Question & Answer Forum

Is the form and subject of Old Testament worship the same as that of the New Testament church?

In 1 Peter 1:23 – 2:8, Peter both compares and contrasts Christian and Jewish worship. The character of our worship is spiritual, involving a spiritual birth, a spiritual house, and spiritual sacrifices. Christ is the subject of our worship and, generally, the Father is the object to whom we express our worship (John 4:23). Since our high priest is in heaven, we worship in “the true tabernacle” (Hebrews 8:2), heaven itself, rather than an earthly sanctuary. Rather than out ward ritual, we worship from redeemed spirits controlled by the Spirit of God (John 4:23; Philippians 3:3, JND). Old Testaments believers called on instruments to assist in their praise (Psalms 150:3-5), where as public worship today is by prayer and singing “with the spirit” and “with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Actually, the character of worship in this age is the ultimate of God’s plan for worship. The pattern of Old Testament worship was a visible representation of the spiritual character of Christian worship (Hebrews 8:5).

All believers are priests who worship individually at any time and in any place; however, public worship in the Old Testament was associated with a place of testimony, so God intends that the present priesthood should function visibly in a testimony.

“Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, . . . By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to (confessing, JND) His name” (Hebrews 13:13-15).

D. Oliver


Does the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Supper have spiritual value?

The hymn expresses it well: “Only bread and only wine, yet to faith the solemn sign . . .” They are not the body and blood of the Lord, but are emblems or reminders of them. These emblems are not types; neither the shape (round, rectangular), substance (flour or yeast), preparation (from a seed, harvested and ground wheat, baked in an oven), nor disposal (whatever happens to them after they are used) has any significance. Partaking of these emblems does not impart divine life or any inherent spiritual benefit more than any other act of obedience to God’s Word.

Remembering the Lord is a sacred privilege, so there is an elevated responsibility in handling these emblems. Separate emblems of the body and blood of the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25) remind us of His death. Behavior inconsistent with this sacred privilege causes particular condemnation (verses 27-30).

The bread and cup involve a dual symbolism relating to commemoration and communion. In themselves, they remind us of the death of our Lord, commemorated when we remember Him. When we partake of them, we express fellowship. “The communion of the blood of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16) expresses our fellowship with God, His claims having been satisfied (Leviticus 17:11, 1 4;3: 17). “The communion of the body of Christ” expresses our fellowship with one another in the assembly (1 Corinthians 10:16,17). Paul shows that such expressions of fellowship make it morally impossible to participate in any other fellowship inconsistent with His lordship.

Religion has ascribed to the emblems sacramental value such as the power to take away sins. The emblems do not have spiritual value but they do express spiritual truths.

D. Oliver


When does the “breaking of the bread” take place?

Blessing (giving thanks for) the cup and breaking the bread (1 Corinthians 10:16) are united assembly acts that require each believer’s individual participation. “The bread which we break” is “the communion of the body of Christ” because “we are all partakers of that one body” (verse 17). “Breaking the bread” takes place when each believer partakes of the loaf. “Breaking bread” is used in Scripture where we would say, “eating a meal” (Acts 2:46) and connotes nothing official. It is not “the bread which He break,” referring to the Lord’s breaking the bread and passing it to the disciples (Matthew 26:26). Whether or not a brother breaks the loaf open before he distributes it to others is immaterial. His act is neither official nor significant. Nothing in Scripture suggests that the person who gives thanks for the emblem must distribute it to others or that the person who distributes the bread must also distribute the cup. Pretentiousness is foreign to the Lord’s Supper.

D. Oliver


Why does the assembly collection customarily follow the Lords Supper?

“Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him” (1 Corinthians 16:2). This is a personal responsibility enjoined on each believer (not couple) in the assembly. Paul has in view, though, “the collection for the saints” (verse 1) and wants to avoid a “gathering” when he comes to Corinth (verse 2). He teaches, therefore, that on the first day of the week the believers should contribute to a collective fund. These communications (Hebrews 13:16) are sacrifices, a part of our worship. Offering up spiritual sacrifices is the first priority of our gathering, but we should not conclude our gathering without these material offerings – whether by passing a basket or contributing to a box conveniently located in the place we meet.

D. Oliver