May 05, 2023 – Friday
Acts 2:42 NIV
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42 NKJV
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
This is one of the verses mentioned yesterday in writing about the Lord’s supper. Here Gareth Reese notes this cannot be speaking of a meal as the Greek reads “THE breaking of THE bread” with the article THE in both places in the original.
A reader wrote concerning yesterday’s comments that suggested communion was expected to be done weekly. He did not like that and sarcastically asked, “Why not every day?” He added he was raised in the RC church and went to “Mass” every day from age 7 to 19, with communion. He then stated the well-known phrase, “Familiarity breeds contempt” and added, “it surely did!” After a bit more he concluded preferring communion monthly or quarterly.
I think if I had his background, I would have a similar inclination. After all, who wants to have communion every single day, especially with an explanation of what it is given in a foreign language? It would surely become an empty ritual done automatically with little if any thought about what it represents or what it is for. Still for many people it is desired, deeply desired at least once a week. What are we to do?
Let us first look at the history of communion or the Lord’s supper. It began with the apostolic church celebrating communion at every meeting of worship. Soon, however, it was confined to the worship meeting on the first day of the week, Sunday. This continued through the third century. In the fourth century weekly communion began to decline. It declined until the sixth century when the Council of Agatha in 506 AD decreed that “none should be esteemed good Christians who did not commune at least three times a year – Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.” John Calvin later wrote, “The custom which enjoins believers to communicate only once a year, is unquestionably an invention of the devil.” Later he wrote communion should occur at least once a week. John Wesley in 1784 advised the Lord’s supper to occur every Lord’s day. Thomas Scott, Anglican, in his commentary on Acts 20:7 said, “breaking of bread, or commemorating the death of Christ in the Eucharist, was one of the chief ends of their assembling.” Also, there was a transition of the practice of celebrating the communion in the evening to the morning.
I will avoid all the discussions on what the bread and juice represented in the RC church and off-shoots thereof. Instead, I will note that Zwingli’s concept of the Lord’s supper was eventually adopted by the vast majority of Protestant churches. His view was that communion represented “a symbolic memorial of the suffering and death of Christ.” Thus, in communion we confess our faith, express what that faith means to us, and we do so in memory of Christ’s death.
Today, communion is usually considered to be a memorial, or a commemoration with the bread and the juice representing the body and shed blood of Christ. And when Jesus said in Luke 22:19, This do in remembrance of me, indicates communion is a memorial. Also please note, when Jesus said, This is my body broken for YOU. This is my blood shed for YOU, He spoke to each of His disciples individually and today to each of us individually. Reese quotes Alexander Campbell who wrote the following in 1830, “For YOU my body was wounded; for YOU my life was taken.” And in receiving the disciple/believer says, “Lord, I believe it. My life springs from your suffering; my joy from your sorrows; and my hope of glory everlasting from your humiliation and abasement unto death.”
Finally, how is one to take communion? 1 Corinthians 11:28 tells us, 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. We must come examining ourselves (aware of our sins); we must come repenting; we must come pledging anew our allegiance to Christ. (Reese) It is only by doing so we avoid partaking of communion in an unworthy manner as 1 Corinthians 11:27 tells us, 27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
Bottom Line: The only proper way to take communion is to follow Jesus’ direction, Do this in remembrance of Me. It matters not if you do this once every 3 years, once every year or twice a year or three to four times a year or once weekly or more, Do it in remembrance of Him! And Jesus, His Father, and the Holy Spirit know if you are taking communion in remembrance of what Jesus did for YOU individually. Thayer’s Lexicon says when we do this, we are called (affectionately) to remembrance. Let us never forget all that we have been forgiven when we take communion in remembrance of Him.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Help me, help us to never take for granted the Grace You have granted us through Your Son. Whenever we take communion, help us to always do it in remembrance of Him and all He did for us. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton