The Lord's Supper (Q&A)
Ques.—Please explain the words, “Take, eat, this is My body.” Do we in partaking of the Lord’s Supper literally partake of His body and blood?
Ans.—“I am the Door,” “I am the true Vine.” No one for a single moment mistakes the meaning of these words, or applies them literally to our Lord. As symbols they are beautiful; force them in a literal way and all beauty and meaning are lost. So with the symbols of our Lord’s body and blood. As symbols they are the sweet precious memorials of One who loved us unto death; taken literally, they become the food of superstition and a carnal religion. We need but to look at the blasphemous use Rome has made of the Lord’s Supper to see the danger of which we speak. Think of a few words of the priest creating Christ, and that in His divine character!
But even where such gross and blasphemous use is not made of the Lord’s Supper, any teaching that leads us to look at the bread and the wine as anything but simple memorials, feeds superstition. It is Christ with whom we have to be occupied, and we simply “do this” to call Him to mind.
Ques.—All recognize that in the Lord’s Supper Christians are having fellowship one with another—that they are together commemorating the love of their Saviour, in which they have a common share. But there are failings of various kinds in us all. How far, in our fellowship together at the Lord’s Table, do we make ourselves responsible for each other’s failings? Or, are we responsible at all? Have we any business, at the breaking of bread, to look beyond what that signifies to our souls?
Ans.—It surely would be a complete spoliation of the blessed and holy feast which the Lord intended for us in the communion of His Supper were we to count ourselves responsible for one another’s shortcomings, misapprehensions of truth, or defects in doctrine. The Lord’s direction in this matter is plainly given in 1 Cor.11:28,29. And the failure to heed this direction has its results told in the verses following. If any think themselves necessarily identified with every failing that may be in their brethren, they must become morbidly burdened, or else develop into a kind of secret police.
When I (using I for the true Christian character) go into the assembly of God’s beloved people to remember our Lord together, I go there under the judgment of myself. If I am conscious of having wronged any man, I go before and make things right with him as far as lies in me.
If I am conscious of wrong toward God only, I confess myself to God, ever remembering that He may see far more wrong in me than I do.
Then I look upon all my brethren as having done the same. Love can do no less. Then I know that they bear with my imperfections, and so I seek grace to do the same toward them. Thus my soul is free to enjoy the feast: communion is real and holy. If there is something in hiding, the Lord knows it, and He will surely attend to it.
This, of course, does not apply to such cases as that in 1 Cor.5; or 6:9,10; or 2 Tim.2:17,18, etc.
Where the holiness which belongs to the house of God is shocked, or the foundations of the faith are attacked, or perverseness would have its way, to allow such persons to continue at the Lord’s table would be unfaithfulness (1 Cor.5:13), a disgrace on the name of the Lord, which would make such an assembly cease to be a Christian assembly, though it might be an assembly of Christians.
There are Christians now, who go under the general term of “Independents,” and who may be “Evangelical,” who would divorce discipline from the Lord’s table, reducing it thus to a “free-and-easy” kind of thing, at which all who recognize themselves to be Christians may come and go at pleasure, without responsibility to the assembly itself. We need scarcely say that this does violence to Scripture everywhere.