THE COMMUNION

(Acts 20:7.) 

JESUS the Christ is the center of the entire Christian 
system. Everything previous to Christ pointed for- 
ward to Him in type and prophecy. Everything since 
Christ points back to Him. 

The ordinance of baptism is placed at the entrance 
of the kingdom to show forth His death, burial and 
resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12). We observe 
the first day of the week in memory of His resurrec- 
tion (Mark 16:9; Acts 20:7). In the same manner 
as we celebrate the Fourth of July in memory of the 
independence of the United States, so we keep the 
first day of the week, or the Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10), 
in honor of the resurrection of our Saviour. We ob- 
serve the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week 
to show forth his death and suffering until He comes 
again (1 Cor. 11:26). It is an ordinance placed 
within the kingdom to test the loyalty of the con- 
verted (Heb. 10:25). In this sermon we desire to 
give particular attention to the teachings of Christ and 
the apostles regarding this institution. 

1. What is the significance of the institution? 

a. It has a symbolical meaning. Jesus said, "This 
is my body," and again, "This is my blood" (Matt. 
26:26-29). Is this statement to be accepted as literal 
or symbolical? 

Jesus is the greatest teacher the world has ever 
known. His greatness is founded upon His very sim- 
plicity. By every-day illustrations, He taught deep 
and profound truth. He compared the kingdom to a 
field (Matt. 13:1-30), saying: "The seed is the word 
of God" (Luke 8:11). He said, "I am the way," 
and again, "I am the door" (John 14:6; 10:9). He 
said to Peter: "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Matt. 
16:23). He said: "I am the vine and ye are the 
branches" (John 15:5). None of these statements are 
to be accepted literally, but figuratively instead. 

The Jews, even the apostles, could not comprehend 
the spiritual truths which He uttered. When He said 
to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he can- 
not see the Mngdom of God," the latter did not under- 
stand what He meant (John 3:3-5). The Jews were 
looking for Him to establish an earthly kingdom that 
would free them from Roman supremacy, and rival 
the glory of the ancient kingdom of Solomon (Matt. 
18:1-4; Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6). The apostles even 
contended among themselves as to which of them 
would be greatest in this kingdom (Luke 22 : 24) . 
And when He tried to show them that this kingdom 
would be spiritual, instead of material, they could not 
comprehend (Luke 17:20, 21; John 18:36). "When 
He spoke to them of His resurrection, they thought 
He was speaking of the temple at Jerusalem (John 
2:19-21). Many of them turned back and walked 
with Him no more, when He tried to turn their atten- 
tion from loaves and fishes to "the bread of life" 
(John 6:26-66). 

When Jesus said to His disciples, "This is my 
body," and "This is my blood'' He spoke figuratively 
— not literally. The bread symbolizes His body, and 
the wine symbolizes His blood. This was at the insti- 
tution of the Lord's Supper (Matt. 26:26-29). At 
the same time He said He would not drink the fruit 
of the vine with them until that day in which He 
would drink it anew with them in the kingdom. To 
what did He refer? The kingdom came with power on 
Pentecost (Mark 9:1; Acts 2: 1-4). On that day, and 
the days following, the apostles and early Christians 
"continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread " 
(Acts 2:42). This had reference to the Lord's Sup- 
per, in which He drank anew with them in the 
Father's kingdom. We know that they did not drink 
with Him literally, but in spirit. And to-day we do 
not eat the literal body and drink the literal blood of 
Christ, but we partake of the loaf and wine, which 
symbolize that body and that blood; and in so doing 
we eat and drink with Him in spirit. 

b. It is a positive representation of the one body. 
There were twelve loaves of shewbread, one for each 
of the twelve tribes of Israel; but there is only one 
loaf in the Lord's Supper, symbolizing the one body 
of Christ. The one loaf is a silent, convincing sermon 
on Christian unity. It is a constant reminder that 
Jesus Christ established only one body, or church. 
Jesus said there would be one fold and one shepherd 
(John 10:16). The Master prayed for the unity of 
Christians (John 17:20, 21), in order that the world 
may be convinced that He is the Son of God. Paul 
condemns division and partyism (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:2- 
5). He shows that sectarianism is an evidence of 
carnality. The church is the body of Christ (Col. 
1:18). There is but one body; consequently but one 
true church, Christ's church (Matt. 16:18). This 
unity is expressed in Eph. 4 : 4-6. The one loaf repre- 
sents the one body of Christ. 

There is distinction between union and unity. 
Prior to the Civil War, the States of this nation were 
joined together in a union, or federation; but there 
was little unity in the nation until the problem of 
State sovereignty was settled forever. We plead for 
the unity of Christians, that they may all be one, 
as Christ and the Father are one (John 17:21). Such 
a relationship could not exist in a union, or federation, 
of all denominations, in which each denomination 
would retain its identity. This must be a relationship 
that would tear down denominational walls, submerge 
all partyism in Christ, and merge all disciples of 
Christ into the one body, with no name but the name 
of Christ, no authority but the revealed will of Christ, 
no creed but personal belief in the divinity of Christ: 
making them one in faith, purpose and practice, even 
as He and the Father are one. And the one loaf is 
a silent, convincing plea for the organic unity of the 
one body of Christ. 

2. How often should the institution be observed? 

a. From type. The table of shewbread of the old 
tabernacle is a type of the communion service of the 
church. The shewbread was set in order on each Sab- 
bath. But the Sabbath, which commemorated the de- 
liverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage (Deut. 
5: 15), is a type of the Lord's Day, or the resurrection 
day of Jesus, in which the world was delivered from 
the bondage of sin (Col. 2:16, 17). It follows, there- 
fore, that the Lord's Supper should be set in order 
on each first day of the week (Acts 20: 7). 

b. From apostolic precedent (Acts 20:7). Here 
we have the precedent set by the early churches. The 
first Christians came together upon the first day of 
the week to break bread, after which they listened 
to the preaching of the gospel. The breaking of bread 
was the primary reason for their coming together, and 
the sermon was the secondary matter. The worship 
of the primitive church centered in and around the 
communion service, all other matters having been sec- 
ondary in importance ; and so should it be to-day. The 
primary purpose for our assembling together on the 
first day of the week is not the school, nor the song 
service, nor the sermon, but the communion of the 
body and blood of our Lord. 

We keep the first day of the week in honor of His 
resurrection (Mark 16:9). All of His appearances, 
during the interval between His resurrection and ascen- 
sion, were on the first day of the week. The Spirit 
descended and the church was established on the first 
day of the week (Acts 2). The early Christians met 
for worship, consisting of the Lord's Supper, the 
offering and the exhortation, upon the first day of 
the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). This is the great 
memorial day of the Christian world — the Lord's Day 
(Rev. 1:10). 

"Will not the frequency of observing the institution 
destroy its solemnity? Not in the least. We might 
as well argue that the frequency of prayer and medi- 
tation would destroy their helpfulness. The regular 
observance of the Lord's Day becomes necessary to the 
spiritual fervor of the Christian. The church at Cor- 
inth had desecrated the communion (1 Cor. 11:17- 
29), for which reason they had become spiritually 
sick (1 Cor. 11:30). Those who neglect the assem- 
bling of themselves together, in all churches of Christ, 
are those who are spiritually weak (Heb. 10: 25). The 
faithful observance of the Lord's Supper is necessary 
to keep kindled the fires of devotion. It is made a 
positive prerequisite of ultimate salvation (John 6: 
53, 54). 

3. Who should participate in the observance of the 
institution? 

Only those who are in Christ (Acts 2:41, 42). 
Only those who are in the kingdom (Matt. 26:29). 
God gave His Son to die freely for all (John 3:16, 
17), but only those who accept the gift, by complying 
with the terms of pardon (Acts 2:38), can enjoy the 
benefits of the gift (Heb. 5:9). Christianity is an 
individual matter. Salvation is an individual matter 
The call is to the world, but "whosoever will may 
come" (Rev. 22:17). So the communion is an indi- 
vidual act of worship. Each Christian must partake 
for himself, thereby communing with Christ. Chris- 
tians do not commune with each other; but each Chris- 
tian must examine himself, as he communes with 
Christ (1 Cor. 10:16; 11:28). However, it is the 
Lord's table; and, being such, no human being has the 
power to invite nor debar. Neither do we have any 
right to judge as to the fitness of others (1 Cor. 11: 
29-32). 

4. What is the purpose of the institution? (1 Cor. 
11:26.) 

a. Retrospective: to show forth the Lord's death. 
As the loaf is broken, the Christian sees in his mind 
the vision of the cross, of the body broken and the 
blood shed for his redemption. We celebrate the birth- 
days of great men in the social and political world; 
but this is the only instance in which the death of an 
individual is remembered regularly and in due form. 
However, the Christian system depended upon the 
shedding of the blood of Christ, and His resurrection 
from the dead. Everything under the old pointed 
forward in type to the great transactions of the cross; 
and everything under the new points back to them. 
So we observe the memorial of His death, because it 
opened up the way of reconciliation, offered salvation 
to a lost world, and laid the foundation for our bright- 
est hopes in this world and the world to come (Eph. 
1:7; Heb. 2:9-15; 9:12-22). 

b. Prospective: to show forth the Lord's death until 
He comes again. Many statements are to be found in 
the New Testament pointing forward to the return of 
our Lord (John 5:28, 29; 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; 1 
Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; 2 Pet. 3:4-10). The 
Lord's Supper is a constant reminder of the fact that 
our Lord has promised to return at the time of the 
restitution of all things (Acts 4:19-21). 

The spirituality of a congregation can be measured 
by its fidelity to this institution of our King. We 
are making a great mistake in not training our chil- 
dren to realize the significance and importance of the 
ordinance. May we awaken to our responsibility along 
this line!