Question & Answer Forum

Why do we avoid calling the Sunday meeting when we break bread the Communion Service?

We express our communion (or fellowship) when we remember the Lord (1Co 10:16). Taking the cup demonstrates our fellowship with God (v 21). Taking the bread expresses our fellowship with one another in the assembly (v 17). It is therefore a communion service. As we gather to take these emblems, we obey the Lord’s words, “This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). It is therefore a remembrance meeting. We meet to do this each Lord’s Day morning, therefore it is a morning meeting, although believers in Acts likely met in the evening (Acts 20:7). However, none of these designations is used in the New Testament as a name for this gathering of the assembly. The Spirit uses “the breaking of the bread” (literally) in referring to this gathering (2:42). Likewise, the Spirit inspired Paul to use the expression “the Lord’s supper” (1Co 11:20) when he wrote about the Corinthians meeting to remember the Lord. Calling it “The Breaking of Bread” or “The Lord’s Supper” is more consistent with the Biblical designations of this gathering.

In evangelical usage, “The Communion Service” is a common designation of a gathering where believers share in taking the bread and the cup. Attempts to accommodate our terminology to that of evangelical congregations obscure the Scriptural difference between a church of God and other gatherings whose doctrine may be sound but whose pattern does not come from the New Testament. Rather than shrinking from being different, why not highlight the beauty of the Biblical pattern by using Biblical terms?

D. Oliver

Does an understanding of the Biblical significance of divine names guide us in prayer?

A sense of both forcefulness and heavenly reasoning characterizes Biblical prayers. Their requests result from what God has revealed Himself to be. The first man in the Bible whose prayers are recorded stood as an intercessor between the Lord and Sodom. Through the Flood, God revealed that He is the Judge of all the earth. Abraham based his intercession on behalf of Sodom on this, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen 18:25). How mightily he interceded!

Moses prayed mightily to the Lord when He spoke of consuming His people because they worshiped the golden calf: “Lord, why doth Thy wrath wax hot against Thy people?” (Exo 32:11). He addresses him as Jehovah, the faithful One Who had promised to bring Abraham’s seed into Canaan (Gen 13:14, 15; 15:16); Moses speaks of those promises (Exo 32:13). Jehovah, Who is always the same, could not fail to keep His word. Moses, therefore, beseeches God to act consistent with His name. “And the Lord (Jehovah) repented of the evil He thought to do unto His people.” This principle in prayer continues through the Scriptures.

In one other example, Daniel employs the names of God deliberately and cogently in his noteworthy prayer of confession and intercession (Dan 9:4-19). Here is the climax of his prayer: “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God: for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name” (v 19). The name “Lord” (Adonay), used here indicates reverence, submission, and recognition of the sovereign control of God. Its first mention (Gen 15:2) is “Lord (Adonay) God, what wilt Thou give me?” Here, Abram contrasts the Lord with the king of Sodom, from whom he refused to take anything. The sovereign Lord Who controls all events and people was Abram’s only resource. Thus, Daniel acknowledges God’s right in judging His people, His control of nations and seasons and His strength to carry out His sovereign will (Deu 3:24, “Lord”). As frequently as he addresses God in this prayer, Daniel is not repeating God’s name aimlessly. An increased understanding of the names by which God has revealed Himself to us would enable us to pray more deliberately, mightily, Biblically, and reverently – whether in private or public.

D. Oliver

Can we learn from the pattern prayer the Lord taught the disciples about the use of the divine name “Father”?

Teaching His disciples to address the Father, “Our Father Which art in heaven” (Luke 11:2), introduced a profound difference in speaking to God. This elevates prayer to the kind of communication that takes place within the Godhead. When the Lord prayed in John 17, He addressed His Father six times in 26 verses. By doing so, He deliberately expressed intimacy (“Father,” vv 1, 21, 24), urgency (“O Father,” v 5; “O righteous Father,” v 25), and cogency (“holy Father,” v 11; “O righteous Father,” v 25). He is requesting His Father to act consistent with His holy and righteous character. As a result, those whom the Father had given to Him would be preserved from the world (v 11) and enabled to be “imitators of God” (v 25) because divine love would be “in them” (v 26). Accompanying that, the Son Himself would be in them as their source of grace (1:16) flowing from His fulness (see Col 2:9, 10). Since Christ is all and in all(Col 3:11b) to believers in this age, therefore, grace characterizes them personally and in the assembly (vv 12-17).

This relationship with the Father is New Testament truth. That is a unique feature of the Lord’s “model prayer” (Luke 11:2-4). This is consistent with the subject of prayer in the New Testament. Prayer, with perhaps only one exception (1Ti 1:12), is addressed to the Godhead, particularly the Father (Eph 5:20). Any other prayers directed to the Lord Jesus are connected with visions of Him. Primarily, then, we speak to the Father in prayer, but that certainly is not a limitation.

The fulness of what this title means to us is beyond our finite grasp. The Lord teaches us that we can expect only good from our Father (Mat 7:11). He assures us that the Father loves us (Jn 16:27). We learn from Ephesians 1 of the riches and glory of all that our Father has provided for us in Christ, purchased at the infinite cost of precious blood (Eph 1:3-7, 11-14). With such a liberal and mighty Father, we should have great confidence in His ability and wisdom in answering our prayers. John’s gospel highlights the relationship between the Father and the Son. There, we learn the constancy and intimacy of the Father’s care for His Son. This is the model for our relationship with our Father. An appreciation of this relationship will become evident in our prayers.

D. Oliver