From Fifty Year Ago: The Lord’s Supper

1 Cor 11:20-34; 10:16-22; 14:23-25

As we read these scriptures concerning the Lord’s Supper, we are impressed with the fact that it is a great PRIVILEGE to partake of this feast on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). In spite of all the failure in the testimony of the church, there are companies of Christians who carry out the Lord’s will in remembering Him, and He receives His portion from them in worship.

It is evident that this blessed feast is preeminently one of praise and thanksgiving. We read that the Lord Jesus gave thanks as He took the bread and the cup, and passed these emblems to His disciples. There was no petition for help or sympathy as He faced the sufferings of the cross that were to be His portion in a few hours. How this should stir our hearts as we read these words, “He gave thanks”! What praise should ascend to God from our hearts as we remember the Lord’s death!

We read that the Christians “show the Lord’s death” (1 Cor 11:26) in partaking of the emblems. This word translated “show” is the same as the word “preach” or “proclaim” as found in the Acts. Therefore, we are PROCLAIMING the Lord’s death to those who look on, i.e. the angels (verse 10), unbelievers and unlearned Christians (I Cor 14:23-25). If Christians were stirred up to realize that they were proclaiming the Lord’s death to these, it would keep them in an exercised state and avoid the dearth and disorder that prevails at times.

The writer remembers the time when he sat in the balcony of Massey hall, Toronto, on an Easter Sunday morning, during the conference in 1920. 1 had been exercised about being saved for some time, but as I witnessed the Christians remembering the Lord, they proclaimed the Lord’s death to me as no gospel preacher could have done. I saw that I was lost and condemned, and felt that God was in the midst of His people (I Cor 14:25). I was saved that evening through the words of John 5:24.

A week later, I was in a town in Northern Ontario on business, and on Sunday morning I found the Gospel Hall. I entered, a Christian gave me a hymn book and directed me to a seat in the rear. I was now in the seat of the “unlearned”, and as I saw the Christians remember the Lord, my heart responded to the praise ascending to God, and I could say “Amen” (I Cor 14:16). A dear brother took me to his home after the meeting, and he and his wife taught me God’s way for His people. I look back on that experience as most precious in establishing me in the truth. I became exercised about obeying the Word of God, and shortly afterward I was baptized and took my place outside the camp with the Lord.

It is important to notice the difference in the effect upon the unbeliever and the unlearned as recorded in I Cor 14:16, 23-25. The unbeliever is impressed with the fact that the fear of God is among the saints, while the unlearned one is impressed with the order and is led to say, “Amen”. We might well ask ourselves what impression an unlearned saint would get if he witnessed the breaking of bread as carried out by our assembly? Would it stir him to become exercised to obey God’s word, or would he fail to see that which would draw him outside the religious camp?

We notice that Paul instructs the Christians that there is need for PREPARATION before partaking of the Lord’s supper (I Cor 11:27-32). This is sadly lacking on the part of many Christians, and consequently there is little praise to God as a result. We need to judge ourselves in the presence of God and see that we are in communion with Him before going to remember the Lord. The Corinthians were failing in this exercise, and the hand of God was upon them in discipline because of this (verse 30).

Furthermore, we should be exercised about our relation to other believers in the assembly before partaking of the Lord’s supper. Constant exercise about this will PROMOTE fellowship among the saints. The bread is a symbol of the oneness of the believers in the assembly (I Cor 10:16-17). How important it is that we should observe the word of Christ in Matthew 5:23-24.

Finally, we see the Apostle teaching in I Corinthians 10:1822, that the partaking of the Lord’s supper should PRESERVE the saints in the path of separation from all that is contrary to His word. This truth is developed in II Corinthians 6:14-18, where he refers to the unequal yoke in its many forms. The Christians in Corinth were making a travesty of the Lord’s supper by their actions in going to heathen temples and then partaking of this feast, and many Christians today are falling into this snare and are dishonoring the Lord by their actions.

Some years ago, we saw a woman led to Christ in a place where there was a good assembly. Her husband was unsaved and was opposed to her going to meetings, but in spite of this, she was baptized and took her place with the Christians. However, she had not fully learned the truth of separation, being unable to get to the meetings where ministry was given, and as a result, she occasionally would go with her sister to a denominational place where the preacher was saved. One Sunday morning, she went with her sister instead of going to remember the Lord, and as she sat listening to the preaching, the Spirit of God brought before her mind the passage in I Corinthians 11:23-34, concerning the Lord’s supper. She thought of the Christians carrying out the Lord’s will in the Gospel Hall, and she felt condemned for her disobedience. She became exercised about separation to the Lord Jesus Christ and developed into a well taught child of God, and her sister became exercised about her position in the sects.

This care illustrates the force of the apostle’s teaching in connection with the Lord’s supper and should have an effect on all who are exercised to do His will, and it should preserve them from the paths of disobedience.

Thus we see that the Lord’s people are giving the Lord His portion in remembering Him, and at the same time are proclaiming the Lord’s death to those who look on. Exercise of heart is created that their lives might be in keeping with the Word of God, that their fellowship with other believers in the assembly be unbroken and that they may be separated from all that is contrary to the will of God.