Communion - required or optional?



Question: “Is communion, the Lords Supper, still a Biblical requirement or is it optional?”



Bible Answers

Communion is the celebration and remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the love of the Father who sent Jesus to pay our penalty and save us.  The accounts of the Lord’s Supper are found in the Gospels (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:7-22; and John 13:21-30). The apostle Paul wrote concerning the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29.


The Passover, which annually required the death of a lamb, was replaced by the coming of the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world. The New Covenant (Agreement) replaced the Old Covenant when Christ, the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), was sacrificed (Hebrews 8:8-13). The old sacrificial system was no longer needed (Hebrews 9:25-28). The Lord’s Supper/Communion is a remembrance of what Christ did for us on the cross; a celebration of what we received, and of our future hopes.


In all Biblical covenants, three elements are required. Each of these are symbolized in the elements of the Lord's Supper.  There had to be 1) a body that was to be sacrificed, 2) the death of the sacrificed body, and 3) the shed blood of the sacrifice that made the covenant or agreement binding. Without the body, the death, and the blood, there could be no covenant.


The Steps of Communion

1. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (1 Cor. 11:27-30).


Communion is a time of expressing the confession of our sins and receiving Christ’s forgiveness.  A time of renewing our faith and walk with Christ.  Paul says we are not to partake of communion in an unworthy manner.


If we have sin, unforgiveness, faithlessness, and disobedient in our life, then we bring disgrace on what Christ did for us on the cross.  We need to take time to humbly recognize what Christ bought for us through His body on the cross. Before taking Communion, examine yourself to be sure that you are not entering in an unworthy manner.


Thanksgiving

2.  While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks… (Matthew 26:26a).  Like Jesus, we should start Communion with thanksgiving.


Bread

3.   While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26).


…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness…by whose stripes you were healed (1 Peter 2:24).


His body, symbolized by the bread, delivers us from sin by paying our punishment, so that we can live for Him. This scripture speaks of being set free from sin, not just being forgiven for sin.  Jesus bore our sins in His body, on the cross so that we 1) have been set free from sin, 2) are made righteous in Him, 3) and are healed both spiritually and physically. These are the primary meanings for the bread.


And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16).


When we partake of the bread, we are showing that our Lord gave His body freely as the sacrifice necessary to establish the New Covenant. The New Covenant could only happen by His death.  It was the sacrifice of our Lord's body that brought us into covenant with God.


The eating of the bread is symbolically eating His body, we are recognizing that we have been bought by the sacrifice of Jesus and are accepting the Lord’s will, righteousness, and love.


…whoever feeds on this bread will live forever [spiritually] (John 6:58).


Blood

4.  Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:27-28).  


The cup of the Lord’s Supper represents the blood of Jesus shed for the forgiveness of our sins. We are remembering and celebrating that our sins are forgiven. We are recognizing that apart from Christ, we stand guilty and will pay the penalty for our sins.


…in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14).


In this scripture, we see that redemption and the forgiveness of sins were won through the blood of Jesus. The purpose of forgiveness of sins is that we can have eternal life with God. The precious blood of the new covenant washes and cleanses us of our sins, and when our sins are forgiven and washed away, they are also forgotten by God, as if they never occurred.


It is through the new covenant that we are able to celebrate the victory with Jesus.  It is the victory that brought us access to God, forgiveness of sins, a clean conscience, sanctification, righteousness, healing (of our soul, body, and our spirit), and power over the devil and all of his demons.


What is the difference between Christ’s body and His blood

In short, Christ paid the price, the penalty, for our sins with the sacrifice of His body.  Providing us both spiritual and physical healing, removing our sins.  His blood confirmed the new covenant, the agreement between mankind and God, and His blood confirms the forgiveness and washing away of our sins and a new righteousness with Christ.


What did Jesus say about Communion

Very, verily, I say unto you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whosoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life (John 6:53-54). Symbolized by His body and blood.


Should wine or grape juice be used for communion

Wine diluted with water to an alcohol level of 2.5% to 3% was the common drink of the day two thousand years ago, and was clearly used by most in the Bible.  However, whether wine or grape juice is used during communion is not important, as the real consideration is what the liquid in the communion cup represents—the shed blood of our Lord and Savior establishing the New Covenant.


How often should Communion be observed

While the Bible gives no indication of how frequently Communion should be taken, we do want to frequently remember and celebrate Jesus’ loving act on our behalf.


Communion should be a time of great appreciation of the precious gift we have received. We should receive it with great gratitude as an expression of thanksgiving and remembrance of just what Jesus accomplished on the cross for His children.  


As we partake of communion, the new covenant that saved us from the penalty of our sins, let us worship the Lord from our heart in all praise and thanksgiving.  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Cor. 11:26).  


Warning

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves (1 Corinthians 11:27).


The Lord's Supper may be taken unworthily, when it is partaken by an unworthy person. This can occur when an unregenerate person partakes, for they have no spiritual life in them, and cannot discern the Lord's body.  Then you have Christians who approach the Lord’s celebration with unconfessed sins in their life that separates them from God. Lastly, you have Christians, who are  holy and clean, but partake of the Lord’s Supper with no consideration of the meaning and sanctity that the body and blood symbolizes.


Summary

Communion is a holy celebration of thanksgiving that the creator of heaven and earth voluntarily gave His body in love for us as payment for our sins.  The new covenant created by the spilling of His blood cleanses us, makes us righteous, and makes us one with Him for eternity.



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