The Lord’s Supper

I found a website where a Church of Christ leader is addressing some of the things we discuss here. I am borrowing liberally from that website for this posting, but think it’s important to hear things the way he says them.

LORD’S SUPPER

FACTS

  1. There is no scripture telling us when—or how often– to take communion
  2. There is no proof that the Acts 20:7 passage refers to the Lord’s Supper at all. “Breaking bread” was a term commonly used for eating a common meal (See Acts 2) and could well have been the meaning here.
  3. Even if the occasion involved communion we do not know if they felt any obligation to limit the practice to one particular day….or if it was merely a matter of convenience.
  4. We cannot be sure exactly what day the “breaking bread” occurred. The Jewish day began at sunset and went until the next sunset. They may have met in the afternoon of the first day with the meeting lasting into the night (the second day). Paul preached until midnight and it was after this that they broke bread.
  5. There are only two clear scriptural references to actual observation of the Lord’s Supper. One was when the Lord instituted it and the other was the observance in Corinth. BOTH observances were in conjunction with a meal. There is NO command and NO example of the communion including the bread and fruit of the vine. (the Church of Christ practice surely was borrowed from our predecessors in the Reformation movement—who surely borrowed it from the Roman Catholic Church.)

JOHNNY’S ASSUMPTIONS

  1. Johnny has assumed that Acts 20:7 refers to the Lord’s Supper, that the selection of the first day of the week was based on instruction that they had received, and that it would be wrong to take it any other time.
  2. They are supposed to take communion only on the first day of the week, and it is a sin to take it according to the Jewish reckoning (thereby ruling out Saturday night).
  3. They absolutely must limit the items on the Lord’s Supper table to bread and the fruit of the vine. It is a sin to have any other food items there, such as when Jesus instituted the Supper or when the Corinthians observed it.

MY CONCLUSIONS

  1. The Lord is both intelligent and articulate. He is fully able to tell us what he wants and what he does not want. Since he did not tell us when or how often to take the Lord’s Supper—or in what setting (such as on the occasion of a meal), he leaves it up to our best judgment—and our hearts. It is preposterous to believe that the Lord commanded a Sunday communion in Acts 20:7, forgot to let us know about it—and forgot to get word to us later—and insists that we figure it out by guessing that the example is binding! (the Church of Christ has a lot of intelligent people in their fellowship; it is hard to believe that so many have bought into this incredible idea.)
  2. The over-riding significance of the communion is its role as a memorial to the Lord’s sacrificial suffering and its significance to us. The Christian is free to remember Christ’s suffering any time. There is no prohibited time for commemorating the Lord’s death.
  3. It is very beneficial for a church to come together and observe the Lord’s Supper. The Church of Christ practice of Sunday communion is fully acceptable. There is no reason to suggest a change. BUT there is a reason to object to an assumption-based insistence that it is sinful to observe it any other time—or to have other food items present.
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18 thoughts on “The Lord’s Supper

  1. don’t you even know this is a waste of time. Them men you keep talking about wll never comment on this stuff. How old are you btw? And something else too, you give very little information about yourself in your about section. I read this and not once has them men commented and you still keep posting stuff up for them. Maybe you need to rethink your blog. This ssems to a waste of time to me.

  2. Hi Vicky,

    Thanks for your comment, and for visiting the blog. I appreciate your thoughts about this, but I respectfully disagree.

    If they don’t comment, that’s fine. I’d rather they join in, and we’ve extended them several invitations, but it’s their loss not to do so.

    Norm Fields did comment on the blog briefly on his last program. It will quite possibly be the only comment he will make, but that’s also fine. Because I know that people are reading, and hopefully we’re helping people to think through the things that the Church of Christ men teach.

    I especially hope that the folks that attend their churches will read this, and realize that the largest error in their teaching is that their claim to have cornered the market on truth.

    As to my personal information, I’m nearly 40 years old, with a wife and kids. I currently reside in Martinsville, Virginia. I’m not a pastor, just a regular “Joe Christian”. I did graduate from an inter-denominational seminary, but I’ve never been ordained.

    The most important personal information about me is that I’m a follower of Jesus (Matt 4:19).

    But, I’m curious what you think we should do differently. You say that I should rethink the blog – how do you think it would be a better use of our time?

  3. … you may not get much feedback from readers on the Lords supper post. Most church of Christ folk will lean strongly upon Acts 20:7 but you have pretty much pointed out the flaws with that view. Honestly, I like the fact that the church of Christ have the Lords supper each Sunday, but to make it some law from an example tends to make it very much like the Jews Sabbath. Matter of fact, they will use arguments about the Sabbath to prove that they must have the Lords supper each Sunday. They will ask ” how many Sabbaths are there and the answer is “one each week” then they ask “how many first day of the weeks are there”. But they fail to see that God commanded the Sabbath to the Jews-keep it Holy, but where does God make the same command to make each Sunday the Lords supper? I think Paul even warned people to NOT to observe days. Although, I like the fact that the church of Christ has the Lords supper each Sunday, they do so out of Law and not Love. They see this as some Law that must be obeyed, rather than something they CHOOSE to do out of Love. Many readers/commentaries of Acts even suggest that the eary church were having the Lords supper daily for a while.

  4. I agree with you Randy, that it is GREAT to observe the Lord’s Supper each week. However, I think the claim that it is mandated is completely unsupportable, Scripturally.

    Show me something besides Acts 20:7, Johnny, because that duck don’t swim!

  5. I dont follow what you guys are saying. I dropped out of school and dont understand much of what the bible says. Are you saying if I dont understand every single doctrine perfect that I will be lost? That means God keeps me saved by my understanding or how smart I am and not by his love. I thought Jesus told somebody that in the scriptures you think you have eternal life, but they pointed to him. I just dont get you guys, I guess God only saves smart people. I know preachers in yalls church of Christ who teach things different, are they lost? I cant believe yall say we are saved by how smart we are.

  6. Vicky, I was saying just the opposite. This is the problem I have with the guys here on TV as well as others who claim to have a perfect understanding of every doctrine. The guys here on TV act as if they have come to some knowledge that everyone else hasnt yet reached, and go as far as saying what they say is bible. It’s very prideful when a mere man thinks he has come to such a place in his life that he can say what he says is the same as God has spoken in scripture. I will go on record and say I am not sure if Jesus will come prior to a rapture or even if a rapture is taught in scripture…is there a 7 year tribulation period…or will the world be destroyed at his return?? The reason I mention this is because this is just one doctrine that the church of Christ see more than one way, so are they lost if they don’t understand this perfectly?? I agree with you Vicky.

  7. Jason H. and I discussed the Lords supper right before he vanished from the airwaves. His last TV program was party due to our discussion. We also talked about this after his departure…very interesting conversation to say the least. I have learned that the best people to talk with about church of Christ doctrine are those who admit they do not know everything about everything-and those who have left the church of Christ denomination.

  8. You know without a few forms of doing church like weekly communion only on Sunday the cofC is no different than the next church denomination next door. Just a question for people who like to use Acts 20:7 as their so called authority this idea. In Acts 2:42 it says that they met and “broke bread” just like it says in Acts 20:7 but here it says it was done in houses and everyday not just on the first day of the week. So by what thinking or whose authority do we determine that Acts 20:7 was prescribed pattern instead of 2:42? The real sin comes not in what days we are or aren’t suppose to take the Lord Supper, but rather using a flawed in consistent hermeneutic or thinking to tell everyone else that they are sinning and in danger of loosing their salvation because they take the Lord Supper on Saturday or Tuesday. By the way in Acts 20 it says that Paul went up and ate after he healed the boy who fell out of the window of the house where he was preaching and that it was after midnight; uh the next day! So if this was the pattern for every Sunday only on Sunday Paul was in violation of his own rule! Maybe the story of Paul’s journey to Troas here in Acts 20 is show that when preachers have sermons that are too long then people fall asleep and hurt them selves.

  9. Joe, are you familar with the hermeneutic CENI?? This is one way they ( some in the Church of Christ ) come to reason that one must follow Acts 20:7. They see Acts 20:7 as part of the “pattern” that all must follow per the example. They take this example and make it LAW-something a Christian MUST do. It’s nothing wrong with a Christain having the Lords supper each and every Sunday, but when someone takes an example and binds that upon people as law–you then have legalism.

    One thing people are missing-do you know that if you were to have the Lords supper on each Sunday and on each Tuesday too–they would still say you are sinning, because you had the Lords supper on another day. This is pure legalism !

  10. In 1cor 16:1-2 we see that Paul ordered that contributins be made, and in 1cor 11:18 which says when you asseble as church. then he went on to tell them how they should partake of the lordsupper. The lord orderd it to be taken on sunday or the first day of the week as in Acts 20:7. If you read carefull the holy book you find out that God gives commands even in only on verse.

  11. Boy, there’s a WHOLE lot of supposition in your post, tachiwana. First of all, there are no commands in the verses you mention that the Lord’s Supper MUST be taken each first day of the week. Yes, Paul is talking about the attitudes folks must have when they take the Lord’s Supper, but nowhere does he specify WHEN.

    Neither does Acts 20:7 give a command that we are to take the Lord’s Supper each week. It tells what that the disciples came together each first day of the week to break bread, but (1) that doesn’t mean the Lord’s Supper (necessarily) and (2) it doesn’t say that the Church must do that each time they gather for the rest of time.

    This is a HUGE piece of supposition on your part and on the part of the Churches of Christ. Certainly not enough to condemn those who don’t agree with you to hell for all eternity, as do Johnny Roberston, Norm Fields, and James Oldfield.

  12. If Jesus and his disciples did it on the first day of the week, then I am glad we do it on the first day of the week. Other references to breaking of bread, I personally understand to mean sat down and ate a regular meal.

  13. I have no problem with that, but will you make that law-binding upon everyone and say that if they do NOT do as you that they will go to hell?

  14. Following an example doesn’t equate to legalism. The jump from following an example as a pattern to a modern-day “hotword” that mocks a discussion of the issue is a tremendous leap to make. Jesus did not condemn the Pharisees for their “legalism”, but for their hypocrisy. The two are not the same and it is way beyond time to recognize this as so. To insist that Acts 20:7 provides a pattern for us to follow or recognizing that 1 Corinthians 11-14 provides instructions about the day when the church assembled to worship (including some teachings about the Lord’s Super, but not limited to it) and, therefore, provides an example and pattern for us to follow is not the big bad legalism you lament. There is nothing wrong with teaching Christians to follow rules. The church is not a democracy. It is a theocracy with Jesus as its head and, as I stated earlier, Jesus is not against legalism (my Bible software did not come up with one time that this word was even used in the New Testament and the word “legal” only came up in the parable of the insistent widow; reread Matthew 23:13ff and see if you find the word hypocrisy or legalism). He respected and obeyed the Law of God all of His life. What He did not accept was the hypocritical application of that Law which often led to actually breaking the very law they set out to protect.
    Taking the Lord’s Supper every Sunday as a rule of faith is an honest answer to the question of “when?”. It is also the best and safest answer to the question. It is reasonable and sensible. Jesus commanded His followers to do observe this ritual (another fine word to use which is belittled today along with “tradition”). Thos command is unmistakeable (1 Corinthians 11:23ff). If churches of Christ are being hypocritical in this teaching then that is another matter, but can you really make such a judgment? There is nothing inherently hypocritical on teaching that this should be done every week and that others should and must follow the same. Beware of ridiculing a reasonable and sensible answer to the question of “when?” because you may be the one guilty of judging wrongly.
    For me, the bigger question is “Why would you want to do it any less?” Why would it not be the centerpiece of your Sunday worship? Why would you choose to practice that which memoralizes and proclaims the death of our Lord only once a month or a quarter or even less? Why would you stubbornly hold out for a different practice when doing it every week would be an easy change to make and would easily resolve the issue of having to decide how many times? How stubborn might it be to resist agreeing because someone else is saying you must! Maybe there is an even greater sinister attitude at work here than in anything those professing a weekly observance might suggest or demand.

  15. I don’t know exactly where to leave this comment, so I’ll just do it here. How in the world can you have a “Roman Way to Salvation” that excludes Romans 6:3-4 but includes Romans 10:9-10. There is no way this well-known passage was overlooked. You deliberately chose to exclude the teaching on baptism as essential part of the the road to salvation. Wow, and you really want to be running a website dedicated to critiquing the speck in someone else’s eye? Deliberately excluding baptism’s role is error. Or is insisting on it’s essentiality another example of “legalism”? You know the teaching of Romans 6:3-4 and chose to omit them, now that sounds more like Matthew 23:13 than any discussion about when to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

  16. Stephen said:
    “Jesus is not against legalism”

    Perhaps you should reread the Good Samaritan in 10, in it you have the Pharisee start to ask rules lawyer question, who is my neighbor, Jesus example is of two devout Jews who allow their legalism keep them from showing mercy to the wounded man. It is very subtle but it is there if you want to see it, why did the good Jews elite not stop, because they would be unclean for helping the man, not because they were afraid.

    I rules lawyer asks a rules lawyer question and gets an example back of what rules lawyering can cause. Once the rules become a contest between believers to show who is the more just we have walked into the same trap the pharisees were walking in!

    So every time we see the word baptism we should assume water? It would appear so but does Jesus use baptism in talking about his coming death when the disiples ask to sit at his right and left hand?

    Romans 6:1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

    5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

    When did you join Christ physically in death? Or is he using symbolism in attempting to convince his readers to stop sinning? Otherwise I would like to visit the man who can type from the grave!

    6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

    8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

    11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

    So you point to this to have us totally focus on baptism when it appears to me when I read it he is using baptism and death to symbolize our transition into the Life with God through grace as he concludes in 14, we no longer should be controlled by sin, but we should be living for God.

    Wow, and you really want to be running a website dedicated to critiquing the speck in someone else’s eye?

    If I came to the body you worship with and started spreading gossip and trying to sow discord in between you would you do something about it or simply roll over and allow me to bully your fellow believers through fear tactics?

    I personally would rather be doing other things, but I have no choice now!

    WIL

  17. How in the world can you have a “Roman Way to Salvation” that excludes Romans 6:3-4 but includes Romans 10:9-10.

    could you swap those out and answer your own question?
    thanks
    lee

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