The Lord’s Supper
What is the purpose of communion?
We hold that partaking of the Lord’s Supper is an essential act of obedience and worship that carries with it all the blessings associated with glorifying Christ through faithful adherence to His commands.
Remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and all that entails (1 Cor 11:24-26)
Christ’s death on the cross, viewed as a total event including His burial and resurrection, accomplished all that was necessary for our eternal salvation (2 Cor 5:21, 1 Cor 1:30). It is the grounds of our justification, propitiation, reconciliation, redemption, forgiveness, sanctification, and glorification. The Lord’s Supper is an act of worship in which we remember and rejoice in the complete provision Christ has made for us.
Proclamation of the New Covenant nature of our relationship to God (1 Cor 11:25)
At the last supper, Christ proclaimed that his blood initiated the new covenant for all those who put faith and trust in Him alone (Matt 26:28). The New Covenant nature of our salvation is evident in that Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice has swept away the need for the sacrifices of the Old Covenant and removed the condemning force of the law for the believer. The Law has been fulfilled and Christ and the Holy Spirit now dwell in our hearts (John 14:14-21, Romans 8:10, Gal 4:6, Col 1:27). The Lord’s Supper is an act of worship in which we proclaim that Christ has clothed us with His righteousness, written His law upon our hearts, and empowered us for faithful obedience.
Anticipation of Christ’s Second Coming (1 Cor 11:26)
The Lord’s Supper is not only a remembrance of what Christ has done, but also looks forward to what He will accomplish at His Second Coming. We worship at the Lord’s Supper as we are reminded that, although Christ’s work in redemption is finished, the plan of God continues to be worked out through His church until He comes to rule and reign (Heb 9:28, Rev 19:11-17).
Opportunity to examine our lives and repent of sin we find revealed through His Word (1 Cor 11:27-32)
The Lord’s Supper is an opportunity to examine our lives and repent of sin in the light of Scripture. This examination includes an evaluation of the extent to which we are conforming to Christ’s image and a commitment to remove the barriers of sin that are hindering our growth. The Lord’s Supper is an act of worship in which we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and acknowledge how far we have fallen short while yet trusting the provision of Christ for the forgiveness of our sin.
Requirements for Participation in the Lord’s Supper
Four Criteria for Participation
The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Christ for the edification of the body of believers and as an act of worshipful obedience for those who enjoy intimate fellowship with Jesus. Thus the following criteria are appropriate when considering who may participate in communion.
Only those who have repented of their sins by putting faith and trust in Christ alone are eligible for participation in the Lord’s Supper. All unbelievers make a mockery of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross by refusing to acknowledge its infinite value (Heb 10:29).
As baptism is a command of the Lord Jesus Himself and the public means of proclaiming our union with Him, it is appropriate to limit communion to those who have followed Christ in obedience to this command (Matt 29:19-20, Acts 2:38).
- Not under discipline
Those who are under church discipline have chosen not to submit themselves to the authority of Christ through the local church and are therefore unable to participate in the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner (1 Cor 5:11-13).
- Have examined themselves
Unless a man has examined his life in light of Scripture and repented of the sin that the Holy Spirit has chosen to reveal, he will eat and drink judgment upon himself and upon the church. This examination includes the ability to understand the import of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the nature of the Lord’s Supper itself (1 Cor 11:28-33).
- True believers wrestling through the issue of believer’s baptism
Although we hold that believers baptism is a basic tenet of Scripture and a vital matter of obedience to the Lord Jesus, we also recognize that there are true believers who are unaware of this command or are wrestling though the issues involved in this important subject. In a desire to accommodate growth and learning in this area we have determined to welcome such believers to participate in the Lord’s Supper while urging them to follow the Lord in obedience through believers baptism (Rom 14:1-10).
- Believing children (as determined by parents) who are not deemed appropriate for baptism
We recognize that there may be children in our fellowship who are true believers, but whose parents feel that it is not appropriate for them to be baptized at this time. We welcome these children to participate with us in the Lord’s Supper. However, we urge parents to carefully communicate the meaning of the Lord’s Supper to their children and to sincerely evaluate whether their children are true believers who are capable of examining themselves. Since the Bible does not specify the age at which a child can be saved (the “age of accountability”) it is best to apply Biblical principles to help determine the salvation status of a child.
- They have heard the truth of the gospel presented in an understandable way (Rom 10:13-17)
- They profess to be trusting in Christ alone by faith alone (Eph 2:8-9, Rom 10:9-10)
- They profess the desire to follow Christ in obedience (Luke 9:23)
- Their parents testify to the fruit of repentance in their lives that is separate from simply being “well-behaved” (Eph 6:4, 2 Cor 7:10)
- Others have noticed fruit in their life which seems to be directly related to their personal commitment to Christ. (Matt 7:16-20)
Those who serve the Lord’s Supper
The Bible does not give any specifics on who should serve communion. However, the general church guidelines for men to take leadership in church affairs is sufficient to indicate that men, in good standing as members, should serve the Lord’s Supper (1 Tim 2:9-15, 1 Cor 11: 3-12, 1 Cor. 14:34-35).
How often we partake of the Lord’s Supper
The Bible does not speak to how often communion should be celebrated. The Scriptures state that “as often as you eat this bread . . .” indicating no specific time period.
It appears that the early church may have celebrated it weekly (Acts 2:42-47) or possibly daily. It is also certain that the remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection is certainly an important aspect of our faith (Heb 12:1-3, Col 3:1-4, Col 1:20) and so it seems that frequent celebration of communion is better than sparing.