7. THE LORD’S SUPPER is another act of worship that is
undergoing serious "changes." Since this act is one which
is distinctive to churches of Christ it is the focus of attack for those
who desire to "change" (i.e. restructure) the Church in our day.
a) There has long been debates about the Lord's
Supper with those who do not partake of it each Sunday. The
tional arguments are trite and worn. Today many are using
the old denominational arguments to advocate a cultural change to Communion’s
b) Transparency 7/18 “Communion’s PATTERN”
Here are areas
regarding Communion that are currently undergoing serious
scrutiny. These issues are used to press a less restrictive application
of Scripture's "patterns."
1) The one cup issue. This old argument has
ted in attempts to justify practices that are not supported
with Scriptural authority (i.e. choirs, mechanical instrumental music,
etc.). We are told that division over certain issues (that are doctrinal)
is just as wrong as division over the number of cups used in Communion.
a) Calvin Warpula argues that opposition
to solos and choruses is similar to opposition
where multiple cups were introduced in the 1950's
(from video of Petite John retreat, “Special Music
In The Church (solos, quartets, choirs)”, September
21, 1992, Church Music Institute, Box 964, Edmond,
b) "Does God exclude from heaven a child
of His who was
honestly mistaken in judgement about the Herald of Truth,
classes, cups, orphan's homes, instrumental music, or an organization for
spreading the Gospel?" (Carl Ketcherside, Firm Foundation, Vol. 80, No.
37, p. 581, Sept. 10, 1963). Hence it is concluded that multiple cups are
on the same level with doctrinal error! But cups are not in the same classification
as instrumental music or missionary societies!
c) Today's Cultural Advocates are trying
to get us to smile
upon doctrinal error and consider it as the same as a
songbook and communion cups! We are piously asked, "Why cause division
over something as silly as 1 or 100 cups? You should be more tolerant than
d) Thus, an age-old issue is redressed in
modern garb and
used to gain access for women's leadership roles, special
music, para-church activities, etc. Because most have not studied the past
history of this argument their ignorance leads them to accept its unscriptural
and irresponsible conclusions!
2) The frequency of taking Communion. Today
those parroting the age-old denominational arguments
for not partaking Communion every week - "It never commands such!"
"A weekly observance will cause us to lessen its significance." Those urging
"change" ask, "What is there in the gospel that tells us we must do this
every Sunday?" The advocates of the "Gospel Hermeneutic" especially ask
for a Scriptural basis (from the gospels only) show this as a binding regulation!
This poses a great question - How do we know?
3) The day of partaking Communion. We are
there is no set day to take Communion. Some say we are
to take it on a Thursday or Friday night since that is when Jesus did.
We hear of Communion being observed at weddings (to make the ceremony "special"
and to help all focus upon Jesus); at special conferences (to help church
members "feel" more in tune with the love binding them); at congregational
fellowship meals, picnics (so the whole Church will be "closer"). It is
suggested that the exact day is unimportant - all that matters is one's
4) It is only a "common meal." According to Cultural
cates we have wrested the real meaning from Communion
and molded it into something Christ never intended. According to Cultural
Advocates the Lord's Supper was a full meal until around 150 A.D. We are
told that Communion was meant to be a "love feast" meal where unity among
Christ's followers is highlighted. By "doing this" (eating a common meal
together) believers thus show the purpose of Christ's coming - unity!
5) It is not a command for every generation (it
plied to the Apostles). Some see the "memorial
feast" as Paul's idea and not Christ's. By appealing to "culture" we are
told that modern man cannot observe the Lord's Supper unless s/he also
observes the Passover. This conclusion is reinforced by asking, "Would
Jesus, hanging on the Cross really make a big deal about regular observance
of Communion?" The implied answer is "No!" and further leads one to conclude
that Communion's regular observance is not important.
6) It does not matter who partakes of the Lord's
Some Children's Worship pass Communion to children arguing
they need to make worship "real." We are told that the Communion is spiritual
and we who are mortal cannot judge just who should take Communion. This
position basically allows Communion to dissolve into a toy or convenient
act which will be lightly regarded.
7) Communion is not universally commanded.
are saying that modern believers should not be encumbered
with taking Communion. It is further suggested that observance of the Lord's
Supper was limited to either those of the first Century or those of Jewish
cultural roots. Since it was a limited observance, there is no reason why
modern believers should be burdened with it. It is okay if one wants to
do it, but it is not obligatory!
8) It is the emotion of Communion (the suffering
which should be emphasized rather than the same old worn
motions and emblems. We are thus urged to have dramatic readings,
dim the lights, softly sing, etc. Some have enacted dramatic portrayals
("Christ carrying the cross across the stage"). It is argued that we have
allowed Communion to become a mere "pause between preaching and praying."
9) The literal observance is not important - the
communion (i.e. meditation of the cross) is all that
is important. We hear that it does not really matter whether one
literally partakes -- the important thing is that we feed our spirits with
spiritual thoughts of the Lord's death. Thus we are encouraged to ignore
specific commands and look for the hidden spiritual fruits. Note: It is
here that we see the Eastern mystical religions (Zen; T.M.) invading the
10) The purpose of Communion has been lost.
We are told
the purpose of Communion was to "bond" believers together
in AGAPE. However this original purpose was perverted by Paul's "formulae"
and became a memorial service that was far from the loving fellowship initially
c. Although the Cultural Advocates fail to admit
it, their propos-
ed "changes" to the "traditional" way of observing Communion
have a number of inconsistencies that cannot be reconciled with Scripture.
Look at some of these positions regarding Communion and consider how they
inconsistently apply Scripture.
1) The one cup issue.
a) Multiple cups ARE NOT on the same level
as mechanical instrumental music or solos in worship.
b) Mt 26:27-29; Mk 14:22,23 - "of" literally
EX, "out of" the
cup. They did not drink the literal "cup." Thus, whether
it is singular (cup) or plural (cups) there is no difference for it was
the liquid inside the container that was the object of our Lord's command
and not the container! This point gets lost in the confusion! It is interesting
to note there is historical record of early congregations (c. 200) having
c) One cup or multiple cups are not sinful!
they do not change the liquid commanded by Jesus. The
container does not change/add another element. If the container changed
the liquid then we would have to use the original container which Christ
used because in pouring it into another container one would be adding to
the liquid. But when the grape juice is poured from the vat to the jar
to the serving vehicle to individual cups, it remains the same! The "cup"
(container) does not produce another element on the Lord's Table! “The
act which God commanded was to eat and to drink. Now the cup does not add
another element. There are two elements on the Lord’s Table -- the fruit
of the vine, which is the cup, and the bread. A communion cup (container)
does not add another element. You only have two elements on the Lord’s
Table whether you have one glass or a hundred. By using a hundred different
containers you do not add another element. It is the same element, that
is, the fruit of the vine. The plate does not add another element. Instrumental
music adds another element ... If you should add jelly to the bread, you
would be adding another element. Christ specified the kind of music for
us to use, and when you add mechanical music, you add another element”
(G.K. Wallace, p. 80).
d) However, a mechanical instrument changes
and it is not the same element as Christ commanded. The
command is to "sing." With the mechanical instrument it becomes "singing
and playing." There are thus two kinds of music! “Instrumental music adds
another element. There are two kinds of music. One vocal and the other
is mechanical. You may use a songbook in producing mechanical music; you
may use a songbook in producing either vocal and/or instrumental music.
Vocal and instrumental music are distinct elements and when instrumental
music is used along with, or separate from the vocal music, it is an addition
of an unauthorized element in the worship of God. The songbook does not
add another element” (G.K. Wallace, p. 40).
e) Solos and choruses change the command
of singing in
worship from HEAUTOIS to ALLELON. It thus makes
an entirely different response than that commanded by God. You can have
100 cups but the command WILL NOT be changed. You can have a chorus of
100 voices singing to one another in a worship assembly of 500 people and
the command WILL be changed! The "cup" is neutral - it does not affect
worship. Solos, choirs, ARE NOT neutral - they drastically alter the worship!
f) Cultural Advocates do not want to be
They only bring up this argument to confuse folks about
the classification of sinful innovations. This wrong classification ploy
was used by J.B. Briney in 1870, Hall Calhoun in 1901, Murch-Witty in 1939,
Ketcherside in 1963, and Cultural Advocates in the 1990's! We must be firm
about proper classifications lest gullible minds become confused and allow
sinful innovations to lead them astray! (Gal 3:1).
2) The frequency issue.
a) Thomas Warren discusses this very well.
b) How are we to decide "how often"? Christ's
words are non-specific - "that day" (Mt 26:29 cf
1 Co 11:26 "as often"). If we are to be governed
by man's opinion we will never know.
c) Transparency 7/19 “The Supper EVERY Week!”
There are reasoned points that show us why we are
to partake of the Supper EVERY Sunday.
1) The example in Ac 20:7. The Church
came together for
the purpose of taking Communion. By a study of Ac 20:7;
1 Co 11:20; 16:2 we find that it is obligatory for Christians to meet EVERY
first day of the week. See Warren, p. 150.
2) The command regarding the Sabbath
weekly obligation to observe Communion (Ex 20:8). The
command did not specifically say "every Sabbath day" but it was understood
as such. Failure was costly (Nu 15:32-36).
3) Secular historians verify a weekly
observance of Com- munion.
4) Devotion to faith requires an observance
day! That is the "Lord's Day" and as such we are to remember
His death, burial, and resurrection. Communion is the means for doing this.
d) There can be no doubt that Communion
is to be observ-
ed EVERY week. Failure to do so is
to reject Scripture's authority.
3) The day issue.
a) Upon which "day" are we to take Communion?
b) Transparency 7/20 “The Supper Every SUNDAY!”
There are some Scriptures which answer this question.
1) Ac 2:42 The "breaking of the bread"
to the Lord's Supper. But notice that this DOES NOT authorize
Communion on just any day of the week. They "continued steadfastly" - this
does not specify a day but a practice of action. We are not told when or
how often, just their devotion to it. Other texts must be consulted to
find out the day. Note: One can "steadfastly" do a thing once a week or
once a day -- "I continue steadfastly to play checkers each Tuesday."
Thus the text does not remove the command to take Communion each Sunday
and only on Sunday.
2) Ac 20:7 It is significant to note
that the disciple wait-
ed seven days to "break bread" (vs 6). Surely this does
not describe a fast. "What they did was evidently special, relating only
to the first day of the week." Why did they wait? Why not eat the
special meal earlier so Paul's journey could continue? Because to have
done such was wrong -- they would not have pleased God! Why? Because it
would have been at a time other than the first day of the week!
c) There is no doubt that we are to partake
of Communion on the first day of the week.
This conclusion is easily reached. Transparency
7/21 “A Valid Summary!”
1) Christians are commanded to eat
the Supper (Mt 26:26-28; 1 Co 11:17-29,33,34).
2) Christians are commanded to assemble
3) The Lord's Supper was in the assembly
(1 Co 11:17- 21,28-33).
4) Christians assembled to partake
of Communion (1 Co 11:33; Ac 20:7).
5) Christians assembled on Sunday
(1 Co 16:1,2; Ac 20:7).
6) Paul commanded these assemblies,
the actions requir- ed in them, and the appointed
day and his commands were those from the
Lord (1 Co 14:37).
7) “The example of the assembly on
the first day of the
week in Acts 20:7 was due to the command of Christ. If
this is not true, and the observance of the Lord’s Supper on the first
day of the week is not a command, then he who observes it does not obey
anything. If the eating of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week
is not a command, then he who does not observe it, does not disobey anything.
For anyone to argue that the disciples were not required to meet on the
first day of the week to break bread as exemplified in Acts 20:7, is to
render non-essential, both the assembly and the Supper. It seems strange
that some preachers in the church will argue that the first day of the
week observance of the Lord’s Supper is not a command and that it rests
entirely and solely on an example. Acts 20:7 simply exemplifies the disciples
carrying out a divine requirement of the Lord to meet on the first day
of the week to break bread” (Wallace, p. 75).
d) Thus there can be no doubt that the Bible
teaches that New Testament Christians observed
Communion ONLY on Sunday. If we observe it on any
other day, we are not following the Bible!
4) The common meal issue.
a) The Lord's Supper was not a common meal,
or a part of a common meal. The abuse of the Supper
becoming a common meal is what Paul addressed (1
Co 11:22). Such does not forbid eating in the Church
b) Transparency 7/22 “The Supper WAS NOT
A Common Meal!” There are problems
in using 1 Co 11 to refer to the Supper being a
common meal. (See Ben F. Vick, Jr., "Impossible
To Eat The Lord's Supper," Gospel Advocate, April
1993, p. 48ff).
1) The term "Supper" is stipulated
as "the Lord's Supper." Had it been simply
called "supper" it could refer to any chief
meal. The Lord's Supper was different from
those eaten at home because it nourished the
spiritual and not the physical (v. 20-22).
2) There is a definite separation
between verses 20 and 21. Paul is thus making
a difference between what the brethren were
eating and what they should be eating (note
3) There is no sanction of the Apostle
for the Corinthians using a common meal as
a means to observe Com- munion.
c) Some are able to make a convincing argument
ing Communion as a part of a congregational fellowship
meal and many who like things "different" will approve of such. However
it is a practice that not only is void of Scriptural approval but also
conflicts with Scriptural commands!
5) The universality issue. Transparency 7/23 “How
Univer- sal Is The Command To Observe Communion?”
a) The Lord's Supper is to be practiced
universally and is not restricted to just those
with the Lord. This is evident from several points.
1) 1 Co 11:26 - "till He come" indicates
the Supper is to be observed until the Second
Coming. In the Supper we are reminded of
the Lord's return and thus our hope which
was established at Calvary. This assures
our faith and confirms our convictions.
2) Lk 22:19 - "remembrance" is obligatory
upon believers of all times. Our Lord's dying
request was that His followers remember Him.
Why should we neglect that memory?
3) Ac 20:7 - "We" refers to the Church.
They ate the Supper every week. Those in
following centuries did also. Why should
God's Church fail to do it today?
4) 1 Co 11:29 - "discern" refers to
the unity and fellow- ship shared. The Supper reminds
us of this blessed tie that binds our hearts
together. Why should we not desire to have
this fellowship rekindled?
b) These are more than sufficient to explain
why the obser- vance of the Lord's Supper is obligatory
to all genera- tions.
6) The emotional issue.
a) Due to the emphasis many place upon emotions
riding knowledge, we are seeing strong emphasis upon
emotionalism with the Supper.
b) Emotionalism is a tragic guide for it
can lead one into damnation (Mt 7:21-23; 2 Ths
c) Many things are not wrong in themselves,
yet they be- come wrong when they lead others to trust
in emo- tions/feelings (i.e. dimming lights; dramatic
readings prior to Communion; etc.).
d) Some things are wrong because they cause
conflict with other commands. For Example -- singing
while Commu- nion is passed. Communion and singing are
two distinct acts of worship involving different
mental, physical, and spiritual participation.
Singing during Communion is wrong because it makes
you do one or the other worship act in a mechanical or ritualistic way.
Why not "pray" aloud during Communion instead of singing?
Copyright 1999 by John
L. Kachelman Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost