The Lord’s Supper: Christian Practice or Church Ordinance?
Posted by Pastor Szekely on February 13, 2007
One of my goals for this post is to show that the Lord’s Supper [or communion as it is sometimes called] is a church ordinance that can only be observed by a church, and also that it can only be observed by a person in the church of which he or she is a member.
My title states the question: The Lord’s Supper: Christian Practice or Church Ordinance? This, I believe, is where we really have to start, and I’ll start by giving two definitions:
Christian Practice – Commonly practiced or observed manners and habits [of believers]. Examples: Prayer, Bible reading, Loving your neighbor, etc.
Ordinance – A rite that holds no saving grace, and which is committed to the authority, care, and use of visible churches, with qualified recipients, for particular reasons.
What I want us to see from the definitions is this: The Lord’s Supper is much more than a Christian practice, although only Christians [who are church members] may practice, or partake of it. Let me prove this.
Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-23, and John 13:18-30 give us the instituting, or the establishing, of Lord’s Supper. From these texts we find that the Lord Jesus instituted His Supper with His disciples after they ate the Passover together.
Note these very important points: (1) At the institution of the Lord’s Supper, there were only members of Jesus’ church with Him to partake. (2) The establishing of the Lord’s Supper occurred after the Passover was finished. Remember, the Passover was kept as a yearly ordinance for a memorial of Messiah to come: “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a fest by an ordinance for ever” Exodus 12:14. The Passover pointed to Christ, and He fulfilled it and finished it by instituting this new ordinance – The Lord’s Supper – with His “called-out assembly”, or His Church there in the accounts of the Gospel.
SO: The Lord Jesus instituted His Supper with His first church – Matthew 26:17-20. The Supper was for His church…His assembly only. No Scriptures can be found to the contrary. In fact, Scripture shows us that the ordinance was only observed by churches – Matthew 26:20 / Mark 14:17 / Luke 22:14 / 1 Corinthians 10:14-21; 11:18-34. When we find the Supper being partaken, it is only being partaken by the members of that particular assembly, that particular church!
The Lord’s Supper is a mark of fellowship within an assembly of believers only. The following quote says it well, “When a man eats of that ‘one bread’ and drinks of that ‘one cup’, he, in this act, professes himself a member of that ‘one body’ in hearty, holy sympathy with its doctrines and life, and freely and fully subjecting himself to its watch-care and government (1 Cor 10:17). Hence in 1 Cor 5:11, the church is forbidden to eat (in the Lord’s Supper, as the context clearly shows) with immoral persons, thus distinctly making the ordinance a representation of church fellowship.” [‘The Church’, Harvey. pg 221]
The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance. Nowhere in Scripture do we ever find anyone outside the church membership partaking of the Lord’s Supper [i.e. – open communion], nor do we ever see churches practice “inter-communion”, or “sharing” the Lord’s Supper [i.e. – close communion] with one another…
THERE’S JUST NO SCRIPTURAL WARRANT!
THE LORD’S SUPPER – A CHURCH ORDINANCE – IS A CLOSED-COMMUNION!