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Article 37 - Ten Misconceptions - Lord's Supper
Ten Misconceptions Regarding the Lord's Supper
Jon Gary Williams
The scriptures are so clear on the topic of the Lord's supper there should be no misgivings about it. However, the fact is many have been misled about this observance. Following are ten misconceptions regarding the communion Christ established.
1. The Lord's supper can be observed less frequently than every first day of the week
Though the Bible is clear on the frequency of the Lord's supper - that it is to be observed the first day of every week, over the years the denominational world has drifted from this practice. Some churches have it monthly, some quarterly, and some yearly.
The scriptures teach that the church met for a regular assembly (Heb. 10:25), that this assembly was on the first day of the every week (I Cor. 16:2 ), and that the Lord's supper was observed in that assembly (I Cor. 11:17-34). And not only that, but early church history testifies to this practice.
It is strange, indeed, that a truth so obvious in the scriptures can be so easily disregarded. Yet, this is the nature of false teaching.
2. The bread and fruit of the vine become the body and blood of Jesus
This is the doctrine of Transubstantiation. It is taught that when a Catholic priest says the "Words of Consecration," the bread of fruit of the vine change into Jesus' body and blood.
People are taught that though the emblems still have the appearance of bread and fruit of the vine, the real substance has changed into the body and blood of Jesus. The problem here is that they fail to see these emblems only represent (emblematic of) Jesus body & blood.
3. Only one cup can be used in partaking of the fruit of the vine
It is claimed that Jesus and the apostles used only one cup, and that this serves as an example to be followed today.
However, it is merely assumption that only one cup was used. They may have used several. And it should be observed that neither Jesus nor the apostles ever made using only one cup a requirement.
The problem here is that some try to make a law where God never bound one. Speaking in place of God is a grievous sin.
4. You cannot partake of the Lord's supper if you feel you are "unworthy"
This idea is falsely lifted from I Corinthians 11:27,29. The word translated "unworthily" in the King James version is not speaking of one's self-worth. Rather, this is an adverb of manner. Thus, the New King James and other translations have it, an "unworthy manner." Paul was not addressing personal worthiness, he was explaining that their manner of partaking the Lord's supper had corrupted it.
Question: Who could ever say they are worthy and how would this be determined?
5. The communion table must be covered with a cloth
The claim is made: "It's only proper to cover a body." Yes, a dead body - but Jesus is not dead, he is alive (Rev. 1:18). To Christians, the bread & fruit of the vine are only emblematic of the body and blood of Jesus.
6. Fermented grape juice must be used
The mistake here is that it is assumed that in instituting the Lord's supper Jesus used fermented grape juice. There is no justification for this claim.
Notice that the Holy Spirit made a point of having Matthew, Mark and Luke say "fruit of the vine," which distinguishes it from fermented
This practice grew out of a misunderstanding of what the early church actually practiced. To press the use of fermented grape juice is another example of an attempt at binding something God has not bound.
7. The Lords supper can be observed more frequently than the first day of the week
As mentioned earlier the scriptures clearly show that the Lord's supper is to be observed on the first day of the week. However, some believe that it can be observed more frequently, for example, on Wednesday or Saturday.
An initial response to this is, "Why? Why practice it more frequently than every Sunday?" Having the communion just whenever one wants to, is an exercise in subjective reasoning, and nothing short of calling God's authority into question.
8. The bread must be broken (cracked) before it is passed
This is a practice seldom seen, but it does exist. Those who hold this view may be sincere, but they are misinformed. When the scriptures refer to "breaking" bread, they are not speaking of literally "cracking" the bread apart, but rather of partaking of it.
This is a practice that is purely subjective and should not be seen as something required by God.
9.There are "two times" to partake - morning and evening
In most congregations the Lord's supper is made available at the evening service for those providentially hindered from attending the morning service. This is a scriptural and expedient practice.
However, this should not be viewed as "two times" to partake of the communion. For one to intentionally miss the morning worship for personal reasons, and then "make up" the Lord's supper at the evening worship, is a casual treating of the death of Christ.
10. It is wrong to pray that the bread and fruit of the vine "represent" the body and blood of Jesus
Some think since Jesus said "this is my body...this is my blood" -- at the communion it should not be prayed that the bread and fruit of the vine "represent" the body and blood of Jesus.
However, when Jesus said this, he was describing the nature and significance of these two elements - they were emblematic of His body and blood. Obviously, Jesus was not speaking literally. Rather, he was using a figure of speech, a metaphor, wherein one thing is used to represent something else - in this case, using bread and fruit of the vine to represent his body and blood.
It should be remembered that Jesus was not telling the apostles what to say, but what to do - to call to mind his tragic death.