Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Four Purposes of the Lord's Supper

1 Corinthians 11:28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

In today's blog we want to understand the purposes for which the Lord's Supper was prescribed by the Lord Jesus Christ to His church.  Regular observance of this "meal" by the local church enables the body of Christ to maintain its corporate identity and grow closer as a body of Christ.  (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)  Below are four reasons why celebrating the Lord's supper is vital to Christians both individually and as members of the local church.

1. The Lord's Supper is used by Christ to repair divisions
The letter of 1 Corinthians was written to a church that was fractured in its fellowship.  Out of the 10 churches that the Apostle Paul wrote to in his 13 New Testament Epistles, the church at Corinth was the most heartbreaking.  Jesus had prayed in John 17:21 that His church as a whole would be one as He and the Father are one.  Clearly the church at Corinth was going in the opposite direction - which is why the Holy Ghost inserted instructions about the Lord's Supper.  The Lord's supper gives the church the opportunity to seek forgiveness, heal division and fix fellowship issues that may have arisen since the last Lord's supper. (1 Corinthians 11:28-34)

2. The Lord's Supper is used to remember the cross
The cross in the scriptures was the event that the Holy Spirit used to point me to the source of my salvation.  Additionally, the cross is the place the Holy Spirit uses to cleanse me in my post-conversion sanctification.  The cross must never be forgotten. (1 Corinthians 2:2)  The Lord's table intentionally focuses the entire church on all the signifcance and daily need for the cross.  (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

3.  The Lord's Supper urges the church to repeat the Gospel
The Gospel of Jesus Christ focuses upon what Jesus came to do in His first coming - accomplish salvation.  The Gospel also tells us how we can be saved from the reality of God's wrath that is coming upon this world in Christ's second coming. (Romans 5:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10) As an ordinance, like Baptism, the Lord's table conveys the Gospel in picture rather than words.  By the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ communicates and reinforces these truths to the hearts of His church through their observance of His ordinance (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:26)  This is why the Lord's table is celebrated in conjunction with the communication of the scriptures.

4. The Lord's Supper gives the believer a chance to re-examine their walk with the Lord
We are told in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to "examine ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith".  What kinds of questions are good to ask myself when getting ready to receive the Lord's Supper (or communion, as it is sometimes called)?  What if any unconfessed sin has crept into my life since I last partook of the Lord's supper?  Do I have any resentment towards anyone?  Have I grown cold in my love for Jesus, His Word or prayer?  How am I doing in the areas of supporting the local church of which I am a member through my giving of tithes and offerings? Am I mad at God? Have I done anything to grieve His Spirit?  Have I seen growth and change in my life for the glory of God?  What has God shown me about Himself since the last time I partook of His meal?

Questions like the ones above remind the Christian of the need for daily examination.  There is no cruise control on the steering column of the Christian life.  We don't coast, we aim to strive for all we can in Christ, since it is He who is working in us His perfect and pleasing will. (Philippians 3:12-13) 

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