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Communion: The Covenant Meal

Communion is a vital aspect of life within the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Communion is not intended to be a mere ritual exercised with a great deal of formality, but having no real significance. It is an act through which we "remember the work of the Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 11:23-26). Many have observed this act with little or no knowledge of its scriptural significance. In this lesson, we will trace the history of the Covenant Meal and thus show its importance to each believer.

  1. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE WORD "COMMUNION"?--The word means "act of sharing, communication, unity, concord, agreement, joint participation".
  2. WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE COMMUNION MEAL?
    1. The Old Testament records that God gave Israel a command to observe three feasts during the year. "The Passover" was the first feast of the year. This feast served as a reminder to Israel of their deliverance, by God, from Egyptian bondage. The feast centered around the blood and body of a lamb (see Exodus 12:1-14).
    2. Jesus kept this same feast with His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:15-20).
    3. Jesus transformed this last Passover Feast into the "communion meal" which the church celebrates today.
    4. Jesus Christ's body and blood was the fulfillment of the Passover Lamb.
      1. Jesus is called the "Lamb of God" (John 1:29).
      2. Christ called "our Passover" (I Corinthians 5:7).
      3. Christ called the "lamb without spot or blemish" (I Peter 1:19).
    5. Paul received a distinct revelation concerning the covenant meal (I Corinthians 11:23-32).
  3. WHAT DO THE ELEMENTS OF COMMUNION REPRESENT?
    1. The Bread
      1. Jesus' body which He allowed to be broken for us (Luke 22:19; I John 3:16; Isaiah 53:4-6).
      2. The body of Christ as the Church Universal of which each believer is a part (I Corinthians 10:16, 17; I Corinthians 12:12, 13).
      3. By partaking of the bread, we acknowledge participation in the sacrifice of the cross (Galatians 2:20; 6:14; Romans 6:6, 11).
      4. By partaking of the bread, we acknowledge that Christ body was broken for our healing (Isaiah 53:5; I Peter 2:24).
      5. Jesus is referred to as the "Bread of Life", able to give eternal life (John 6:32, 48-51, 53, 58).
    2. The Wine
      1. Christ's Blood
        1. Of the New Covenant (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:11-14).
        2. Shed on behalf of many (Matthew 26:28; 20:28).
        3. For forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28; Romans 5:9; I John 1:7; Ephesians 1:7).
      2. It can also be representative of the Holy Spirit who gives us life.
        1. The life of the body is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11, 14).
        2. When we drink the cup, we share in the blood of Christ (I Corinthians 10:16).
        3. We are all made to drink of one spirit (I Corinthians 12:13).
      3. The blood has a voice (Genesis 4:10).
        1. For the children of Israel, as they smeared it on their doorposts, it was a protection for them (Exodus 12:21-23).
        2. For the believer today, it speaks of better things (Hebrews 12:24). It provides freedom from sin, sickness and disease.
      4. As we partake of the cup in Communion, we drink a cup of blessing (I Corinthians 10:16).
  4. HOW ARE WE TO RECEIVE COMMUNION?
    1. As a Believer: Because it shows a sharing in the body and blood of the Lord, the communicant must have experientially received the atoning work of Christ in his life (must be "born-again").
    2. One must not partake in an unworthy manner and must:
      1. Examine (or prove) himself (I Corinthians 11:28).
      2. Properly discern what the supper represents (I Corinthians 11:29).
    3. Consequences of receiving unworthily.
      1. Guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
      2. Eats and drinks judgment upon himself.
      3. Will reap weakness and sickness.
      4. Sleep (literally "death").

Communion is an outward sign that the communicant has, or is, appropriating into his life that which the elements represent. By partaking in the Communion service he is professing his association with the sacrifice of Christ. Therefore, he must be presently sharing in that sacrifice. The communicant must:

  1. Be presenting his body as a "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1).
  2. Die to self daily (I Corinthians 15:31; Romans 8:36).
  3. "Lose" his life (Matthew 16:25).
  4. Suffer for the gospel (II Timothy 1:8).

Communion:  The Covenant Meal

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Mailing Address: New Life Church
P.O. Box 975
Franklin, VA 23581
Phone: (757) 562-4705
   

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