There are only two ordinances that we Baptists recognize. The word Ordinance means, “A law, or something prescribed.” In other words, Baptists recognize only two rituals as being prescribed by the Word of God. The first is the ordinance of baptism by immersion and the other is the Lord’s Supper or Communion.
Baptism is a symbolic act that portrays what Jesus has done for the believer in salvation. It is a picture of a person dying out to an old life of sin and rising again to a new life of service to the Lord. It is an outward symbol of the inward work of God in the human spirit.
The Lord’s Supper, on the other hand, is a symbolic act that calls to mind the death, resurrection, and promised return of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we take the bread and the cup, we are remembering the day when Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross, was buried, and rose again from the dead. The Communion is a symbol of the eternal work God did through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
This morning, we will do what Christians have been doing for over 2,000 years. We will remember Jesus; what He did; why He did it and what it means for us. Since this is our first Communion together; I want to take a few minutes to share with you the truth about what the Lord’s Supper is.
More than anything else, the Lord’s Supper service is a time of remembrance. That is why Jesus said, “This do in remembrance of Me.” And, that is the thought that I wish to magnify for a few minutes this morning. Allow me to share three facts regarding the nature of the Lord’s Supper as we think on the thought: This Do In Remembrance Of Me.
IT IS A TIME OF COMMEMORATION
The word Commemorate means “to honor the memory of somebody or something in a ceremony; to serve as a memorial to something.” If the Lord’s Supper is anything, it is a memorial. It is a time to remember Jesus and what He did for us. The following is what we commemorate today.)
We Commemorate His Sufferings – Verses 24 and 25 talk about the “broken body” and the “blood” of Jesus. Both of these vivid phrases bring to mind suffering and pain. When we take the elements of the Lord’s Supper, we are to remember that Jesus Christ suffered horribly for us to save us from our sins. (Ill. Jesus suffered at the hands of man – Isa. 52:14. Jesus suffered at the hands of God, Isa. 53:1-12; Matt. 27:46. Ill. The cross and all He suffered.)
We Commemorate His Sacrifices – The fact that Jesus Christ was in a human body speaks of the sacrifices He made to redeem us. God became a man, lived and died in this world to redeem the lost, John 1:1, 14; Phil. 2:5-8! He suffered shame, Matt. 27:39-44; rejection, John 1:11; poverty, 2 Cor. 8:9; pain, 1 Pet. 2:21; and death, John 19:30. In fact, the goal of giving Himself as our sacrifice was His whole purpose in coming to this world in the first place, Luke 19:10; Mark 10:45; John 18:37.
When the bread and the juice are passed around in a little while; stop to remember what Jesus did for you. We are here to commemorate His sufferings and His sacrifices for us!)
IT IS A TIME OF CELEBRATION
Just as much as the Lord’s Supper service is a commemoration; it is also a celebration! The word Celebrate means, “to mark a special occasion or day by ceremonies or festivities.” It comes from a Latin word that means “To attend a feast.” That is what we are here to do today! We are here to attend a feast celebrating what Jesus did for us! There should be a heart of thankfulness, happiness and joy within every saved person today because of Who Jesus is and what Jesus has done! Here is what we celebrate.)
We Celebrate His Compassion – Notice the words “for you” in verse 24. These words remind us that Jesus did what He did and suffered what He did all because He loved us, John 3:16; John 15:13. He had no sin of His Own to die for, 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24, but He willingly took our sins upon Himself that we might be delivered from our sins and from the penalty of our sins. What love that Jesus Christ; the sinless Lamb of God would give Himself for you and me! But, He did, Rom. 5:6-8!
We Celebrate His Conquest – What is not mentioned in these verses, but what is clearly implied, is the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after His death on the cross, v. 26! You see, anyone could have died; but only the God-man could have paid for sins through His death and then guaranteed eternal life by rising again from the dead, John 11:25-26! But, that is just what Jesus did, Matt. 28:1-6; Rom. 5:10! Thank God, because He lives, all those who believe in Him will live also, Rev. 1:18; 1 Cor. 15:20.
We Celebrate His Coming – We are clearly told that when we observe the Lord’s Supper, we are telling this world that we believe Jesus is coming again, v. 26. That is His promise to us, John 14:1-3! That promise was reaffirmed by Paul in 1 Thes. 4:13-18. It was also reaffirmed by Jesus Himself in the closing words of the Bible, Rev. 22:20! He is coming and that is a truth we can celebrate with joy today!
IT IS A TIME OF CONTEMPLATION
The Lord’s Supper service is a time for commemoration and celebration, but it is also a time for contemplation. That word means, “to think about something serious and at length.” When I think of what Jesus suffered for me, I want to worship Him. When I think of all the things we are here to celebrate, I want to shout His praises. But, when I understand the message of verses 27-32; I understand that the Lord’s Supper is also a very serious time. It is a time for us to reflect upon the condition of our lives so that we can be sure we are where we need to be with the Lord before we participate in the service.)
We Must Contemplate Our Salvation – In spite of all their sins and failures, Paul is writing to saved people in this chapter. When Paul uses the words “us” and “we”, he is talking about himself and his fellow believers. He is giving details of a celebration, a commemoration that is for believers only!
Some people practice what is called “Closed Communion.” This means that the church only allows those who are members of that church and who are in good standing with that church to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Others practice what is called “Open Communion”. In those kinds of churches, everyone who is present is encouraged to participate in the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
What I have always believed and practiced is what is known as “Close Communion”. In other words, everyone who is present is invited to participate; but only after they have been warned of the consequences of partaking in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. Since neither you nor I know anyone’s heart, each person is urged to practice self-examination and then they can participate if they choose to. In other words, only those who are in close communion with the Lord are encouraged to participate.
So, we are glad you are here today, but if you are lost, then you should let the bread and cup pass you by. Or, you should come to Jesus and be saved right now, so that you can be made worthy to participate in this great time of celebration.
We Must Contemplate Our Sanctification – Notice verse 27. There is a word in that verse that bothers me. It is the word “unworthily.” We are told that if we take of this bread and this cup “unworthily”; we bring God’s wrath upon our lives by not referencing the Lord’s body. In fact, the phrase “not discerning the Lord’s body,” has the idea of treating Jesus like the mocking and jeering crowds did at His crucifixion. It means that we treat His broken body and His shed blood as if they were nothing!
The Lord is telling us to “examine” our own lives. We need to be sure that we are clean before we come to His table. When we partake of His table with an unclean heart, we need to be aware that there will be a price to pay.
1. Some are sick because of it – verse 30a
2. Some are dead because of it – verse 30b
3. All will be chastened because of it – verse 32
What are we to do? The answer is in verse 31! We are to examine ourselves and bring our sins to His altar in confession and repentance, 1 John 1:9. When we do that, we can expect His forgiveness. When we do not, we can expect His chastisement!
Is it that serious? Yes, it is! In fact, it is so serious that I would say to you that if you have sin in your life and you do not plan to confess it and deal with it on the altar; then you should let the bread and the juice pass you by!
Conclusion: We are ready to commemorate and celebrate our wonderful Savior’s life, His death, His resurrection, and His return. Do this, and not that!
“A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” Ecclesiastes 7:1
In these verses, the scriptures do tell us to remember Christ’s death when He had accomplished His mission to overcome sin rather than His birth by which He had accomplished little – for example in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.