When the Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He had a simple and very precious purpose in mind: “This do in remembrance of me.”
Our Lord is now absent from us, but He promised to come back. While He is away He must not be forgotten. When we are parted from loved ones, that which in a measure compensates for their absence is a portrait of them. As we look at it there is a yearning for them, and if love is real we determine anew to keep ourselves pure and good for them until we meet again. That, and that alone, is what our Lord intended when He instituted the Lord’s Supper. He wants us to see Him hanging on the cross for our sins. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”
The Lord’s Supper is Romans 12:1, 2 preached to us in a symbolic way: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
How could such a simple ordinance having such a plain purpose and message ever have been so contorted and deformed? And how could there ever arise such restrictions to its observance, in many cases making it impossible to obey the positive command of our Lord, “This do. . . .”? We can account for these things only in the perversions of men inspired by the enemy of souls, the thief ever stealing from God and man.
Actual Flesh and Blood of Christ?
There is that perversion of this ordinance by those who would make it a mysterious thing presided over by an indispensable person who has the power, at a given moment, to change the bread and the cup into the actual flesh and blood of Christ. This view teaches that those who partake “eat the flesh and drink the blood” of Christ and thus are made partakers of Christ and saved. Salvation, in this doctrine, depends on a revolting cannibalistic act of the stomach, and not on an act of faith looking back to the cross of Christ. How the Devil must laugh as he makes fools of men!
Use of Liquor?
Others would surround this precious ordinance with arguments which have no spiritual foundation. They would have us make a trip to a liquor store so that we would fill the cup with something that our Lord never tasted because it was forbidden by the very law which He came to fulfill: “Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go to the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations” (Leviticus 10:9). They would, by their arguments, make us and our sons handle and taste that concerning which it is commanded: “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Proverbs 23:31, 32).
Nowhere in the Bible where the Lord’s Supper is mentioned is the word “wine” used. It is always “the cup.” And in Matthew 26:29 our Lord speaks of that which was in the cup when first the ordinance was instituted as being “this fruit of the vine.” In Genesis 40 we have the story of Pharaoh’s butler in prison. As he told Joseph his dream he saw himself again taking a cluster of rich grapes and pressing them into Pharaoh’s hand to drink. That is what our Lord made in Cana: that is what Paul told Timothy to drink for his ailment.
Someone in the Corinthian church introduced fermented wine, and because of that it was impossible to eat the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:21).
This was the downfall of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron. It is also the downfall of many who are thus exposed to it, as one himself commented: “They forbade my having a wife, so I fell in love with the bottle to which I was constantly exposed.”
Only “Super Christians” Worthy?
Then there are those who would restrict a partaker at the Lord’s Table to some sort of “super Christian,” one who is “worthy.” And while he is partaking he is saying to some weak brother who has had a real struggle with sin and who would need a new look at the cross of Christ as a basis of a new consecration, “I am holier than thou.” How precious it is to come to the Lord’s Table with the thought:
Amazing grace—how sweet the sound—
That saved a wretch like me!
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
Only for Those in One’s Own Assembly?
Then there are those well meaning but misguided brethren who would not allow a Baptist brother who might be away from home traveling or following a livelihood or serving his country—thus being separated for an extended period of time from his own church—to partake of the Lord’s Table because he is not a member of the church where he is visiting. Can one honestly and Scripturally say that there are other qualifications for partaking than that one be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and immersed in obedience to His command?
Paul certainly was a member of a local church. A man who faithfully preached the doctrine of the local church and its importance surely had his membership in a local church. According to Acts 13:1, Paul was a member of the church in Antioch. Yet we read in Acts 20 about his visit with the church in Troas where he actually presided at the observance of the “breaking of bread.”
Some of our good brethren argue: “There are so many people who were immersed who believe that baptism is necessary to salvation. It would be wrong to allow such to participate and thus abet them in error.”
We surely do not want anyone to be encouraged to believe that he has received the remission of sins by being “baptized.” But cannot the presiding pastor carefully explain the true meaning of baptism as an act of obedience only, and thus avoid throwing up a curtain of caution which would deprive those who know the truth and wish to come to the Lord’s Table for a new look at the cross of Christ?
How wonderful it is that our salvation does not depend on someone’s interpretation of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, but that it rests in the finished work of our wonderful Lord by faith applied.
And what shall we say to those brethren who have thrown the ordinances overboard by a method of service other than is prescribed in the Word, i.e., through the local church? It will be hard for them in that day when they will have to give account to the Lord. I can hear Him saying to them: “Don’t you remember that I said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you’?”
As you come to the Lord’s Table take a good look at your Savior on the cross. See in Him “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Thank Him for His willingness to be made a curse for you, that you might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Thank Him for the everlasting life that surges through your being by virtue of your union with Him through faith. Think ahead to the Great White Throne Judgment and thrill at the thought that you will not have to stand there, because your Savior has already borne your condemnation. And thus seeing Him, make a new consecration of your whole being, body, soul, and spirit. Then read Romans 12, 13, and 14, to see what shall be your reasonable consecration in the agent of your body.
The King James Version is used where Scripture is quoted in this article.
John Kejr Jr. is with the Lord. He was a pastor for many years. This article appeared in the November 1962 Baptist Bulletin. Minor adjustments have been made to the article; content and meaning were not altered in these changes.