An excerpt from the bible study "Baptism and the Lord's Supper"
Christian Seminary, Studies for Christian Ministry

Baptism and The Lord's Supper are universally practiced by Christian churches. These two rituals are known as church ordinances or sacraments. Ordinances are rites that believers practice as part of their Christian faith. These rites are outward symbols and testimonies of inward spiritual grace. However the experience of baptism and the Lord's supper do not create spiritual change. Only God through Christ's shed blood can make us a new creation.

No act of man, or ritual observed, will create merit in a person. Our very best works, no matter how well intentioned, do not change spiritual reality. We can however publicly and privately demonstrate our belonging to Christ by being baptized and having Holy Communion.

Luke 22:19-20 says the following in the Authorised (King James) Version " And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This
cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." The New International Version translates the same passage as follows. " And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ``This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'' In
the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ``This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. "

This request from Jesus to remember Him in this way is a logical one. We can see from His request that He truely understands us. The act of eating the bread, and drinking the wine will remind us that He has gone before us and paid the price for our salvation with His body
and blood. Each time that we take the Lord's supper we are physically reminded that He has died for each one of us individually. As we share in the communion we also share the gift of His life poured out for us.

When we have the Lord's Supper we are also in the fellowship of other believers. We are reminded that we have been given the gift of salvation by Jesus one by one, but also that He has given us a living body, His church to be a part of. The Lord's Supper points us back to
His death on the cross, forward to His present life in glory and His church.

It is important to remember that the "Last Supper" above was the celebration of passover. The passover is the most holy of days for the Jews. The Jewish people eat the passover supper every year to remember the covenant that God had made with them.

The Lord's Supper is also a covenant meal. It is a symbol of the new covenant in Jesus' blood, not that of a lamb's. In the same way as God made provision life and freedom for the Jews in Egypt, God's action through Christ's death made a way to new life for all believers. It is a reminder of the forgiveness that His shed blood purchased for us.

What is meant by "This is my body"? Christ here has taken the bread and broken it into pieces to that all of the apostles could share it. On a symbolic level we can think of the bread as we eat it as food for our souls. Christ, in His humanity, gave His real earthly body over to death to create the believer, a new creation. His work here on earth was daily a labor of feeding and nurturing us. This ministry extends to this day through the Scripture.

The eating of the bread commemorate and confirm God's commitment to us. The taking of the Lord's Supper also confirm our commitment to Him. We are told to have Holy Communion in unity, so it also commits us to each other and His church. Indeed the Lord's Supper is thought of as a wedding feast. Christ is the groom and the church (that's us), is the bride. (Ephesians 5:25, Revelations 19:9)

How are we to properly celebrate the Lord's Supper? Paul suggests for starters that we should remember the time that it was instituted. This was Christ's last sharing of passover with His disciples. It is only a matter of hours before He will be lead away to death on the cross. Both the fact that it is a remembrance of the passover supper, and the imminent death of Christ tell us that the Lord's Supper is a solemn affair. We would never treat a remembrance of out earthly parents lightly. How therefore, can we treat a remembrance of our heavenly Fathers work lightly?

Paul commands the church to order and propriety when taking the Lord's Supper. He tells us that those who receive the Lord's Supper unworthily are guilty of the body and blood of Christ. Instead of being cleansed they eat and drink judgment unto themselves. This does show that the penalty of taking the Lord's Supper in an worthy manner is an individual penalty of judgment. This doesn't mean that we are ever worthy to be in God's presence, rather it is our attitude towards Jesus' work and death that we need to examine before taking communion.

Therefore I believe that each individual needs to prayerfully consider our heart attitude before taking of the bread and wine. I do not believe that the church should prescribe tests to prevent those who wish to, to sit at the Lord's table. In the same way we do not claim to be able to read the state of another's heart, and where it lies in relation to God.

How can we be unworthy to have Holy Communion? If we, in our own heart, know that we don't belong to Christ, the unity with Christ which makes the Lord's Supper meaningful is missing. If we are harboring a known unconfessed sin, we are offending Christ by coming to His table to share the meal with His children. If we come without repentance we are not recognizing the holiness of Christ.

An excerpt from the bible study "Baptism and the Lord's Supper"
Christian Seminary, Studies for Christian Ministry

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