In the Age of Grace, what does the bread and wine (communion) speak of ?
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In the Age of Grace, what does the bread and wine speak of? The Lord’s Supper; the Communion Table. The only way we can really identify that is to go back to Matthew’s Gospel where we have The Lord’s Supper. Jesus instituted The Lord’s Supper at the Last Supper, at the Passover.
“Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.”
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, `Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, `Drink ye all of it;'”
I’d like to ask a question. Did the disciples understand what all of this stood for? They didn’t have the foggiest notion. They followed His directions, but there is no explanation by The Lord Jesus, or even by the writer of this Gospel account, that they had any idea what He was doing. So, we have to wait until we come to the writings of the Apostle Paul. Now we understand what it was all for. Turn with me to I Corinthians, Chapter 11. Here, again, is progressive revelation. The eleven there at the night of the Passover didn’t understand it. Jesus didn’t explain it; it wasn’t time yet. The Lord’s Table of the bread and the cup is a memorial of His death, and on the night of the Last Supper His death hadn’t taken place yet.
I Corinthians 11:23-26
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, `Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.’ After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, `This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.'” Verse 26 gives us the explanation. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lords death till he come.'”
This is the purpose of The Lord’s Supper. It is remembering what Christ accomplished on the Cross; that just as in ignominy and shame His Body was broken, the bread is broken. The pouring out of His Blood is, of course, in the cup. Back in Genesis we have the picture of His death, burial and Resurrection, but that’s all.
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“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.”
Now that wasn’t what they normally used in the sacrifices of Abraham’s day. So why in the world did Melchizedek offer bread and wine? Well, it was a subtle prophecy. Oh, it was so subtle because what was the bread and the wine, as Jesus administered it in Matthew 26, going to represent? The resurrection. And that’s what the whole idea of the Lord’s supper is. It is to be a constant reminder that every time we partake of that bread and that cup it is a reminder of that finished work of the Cross. And this is the first time that’s it’s explained. In fact one commentator that I’ve read puts it this way: “This is probably the first time that Jesus is quoted chronologically in the Scriptures, because the Four Gospels hadn’t been written yet. Have you ever thought of that? The Four Gospels hadn’t been written so Paul couldn’t go to the Gospel of Matthew. But rather Paul’s interpretation of the Lord’s supper came by revelation. And isn’t it amazing how God does everything in His own order, as before the Four Gospels were ever written Paul writes to the Corinthians the very same words. Now read on in I Corinthians, verse 26, and here is the doctrinal reason for the Lord’s supper.
I Corinthians 11:26
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew (or remind yourself of) the Lord’s death till he come.”
Now I’m going to point out two things. There is no stipulation from the apostle as to how often a Church practices the Lord’s supper. I don’t care if your denomination practices it every Sunday, that’s your prerogative. If you want to practice it once a year that’s also your prerogative. Because the word is whenever you have the Lord’s Supper you had better have the right mind-set when you do partake of it. And that is that you are reminding yourself that Christ died, His blood was shed, and He arose from the dead. And that’s the only purpose of the Lord’s supper, and it is to be a solemn experience. And again, the Corinthians were so abusing this beautiful, beautiful picture in type, by their indulgence with food, getting half drunk on too much wine, so how in the world could they receive the impact of such a solemn service. So Paul had to upbraid them and tell them to stop it, because it was a solemn occasion. And as the last part of verse 26 says the Lord’s table will not stop until the Lord returns. Now verse 27, and here comes the apostles description of what our attitude should be as we partake.
I Corinthians 11:27,28
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
When it says, “But let a man examine himself,…” I think that’s the secret to behavior at the Lord’s table. You don’t examine the next person to you or judge someone else, but just look at your own heart, and attitude. Am I right with the Lord? Am I right with my fellow believers? And if you can say `yes’ and `amen’ to that, then you feel free to partake. If you can’t, you’d better refrain, because then you are drinking and eating condemnation. Now verse 29.
I Corinthians 11:29
“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
That is speaking of someone who partakes of the Lord’s table with the wrong attitude. The Corinthians were going into that supper with almost an attitude of revelry, totally wrong. Many others of the Corinthians had a real thing against someone across the room, and their enmity was just like sparks, and Paul tells them that won’t work. You can’t take the Lord’s table with that kind of attitude. Now verse 30. Since the Corinthians were guilty of many things that should have kept them from partaking:
I Corinthians 11:30
“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, (in other words God was already chastising them by taking away their health) and many sleep.”
What does he mean? They had died. Now there is a sin unto death recorded in one of John’s little epistles, and we won’t have time to look at it today, but John also tells us that we don’t pray for it. Even though you think that someone is awfully out of step, you never pray, “Lord take them out.” That’s not our prerogative, but the Lord does have that prerogative. That if a believer will not shape up, and if a believer continues to walk in known sin, then yes, God will take them, because He’s not going let anybody drag His name through the mud. Now we know there are people who have made profession of salvation, they’ve probably been members of the church, and they’re doing the same thing. And if the Lord doesn’t deal with them, if the Lord doesn’t chastise them, then Paul teaches in the Book of Hebrews that they are not His children.
“…My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
So the Lord had been chastening the Corinthians because Paul says:
I Corinthians 11:30
“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
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“How that by revelation (the same word he used in Galatians) he (The Lord Jesus Himself) made known unto me the (what?) mystery; …”
Now we covered all the mysteries in earlier lessons. And they are that whole composite of truth that makes for the Church Age. And they all come from the pen of the apostle Paul. I was talking to someone they other day, and they said, ” Why do you make this much of Paul?” And I said, “Let me ask you something. I don’t care what denomination handle you have. Do you have a pastor and deacons and Church elders?” He said, “Well, yes.” I said, “Where did you get the instructions for them?” Well, he didn’t know. I said, “Well, I’ll tell you. You got it from Timothy. And who wrote Timothy? Paul! Does your Church practice The Lord’s table?” He said, “Oh, yeah.” I said, “Where did you get it?” He thought maybe when Jesus said it. I said, “No, Jesus didn’t put anything on it. All He said was, “This is My body and this is My blood, but He didn’t give any instructions for the communion service. So where did we get it? From I Corinthians 11.” And down the line you can go with every facet of what 99% of Christendom practices doctrinally. They get it from Paul. And yet they’ll never give him the time of day. It’s amazing isn’t it.