of the one making the s-u-b-s-t-i-t-u-t-i-o-n-a-r-y offering placed his hand on the animal. The animal was then accepted as a s-u-b-s-t-i-t-u-t-i-o-n-a-r-y sacrifice in the place of the sinner. THEN the animal was sacrificed, shedding its blood (Leviticus 1). It was under these circumstances that the shed blood of the sacrificial animals was accepted. These sacrifices clearly pointed to the s-u-b-s-t-i-t-u-t-i-o-n-a-r-y, ultimate, and final (Hebrews 10: 1-8) sacrifice that the Lamb of God (John 1: 29), clearly identified as the Lord Jesus Christ, would come and accomplish ON THE CROSS.
It was the shedding of our Lord's blood ON THE CROSS at the time that God placed the sin debt of the world on His humanity that distinguished this shedding of His blood from any other time or place that He could have (Matt. 2: 16/Luke 4: 9). He had already undoubtedly shed His blood when He was beaten, scourged, and had a crown of thorns pressed down into His scalp, but it was not until AFTER He shed His blood on the cross, making atonement for the sin debt that was placed on His humanity, that He declared His atoning Work "finished - John 19: 30 NASB)."
Had He been killed prior to the cross, the resulting shed blood would NOT have accomplished the atoning Work that it did when shed on the cross.
What happened ON THE CROSS that did not happen when He was beaten, scourged, and had the crown of thorns pressed down into His scalp? It was while he was ON THE CROSS that God the Father placed the sin debt of the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, as He atoned for the world's sin debt, shedding His blood.
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Research sources report that there are 34 times that New Testament Scripture speak of the BLOOD OF CHRIST. It is important to be able to distinguish when the phrase BLOOD OF CHRIST is speaking of His literal blood, AND/OR when it is speaking of the Work that He accomplished while shedding His literal blood while on the cross. As this point pertains to the celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion, the elements are symbolic. The bread symbolically r-e-p-r-e-s-e-n-t-s His body (1Cor. 11: 24), being the Lamb (sacrifice) of God Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1: 29 NASB). The wine represents His blood (1Cor. 11: 25). It was the shedding of His literal blood WHILE His humanity was nailed to the cross that made atonement, fulfilling the divine side of the New Covenant (contract) between God and Fallen Man. The human side of this New Covenant is fulfilled (if) when the individual soul is born again (John 3: 5, 7, 18).
By eating the bread AND drinking the wine, we "bring into remembrance" what the elements represent. This is the stated purpose (1Cor. 11: 24, 25, and 26), for which this ritual was established for born again believers of the Church Age.
Q. : "If the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ provided the means for the whole world to be saved, then why are some going to spend eternity in Hell, or in what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15)?
A.: The answer is that the Work on the cross provided the means for the world to receive salvation by His paying of the world's sin debt. The New Covenant in His blood, is a two-way contract. Man fulfills his part by believing in a presentation of the Gospel Message, and God, in response, fulfills His part giving the those who believe, eternal life (John 3: 16, 18). Those who do not believe are not under the New Covenant (contract) of His blood. For the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18), there is no forgiveness, now or at any time in eternity future.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever b-e-l-i-e-v-e-s in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3: 16 NASB)."
"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John3: 18 NASB)."
One can not bring into remembrance what he does not know or understand in the first place. Consequently, one can not truly celebrate the Lord's Supper/Communion until AFTER he has secured a proper understanding of what took place on the cross. When one understands what was finished on the cross, he/she will see that there is no call for anyone, by any means, to reproduce His body, His blood, or the Work that He finished. When one understands what took place on the cross, he will see that there is no need to make ANY further sacrifices, as has become the practice of many while celebrating the Lord's Supper under the umbrella of religion and traditions of men. The purpose of celebrating the Lord's Supper/Communion is to bring into remembrance, NOT to REPRODUCE, the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ, or to offer new/additional sacrifices.
This atoning Work was "finished-John 19: 30) while He was still physically alive on the cross, evidenced by His ability to speak these words BEFORE He dismissed His spirit and physically died. He did NOT say that it (His atoning Work) was about to be finished (when He died) or that it will be finished when He rises. "It" was His atoning work that paid the sin debt of the whole world (1John 2: 2).
The ONE and ONLY sin that (by divine design) was not atoned for was the sin of disbelief. If one chooses to disbelieve in a presentation of the Gospel Message, he/she fails to meet the ONE and ONLY requirement necessary to fulfill (John 3: 16, 18) the human side of the (contract) New Covenant in His Blood (1Cor. 11: 25).
At the moment one first believes, the born again believer has fulfilled his/her part in the contract, "closing the deal" that God" put on the table" after the worls's sin debt has been paid for on the cross.
It is t-h-e-n, and NOT when one dies, that God gives the born again believer eternal life (John 3: 16). The believer's salvation is forever, eternally secure (Romans 8: 1), and his/her spirit that was formerly dead is regenerated spirit (Titus 3: 5). This is ALL the WORK of God that takes place at the moment of salvation without the need for ANY "religious" ritual or ceremony. Every man or woman who was baptized in water had already been saved, having expressed a confession of faith. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that later takes place is a part of his/her post (after) salvation spiritual life, but is NOT for the purpose of either obtaining or retaining salvation.
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"Therefore when Jesus received the sour wine (0N THE CROSS), He said, "It is finished!" And (THEN) He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit (John 19: 30 NASB)."
"It", being His atoning work was accomplished during the last three of the six hours that our Lord was on the cross, when God placed the sin debt on the bleeding Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God can not even look upon sin (Habakkuk 1: 13) with favor, which necessitated the forsaking of the sacrificial and s-u-b-s-t-i-t-u-t-i-o-n-a-r-y Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ as the sins of the world was placed on Him while on the cross. The Lord was on the cross for six hours from (9am to 3 pm). It was at noon (Matt. 27: 45 ) that the Lord recited the beginning verse of Psalms 22, "My God, My God, why have you f-o-r-s-a-k-e-n Me." It was then that the prophesied (Psalms 22: 2) darkness fell on the Earth (Matt. 27: 45 between noon and 3 pm.. The atoning Work was accomplished during these last three hours on the cross. It began at noon, and ended at 3 pm when the Lord Jesus Christ announced that "it" (the atoning work) was finished (John 19: 30 NASB italics mine."
Spiritual death is not a state of non-existence, but existing while separated from a relationship with God. It is this spiritual death that Adam and the woman received at the the Fall, and is passed down to all the generations of Man. Each one of us comes into this world spiritually dead, as a result of the sin nature being passed down to what becomes our humanity at birth (Psalms 51: 5).
Until a soul is born again (John 3: 5, 7) he/she remains spiritually dead. Upon being born again, his dead spirit is regenerated (Titus 3: 5), and from that point forward is spiritually alive. ALL souls have "everlasting" (never ending life), as this was the part of us that was created in God's likeness (Gen. 1: 27). Every soul that God has ever created is just as alive as the day God created him/her and placed it in a human body when the body came forth at birth.
But ONLY spiritually alive (born again) souls possess eternal life that enables them to live with God in Heaven. Spiritually dead departed souls are presently in the Torments section of Hades, They will remain there until the Rev.20: 13, 15) takes place when they will be tossed into what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). Departed souls cannot be prayed out of Hades or into Heaven. Contrary to what some religious teaching and practices would have us believe, God does NOT accept the offering of a religious event in exchange for a free pass out of Hades.
This is why the Lord taught Nicodemus (as us) that one MUST be born again (John 3: 5, 7). All the "religious" rituals, ceremonies, good works, and good behavior in the universe can not produce as much as a nanosecond (one billionth of second) of eternal life for a single soul. Without eternal life, the soul that WILL LIVE FOREVER with its never ending ,everlasting soul life, will find itself in what the Bible calls the lake of fire for ALL of never-ending eternity (Rev. 20: 15).
It was these hours of spiritual death (separated from God the Father) that our Lord was to endure that He dreaded and prayed about in the Garden (Mark 14: 35, 36). It was His experiencing this spiritual death ON THE CROSS while He atoned for our sins. In doing so,He spared believers from having to experience spiritual death (separation from God) in the lake of fire awaiting ALL unbelievers (Rev.20: 15).
If there were anything more that one must do to be saved than believe, then God"s Word is a lie. spoke an untruth. If a born again believer could later find him/herself in Hades or in the lake of fire, then God's Word is a lie (John 3: 16/Romans 8: 1, 31-28). If an unbeliever could later find him/herself in Heaven, then God's Word is a lie (Rev. 20: 15). Building our confidence and trust in the promises that God has made to born again believers is one of the benefits of celebrating the Lord's Supper/Communion, providing it is celebrated in the way and for the purpose that He designed.
When our Lord recited Psalms 22: 1 at noon, He was NOT a-s-k-i-n-g God the Father"Why...?". The Lord Jesus Christ fully understood why and for what reason and purpose His crucifixion was taking place. He make this clear to His disciples BEFORE reaching Jerusalem. He was quoting the 22nd Psalm, that foretold of the crucifixion in detail, that written some 1,000 years earlier,. He did so to confirm that what the prophet had written some 1,00 years earlier in Psalms 22 was at THAT moment taking place on the cross.
Being separated and forsaken by God the Father, He endured the spiritual death (separation from God) that we, as members of a fallen race, would have had to otherwise suffer in the lake of fire for all of eternity. Only the sacrifice of His bleeding humanity could atone for the world' sin debt. For Man to think that sinful Man could reproduce via religious ritual either His Humanity, or what was accomplished by it on the cross is not only inaccurate, its amount to blasphemy as it brings into question the integrity of what was accomplished on the cross, and the integrity of the Word of the One who declared the work"finished-John 19: 30."
Keep in mind that when New Testament Scripture speaks of the blood of Christ, it is speaking of either the literal blood, or the work that He accomplished while He shed His literal blood while on the cross.
Our Lord's physical death was the means through He departed His humanity. His humanity was buried, and was raised in resurrection form to provide indisputable, tangible (John 20: 27). evidence (John 20: 27) of His resurrection, and of God's approval (Acts 12: 31) of the atoning Work that He accomplished on the cross (John 19: 30). It was His resurrected body that enabled Him to move forward in the plan of God (Acts 1: 9).
For the born again believer, his/her physical death is an event that God sees as "precious-(Psalms 116: 15). The physical death of a born again believer is the means through which he/she leaves his/her moral body behind and to moves forward in the plan of God. No spiritually mature wants to leave this world one second before he/she completed ALL of the divine good that God has in mind. At the same time, the spiritually mature believer does not desire to spend one second more here in the devil's world than what the plan of God calls for.
There is one generation (1Thess 4: 17) of born again, Church Age believers, that will not experience physical death, but will experience an unannounced and instantaneous (1Cor. 15: 52)) transformation (1Thess. 4: 17) into a new bodily form in order to move on in the plan of God. In the times in which we are living, as long as we have been born again and are still alive here on Earth, it is possible that we can be among those who will experience Rapture before departing this Earth.
Until either our physical death or the Rapture taking place, born again, Church Age believers, are here to identify and to execute the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. A crucial part of the post salvation spiritual life is the regular and on-going celebration of the Lord's Supper (Communion), as it was intended to be celebrated.
None of this would have ever been possible if not were it for the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. It should be with great anticipation that we bring into remembrance all that was accomplished on the cross, as we celebrate the Lord's Supper/Communion on a regular basis.
The future leadership of the Church that God designed was warned over and over again that false teachers with false practices would come on the scene, and only intensify during the END TIMES (1Tim. 4: 1). Never the less, such warnings largely fell, and continue to fall, on (spiritually) deaf ears. Throughout the course of Church History, "religious" authority has added to, take from, and distorted what the Word of God has to say about spiritual issues. The manner or purpose for the celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion has had religious pageantry, personnel, and altars added to it. It has had an ongoing and repeated offering of sacrifice added to it. It has had one of elements (wine) removed from the congregation-at-large, and has distorted the purpose for which it was established. All of this has been done in the name of Man made religion.
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"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons (1Cor. 10: 21 NASB)."
The first time that the ritual of the Lord's Supper/Communion was introduce and celebrated, it was around a table where the Lord and His closest disciples had gathered to celebrate the Passover Meal. The reference of partaking of the table of the Lord in 1Cor. 10:21 leaves no doubt that it was referring to the celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion, as this is/was the ONLY ritual that Church Age believers were/are commanded to celebrate involving a "table."
Celebrating the Lord's Supper/Communion involved corporate worship of believers around the table of the Lord. Believers who properly prepare themselves (1Cor. 11: 27) to participate, are in fellowship with both God and fellow believers with whom they share and experience the ritual. One cannot hold hands with what the devil's world promotes, and be in fellowship with God (James 4: 4). Man made religion plays a major role in the devil's (Luke 4: 6) world. Failing to discern the devil's hand at work among the people of God has been a serious error in every dispensation of the plan of God.
The devil promotes his alternative table because it promotes the concept of making new and ongoing sacrifices at the hands of officiating priests on tangible altars in addition to the one made by the Lord Jesus Christ while on the cross. The last such sacrifice that God accepted was the ONE made by the Lord Jesus Christ on the last altar (the cross) that God accepted. To even suggest, let alone promote, such additional sacrifices is not merely false doctrine, but amounts to blasphemy as it brings into question what the Lord Jesus Christ "finished-John 19: 30 NABS) on the cross.
Q.: If born again believers are to bring into remembrance what has a-l-r-e-a-d-y been finished, how does making ongoing sacrifices at the hands of unauthorized religious priests on unauthorized religious altars fit into the picture?
A.: It doesn't. It never has, and it never will.
The devil's agenda consists of anything and everything that contradicts or attempts to take the place of God and.or the things of God. Many promote the devil's agenda in ignorance. Many do so believing that they are doing what God requires. But a bullet fired in ignorance can be just as lethal as the one that is fired with malicious intent. Accordingly, evil consists of everything and everything that is on the devil's agenda.
I always found it interesting that in what is commonly referred to as the Lord's prayer, we are taught us to pray for deliverance from evil (Matt. 6: 13). Evil encompasses a lot more than just sin and can be even more dangerous. In our hearts of hearts we DO know when we are engaging in what the Bible calls sin. What makes evil more dangerous is that we can engage in evil and actually be convinced that what we do or refrain from doing is what pleases God. As prophesied, here in the latter days, the Church has become filled with such forms of evil. Among such forms of evil are all the changes and distortion that has taken place surrounding the celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion.
Steering ourselves and others away from evil makes one a target (Isaiah 59: 15) of the devil (1Pet. 5: 8) and of those (John 16: 2) who do his bidding. For an advancing disciple, there is no greater human adversary here on Earth than those who do the devil's bidding by promoting the products and the practices of Man made religion.
It is worth noting that the 1Cor. 11- 24-27 instructions were NOT passed down to Paul through ANY of the pre-existing apostles. Paul was not in attendance in the Upper Room and was not even a believer at that time, and was still to go through a period of time when he felt it was his duty to destroy the developing Church. Paul was on a seek and destroy mission headed for Damascus when He encountered the Lord and was saved (Acts 8). Despite the fact that in his pre-salvation life he was a mortal enemy of the Church, it was he who God chose to reiterate the instructions and format that the Lord Jesus Christ had given His apostles when the ritual of the Lord's Supper was first introduced.
The celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion is a VERY SACRED ritual and is not to be taken lightly (1Cor. 11: 27). Never the less, much of the dramatic pageantry surrounding the ritual that takes place in parts of the " Christian " Community today is only a product of the Man-made traditions that the forces of religion have established. Believers that have been accurately taught the Word of God can see the false teachings (transubstantiation of the elements) and practices (making an offering to God) taking place in the midst of the visual drama and the sound effects that the religious alternatives generate.
The believers of the early Church met DAILY and in diverse types of surroundings. They gathered together is private homes, market places, and outdoor settings, as well as in secret hiding places in times of persecution. There we NO altars or officiating priests present, yet the Lord's Supper/Communion was celebrated in the way in which it was intended. NONE of the early believers ever saw the inside of what many believers of our day would consider a Church to be. According to Scripture, Church Age believers do NOT go to Church, but ARE the Church that gathers together for worship. Church Age worship consists of the teaching of the Word of God (Matt. 28: 19) and the celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion (1Cor. 11: 24, 25) on a regular basis.
The Lord's Supper was and can continue to be celebrated as it was BEFORE the existence of all the pageantry, priesthood, altars, and cathedrals that the forces of religion Has brought into the picture. It was when such things were adopted or reintroduced to the Christian Community that the roots of many false doctrines and practices were planted.
Some of the most elegant and magnificent cathedrals of the past and the mega worship centers of modern times are no more than a monument to the false teachings, false practices, and false promises that were and are used to build and to maintain them.
Even the floor plans and the exterior designs of such structures have characteristics that have roots in paganism and false religious concepts that go back to the days of religions's bed-partnering with the Roman Empire. This are among the reasons that many of the things that are held in high esteem by Man are detestable (Luke 16:15) in the eyes of God.
One of the indications that the Lord's Supper/Communion is being celebrated as God intended is the increase of trust and confidence that a believer who participates in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper experiences.
Failure to experience this ever-increasing confidence and security is a clear indication that the intended objective of celebrating the Lord’s Supper is either NOT being promoted by any given pulpit, or is not being properly celebrated by the participants. If one truly focuses on the Person and the Work that He performed on the cross a regular basis, there will be an ever-increasing desire to, "...grow in God's grace and knowledge (2Pet. 3: 18). This will not be the experience of someone who merely goes through the motions while his/her mind is miles away. This failure is the result of the weakness being spoken of in 1Cor. 11:30.
Keep in mind that in the spiritual realm if one is not progressing then he/she is regressing.
When celebrated according to Scripture, the believer brings to his memory ALL that the Lord has already accomplished for him, including, but not limited to, deliverance from the fires of Hell and providing the gift of eternal life. It is not possible to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, as it was intended to be, and then NOT “get anything” out of having participated in the ritual, even though it is (should be) done on a regular basis.
Being distracted from participating and/or from remaining focused on the ritual as it is celebrated are clear objectives of the devil. His objective in doing so is to plant the seeds, that if not stopped, will produce the weakness and sickness spoken of in 1Cor. 11:30. Like cancer in the natural realm, this form of spiritual weakness and sickness can do much harm if not detected and eliminated in its early stages.
This destruction does NOT involve the integrity of one's salvation, but can all but destroy any advancement in the spiritual realm as one in a weakened position will inevitably "get nothing" out of participating. If one as not experienced any forward progress in the spiritual realm, there is a good chance that he/she is getting nothing out of participating in the ritual. Getting nothing out of participating is the first step along the path of developing an attitude of insignificance and there being no "real" need to participate. This is a long way from looking forward to the next time that the ritual is to be experienced that an advancing disciple WILL have.
The devil, his Ephesians 6:12 forces of evil, and our own fallen nature have an never-ending arsenal and supply of means to bombard and distract our soul. Being "distracted" before, during, and after" a worship service is on the top of the devil's "thing to do" list for that day. These attacks and distractions are not the type portrayed by Hollywood, but involve the day to day battles of what those who lack spiritual discernment would write off as being the adversity of everyday life!
Members of the congregation (usually) have no input as to what version of the Lord's Supper is going to take place in any given local assembly, as such things are literally dictated to them by a system of authority that the powers of religion have established for that very purpose. But at least here in America, adult believers DO have the option of where , how often, and how he/she will (or will not) worship God.
If we secured the services of someone in the secular world who failed to produce what we wanted, we would take our business elsewhere. Yet in the spiritual realm, good enough is good enough. In this the devil is well pleased, and is glad to encourage and supply all the "good enough" we want.
When celebrants do not have an understanding of what the ritual is all about, THEN the ritual can easily become just one of many things that one does with little thought, reflection, or benefit.
As is the case of EVERYTHING else in the spiritual realm (John 15: 5), being prepared to celebrate the Lord’s Supper means to be in fellowship (1Cor. 14:13) with God the Holy Spirit and submitted to His control over our thoughts and actions.
Conducting a 1Cor. 11: 28/2Cor. 13: 5) SELF examination will bring to mind any sin(s) that we have not as of yet acknowledged so that we can confess (1John 1: 9) them and be assured that we are in fellowship with God when participating in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Being controlled, or what theologians refer to as being filled by God the Holy Spirit is what allows things to be accomplished in the spiritual realm (John 15:5). Without this connection, one can go through the motions of taking part in a Communion service, but will produce NOTHING in the spiritual realm (John 15:5) that has ANY value.
All born again believers are permanently indwelt (1Cor. 3:16) by God the Holy Spirit throughout all of their post salvation spiritual life. However, there is a major difference being indwelt and being filled (submitting our thoughts and actions to His control). Having the mind of Christ (1Copr. 2: 16) is one thing, whereas it is the application () of the mind of Christ that is going to make positive changes in what we think, do, and say.
Q.: Do YOU have the mind of Christ as it pertains to the celebration of the Lord's Supper?
Q.: If you do, are YOU applying it?
A.: Only an examination of the Word of God and an a examination of one self can answer these questions.
Because of sin that has not been confessed (1John 1: 9) and/or forsaken (John 8: 11), there are many "Christians" who have been out of fellowship with God for hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, and scores during the course of their post salvation spiritual life. Many such believers continue to "go to Church", participate in Communion, might hear some form of teaching or commentary, but are spinning their wheels as far as making any forward progress in their walk with Lord. As I have repeatedly stated, if one is not progressing, he/she is regressing! IF one is not more spiritually mature than he/she was, let's say a year ago, then he/she is less spiritually mature. Spiritual maturity can be defined in different ways, but can only be measured by the amount of accurate doctrine he/she has learned COUPLED with one's application of it.
The "unproductive (John 15: 5) periods of time out of fellowship with God, be they brief or extended, remain in place until the sin(s) involved are confessed. Accordingly, these periods can be as brief as the seconds it takes to confess them, or as long as the rest one's post salvation spiritual life here on Earth, if we so choose.
The "confessional" that God designed for the Church Age is open 24-7 and does NOT involve a clergyman (1Tim. 2: 5). One's confession(s) is a matter between the believer and the Lord. When we confess ANY sin, we are not telling God anything that He doesn't already know. We can approach the thone of grace in prayer, being assured of the response and outcome (1John1: 9).
Note here that confessing, but not forsaking (John 8: 11)known areas of sin will result in the believer to once again return to the out of fellowship status with God, as soon as the same sin is entertained again. This results in such a believer going round and round in a revolving doorway going in and our of fellowship with God, and never moving forward. Such a believer is also in a position to receive more frequent and intense forms of divine discipline for the sin(s) that he/she chooses not to address.
My prayer for you is that you will continue to make, or begin to make, preparing for and participating in the celebration of the Lord's Supper as God intended it to be, a central part of your worship of God.
* For those who desire to celebrate the Lord’s Supper at this time, or at any other time, the following interactive video can be used to accomplish this. One should have a small cup of wine (or grape juice) and a small piece of bread set aside before beginning the video in order to take part.