The Preacher's Ponderings

An Argument for Holy Communion

    An “argument”, simply defined, is “a set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others.” In this article, I want to
present a scriptural argument for Christians to regularly participate in Holy Communion. In all of this, it is my goal to
encourage everyone to participate more at the Lord’s Table.

    There are three terms that we use interchangeably when talking about Holy Communion. I have already used two,
“Holy Communion” and “The Lord’s Table.” We also refer to Communion as “The Lord’s Supper.” In using these terms, I
mean one and the same act by them all. “The Last Supper” is sometimes used to speak of Communion, but should actually be
used only to refer to the Passover Meal Jesus had with His disciples when He instituted Holy Communion rather than
referring to our participation in Holy Communion so I will not use this term in this article.

    I believe an argument is needed because many folks seem to avoid taking Communion and skip those
Sundays when Communion is available. It has been my observation in more than thirty years of ministry that worship
times when Holy Communion is served frequently have the lowest attendance of all Sunday morning services. I have
pondered this matter and I have a couple of theories as to why.

    One is that Christians today do not fully understand the significance nor the need for receiving Communion. Another
is that Christians today seem to have a misunderstanding about taking Communion in an “unworthy manner," seeming to
think there is a prohibition in Scripture against taking Communion unless one has everything in his or her life in proper order
before coming to the Lord’s Table. I want address these two ideas here.

    Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 22 each contain details about Jesus’ taking bread and a cup and giving it to His
disciples for the first time. John refers to other details that took place after this. In addition, Paul records in 1 Corinthians
11 what the Lord revealed directly to him about Communion, and Paul writes there about proper attitudes regarding

    Let us first look at what Jesus did and what He said about Communion. In eating the Passover Meal with His
Disciples, Jesus took from that Ceremony bread and a cup of wine and repurposed them to represent what He was about
to do. He was establishing a New Covenant through His suffering and death. At that meal (The Last Supper) He gave
thanks and blessed the bread and the cup, separate from one another, and gave commandments to the disciples
about eating the Bread and drinking from the Cup. The wording in each of the four places I have shown is slightly different,
but, essentially – Jesus said
about the Bread, “Take, eat; this is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” and
about the Cup, “Drink from it, all of you. This Cup is the New Covenant in My blood, which is shed for you and for
many for the remission of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” We need to see several things in Jesus’ words.

    First we read His commandments about the Bread and the Cup. “Take, eat.” “Drink from it, all of you.” If we
understand that these are commandments the Lord makes regarding the Bread and cup, no Christian anywhere, if they
believe in Christ and are obedient to the Lord’s commandments, is truly exempt from taking Holy Communion. Jesus has
plainly TOLD US ALL to eat the Bread and to drink the Cup.

    He also has commanded ALL of His disciples, including you and me, to “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Consider
that to “re-member” a thing is to join it together again. This commandment TELLS US ALL that we are to re-member Jesus’
sacrifice in the act of Holy Communion. In Holy Communion, we exercise faith in Him through obeying His
commandments to eat and drink and thus re-connect ourselves to Him and to the benefits of His atoning sacrifice.

    Secondly, we read about the significance of eating the Bread. Jesus said of Himself, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he
who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the Bread of Life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness,and are
dead. This is the Bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living Bread which
came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever; and the Bread that I shall give is My flesh,
which I shall give for the life of the world.” John 6:47-51

    Jesus TELLS US ALL that if we wish to have eternal life, we must believe in Him. Believing in Him requires that we receive
the Bread, symbolically, through the act of Holy Communion. In Holy Communion, we receive the Lord’s gift of eternal

    Thirdly, there is the effect of our drinking the Cup. Jesus said of the Cup, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood,
which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins.” We need to understand that the Cup in Holy Communion IS
The Cup of the New Covenant. It is as we drink from it that we affirm our desire to participate in the New Covenant, and
we do actually participate in it by faith in what Holy Communion represents.

    Our participation in the Covenant of the Blood of Jesus Christ,in which we are forgiven of our sins and obtain release
from the power and control of our inborn nature of sin is not complete in our initial act of calling out to Christ for salvation.
Our participation in the Covenant of Christ’s Blood is ongoing, day by day, moment by moment, and we always are in
need of the Lord’s redeeming power which is in the Blood of His sacrifice. To refrain from participating or to refuse to
participate in the act of Holy Communion might be close to refraining from participating in the New Covenant at all.

    Fourthly, Paul comments in 1 Corinthians 11 on how important it is that we partake of Holy Communion. He says,
“For as often as you eat this Bread and drink this Cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” (vs. 26) Consider the
phrase “you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” The word "proclaim" can also be translated as “declare.” One
possible meaning for us in these words is that our act of participating in Holy Communion is actually our personal
declaration of our faith in the Lord that He has saved and will save us. Is this not what we believe? Then why should
we not make such a declaration? This is our witness and our testimony.

    Lastly, in looking at scripture, Paul exhorts the Corinthians in the same passage in 1 Corinthians 11 referenced
above as follows: “Therefore whoever eats this Bread or drinks this Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty
of the Body and Blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the Bread and drink of the Cup.
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
Twice in this passage, Paul writes about taking Holy Communion in an “unworthy manner.” And I cannot agree with
him more. We should not. But Paul IS NOT SAYING here that we should refrain from Holy Communion because we are
unworthy, or because we have sinned. Paul made this statement to the Corinthian Christians (and they were a confused lot)
because of their practice of excluding one another from fellowship in the Church. Read verses 17-22 and you will find the
background for what Paul means in the phrase “an unworthy manner."

    Apparently, the Corinthian church was cliquish, meaning that their church was filled with groups that would exclude
those who were not up to their standards. The Corinthian church was divided. It seems that some of the groups were
piggish, meaning that they would not share their food with others. It looks like some of them would gorge themselves with
their own food while leaving others to go hungry. Others would get drunk on the wine that they brought. Paul was trying
to correct the behavior of the Corinthian Christians in their lack of consideration for one another, for their self-
centeredness, and for their excluding even those who were supposed to be their brothers and sisters in Christ.
In these very practices, the Corinthians would then come to Holy Communion. This is the “unworthy manner” that
Paul rejects.

    As for us, who among can say that we are truly worthy of coming to the Lord’s Table? To say that we are is to say
that we have earned the right to come. To refrain from coming is to say that we are waiting until we have earned that
right. Scriptures says something different- “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He
loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He
might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been
saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are
His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:4-10

    We will never earn the right to come to the Lord’s Table. Our ability to have faith in Him is a free gift. His forgiveness
is a free gift. And our coming to His Table is an act of accepting the gift that He freely offers each of us. To not come to
His Table is to deny ourselves the chance to receive what He would give us if we would come.

    I hope to see you at the Lord’s Table of Holy Communion when it is next set before us in the House of the Lord.

Rev. Daniels