The Lord's Supper
Family Outings, Hunting & Fishing Trips, Vacations, Other Trips,
In Hospitals, At Home, etc.
By Glenn R. Burt
Most of us do not usually appreciate someone calling in question and/or condemning something we have done, or that close friends and family have done, or that we have accepted and believe to be alright. Often It may involve something (like the subject at hand) that we have asked “the preacher” about and he said, “It’s OK, don’t worry about it. Someone always has to be stirring something,” etc. And it is amazing how that kind of response, rather than scripture satisfies so many people.
The subject of partaking of the Lord’s Supper In some arrangement or situation other than an assembly of saints in a local congregation is one that usually gets the kind of treatment mentioned above. If more is said it usually involves something like this: “Sure it's not right for two men to go fishing on Sunday and while out on the lake (in their boat) stop fishing for a few minutes to 'eat some crackers and drink some grape juice' which they call the Lord’s Supper. But that’s different from a family or group of Christians who set aside part of Sunday to sang and study and partake of the Lord’s Supper while on an outing (vacation, hunting, fishing, etc.) or someone sick in the hospital or at home sick.” This is supposed to be scriptural authority for such practice (or action).
Why is it that when we get on this subject we forget about "direct statement”, “approved example”, and “necessary conclusion” as a means of establishing Bible authority from book, chapter and verse, and begin to rationalize?
Brethren, please bear with me and lets see what the Bible authorizes concerning the Lord’s supper. This is a serious matter: 2 John 9 and Col. 3:17. The following outline is a basic presentation of what the New Testament says on this subject: (See chart below).
1. Instituted -- Matt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22.25; Lk. 22:14-23
2. In Practice -- Acts 2:42 - Jerusalem brethren partook
Acts 20:7 - Disciples assembled to partake
1 Cor. 10:161 - About partaking
1 Cor. 11:17-34 - In the church (assembly of local congregation) come together
for the Lord's supper not a meal. In the home (social) eat a meal.
DIRECT STATEMENT -- Matt. 26, Acts 20:7 Christians are to partake
APPROVED EXAMPLE -- Acts 20:7 To be done on the First Day of the week
NECESSARY CONCLUSION Acts 20:7 To be done Every First Day
APPROVED EXAMPLE and
NECESSARY CONCLUSION Lk. 22:14-23 Elements to be used: Unleavened bread and Fruit of the Vine
APPROVED EXAMPLE and Where, that is, what Assembly of
NECESSARY CONCLUSION Ac. 20:7; 1 Cor. 11 situation and circumstance. local church
Authority - ? ? ? Where, that is, what One or a group of saints
Scripture - ? ? ? situation and circumstance. who can’t, don’t, or won’t assemble with local church.
When we examine all the New Testament on the subject of the Lord’s Supper it seems evident to me that to try and partake of the Lord's supper in any situation and circumstance other than an assembly of a local congregation is unauthorized, and actually amounts to only “eating crackers and drinking grape juicer". Such action is outside or beyond the doctrine of Christ, therefore those involved in such action have not God (2 Jn. 9). If it is unauthorized, it is sin; and all the good intentions in the world won’t make it right.
But someone says, “ ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matt. 18:29). So, surely when a group of Christians get together and ‘break bread’ Jesus is with them and it is OK.” There are at least two problems with this reasoning: (1) It misses the contextual point of the verse. This verse is not talking about saints assembling any where and any time. It is talking about binding and loosing action in relation to sin. And if we are going to use it in reference to saints meeting together for various reasons, the context would demand it have reference to the church (a local congregation), vs. 17-f. (2) The verse specifically says "in my name”, that is, by his “authority’. Since he does not authorize partaking of the Lord’s supper in any situation other than an assembly of a local congregation, this verse (if it taught anything on this subject) would teach that he would not be in the midst of those who “broke bread” in some other situation and circumstance.
Then someone else says, “But what about the sick and shut-ins. Surely we can take the Lord’s supper to them Otherwise they would not get to partake because they cannot assemble.” The word cannot is the key here. When someone cannot assemble (or cannot give, or cannot verbally confess Christ, etc.) the Bible teaches he is not condemned or held accountable for what he cannot do; see parable of the talents’’ and 2 Cor. 8:12. And God knows when we cannot and when we just don’t or won't.
Still another says, “Well what about Paul and those that traveled with him. Surely they partook of the Lord’s supper when they couldn’t assemble with a local congregation.” This sounds like the old Methodist argument that surely there were babies in the households of the Jailer and Lydia, thus baby baptism is authorized in the scriptures. A good friend of mine used to respond to this by saying, “They also baptized Lydia’s one- legged husband, the Jailer’s six year old rd-headed twin daughters.” Methodists would want to know where he got this information and he would tell them it was in the same verse that talks about their babies. Just so with Paul and his companions, when they assembled on the roadside between Ephesus and Troas: Silas lead the singing, Luke lead a prayer, Timothy passed the bread and fruit of the vine, and while Paul preached a big limb fell out of the tree under which they were gathered, or was that the time a big bass topped the water and. . . (Acts ??)
Seriously brethren, maybe someone knows some other verses, or can find something in these verses I haven’t seen. If so, please let me know about it. And let’s make sure we have Bible Authority for everything we believe, teach, and practices.
The Lord's Supper - What Arrangement?
1 Cor 10:14-22
1 Cor 11:17-34
Both contexts are talking about one thing, a local church coming together to eat the Supper. Both are specific. The church/congregation is to eat together. In 1 Cor 11 when the church came together to eat and they did not eat together, God condemned it. Also remember, Paul plainly says the background command-ments supporting this eating arrangement is what was said and done when Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper. This is what Jesus was talking about > eating "that day" at "his table in his kingdom"!
ALL authority concerning eating the supper says the church was to and did come together to eat. In the usual Sunday night service the church does not come together to eat the supper. It comes together to watch one or a few “individuals” eat and the rest have no fellowship with the Lord in the eating of the “supper”. Remember ALL fellowship with the Lord is individual.
Again, every passage (example and direct statement) on eating the Supper specifies a congregation coming together to eat the Supper. The supper is an activity of a local church and only a local church. That’s why one or a group of saints on shipboard (or elsewhere) have no authority to eat the supper. The scriptures specify “congregational eating” with individual responsibility for eating worthily just as it specifies “congregational singing” with individual responsibility for singing worthily - no individual (solo) singing and no individual (solo) eating. I am amazed when brethren, who believe the usual Sunday night practice is not authorized, can be part of a church engaged in this practice and believe they are not in fellowship with that practice just because they don't participate, BUT won't "JUST not participate" and be part of a church which uses instrumental music (or solo & duet singing) just on Sunday night... parallel to Lord's supper practice.
We must take care, as Paul warned, that when we “come together to eat” we do not “come together unto judgment (condemnation)…”
Comments, criticisms, and questions are welcomed. – grb
In 1980 I wrote an article about this subject. It was published in Gene Frost's paper "The Gospel Anchor". In the article I contended that the only arrangement for partaking of the Lord's supper was "IN a local church assemble". I received one response. A preacher friend suggested I recheck the scriptures I used. He said he was sure the verses did not say "IN a local church assembly", but rather it was always "BY a local church assembly". At that time I began an intense study of this subject which basically changed by life. But we're not here to discuss that subject. We want to show the results of that study and what I believe the scriptures teach about the "Arrangement" for partaking of the Lord's supper. [Note: In addition to the original article (for your information a copy is printed at he end of this material) there also appeared in the Gospel Anchor other articles and debates on this subject. If interested you may check it out - someone offers all issues of the Gospel Anchor on a CD.]
The following article is reprinted here as it appeared in the December 1980 GOSPEL ANCHOR.
Publisher: Gene Frost Artist: Stephen Sebree
ALL Fellowship with God/Jesus IS Individual
ALL Accountability to God/Jesus IS Individual
ALL Judgment by God/Jesus IS Individual
Though God commands and regulates various “together action” there is no group “fellowship with”, “accountability to”, or “judgment by” God.
1. Congregational Singing - In this “together” (congregational) action ALL fellowship, accountability, and judgment in relation to God IS Individual. The singing of some individuals may be acceptable to God (in spirit & truth), while the singing of other individuals may not be acceptable to God (not in spirit and/or truth).
2. Congregational eating of LS - In this “together” (congregational) action ALL fellowship, accountability, and judgment in relation to God IS Individual. The eating by some individuals may be acceptable to God (in spirit & truth), while the eating by other individuals may not be acceptable to God (not in spirit and/or truth).
Now let’s consider every verse of scriptures which mentions the Lord’s supper:
Instituted by Jesus. There is not one word in these verses concerning any arrangement for eating, just that it would be on “that day” at “his table in his kingdom”. We must learn what day and what arrangement from other verses. In fact, these verses are directly applied to the local church “coming together” to eat at the “Lord’s table” in 1 Cor 10 & 11, where the arrangement for eating is specified. Neither in these verses, nor any other verse, do we ever see just one individual eating, nor some “individual arrangement” for eating, nor a few eating in an assembly and the rest watching. Jesus commanded ALL 12 apostles to partake and we are told they ALL partook together, with a view to eating “new” with him “that day” at “his table in his kingdom”. [Note: Without other verses Jesus' commands could only be applied to the apostles like the Comforter/HS was to come only to the apostles - same context.]
Some think “breaking bread” here is talking about the Lord’s supper and others contend it’s talking about eating a common meal. If it is the Lord's supper, we must go to other verses to learn anything about the “day” and “arrangement”.
Paul, warning the church at Corinth to “flee idolatry”, shows the bread and cup represented the body and blood of Christ, and they could not have fellowship or communion with the Lord and demons at the same time - “ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and the table of demons”. He is obviously referring to their partaking of the Lord’s supper - at “his table in his kingdom”. Again specifics about the “day” and “arrangement” will have to come from other verses.
In a context talking only about a local church “coming together” to eat the Lord’s supper Paul specifies the arrangement for eating as he:
1) Condemns what they were doing when the church “came together” to eat (not eating together and making it a common meal).
2) Shows what Jesus commanded when he instituted the Lord’s supper was not the eating of a common meal but was referring to a church “coming together” to partake of his body and blood.
3) Shows that though it was “together/congregational action” (church coming together in one place), accountability and responsibility was individual.
Because the unit of fellowship IS an individual, therefore one individual
may eat in the assembly of saints while the rest do not eat.
If that’s true then it must follow that:
Because the unit of fellowship IS an individual, therefore one individual
may sing in the assembly of saints while the rest do not sing.
What Works for one MUST Work for the Other!
4) Then he concludes with the solution: “when ye come together to eat, wait one
for another [do it together]. If any man is hungry, let him eat at home; that
your coming together be not unto judgment [condemnation].”
The church at Troas “came together to break bread”, following the exact pattern which Paul commanded in the Corinthian letter approximately 18 months earlier. Here the first day of the week is identified as “that day” Jesus specified for eating at “his table in his kingdom”. Here we see a word picture of what Jesus commanded when he instituted the supper and what Paul commanded in 1 Corinthians 11.
Some Necessary Introductory Facts:
About 50 years ago I made this chart illustrating Individual Responsibility