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

Vocation of the Eternal

Worship is our vocation, We are called to worship by the Lord. This is a theme that permeates the Bible, and it is stated explicitly by the Lord Himself in John Chapter Four. Worship is an eternal occupation. A vocation is a calling to some occupation. It is common to hear, or say, that God has called someone to a ministry.

God has called all of us to worship Himself. In Proverbs Chapter Two there is a passage that might seem strange to us, we’re called to kiss the son. The idea in ancient times was to show respect and affection for the darling child of your lord. To not do this was to risk that lord’s wrath. Picture a king and his son, then picture courtiers and subjects honoring this king’s child, the apple of his eye. They come to the child and offer a kiss, a blessing, a gift. It is a sign of submission to the King. What everyone is doing is adoring the child. Adoration is a form of worship. Then picture someone showing disrespect to this child, refusing it a kiss. Just think how angry the king would be. Here is the passage:

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalms 2:1-12)

Jesus is the anointed of the Father. That is the literal meaning of Messiah, which is Hebrew, and in Greek it is Christ. Jesus is God’s only begotten son. God has declared Thou art my Son. Jesus is the apple of His Father’s eye, His darling, His beloved. And we are told, Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. And then: Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Kiss the son! Adore Him! Worship him! This is our calling from God.

To kiss the son is worship, pure and simple. It is worship given to the Father by worshiping the Son. This is our calling, our vocation. We don’t worship, or kiss the Son because we fear condemnation, we worship, we kiss the Son because we know His saving love for us. We remember that He loved us first, and we respond to His love (1 John 3:16; 4:9-11).

But there are those who refuse to worship the Son. In the last judgement, for them, there will be a rod of iron that will force worship from them:

And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (Revelation 19:15)

And if there are any doubts, we read this from Paul who is quoting Isaiah:

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. (Romans 14:11)

And again in Philippians:

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

The verse Paul is quoting from Isaiah is this:

I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:23)

God has sworn by Himself. That is so powerful a thing to say that it leaves us totally amazed in awe at it. To swear is a fearsome thing, to forswear is a fearsome thing. Jesus warned us not to swear by anything. Here God has sworn and He will not forswear Himself. This passage should fill us with holy dread. But we approach the throne of grace boldly because of His great, and proven, love for us (Hebrews 10:22; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:1-14; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Timothy 1:14-15; 1 John 4:14-19) .

There are many passages in Scriptures that speak to us about our call to worship God and His Son. For example in Isaiah:

And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 66:23)

So this verse has some very plain meaning for us. In the future, all of God’s people will gather unto Himself to worship at regular times—weekly and other, and this will be continually done in perpetuity.

Some other passages that tend to confirm this are found in Psalms. From Psalm 22:

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. (Psalms 22:27)

From Psalm 65:

To the chief Musician, A Psalm and Song of David. Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed. O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come. (Psalms 65:1-2)

These verses from Psalms speak of praise that waiteth, or is present for God’s satisfaction. It’s like saying something is ready for you whenever you want it, it’s there waiting for you. So we understand that praise, a part of worship, is being given, an ongoing activity. They also speak of Sion, by which we understand a symbolic reference to Heaven where God is. Or, simply, God’s presence. The third thing to note is that David said, all flesh rather than something like all the people. The people would likely refer to a particular people, especially Israel, Jews. But all flesh is an all inclusive phrase that would include gentiles as well. And it would include women and slaves and children, who in the Law had a very limited place that totally excluded them from priestly functions, unlike our place as the redeemed of God now and in Heaven.

From Psalm 86:

All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. (Psalms 86:9)

Isaiah, already mentioned, has a prophetic statement that asserts a future gathering for worship of God in His presence. In Isaiah this is declared by God:

I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:23)

As was said, Paul quotes it in Romans:

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:11-12)

From Revelation in chapter 7:

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; (Revelation 7:9)

And what are they doing? Worship! Revelations chapter 11:

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, (Revelation 11:15-16

This is an eschatological passage in which two simple facts stand out:

Worship on earth will include the gentiles The following prophecy is considered by many to tell about the Church:

For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 1:11)

This passage probably sums things up pretty well:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

Jesus makes it certain that God is looking for worship from His people. This passage is from John’s Gospel Chapter Four:

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:2-24)

Another inference of eternal worship is found in John 10:16, speaking of one flock and one Shepherd. We read,

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16)

If one reads the context, worship is not explicitly mentioned. I arrive at that conclusion this way: Jesus prophetically says all His people shall become one. We know this from what Paul wrote,

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:28-29)

At a minimum we see that all will be one in Jesus, that is we shall all have Him as our Lord. This means we shall all become like Him. This means the same salvation. This means we will all have the same Spirit. This means we will all be as one in submission and humility to Him. This means we will all give praise and thanksgiving to Him. These things are the sum and substance of worship. So therefore as all His sheep are gathered into His one fold, and where He is, as shepherd, and Lord, we shall, all of us, worship Him. Our Father seeks this from us! Think of the scene of the Grand Doxology in Heaven which we glimpsed in the Book of Revelations.

John 17:20-24: Jesus made requests of His Father. He asked that we may be one in the Father and the Son.

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’ request that we all may be one is coupled with His request that we should be with Him where He is, and that we may also behold His glory which He shares with the Father. Where is He but in Heaven, both subject and object of the Grand Doxology, which continues without end. Throughout Scriptures every account of a personal encounter with God, either in a vision or veiled, shows that our immediate response is to shachah, to fall down on our faces in worship. This is worship, pure, simple, complete, involuntary. We are overwhelmed by Him. He said to Moses,

… Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. (Exodus 33:20)

No flesh may see Him, but Jesus, the Son, has revealed Him,

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Jesus said it this way,

Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? (John 14:8-9)

And what happened when His disciples saw Him in glory? On the mount of transfiguration, Matthew 17:1-9,

While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. (Matthew 17:5-6)

Peter, James, and John—fell on their faces and were terrified. John on the Isle of Patmos saw Jesus in a vision, John said,

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. (Revelation 1:17a)

What will happen to us when we see Him? If we are His, this will happen:

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."
(1 John 3:2)

From worship to transformation, how does this relate? We shall be like Him, what does that mean? What is He like? This is what He is like:

Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:28-29)

Jesus always did those things that please him (the Father). This is obedience and submission to the Father. Those things are the heart of spiritual and true worship, which is what the Father seeks. Therefore since we shall be like Him, we shall be worshiping Him, in spirit and in truth.

We conclude from these passages that worship is our eternal occupation, an eternal vocation by God. A.P. Gibbs wrote that worship is the occupation of eternity. He based this in part upon Chapters Four and Five in the book of Revelations. There we read about worship in Heaven, an eternal not temporal setting where we understand the Grand Doxology to continue without end.

That worship is the occupation of eternity is also suggested by that passage of John’s Gospel, chapter 4, where Jesus speaks of worship. He says the Father seeks worshipers. This is the verse,

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (John 4:23)

Gibbs says of this passage,

The High and Lofty One, Who inhabits eternity not only condescends to notice a humble believer, but actually desires his sincere worship and seeks it from him! It would be incredible, but for the fact that His own beloved Son stated it in words that cannot possibly be misunderstood. This statement (what Jesus said) should be sufficient to prove to every believer the importance of worship.

It is with this sense of worship as eternal occupation that a Catholic, spoke of the eternal vocation of worship in the celebration of the Mass. A word to Protestants is necessary first because the Catholic Mass is a controversial topic. In short, the Mass is essentially worship of the Lord Jesus Christ centered in the Sacrifice of the Eucharist. Official Catholic doctrine is that Christ is not being recrucified, but that His sacrifice, in the literal form of His body and His blood, is being made available to communicants for salvific grace. This is believed to fulfill what He said in John Chapter Six, believed by Catholics to be a literal statement that comports with the typology of sacrifice in the Old Testament (see especially for example the Passover instructions). The concepts are subtle, but the distinction is absolute, there is no confusion in Roman Catholic theology between Christ’s bloody sacrifice on the cross and the unbloody presence of that same sacrifice in the Eucharist. Catholic doctrine acknowledges the import of passages such as those in Hebrews

Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:27)

And ...

Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:25-28)

In a nutshell, Roman Catholics believe what these Scriptures say is true. And they say that they do not re-crucify Christ. This has been a long introduction for one quote from a Catholic, but I am seeking for a charitable hearing from Protestants on this. Here then is the quote from John Henry Cardinal Newman,

Nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Mass forever, and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words; it is a great action. The greatest action that can be on earth. It is ... the vocation of the eternal."—written by John Henry Cardinal Newman

I am not a Roman Catholic. I do not hold to their doctrines concerning the Eucharist. Nor am I justifying them. But I believe, that with a correct understanding of the Mass, we can look at Cardinal Newman’s statement with deeper appreciation for the sentiment expressed. Although, even with that understanding, as Protestants we can not agree with what he said about the Mass. We have to say that it is not the Mass, it is not the Eucharist that is the greatest action we can do upon earth as Roman Catholics believe. Rather it is the worship, in spirit and in truth, of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself that is the greatest action, and further, it is our eternal vocation. I rephrase Cardinal Newman’s quote this way,

Nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, done as it is among us. I could worship forever, and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words; it is a great action. The greatest action that can be on earth. It is ... the vocation of the eternal.

And so it is, worship is our Heavenly calling, our eternal vocation. Whether from Isaiah, John chapter 4, or the book of Revelation, we find that worship is our highest calling. And our worship here on earth anticipates that calling. But we should know that worship is more than congregational praise, it is a life lived, both learning and and having learned, in conformity to our Lord. We may call Him Lord, but then we must also do the things He says. And this is true worship, our reasonable service. The Greek language here speaks in the sense of religious activity, of worship Paul wrote:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

Thus we become occupied with our eternal vocation to be worshipers in spirit and in truth.

We have spoken about worship because we have the purpose of talking about the Lord’s Supper. When we talk about the Lord’s Supper we should also talk about worship because the Lord’s Supper exists within the context of worship. And, when we talk about worship we should also talk about the Lord’s Supper because it directs our worship. With this we now turn to the Lord’s Supper itself.

©FH 2012

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