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 (Essential Biblical Doctrines)
Holy Communion
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Holy Communion

I.       Institution Of The Holy Communion

A.     The Holy Communion Is Established by the Lord Jesus

1.        The last supper was prepared during the Passover feast Jesus kept with his disciples, which was the night of Jesus’ betrayal (Lk 22:7–15).

2.        The Holy Communion was instituted by the Lord Jesus at the Passover feast (Lk 22:19–20). The bread in Luke 22:19 is the bread of Holy Communion, and the cup in Luke 22:20 is the cup of Holy Communion. After having been blessed by the Lord, the bread and the cup became the sacrament of Holy Communion.

B.     After the Lord had established Holy Communion, he told the disciples to perform it in remembrance of him (Lk 22:19). For this reason, the church performs the sacrament of the Holy Communion.

C.     After his ascension, the Lord revealed to Paul the significance of the Lord’s supper (1 Cor 11:23–25; cf. Gal 1:11–12).

II.    Significance Of The Holy Communiom

A.     In Memory of the Lord Jesus’ Death

The Passover feast is kept in remembrance of God’s deliverance of Israel from the judgment of death and Egyptian bondage (Ex 12:21–27, 13:3). The Holy Communion is conducted in remembrance of Jesus’ suffering and death for our sins (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24–26). Therefore, before blessing the bread and the cup, a minister should speak about the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus to move the congregation with thanksgiving and compel them with the love of Christ.

1.        The Lord Jesus was born in a simple manger and lived his life in poverty for our sake (Lk 2:6–7, 9:58; 2 Cor 8:9). Jesus was arrested, scourged, mocked, and spat upon in the face for our transgressions and iniquities. He wore a crown of thorns and was nailed on a cross, suffering a bloody and tormenting death (Ps 22:12–16; Mt 27:18–59; Rom 4:25).

2.        Jesus was forsaken by God for our sins, and his soul went to Hades to taste death (Mt 27:45–52; Acts 2:30–32; Heb 2:9).

3.        Thanks to the grace of God, the chastisement of our peace is upon Jesus, and by his stripes we are healed (Isa 53:4–6).

B.     The Partakers of the Blood and the Body of the Lord (1 Cor 10:16)

1.        The breaking of the bread signifies that the Lord broke his body for us (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24).

2.        The cup signifies that the Lord shed his blood for us (Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25).

3.        After having consecrated the bread and cup, they become the body and the blood of the Lord (Mt 26:26–28; 1 Cor 11:29).

4.        Those who eat the Lord’s flesh and drink his blood have everlasting life, and they will be raised on the last day (Jn 6:53–54).

Partaking the sacrament of Holy Communion is a mystery in itself. Paul pointed out the danger of receiving the Lord’s body and blood unworthily. Some believers became weak and sick, and some died because they did not discern the significance and value of the Lord’s body and blood (1 Cor 11:28–30). Therefore, those who commit sins and feel guilty before God should never partake of the Holy Communion. Paul drew a contrast of partaking the Lord’s supper with partaking in food offered to idols. The latter is fellowship with the devil, while the former is fellowship with the Lord (1 Cor 10:19–22). Jesus once said, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (Jn 6:56). Therefore, Holy Communion is a mysterious and spiritual communion. By examining and judging ourselves, we partake the Holy Communion worthily, and we can thus receive the fullness of life. If we live a life of examination and have Holy Communion with the Lord in a worthy manner, the Lord will preserve us and resurrect us on the last day. Recognizing the grace of the Lord, we should partake the Lord’s supper with full thanksgiving until Jesus comes again.

III. Performance Of Sacrament Of The Holy Communion

A.     Frequency and Time in the Sacrament of Holy Communion

1.        Some Christians feel the Lord’s supper need only be held once each year during Passover. They feel that Holy Communion is mere outward religious form and symbolic ritual, thus Christians do not need to observe it (cf. Gal 4:10–11). However, the Lord’s supper is commanded by the Lord for his remembrance, and by it we have spiritual communion with the Lord. It can be held often till Jesus comes again (1 Cor 11:26).

2.        Disputes over the time of holding the Holy Communion are unnecessary. Although the Lord was betrayed and took the last supper during the night, he was crucified in the daytime. We need not set a fixed date, e.g. Passover, or time, e.g. nights only, for this sacrament.

B.     Sacrament Materials in Holy Communion

1.        Unleavened Bread

In the Old Testament, no leaven was allowed in the feast of the Passover. Therefore, the Lord undoubtedly used unleavened bread during the last supper (cf. Lev 23:4–6). Additionally, according to the Bible, leaven represents evil and corruption (1 Cor 5:7–8; cf. Mt 16:5–12). Thus, we must take care not to mix leaven in with the bread.

2.        One Bread

The body of the Lord is only one. No matter how many members are in the congregation, only one bread is to be used. The one bread is broken and distributed according to the number of partakers (1 Cor 10:16–17; Eph 4:4).

3.        Grape Juice

Wine is fermented and it cannot represent the innocent blood of the sinless Lord. While wine is often employed as a symbol of enjoyment and bounty (cf. Isa 25:6; Jn 2:1–11), it was prohibited to God’s workers because of its effect in dulling one’s senses in one’s drunkenness (cf. Lev 10:8, 9; Ezek 44:2; Prov 20:1, 23:29–31). As stated above, leaven was not allowed during the Passover. “Leaven” usually refers to highly fermented dough, but “leaven” was also used in reference to the lees in a bottle of wine, i.e., the sediment on the bottom of a container of wine. Therefore, in the sacrament of Holy Communion it is not appropriate to use wine. Had the Lord meant “wine” and not “fruit of the vine,” he could have easily specified “wine” by saying so. Therefore, the cup of the Lord consisted of the “fruit of the vine,” namely grape juice, which was unfermented by the lees or leaven (Mt 26:29; Mk 14:25).

C.     The Administrator

1.        The Holy Communion sacrament is administered, in principle, by elders, deacons, or preachers, i.e., by the workers sanctified to God (Ex 30:30).

2.        The sacrament is performed in the name of the Lord Jesus, because the Lord is Lord of Holy Communion and will be in the midst of those who gather in his name (Mt 18:20). The church with the Holy  Spirit’s abidance is the kingdom of God, and Jesus will commune with the church ever anew in the place where God rules and lives, namely the Father’s kingdom (Mt 26:29).

3.        After the preaching and remembrance of Jesus before Holy Communion, the sacred worker in charge of the sacrament should give thanks and bless the bread with a prayer of understanding in Jesus’ name. Afterward, the sacred worker should then break the one unleavened bread with his hands for distribution to the congregation (Mt 26:26). After this is done, the sacred worker should consecrate the cup similarly to the consecration of the bread, and then distribute the “cup,” which may be poured into little cups for convenience to the congregation (Mt 26:27).

D.     Self-Preparation and Attitude Before Partaking in Holy Communion

1.        Be prepared and holy.

A week or two prior to the date of the Holy Communion, the congregation is to be informed in advance. This gives them time to self-examine and prepare themselves mentally and spiritually. Thus, the partakers should sanctify and ready themselves—to purge out the old leaven in their life (1 Cor 5:6–8, 10:18–21, 11:27–28).

2.        Discern the significance and value of the Lord’s body and blood.

Through the Lord’s promise, the bread and cup become the Lord’s flesh and blood after they are consecrated. Thus, the partaker must distinguish the Holy Communion from an ordinary eating meal, lest God execute judgment on those who treat his body and blood lightly (1 Cor 11:29–30).

3.        The

Proper Place
/Time in Partaking the Holy Communion.

The congregation should respectfully and quietly meditate on the Lord’s love when partaking the Lord’s supper—waiting patiently for the bread and cup. The whole process should be done orderly and within the sacrament premises, usually the church premises. Never take either the bread or grape juice outside of the sacrament premises—the sacrament elements must be taken at one place (1 Cor 10:16–17, 11:33; cf. Ex 12:46). Do not leave the elements till the next morning (cf. Ex 12:10). Thus, the general principle is the congregation should partake in one place at “one sitting,” i.e., not leaving the sacrament elements until morning.

4.        Those who are not baptized should not partake in Holy Communion. Additionally, believers who have committed any mortal sins must not partake in the sacrament (cf. Ex 12:42, 45; Ezra 2:62–63; 1 Cor 11:27–30).

E.     Christian Life After Partaking in Holy Communion

1.        We must begin to live for the Lord Jesus, because he died for us (Rom 14:7–8; 2 Cor 5:14–15).

2.        We must lead a sanctified and holy life, i.e., an “unleavened” life. Just as recorded in the Old Testament, God’s chosen kept the feast of unleavened bread after the Passover (Ex 12:15–20; 1 Cor 5:6–13).

3.        We should love one another and learn the lesson of unity—not only with the Lord but also with the brothers and sisters in Christ. The lesson of unity in Jesus Christ must be learned in order to form a unified church body—represented by the one unleavened bread used in Holy Communion (1 Cor 10:17; 12:12–27).

4.        After each Holy Communion, we should be reminded to look forward to the second coming of our Lord, as well as our
ultimate resurrection and return to our heavenly home on the last day (Jn 6:54; 1 Cor 11:26; Rev 19:7–9).

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