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

A Fresh Look

Rethinking is an ongoing process. Truth doesn’t change, the Scriptures are not added to, but we, both as the Church and as individual believers, continue to learn. Learning and new insights bring changes. Worship is an area undergoing experimentation and change today, that makes a reexamination of the Lord’s Supper a timely endeavor. Jesus said that He would build His Church (Matthew 16:18). He has given us a role in the building of it also, so well explained in Ephesians 4:1-16 (but notice in particular verses 11-13) it isn’t finished yet, it is still being built.

Even a quick reading of the New Testament shows the Church growing, and that means a clarification and deepening of the faith. Peter had to be convinced to bring the Gospel message to the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, a gentile. The account in Acts Chapter 10 shows the struggle to convince Peter that that was the right thing to do. And afterwards, Peter justified what he had done to the other disciples who questioned it, apparently with no little contention. Read Acts 10:45 through 11:18, which will tell the facts. This clearly is the dawning of a new understanding for the young Church. Neither Scriptures nor truth had changed, but their understanding did.

Witness Paul’s statement that the mystery of the inclusion of the Gentiles was given to him to declare,

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: (Ephesians 3:1-6)

And note also that Paul went up to Jerusalem to confer with the other Apostles about his work,

Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. (Galatians 2:1-2)

The Church also needed to defend against errors that rose up. Paul in Galatians, Jude in his Epistle, and John in his First Epistle, address false gospels, legalism, the deity of Christ, the attempts to bring in pagan religious ideas, and philosophy such as gnosticism. After the original generation passed, some of these issues continued to need attention, and other issues were clarified. Two such were, again, the deity of Christ, and the idea of the Trinity, which speaks to the unity of God in three persons.

Much later in history we have the Reformation. Prior to the Reformation, from the Middle Ages onward, aside from short homilies for the most part, Scripture knowledge was the exclusive possession of the educated elites. During the Reformation, the expository preaching of the Scriptures in the language of the common people was recovered. This was a lasting revolutionary change that brought great changes. And, don’t forget the great struggles to make the Bible available in every language. One effect of this change was the invention of Sunday School to teach the common people to read so they could read their Bibles.

Consider also how new understandings of old truths have changed the world. Just one example is how Christians became aware that slavery was an evil that must be corrected. That took many centuries to finally come to fruition.

So we can see that each generation has both questions and errors that arise. These offer the opportunity to clarify and deepen our understanding of the faith, and contribute to the building of the Church. This study asks that we take a fresh look at the value and place of the Lord’s Supper. A fresh look can yield the reward of a rich harvest from the seeds of great truths planted by the Lord in the Scriptures, and watered by previous generations of Christians. Will you take a fresh look?

©FH 2012

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