Thursday, March 24, 2011
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - The Lord's Supper
Regarding the Lord’s Supper, the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 says:
The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread & the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer & anticipate His 2nd coming.*
There are two main aspects of the confession highlighted. The first regards the memorial aspect of the Lord’s Supper. Throughout Scripture, God’s people are commanded to remember. The Jewish Passover was given as a means to remember the Exodus. Jews repeatedly laid out 12 stones to remember great works of God. And in the New Testament we are given the Lord’s Supper to be constantly reminded of what Christ accomplished on the cross.
Like the Passover lamb whose shed blood redeemed the Israelites, so too the shed blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, redeems those who believe. Communion forces us to recall not just what Christ did but why He did it. He is the Divine Passover Lamb who took away the sins of the world – our sins. His body was broken (the bread) & His blood was shed (the fruit of the vine) on our behalf. Without His death (& resurrection) we would not be redeemed. We would not have hope. We would not be restored. We would not be reconciled. We would not be saved. The cross is central to everything Christians believe & affirm. The Lord’s Supper forces us to turn back to the cross & look at the One in whom stands in our place.
The second aspect mentioned by the confession regards anticipation. The Apostle Paul commands believers to continue to remember Jesus’ death & resurrection through this ordinance until Christ’s certain return. At that point, we will not need to remember for we will stand before the Trinity for eternity.
Believe it or not, this issue was the mostly hotly debated among the Reformers in the 16th Century. They all agreed on the gospel, on Christ, on Scripture, & the salvific doctrines of the faith, but when it came to the Lord’s Supper, they were deeply divided. One of the issues that remain with us today (& still divides denominations) is the substance of the bread & juice/wine. Catholicism teaches that upon the blessing of the priest, they become the literal body & blood of Jesus (transubstantiation). Lutherans modify this some (consubstantiation). Baptists & others hold that the bread & the juice are just that: bread & juice. There is no miraculous blessing or special presence within the bread/juice. They are just bread & juice. Baptist have understood that the debate need not be over such things. What they are is not as important as the purpose the serve & the symbol they represent. In all of this we have forgotten the cross.
At the end of the day, however, let us see in the Lord’s Supper, not a religious ritual we just do, but an opportunity to reflect, to remember, & to rejoice in what Christ has done. The Lord’s Supper will not save you & it will not keep you in the Father’s arms. Christ accomplished that at the cross. Let us never forget that. So as we participate in the Lord’s Supper moving forward, let us not complain that the service may go long or that the crackers taste bad. Instead, let us rejoice that though we were lost, we were found. Though we were blind, we now see. Let us then share with one another, as a redeemed community, at the Lord’s table & rejoice in His work on the cross by which we have been saved.
* The BF&M 2000 cite the following verses: Matt 26:26-30; Mk 14:22-26; Lk 22:19-20; Jn Acts 2:41-42; 20:7; 1 Cor 10:16,21; 11:23-29.
** The above picture is one of the most famous in history painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. And for all of you Da Vinci Code fans, no I don't think that is Mary Magdalene in there.
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - Introduction
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - Scripture
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - God
This is Who We Are What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Father
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Son
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Spirit
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - Man
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - Salvation
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - God's Purpose of Grace
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - Church
This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - Baptism