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Can We Talk About The Lord’s Supper?
I ask us to reexamine our traditions concerning the Lord’s Supper.


When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we anticipate the pledge of future glory, The words of Paul in 1 Corinthians are,

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

“ … Till He come”. Inherent in this memorial is the anticipation of His imminent return to gather us to Himself to be where He is. Then we shall see Him as He is and be transformed to be like Him. We shall become glorified just as He is glorified. This is His promise, our blessed Hope, our completed redemption. Truly we celebrate this Pledge in the memorial feast.

Jesus Himself said the same when He instituted this memorial,

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. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. (Matthew 26:27-29)

“… Until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Jesus prayed for us, that we might be with Him where He is in glory,

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:20-24)

Jesus told the disciples to take comfort that He was preparing a place for them,

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

This is called our lively hope by Peter,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3)

Paul called this our blessed hope,

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:11-13)

John tells us that when Jesus shall come again that we will be transformed. This hope, which God works within us, urges us to work out our salvation (see Romans 10:17), and seek to be holy as God is holy,

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

After Jesus had died on the cross, had been buried, and then raised from the dead, He ministered to His disciples upon the earth until He ascended bodily into Heaven. Many stood in amazement at the sight until Angels spoke to them, in the Book of Acts we read of these angels:

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)

Jesus spoke of the imminence of His return,

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 5:13)

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. (Matthew 24:42)

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. (Mark 13:24-27)

Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. (Mark 13:31-37)

Paul faithfully taught the same thing,

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2)

Peter also taught this,

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us‑ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. (2 Peter 3:8-14)

Paul gives comfort as well as warning about this day. He teaches us that God has a purpose in our anticipation of the Lord’s return. God’s purpose is this:

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)

Then Paul gives us more detail about that day which we anticipate:

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)

This is our predestination, to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Predestination is not the same thing as election. And it is not like the pagan idea of a fate. It is a purpose, or plan, or result God has for us. In this case it is that we will end up being like Jesus. Paul says it in Romans,

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28-29)

Throughout the entire New Testament Scriptures the consistent teaching is that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back to earth to gather up all who have believed on Him for salvation. And the consistent teaching is that none of us know when that will happen. But it will happen suddenly so we must anticipate it and be always prepared. When we see Him we will be transformed, glorified, take on His likeness in immortality. That is our blessed hope. It is a part of the mystery of the faith. It is a part of what Paul called the mystery of godliness,

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)

If we believe that Jesus has been received up into glory, we also believe that He is returning for us. His return is called imminent, meaning it could be at any time, and that our lives should be conditioned by His imminent return. His return is our blessed hope. The Lord intends that hope to be formative in our lives, this is one of the ways that, as Paul wrote, God is working within us to change us. Here is the passage:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper this hope is implicit because we proclaim Jesus’ death, and if we proclaim His death we also proclaim the forgiveness of sins, and we proclaim His return because we do this “… until He come.” The Lord’s Supper is a part of God’s “determinate counsel and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23) in which He has purposed the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our redemption in Him, and that we should be His inheritance, and that we should be with Him in glory. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial that leads us to remember all things concerning Jesus, and in remembrance of these things we remember that we anticipate His return. It is an act of worship, giving Jesus the preeminence this way. It is also a reminder to us, and thus also an encouragement to us to live these things so that when we say “Amen, these things are true.”, our Amens may be actually true also. For this reason we say that the Lord’s Supper is God’s work and that we should prefer nothing to it.

©FH 2012

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