(April 08, 2022) Dr Robert McQuillan responds to a friend troubled by certain ‘pushed’ teaching…
Dear Dr Robert
I always delight to take communion. But many times our ministers talk so much about receiving ‘other blessings’ beyond being forgiven of our sins, rather than solely remembering and honouring God and the Lord Jesus Christ for His tremendous sacrifice of paying the debt on our behalf. It seems to me that they just keep pushing other blessings, not what communion is all about. As it’s almost Easter, please comment on this. Kelvin.
Yes, you’re right… Easter is a special time to Christians when we should remember and honour our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. But then we should always do this. You’re right too about communion… it’s a momentous time when He should be honoured for all He has done, especially securing forgiveness of our sins, and not other blessings alone being constantly pushed (or ‘constantly hammered’ to use a current catchcry).
Communion… Holy Communion, The Eucharist, Last Supper, Lord’s Supper, The Sacrament. Holy Sacrament or whatever name your church may use for this special service is indeed a very precious time.
And for that matter whether it’s held weekly, monthly, bimonthly, or yearly, it’s still very special. Which by extension means it’s still special if held at home.
I could also mention that decades ago the church warden of the church we were attending went off on holidays and forgot to leave the key to the cupboard where communion glasses were kept and come communion time we were only given pieces of bread, no juice!
But the wise pastor explained to the large congregation what had happened and instructed us that we took the bread, representing the sacrificed body of Christ, to image we were also taking a cup of wine, representing the shed blood of our Saviour. This too was a special time… the thoughtful pastor hadn’t misrepresented the presentation in any way! We appreciated his caring heart and how he went on to share communion truths, highlighting Jesus, not just blessings!
So, Kelvin, in short, Holy Communion is indeed very special and should never be underplayed, wrongly mispresented or cheapened by always talking about material blessings.
Yes, there are other blessings such as taking the opportunity to ask for healing, not demand (I personally appreciate 1 Peter 2:24… ‘By His wounds you have been healed’).
But first and foremost we must remember to search our heart – even let the Holy Spirit search our heart and tell us if there’s something we must deal with before we partake of the sacred elements. I’ll mention this again later.
1) Let’s look at three passages of scripture here… firstly Matthew 26:26-29, titled in my NIV as Institution of the Lord’s Supper. I know you, Kelvin, that you’re aware of these verses… that after giving God thanksJesus clearly explained what the bread and cup meant – symbols of His body and blood… and the new covenant. Now there’smuch we could look at here, but in simple terms, Jesus would willingly allow His body and blood pay the price for our sins, fulfilling John 3:16!
2) And that, in a proverbial nutshell, is what we should be so aware of… that the Son of God was to be humiliated, treated so wickedly and treated as a common criminal on Calvary’s ‘pole’ – a cross to gain our redemption. No wonder Paul solemnly wrote in Galatians 3:13, ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole”’ – referring to Deuteronomy 21:23.
3)The other scripture passage I would mention is 1 Corinthians 11:17-34… directions from Paul, who apparently wasn’t too happy about how the Corinthians handled this sacred aspect of Christianity. My NIV calls this passage The Lord’s Supper and Paul talks about how it should be expressed… almost repeating what Matthew wrote (although he words verse 23 as ‘For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you’).
‘Passed on’ reads as ‘delivered’ in the KJV, which indicates ‘entrusted.’ So Paul, as was Matthew and more especially our Lord Jesus, is expecting us to respect this important aspect of our Christianity!
Paul’s writings from verse 28 on bring a very strong warning about this! The apostle is anxious that the Corinthians (and consequently us too!) are so careful how the Lord’s Supper is celebrated! Verse 28 instructs partakers to ‘examine’ ourselves… dokimazō… to test, discern. And verse 29 warns not to have communion unworthily…anaxiōs,that is irreverently, lest we bring judgment on ourselves (the KJV uses a heavy word… ‘damnation’).
I understand that this is what you’re concerned about, Kelvin – that your church should have its Holy Communion services as expressed in scripture, that whoever leads sticks to the central point…
- Highlighting our precious Lord becoming our Saviour through His death on a cross at Calvary, and
- That we are so thankful for His willingness to pay the price for our sins, that although He never sinned, He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21 … ‘God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’).
- We are forgiven… on confessing our sins and asking forgiveness. (I John 1:8-9, ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’).
Although our God loves us and gives us many blessings, the Lord’s Supper should centre on what our Saviour has achieved! Really prayer requests can be managed separately… general prayer time, altar calls, after the service by praying, caring prayer teams.
I trust the above helps you, Kelvin, and you can challenge whoever wrongly handles communion times. One other thing that’ll bless you… ‘holy’ is a word that indicates ‘uncommon.’ Now Holy Communion should never be treated as common!
Neither our God, His Son or the Holy Spirit are common… rather supernaturally uncommon. Who knows what our uncommon Godhead will do supernaturally when Holy Communion is presented reverently? God has before!
Kelvin, I normally don’t have icons in these Q&A articles but, as Easter is just around the corner, feel to end with this graphic icon… it says so much about God’s love!
Got a question for either Dr Robert or Pr Maureen McQuillan? Email to OnlinerConnect@gmail.com
Excellent answer, covered so many aspects of the ‘communion celebration’ in an ‘easy to understand’ way.