7. THE LORD’S SUPPER is another act of worship that is currently
undergoing serious "changes." Since this act is one which is distinctive to churches of Christ it is the focus of attack for those who desire to "change" (i.e. restructure) the Church in our day. 

 a) There has long been debates about the Lord's Supper with   those who do not partake of it each Sunday. The denomina-
tional arguments are trite and worn. Today many are using the old denominational arguments to advocate a cultural change to Communion’s observance.

 b) Transparency 7/18 “Communion’s PATTERN”  Here are areas
regarding Communion that are currently undergoing serious scrutiny. These issues are used to press a less restrictive application of Scripture's "patterns." 

  1) The one cup issue.  This old argument has been resurrec-
ted in attempts to justify practices that are not supported with Scriptural authority (i.e. choirs, mechanical instrumental music, etc.). We are told that division over certain issues (that are doctrinal) is just as wrong as division over the number of cups used in Communion. 

   a) Calvin Warpula argues that opposition to solos and     choruses is similar to opposition where multiple cups     were introduced in the 1950's (from video of Petite John     retreat, “Special Music In The Church (solos, quartets,     choirs)”, September 21, 1992, Church Music Institute, Box     964, Edmond, OK 73083-0964). 

   b) "Does God exclude from heaven a child of His who was
honestly mistaken in judgement about the Herald of Truth, classes, cups, orphan's homes, instrumental music, or an organization for spreading the Gospel?" (Carl Ketcherside, Firm Foundation, Vol. 80, No. 37, p. 581, Sept. 10, 1963). Hence it is concluded that multiple cups are on the same level with doctrinal error! But cups are not in the same classification as instrumental music or missionary societies!

   c) Today's Cultural Advocates are trying to get us to smile
upon doctrinal error and consider it as the same as a songbook and communion cups! We are piously asked, "Why cause division over something as silly as 1 or 100 cups? You should be more tolerant than that!" 

   d) Thus, an age-old issue is redressed in modern garb and
used to gain access for women's leadership roles, special music, para-church activities, etc. Because most have not studied the past history of this argument their ignorance leads them to accept its unscriptural and irresponsible conclusions! 

  2) The frequency of taking Communion.  Today there are
those parroting the age-old denominational arguments for not partaking Communion every week - "It never commands such!"  "A weekly observance will cause us to lessen its significance." Those urging "change" ask, "What is there in the gospel that tells us we must do this every Sunday?" The advocates of the "Gospel Hermeneutic" especially ask for a Scriptural basis (from the gospels only) show this as a binding regulation! This poses a great question - How do we know? 

  3) The day of partaking Communion.  We are being told
there is no set day to take Communion. Some say we are to take it on a Thursday or Friday night since that is when Jesus did. We hear of Communion being observed at weddings (to make the ceremony "special" and to help all focus upon Jesus); at special conferences (to help church members "feel" more in tune with the love binding them); at congregational fellowship meals, picnics (so the whole Church will be "closer"). It is suggested that the exact day is unimportant - all that matters is one's attitude! 

  4) It is only a "common meal." According to Cultural Advo-
cates we have wrested the real meaning from Communion and molded it into something Christ never intended. According to Cultural Advocates the Lord's Supper was a full meal until around 150 A.D. We are told that Communion was meant to be a "love feast" meal where unity among Christ's followers is highlighted. By "doing this" (eating a common meal together) believers thus show the purpose of Christ's coming - unity!

  5) It is not a command for every generation (it only ap-
plied to the Apostles).  Some see the "memorial feast" as Paul's idea and not Christ's. By appealing to "culture" we are told that modern man cannot observe the Lord's Supper unless s/he also observes the Passover. This conclusion is reinforced by asking, "Would Jesus, hanging on the Cross really make a big deal about regular observance of Communion?" The implied answer is "No!" and further leads one to conclude that Communion's regular observance is not important. 

  6) It does not matter who partakes of the Lord's Supper.
Some Children's Worship pass Communion to children arguing they need to make worship "real." We are told that the Communion is spiritual and we who are mortal cannot judge just who should take Communion. This position basically allows Communion to dissolve into a toy or convenient act which will be lightly regarded. 

  7) Communion is not universally commanded.  Advocates
are saying that modern believers should not be encumbered with taking Communion. It is further suggested that observance of the Lord's Supper was limited to either those of the first Century or those of Jewish cultural roots. Since it was a limited observance, there is no reason why modern believers should be burdened with it. It is okay if one wants to do it, but it is not obligatory!

  8) It is the emotion of Communion (the suffering Christ)
which should be emphasized rather than the same old worn motions and emblems.  We are thus urged to have dramatic readings, dim the lights, softly sing, etc. Some have enacted dramatic portrayals ("Christ carrying the cross across the stage"). It is argued that we have allowed Communion to become a mere "pause between preaching and praying." 

  9) The literal observance is not important - the spiritual
communion (i.e. meditation of the cross) is all that is important.  We hear that it does not really matter whether one literally partakes -- the important thing is that we feed our spirits with spiritual thoughts of the Lord's death. Thus we are encouraged to ignore specific commands and look for the hidden spiritual fruits. Note: It is here that we see the Eastern mystical religions (Zen; T.M.) invading the Church! 

  10) The purpose of Communion has been lost.  We are told
the purpose of Communion was to "bond" believers together in AGAPE.  However this original purpose was perverted by Paul's "formulae" and became a memorial service that was far from the loving fellowship initially intended!

 c. Although the Cultural Advocates fail to admit it, their propos-
ed "changes" to the "traditional" way of observing Communion have a number of inconsistencies that cannot be reconciled with Scripture. Look at some of these positions regarding Communion and consider how they inconsistently apply Scripture. 

  1) The one cup issue.
   a) Multiple cups ARE NOT on the same level as mechanical     instrumental music or solos in worship.
   b) Mt 26:27-29; Mk 14:22,23 - "of" literally EX, "out of" the
cup. They did not drink the literal "cup." Thus, whether it is singular (cup) or plural (cups) there is no difference for it was the liquid inside the container that was the object of our Lord's command and not the container! This point gets lost in the confusion! It is interesting to note there is historical record of early congregations (c. 200) having multiple cups.
   c) One cup or multiple cups are not sinful! Why? Because
they do not change the liquid commanded by Jesus. The container does not change/add another element. If the container changed the liquid then we would have to use the original container which Christ used because in pouring it into another container one would be adding to the liquid. But when the grape juice is poured from the vat to the jar to the serving vehicle to individual cups, it remains the same! The "cup" (container) does not produce another element on the Lord's Table! “The act which God commanded was to eat and to drink. Now the cup does not add another element. There are two elements on the Lord’s Table -- the fruit of the vine, which is the cup, and the bread. A communion cup (container) does not add another element. You only have two elements on the Lord’s Table whether you have one glass or a hundred. By using a hundred different containers you do not add another element. It is the same element, that is, the fruit of the vine. The plate does not add another element. Instrumental music adds another element ... If you should add jelly to the bread, you would be adding another element. Christ specified the kind of music for us to use, and when you add mechanical music, you add another element” (G.K. Wallace, p. 80).
   d) However, a mechanical instrument changes vocal music
and it is not the same element as Christ commanded. The command is to "sing." With the mechanical instrument it becomes "singing and playing." There are thus two kinds of music! “Instrumental music adds another element. There are two kinds of music. One vocal and the other is mechanical. You may use a songbook in producing mechanical music; you may use a songbook in producing either vocal and/or instrumental music. Vocal and instrumental music are distinct elements and when instrumental music is used along with, or separate from the vocal music, it is an addition of an unauthorized element in the worship of God. The songbook does not add another element” (G.K. Wallace, p. 40).
   e) Solos and choruses change the command of singing in
worship from HEAUTOIS to ALLELON.  It thus makes an entirely different response than that commanded by God. You can have 100 cups but the command WILL NOT be changed. You can have a chorus of 100 voices singing to one another in a worship assembly of 500 people and the command WILL be changed!  The "cup" is neutral - it does not affect worship. Solos, choirs, ARE NOT neutral - they drastically alter the worship! 
   f) Cultural Advocates do not want to be "one cuppers."
They only bring up this argument to confuse folks about the classification of sinful innovations. This wrong classification ploy was used by J.B. Briney in 1870, Hall Calhoun in 1901, Murch-Witty in 1939, Ketcherside in 1963, and Cultural Advocates in the 1990's! We must be firm about proper classifications lest gullible minds become confused and allow sinful innovations to lead them astray! (Gal 3:1). 

  2) The frequency issue. 
   a) Thomas Warren discusses this very well.
   b) How are we to decide "how often"? Christ's words are     non-specific - "that day" (Mt 26:29 cf 1 Co 11:26 "as     often"). If we are to be governed by man's opinion we     will never know. 
   c) Transparency 7/19 “The Supper EVERY Week!” There are     reasoned points that show us why we are to partake of     the Supper EVERY Sunday. 
    1) The example in Ac 20:7. The Church came together for
the purpose of taking Communion. By a study of Ac 20:7; 1 Co 11:20; 16:2 we find that it is obligatory for Christians to meet EVERY first day of the week. See Warren, p. 150. 
    2) The command regarding the Sabbath illustrates the
weekly obligation to observe Communion (Ex 20:8). The command did not specifically say "every Sabbath day" but it was understood as such. Failure was costly (Nu 15:32-36). 
    3) Secular historians verify a weekly observance of Com-     munion. 
    4) Devotion to faith requires an observance EVERY Sun-
day! That is the "Lord's Day" and as such we are to remember His death, burial, and resurrection. Communion is the means for doing this. 
   d) There can be no doubt that Communion is to be observ-
    ed EVERY week. Failure to do so is to reject Scripture's     authority. 

  3) The day issue. 
   a) Upon which "day" are we to take Communion? 
   b) Transparency 7/20 “The Supper Every SUNDAY!” There     are some Scriptures which answer this question.
    1) Ac 2:42 The "breaking of the bread" obviously refers
to the Lord's Supper. But notice that this DOES NOT authorize Communion on just any day of the week. They "continued steadfastly" - this does not specify a day but a practice of action. We are not told when or how often, just their devotion to it. Other texts must be consulted to find out the day. Note: One can "steadfastly" do a thing once a week or once a day -- "I continue steadfastly to play checkers each Tuesday."  Thus the text does not remove the command to take Communion each Sunday and only on Sunday. 
    2) Ac 20:7 It is significant to note that the disciple wait-
ed seven days to "break bread" (vs 6). Surely this does not describe a fast. "What they did was evidently special, relating only to the first day of the week."  Why did they wait? Why not eat the special meal earlier so Paul's journey could continue? Because to have done such was wrong -- they would not have pleased God! Why? Because it would have been at a time other than the first day of the week! 
   c) There is no doubt that we are to partake of Communion     on the first day of  the week. This conclusion is easily     reached.  Transparency 7/21 “A Valid Summary!”
    1) Christians are commanded to eat the Supper (Mt      26:26-28; 1 Co 11:17-29,33,34). 
    2) Christians are commanded to assemble (Hb 10:25). 
    3) The Lord's Supper was in the assembly (1 Co 11:17-      21,28-33). 
    4) Christians assembled to partake of Communion (1 Co      11:33; Ac 20:7). 
    5) Christians assembled on Sunday (1 Co 16:1,2; Ac 20:7). 
    6) Paul commanded these assemblies, the actions requir-     ed in them, and the appointed day and his commands      were those from the Lord (1 Co 14:37). 
    7) “The example of the assembly on the first day of the
week in Acts 20:7 was due to the command of Christ. If this is not true, and the observance of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week is not a command, then he who observes it does not obey anything. If the eating of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week is not a command, then he who does not observe it, does not disobey anything. For anyone to argue that the disciples were not required to meet on the first day of the week to break bread as exemplified in Acts 20:7, is to render non-essential, both the assembly and the Supper. It seems strange that some preachers in the church will argue that the first day of the week observance of the Lord’s Supper is not a command and that it rests entirely and solely on an example. Acts 20:7 simply exemplifies the disciples carrying out a divine requirement of the Lord to meet on the first day of the week to break bread” (Wallace, p. 75). 
   d) Thus there can be no doubt that the Bible teaches that     New Testament Christians observed Communion ONLY     on Sunday. If we observe it on any other day, we are not     following the Bible! 

  4) The common meal issue. 
   a) The Lord's Supper was not a common meal, or a part of     a common meal. The abuse of the Supper becoming a     common meal is what Paul addressed (1 Co 11:22). Such     does not forbid eating in the Church building.
   b) Transparency 7/22 “The Supper WAS NOT A Common     Meal!”   There are problems in using 1 Co 11 to refer to     the Supper being a common meal. (See Ben F. Vick, Jr.,     "Impossible To Eat The Lord's Supper," Gospel Advocate,     April 1993, p. 48ff). 
    1) The term "Supper" is stipulated as "the Lord's Supper."      Had it been simply called "supper" it could refer to      any chief meal. The Lord's Supper was different from      those eaten at home because it nourished the      spiritual and not the physical (v. 20-22). 
    2) There is a definite separation between verses 20 and      21. Paul is thus making a difference between what the      brethren were eating and what they should be eating      (note ASV punctuation). 
    3) There is no sanction of the Apostle for the Corinthians      using a common meal as a means to observe Com-     munion.
   c) Some are able to make a convincing argument for hav-
ing Communion as a part of a congregational fellowship meal and many who like things "different" will approve of such. However it is a practice that not only is void of Scriptural approval but also conflicts with Scriptural commands! 

  5) The universality issue. Transparency 7/23 “How Univer-   sal Is The Command To Observe Communion?”
   a) The Lord's Supper is to be practiced universally and is     not restricted to just those with the Lord. This is evident     from several points. 
    1) 1 Co 11:26 - "till He come" indicates the Supper is to      be observed until the Second Coming. In the Supper      we are reminded of the Lord's return and thus our      hope which was established at Calvary. This assures      our faith and confirms our convictions. 
    2) Lk 22:19 - "remembrance" is obligatory upon believers      of all times. Our Lord's dying request was that His      followers remember Him. Why should we neglect that      memory? 
    3) Ac 20:7 - "We" refers to the Church. They ate the      Supper every week. Those in following centuries did      also. Why should God's Church fail to do it today? 
    4) 1 Co 11:29 - "discern" refers to the unity and fellow-     ship shared. The Supper reminds us of this blessed tie      that binds our hearts together. Why should we not      desire to have this fellowship rekindled? 
   b) These are more than sufficient to explain why the obser-    vance of the Lord's Supper is obligatory to all genera-    tions. 

  6) The emotional issue.
   a) Due to the emphasis many place upon emotions over-
riding knowledge, we are seeing strong emphasis upon emotionalism with the Supper. 
   b) Emotionalism is a tragic guide for it can lead one into     damnation (Mt 7:21-23; 2 Ths 2:10-12).
   c) Many things are not wrong in themselves, yet they be-    come wrong when they lead others to trust in emo-    tions/feelings (i.e. dimming lights; dramatic readings     prior to Communion; etc.). 
   d) Some things are wrong because they cause conflict with     other commands. For Example -- singing while Commu-    nion is passed. Communion and singing are two distinct     acts of worship involving different mental, physical, and     spiritual participation. Singing during Communion is     wrong because it makes you do one or the other worship act in a mechanical or ritualistic way. Why not "pray"  aloud during Communion instead of singing?


Copyright 1999 by John L. Kachelman Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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