by George Kirkpatrick
Proclaiming the Everlasting Gospel of God's Kingdom
Today the majority of those who consider themselves to be part of the body of Christ, and take our Lord's communion have no idea the Spiritual significance of what they are partaking. Communion is one of the most misunderstood parts of our service towards God. Communion can be a ritual or a very Spiritual happening in our life.
Webster's definition of Communion is "the fellowship between two persons; a state of giving and receiving." There are three aspects of our partaking the Lord's Communion: fellowship, giving, and receiving. Communion is the time of coming into fellowship with our God, communing with Him Spiritually. When we come into this fellowship with the Lord, the giving is the giving of ourselves, totally, unto Him; denying our fleshly desires and completely dying to self; giving thanks and praise unto the Father. The receiving aspect of our Communion with Him is His guidance and direction in our lives. He desires this on a daily basis, that we may be part of His body.
Different denominations give different names to Communion. Some call it the Lord's Supper, or the Love Supper. Others call it the Eucharist. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul called it the Cup of Blessing, I Corinthians 10:16. No matter what we call it, when we partake of His broken body, we are saying it is our desire to crucify the flesh that the old man may die. When we partake of the shed blood, we are saying it is our desire to have His life in us. His life will renew the old creation that we may walk in newness of life. Jesus instituted Communion at the Last Supper before His crucifixion.
"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; For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Matthew 26:26-28
Jesus said, "...take eat, this is My body..." He did not say this represents My Body, or that this is an example, symbol, or type of My Body. He said, "This IS My body." The same reference was made about the blood, "This IS My Blood".
Jesus was not speaking of the transubstantiation of His body and blood. Transubstantiation is the actual changing of the bread into Jesus' flesh, and the wine or grape juice into Jesus' blood. This teaching originated with the Catholics. As we come to a deeper understanding of Communion we will understand Communion is a Spiritual communing with our God, not a physical change of the bread and wine.
Jesus began to give us Spiritual insight into Communion long before the Last Supper. He did this when He was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, He spoke of the Communion which He would institute at the Last Supper. Jesus spoke of His body as being the bread:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not..." John 6:47-64
Jesus said, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." Jesus' words eliminate any teaching of transubstantiation.
Communion has been taught simply as a fleshly observance of Jesus' death. No Spiritual meaning has been attached to Communion. Again Jesus' words were, "the flesh profiteth nothing." If Communion is just a fleshly observance, than Communion will not profit us in anyway. It becomes just a religious ritual.
Our partaking of the broken body and shed blood is the Spiritual celebration of what Jesus did in our lives. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth" or makes alive.
What is the true meaning of Communion?
We need to let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts, and let the broken body and shed blood nourish our Spiritual growth in God. Jesus gave us four keys of knowledge we need to understand as we walk with our Lord.
1. Except we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we have no life in us.
2. Unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood, there will be no eternal life.
3. If we don't eat His flesh and drink His blood, He will not dwell in us, nor we in Him.
4. If we do not partake of the broken body and shed blood, we shall not live by Him, nor will our lives be directed by Him.
Jesus proclaimed He was the Living Bread which came down from heaven, or the Spiritual realm. When we become partakers of the Living Bread, we become part of the body of Christ. The writer of Hebrews proclaimed Christ's body:
"Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body has thou prepared Me." Hebrews 10:5
The writer of Hebrews was not referring to Jesus' natural body, but rather His Spiritual body, the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit that dwells in us is preparing a body the Lord will inhabit on His return. Paul spoke of the body the Father is preparing for Jesus in his letter to the Corinthians:
"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." I Corinthians 12:12
The many-membered body is the body of Christ. If we are to become part of the body of Christ, we must, as Jesus stated, partake of His broken body and His shed blood.
If we believe Jesus' words, then far too little emphasis has been put on the Communion and our coming into the fellowship of giving and receiving.
We will be addressing five main subjects. In reviewing these five main areas of the Lord's Supper, we will also talk about what is acceptable and unacceptable concerning our Lord's Supper.
1. The breadb
2. The wine
3. How often we should partake of Communion
4. When we should not take Communion
5. What our Spiritual condition should be in taking Communion
1. Jesus took the bread
Bread is called the staff of life. Jesus said to His disciples at the Last Supper, "This is My body." John recorded Jesus' words:
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:51
Jesus is the Living Bread which came down from heaven. The bread is His flesh which was broken for the life of the world. The Communion bread is His body. If the Communion bread is His body, then we should know how the bread is to be prepared, else we become those who Malachi declared:
"Ye offer polluted bread upon Mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible." Malachi 1:7
Malachi spoke of serving polluted bread on His altar. The word polluted means "defiled." Malachi stated when the bread is polluted, then the Lord's Table is contemptible. The word contemptible is BAZA and means "to accord little worth to something." Many feel Communion is just a religious observance. To those who feel this way the Lord's Table has little worth.
Today many churches simply cut up bakers bread or serve crackers for their Communion bread. All bakers bread contains yeast. In the New Testament, yeast is called leaven. Leaven represents sin, false doctrine, and hypocrisy. Jesus warned His disciples,
"...Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy." Luke 12:1
Since the Communion bread is Jesus' body, those who serve bakers bread are proclaiming there is sin, false doctrine, and hypocrisy in Jesus' body. Those who do this are serving polluted bread upon His altar. And the table of the Lord has little worth in their lives. Those who use baker's bread or crackers need to be aware of what is removed from the flour used in the preparation of these products. When white flour is prepared, two things are removed: one is the BRAN, the second is the GERM.
The BRAN is the outer covering. It is what holds everything together in the berry of grain, whether it be wheat, rye, or barley. The bran, or hull, of the grain represents the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit holds everything together in the body of Christ. When we use flour in which the bran has been removed we have excluded the Holy Spirit operation in our walk.
The GERM is called the "stale maker" and is the life in the grain. When white flour is used to represent Jesus' body, we have removed the life of the body and the Holy Spirit which brings us into the unity of the faith. When we use white flour, we are saying there was neither life NOR Spirit in Jesus' body. By doing this we have served polluted bread upon His altar.
Many are serving polluted bread upon the altars of worship, and are not even aware the bread they serve is an abomination before the Lord. How then is the Communion bread to be prepared? Bread contains four ingredients:
Flour Water Oil Salt
The flour must be made of the whole grain with nothing added or taken away. The grain can be wheat, rye, barley, or rice. The water used must be pure water. The water represents the Word. Again there is nothing to be added or taken away from the Word. The oil must be pure, either pure, cold-pressed oil or butter. The oil is a representation of the Holy Spirit anointing upon the communion. The salt is preserving. Jesus spoke of the salt that lost its saltiness:
"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Matthew 5:13
When all the ingredients are pure, then the Communion bread truly becomes the body of Christ. We must always remember Jesus' words: "This is My body."
Many buy prepared wafers to serve as Communion bread. Prepared wafers have none of the ingredients mentioned above, and have nothing to do with the broken body of Jesus.
2. The Blood
Jesus said, "This is My blood. Drink ye all of it." He certainly did not mean to consume the whole contents of the cup, but rather, it was a commandment that we are all to partake of His shed blood. If we want to partake of the life of Christ, then we are commanded to drink His blood.
A short study reveals what Jesus' blood means in our lives.
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin, Hebrews 9:22.
By Jesus' blood, we are justified, Romans 5:9;
We have redemption through His blood, Ephesians 1:7;
We are reconciled to the Father by His blood, Colossians 1:20.
And we also enter into the Holiest of Holies by the blood, Hebrews 10:19.
There is also another aspect of the blood. The Old Testament reveals that the life is in the blood.
"For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off." Leviticus 17:14
The phrase shall be cut off means "to put to death". The life of all flesh is the blood. In the Old Testament Israel's sin could be atoned for by the shedding of the blood of innocent animals.
The word atone is an Old Testament word which means "to placate, cover, or set aside." Jesus' blood did not atone for our sin. Our sins are not placated, covered, or set aside by the blood of Jesus, they are totally forgiven. Only by the blood of Jesus are we reconciled to the Father. It is only by His blood that we have life. Without the blood of Jesus, there is no life. The writer of Hebrews proclaimed this truth:
"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Hebrews 9:13-14
The blood of bulls and goats could not forgive sin. It only placated, covered, and set aside the sin of Israel until the blood of Jesus was shed, not only for Israel, but for the whole world.
Jesus said if we do not drink of His blood, there is no life in us. To understand how the blood of Jesus can forgive sins, we need to look at the virgin birth. While a baby is in the mother's womb being formed, not one drop of the mother's blood ever flows through the child. The characteristics of the blood always comes from the father. This is why a child's father can be identified by a blood test, but the mother cannot be identified in this way. It is the bloodline that establishes race.
When Jesus walked the earth, He was the only man in His race. Most have been taught Jesus was a Jew. There was not one drop of Jewish blood in Jesus' veins. His Father was not earthy. His Father was God Himself, and God is not Jewish. Jesus was the only person on earth to have the Father's bloodline. All other blood on earth was tainted by sin. Jesus' blood was not. The blood that flowed through Jesus' veins was from God the Father. Jesus' blood was pure, free from any taint of sin. His is the only blood that could be used as a sacrifice for the sin of the whole world.
This blood has two aspects: it is the pure sacrifice for sin, and the life of Christ is in the blood. This is why, when we partake of the blood, it will bring life. This is why it is so important we partake of that broken body and shed blood. Jesus' blood was absolutely pure from all sin and defilement. This is why the grape juice or wine used must be pure, unadulterated, and not watered down (diluted). Only the purest fruit of the vine can be used; no preservatives.
In Matthew 26:29, Jesus referred to the juice as the fruit of the vine. The question always arises: Was the grape juice fermented? It probably was. They fermented the grape juice to keep it from spoiling. They had no refrigeration, and no way of sealing the juice to keep it from fermenting.
Was it wine? Not in the sense that we think of wine today. When wine is made today, much sugar is added. This is called sweet wine and has a much higher alcoholic content than naturally fermented wine. Fortified wine has alcohol added for an even higher alcoholic content. Naturally fermented wines have a very low alcoholic content and are not sweet. They were not drunk for the alcohol, but for the refreshment. Alcohol, or the lack of it, has no Spiritual value to the Communion.
3. How often we should partake of the Lord's supper
We hear so many say: "We do not want Communion to become a ritual." Yet, in most churches, Communion has indeed become only a ritual. Some churches serve Communion on a certain day of the week. Other churches have separate rooms where Communion is set up at every meeting. Other churches serve it once a month, some quarterly, some every six months, while other churches only serve Communion once a year. So which is correct? All the Word says about how often we should partake of the broken body and shed blood, is found in I Corinthians:
"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." I Corinthians 11:25
The answer to how often we should partake of the Lord's Supper is, we should partake of the Lord's Table as often as desired, to remember Jesus' death and come into Communion with Him. There have been many men of God who took Communion every day at the beginning of their day. Which may bring up a question: "Can Communion be served by anyone other than the church or someone in authority?"
Absolutely! Anytime we, as God's children, desire to come into His presence and remember the free gift of forgiveness of our sin, we may come into Communion and fellowship with Him.
Many churches believe we must belong to their church to take Communion with them. When attending these churches, they will tell the non-members they cannot partake of the Lord's Supper with them.
THESE DO ERR !
Christ has only one body and His blood was shed for the whole world, so a believer does not have to belong to a local assembly to partake of the broken body and shed blood. We should be able to come into Communion with our God in any assembly. If this privilege is denied, then we should not attend these assemblies.
So how often should we take Communion? This is between you and God. You do not need to follow a church ritual. You are free to take Communion as oft as you desire. More than once a day? Yes, if you desire to remember the Lord or come into fellowship with Him. It can be taken as many times as you desire.
Should it become a ritual? No, we should never take Communion without remembering the Lord's death, His resurrection, and our desire to become part of His Body.
4. When we should not take Communion
Paul addressed the questions of when we should not partake of the Lord's Communion:
"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. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." I Corinthians 11:27-29
Paul said we should not eat the bread or drink the cup unworthily. The Greek word unworthily is ANAXIOS and means "partaking of the Lord's Supper in a highly, frivolous attitude"; treating it as a common meal; not comprehending the importance of the Communion in our Spiritual walk with God. Malachi reveals this same attitude:
"The Table of the Lord is contemptible;" (according little worth). Malachi 1:7b
When we do not have the full understanding of why we are partaking of Jesus' broken body and shed blood we are not discerning the Lord's body, but simply taking it frivolously and placing little importance upon it.
Another aspect of discerning Jesus' body is knowing Christ has only one body. If our desire is to be part of the body of Christ then we must become part of His broken body. At the Last Supper, Jesus gave us insight concerning His body:
"And He (Jesus) took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me." Luke 22:19
Jesus revealed the loaf as being His body. The loaf is His body, and if we want to be part of His body we must become part of the loaf. The question is, "How do we become part of His loaf?" Before grain is used it must be ground to powder. The same is true with anyone who wants to become part of God's loaf. Luke recorded Jesus' words:
"Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." Luke 20:18
When we fall upon the stone, we must be broken. This is called "repentance." Without a repentant heart, there is no salvation. The stone we fall upon is the corner stone, Jesus Christ. The Bible speaks of another stone and that is the Headstone. Mark records Jesus' words concerning this stone:
"And have ye not read this Scripture; the stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:" Mark 12:10
The stone the builders rejected is Christ Jesus, the risen, glorified Christ. Luke recorded in the book of Acts:
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:36
When the Anointing grinds us to powder, then the old self is destroyed, and we become flour in the Lord's hands to shape and mold us with the rest of the flour. Then He can shape us into His loaf and make one body out of all those that the Headstone has ground to powder. Jesus' broke His body, and He will put it together again to become one loaf in His hand. This should be our upmost concern when we take Communion, that our piece fits perfectly into His loaf when He returns to make up His loaf (His body).
5. What our Spiritual condition should be in taking Communion
Paul went on to say: "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." I Corinthians 11:30
Paul is speaking of their relationship with God. When we are weak and sickly we do not have a healthy relationship with our God. When we are weak and sickly, we cannot function or even do the simplest chores. This is the Spiritual condition of many today. They have no power in their walk with God. Their presence before God is one of being weak and sickly. The writer of Hebrews informs us:
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16
The word boldly is PARRHESIA and means "freedom of speech, unreservedness of utterance." We do not have this privilege in a weak and sick spiritual condition.
Paul stated because many take Communion unworthily many sleep. Paul is not speaking here of people dying, but of being asleep. Jesus, speaking of the church in the last hour of time, informed us:
"While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept." Matthew 25:5
Jesus was speaking of the virgin church, those who have not been defiled by man's doctrines and man's order. Jesus proclaimed these are asleep today. The Bridegroom is truly tarrying, but He is shaking His body to wake up out of their Adam sleep.
We need to awake out of our Adam sleep and discern the Lord's Body. We need to know God is ready to set His headship on His Body. Those who are not under the headship of Christ ( the Holy Spirit) are not going to be part of His Body when He returns.
When a member of our physical body is severed, such as a finger, the blood that gave life to the finger ceases to flow through it; and it dies. It is no different with us when we, as a member of His Body, become separated; the life blood ceases to flow through us.
When we take the wine we are proclaiming to the whole earth and to the Father we want the life of Christ to dwell in us. When we separate ourselves from His life we die Spiritually.
The life is in the blood. If we want eternal life and if we want to be raised up the last day, the seventh day, which is the millennial reign, we must have the life of Christ in us. We must become part of His one loaf (the body of Christ). Jesus stated we are to be partakers of His Communion until He returns. I Corinthians 11:26
As His body, we need to realize the importance of Communion; not only to ourselves, but also to our Lord and Saviour. We need to understand Communion is our proclamation to our God and the world that our desire is to have the life of Christ in us and become part of His universal body. Praise the Lord!
For Further Discussion
The Living Bread
The Bran; germ; water; oil; salt
The Cup of Blessing
Forgiveness of Sin
Life in the Blood
How often should we partake of Communion
When should we not partake of Communion
The Bread, the body of Christ
Ground to Powder
Freely We Have Received, Freely We Give