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What Is the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper? Clarence Sexton First Edition Copyright

July 2010

FaithfortheFamily.com


Solid Answers Series

What Is the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper? Copyright © 2010 Crown Christian Publications Powell, Tennessee · 37849 1-877 At-Crown CrownChristianPublications.com FaithfortheFamily.com ISBN: 978-1-58981-568-1 Layout by Stephen Troell All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form–electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other–except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles or printed reviews, without the prior permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America


“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” I Corinthians 11:26

he Lord Jesus Christ instituted what we refer to as the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is always to be a time when the local assembly of believers is encouraged to be in one accord because of their love and devotion to the Lord Jesus. As we come to the Lord’s Table, we remember His shed blood and His broken body. We think of His humiliation, but we also think of His glorious victory over death, hell, and the grave, His ascension on high, and His coming again. Christ left His church two things. First, He left us doctrine. This is what we believe and teach. Our doctrine comes from God’s Word. The sole authority for our faith and practice is the Word of God. We find our answers to our questions from the Lord in His Word. Second, He left us ordinances. These are the things He ordered that we do. There are two ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Both of these ordinances picture His death. The Bible says in I Corinthians 11:23-32, For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus 5


Solid Answers Series the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. The closing expression of the twenty-fourth verse states, “This do in remembrance of me.” We are remembering our Lord’s work. As a matter of fact, when we observe the Lord’s Supper, we are looking at two distinct things. First, we think of His humiliation—He suffered, bled, and died for us as His body was broken. He has passed through that humiliation. He will never be humiliated again.

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What Is the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper? As we come to the Lord’s Table, we remember His shed blood and His broken body. We think of His humiliation, but we also think of His glorious victory over death, hell, and the grave. We think of His ascension on high, and His coming again. He is coming as king—not as a lowly baby in a manger. This world will see that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. The Word of God declares, “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1).

In principle and doctrine, in faith and practice, we believe that there have been people throughout the centuries who have held to the same truth from God’s Word that we hold to this very day.

Remember that we are dealing with what we call “ordinances” of the local church. It is my conviction that the New Testament church began with Christ and His disciples and was empowered at Pentecost. At the same time we must not forget that God has always had a people. In principle and doctrine, in faith and practice, we believe that there have been people throughout the centuries who have held to the same truth from God’s Word that we hold to this very day. As we consider the New Testament church, we desire to follow the example of the first-century church. The Lord Jesus Christ, who has all authority, left the New Testament church

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Solid Answers Series these ordinances—things He ordered that we do—and we should observe them in an orderly fashion. They are baptism and the Lord’s Supper, in that order. The Bible says in Acts 2:37-42, Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Notice in Acts chapter two, God gives us an order. Those who placed faith in Christ were first baptized, then they continued in the doctrine and fellowship of that local church. We consider also the record the Lord gives us in Matthew 28:19-20. He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” 8


What Is the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper? When we examine the Word of God concerning the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, we find certain things to be true. We find that one should not come to the Lord’s Table unless he has been born of God’s Spirit. Believers should also be baptized before coming to the Lord’s Table. We We find that one find this order in the Bible.

should not come

When we are speaking of to the Lord’s being saved and baptized, we are Table unless he thinking as the Bible teaches— has been born that a man that has truly been of God’s Spirit. born of God’s Spirit, and having been born of God’s Spirit as a believer, he has been scripturally immersed; he has gone into the water, been submerged in the water, emerged out of the water, and thus has followed Christ in believer’s baptism. People should come to the Lord’s Table in an orderly fashion, not a disorderly way, having basically three things that distinguish them. One, that person has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Two, that person has been baptized. Three, that person is living a sincere Christian life. We read in I Corinthians 11:28, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” To observe the Lord’s Supper: • One should be born again • One should be baptized • One should be living a sincere Christian life

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A Time for Delivering the Truth The Apostle Paul delivered the truth he received from the Lord. As we observe the Lord’s Supper we are also delivering the truth. The Bible says in I Corinthians 11:23, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread.” Every time we come to the Lord’s Table, we are presenting the truth of what God teaches about the only way of salvation. Each generation must hear the truth of God’s Word. The faith has been “once delivered” (Jude 3) but must be contended for in each generation. In Matthew 26:26-30, the Bible says, And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Paul stated, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread.” He gave us the same account that we find in the Gospel Records. 10


What Is the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper? When we come to the Lord’s Table, as it is observed in an orderly fashion, we are declaring the truth. The message of the shed blood of Jesus Christ is given again. Our doctrine comes from the Bible. Because of this, the truth remains the same from generation to generation. The Lord’s Supper is one of the ways God has designed to protect sound doctrine.

A Time for Giving Thanks to God The Lord Jesus gave thanks as He was about to go to the cross to bleed and to die for our sins. The Bible continues in I Corinthians 11:24, “And when he had given thanks, he brake it.” This is a time to praise the Lord, to give glory to God. The Bible says when the Lord Jesus broke the bread, He gave thanks. Imagine what was happening all around Him. He was going to suffer the vilest execution and face the most bloodthirsty people. This would be the greatest event in human history. God was about to deliver Himself into the hands of angry sinners; and the Lord Jesus gave thanks.

What does it mean to come to the Lord’s Table? It brings us to a height of gratitude. We are thankful for what He has done for us.

The Bible says of the Saviour in Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” What joy is there in a crown of thorns? What joy is there in a face covered with spittle? What joy is there in a back beaten until the

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Solid Answers Series flesh is broken, ripped and bleeding? What joy is there in the mockery? What joy is there in having the billows of God’s wrath roll on the Son of God as He tastes death for every man? What joy is there in crying out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The Bible says He gave thanks. As a matter of fact, we know from what we understand about the Jewish Passover and how our Lord instituted this memorial supper that there were certain psalms that were sung as they were leaving. The last of those psalms sung was Psalm 118. Fix in your mind the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of glory, God in flesh, walking out of that room where they observed this memorial supper, crossing the Kedron Brook, going into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, knowing that this howling mob was coming to take Him away and put Him to death. As He left with His disciples, they were singing Psalm 118. This psalm says in verses twenty-two through twenty-four, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Imagine this coming from the lips of our Saviour. The Bible says, “they had sung an hymn,” and this is the hymn they sang. The Jews considered the day beginning at six in the evening. The day had already started. He would be singing as they left and on the same day He would be crucified. They sang, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” What does it mean to come to the Lord’s Table? It brings us to a height of gratitude. We are thankful for what He has done for us. 12


What Is the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper?

A Time for Remembering the Perfect Sacrifice The Bible says in I Corinthians 11:24, “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” What is the meaning of the Lord’s Supper? It means the perfect sacrifice has been made to satisfy the holiness of God for our sin debt. Among the Jews on the Day of Atonement, a lamb was to be given. That lamb had to be “shut” up for a certain time and then examined. It was not just examined in its outward appearance, but when the lamb was slain, everything on the inside of that lamb was examined and searched Christ’s record diligently. Only the most perfect has been put on lamb could be sacrificed. Our my record, and Lord was “shut” up in this world for thirty-three and a half years. I stand in His In a special way for three and a perfect record. half of those years, He was under the most intense scrutiny. God the Father declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 17:5). At the end of His earthly ministry, Pilate said “I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4). He was speaking that day as a man, but speaking the truth. When you and I go through the door of death and arrive at heaven’s glory, the only way we can get into heaven is by perfection. There is no other way. Nothing wrong, nothing blemished, nothing sinful can get into heaven. That is why it is

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Solid Answers Series such a wonderful thing that the righteousness of Jesus Christ has been imputed to our account. Christ’s record has been put on my record, and I stand in His perfect record. When I get to glory, His sinless life, His perfect sacrifice, is on my record, and I can walk into heaven just like the Lord Jesus went into heaven because I am going in on His record. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:21). When He said, “This is my body,” He kept Himself; there was no sin in Him. He offered Himself perfect. When we come to the Lord’s Table, we remember His perfect sacrifice.

A Time for Rejoicing in the New Covenant The precious blood of Christ is the purchase price of the new covenant. We are the recipients of the eternal transaction made in the Godhead. The Bible says in I Corinthians 11:25, “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” Note the expression, “new testament.” The word “testament” means “covenant.” That is the new covenant. When we come to the Lord’s Table, we are reminded that there is a new covenant made between God the Father and God the Son. Those who enter into that new covenant through the precious blood of Christ are God’s peculiar people. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of this divine transaction made eternally in the Godhead. The Bible says in Hebrews 13:20, 14


What Is the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper? “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” When we speak of the new covenant of the New Testament, the Bible explains that new covenant to be a divine transaction made in the Godhead between God the Father and God the Son. What this means is that God the Father and God the Son have made this transaction, and all who come to God by faith in the Son, the Father will give the Son. Take the time to read John chapter seventeen prayerfully and mark well the expressions used to speak of the Father’s gift to the Son. This reminds us that we are His “peculiar people.” The Bible says in I Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” That “peculiar people” does not mean that we look peculiar; it means that we belong to God. We are His possession. What does it mean when we come to the Lord’s Table? It means we are a peculiar people; we belong to God. There is something wonderfully different about us. We are His possession. We belong to our Lord. Read again Hebrews 13:20, “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” The expression God uses is, “the everlasting covenant.” We rejoice to be the privileged subjects of this eternal transaction made between God the Father and God the Son. We are His peculiar people.

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A Time for Proclaiming the Gospel The Bible continues in I Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” That word “shew” is an interesting word. It means “to demonstrate; to proclaim; to speak.” Every time we come, we are making a proclamation. In other words, the Lord’s Table has a voice. It speaks, it demonstrates, it proclaims the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. It is a proclamation. We are declaring something; we are saying something very specific. The Lord’s Supper should be so much more than a “tag-on” at the conclusion of a church service. As much as possible the message and hymns should speak of the glorious gospel. Of course, it is a serious subject, but it is most certainly a joyous subject. The entire meeting should be together, everything in it a part of the whole. It is one service and the Lord’s Supper is a vital part of it. Some people say, “What is so significant about the elements used?” It is a picture; there is no saving power in the elements. The elements do not change into something miraculous. It is a picture, just as I may have in my wallet. I may say, “This is my wife,” or, “This is my family.” You would understand perfectly what I meant when I held the picture up to you. In the most technical sense, you could say, “That’s not your wife; your wife is sitting behind you as you speak,” or, “That’s not your family; you can’t hold your family in your hand. That is only a picture.” The elements used speak of our Lord. We look at Him. We remember Him. 16


What Is the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper? When we come to the Lord’s Table, we are showing something; we are picturing something; we are proclaiming something; we are speaking something. We have a picture in our hands—that His blood was shed and His body was broken. It testifies of His death, resurrection and His return– “till he come.”

A Time of Proclaiming the Lord’s Death Until He Comes “Ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” It is a picture that tells the payment has been made. It means that a payment has been made for our sin. The price paid for our redemption is the highest price ever paid for anything. His precious blood is worth far more than all the world. You may have heard about someone buying expensive jewelry or purchasing a place to live. I recently read about a man who bought an entire island. People spend billions for things, but no higher price has ever been paid than the price paid to redeem us from sin and provide us with the power to live victoriously. That is why Peter penned these words in I Peter 1:1819, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

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Solid Answers Series What does it mean to come to the Lord’s Table and to observe the Lord’s Supper? It means a payment has been made; the price has been paid.

A Time for Self Examination and Purity of Life The life of the Christian is to reflect the change Christ has made. I Corinthians 11:27-29 says, Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. The Lord’s Supper is for discerning people; it is for discerning believers. That is why we believe that one must be redeemed, and should have obeyed the Lord in baptism, and should be a serious, sincere Christian to come to the Lord’s Table. The Bible says we are not to partake of it “unworthily.” This word does not modify the person but the manner in which the Lord’s Supper is taken. We are to be serious-hearted, soberminded, sincere Christians. We are living in a day when it seems so few professing Christians want to be serious Christians. By serious, we certainly do not mean without joy. The life we live for Christ is lived because of a grateful heart for what He has done for us. 18


What Is the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper? The Christian life is a holy life. We desire to live this life because of His mercy and grace. When He connects us with these symbols of His blood and His broken body, it is no joking matter. Yes, there is praise and rejoicing and so many glorious things to consider, but there is purity of life demanded. We are not to come to the Lord’s Table “unworthily.” Notice God goes on to say some very serious things. He says, that because some people have come unworthily, they are “weak.” That is, physically “weak.” They are “sickly.” Not all sickness, but some sickness can be explained this way. He also says, “And many sleep.” This speaks of premature death. Some people have died prematurely because they came to the Lord’s Table in an unworthy manner.

The Bible says we are not to partake of it “unworthily.” This word does not modify the person but the manner in which the Lord’s Supper is taken. We are to be serioushearted, soberminded, sincere Christians.

The Lord’s Supper is a time for us to say, “Lord, help me to be as right with You as is humanly possible. I don’t want to come with unconfessed sin, and I don’t want to come with blood on my hands. I don’t want to come with an unforgiving spirit. I don’t want to come in anger.” It is a heart-searching time. You can see now why the Lord has placed such emphasis here. Consider the purifying effect this has upon a body of believers when taken seriously. A church will not go astray and 19


Solid Answers Series Christians will not continue to live in unconfessed sin as we approach the Lord’s Table in a way pleasing to God. Sadly, many churches have been reduced to places of religious entertainment. There has been a great detaching, a disconnecting, from the very thing God intended for us to preserve—the truth of His shed blood and His broken body. The Scripture goes on to say in verse thirty-two, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” That is a precious promise. As we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse us. Verse thirty-two says “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord.” This means we are disciplined by the Lord, chastened of the Lord, just as a parent would chasten a child. Why does God chasten us? “That we should not be condemned with the world.” God chastens us so the world knows there is a difference. The difference is knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. His presence separates us unto Himself. Friends who are not Christians may be able to go into sin and never reap the consequences of it in this world. I know the truth, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” but if they never come to Christ, they are going to hell forever. What God does in dealing with a believer will be done in this life. Two people, a Christian and a non-Christian, may engage in something sinful. The two may become involved in some way that is not pleasing to the Lord. If one of them is a Christian, God will deal with that person unlike He will deal with the other person, because He is going to make a difference with those who are His. My wife and I have the privilege of having two grown sons, and we are very grateful to God for them and their wives and

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What Is the Meaning of the Lord’s Supper? their children. I love them with all of my heart and thank God for them. When they were just boys, you could imagine that if I came upon a scene and there were several boys engaged in something they should not be engaged in, and I saw one of my sons involved in it, you would understand perfectly well if I said, “I am going to take my son, and discipline him. Other parents must deal with their own children, but I am going to deal with mine.” When God deals with His peculiar people, those who are His, He is not going to allow you to be condemned with this world. If you are in sin, He is going to chasten you. When God allows us to come to the Lord’s Table, we are reminded of the purity God demands in the Christian life. It is a wonderful opportunity to make all things right with the Lord. His commandments are not grievous. The Lord will bring you near Him, and we will find the greatest delight and the greatest joy is in our nearness to Him. Read again prayerfully, I Corinthians 11:23-32 and approach the Lord’s Table in a way that is pleasing to Him. God says, For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore

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Solid Answers Series whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

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What Is the Meaning of the LORD's Supper?  

from the Solid Answers Series by Pastor Clarence Sexton

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