Ensuring the Blessing of Bread and Wine As We Commune Together

Howdy!

It can be hard to understand why we need to take a whole Thursday lesson to talk about the elements of the Supper. However, sometimes it is helpful to take a moment to give more focus on the little things, which as you usually discover when you look at them, ain’t so little. The parts of the Table meal, including the pastor himself, are all a part of God’s purpose in the feeding of His covenant people by faith. We probably can’t say enough how important it is for Christians not to neglect the sacraments provided by our Lord for our benefit. To forsake the appointment of Christ is to in a real sense abandon Him. That’s the purpose behind our spending time on the query today. What we do matters to God, and if it counts to Him, it should to us.

Here’s the Q/A for today:

Q. 169. How hath Christ appointed bread and wine to be given and received in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper?

A. Christ hath appointed the ministers of his word, in the administration of this sacrament of the Lord’s supper, to set apart the bread and wine from common use, by the word of institution, thanksgiving, and prayer; to take and break the bread, and to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants: who are, by the same appointment, to take and eat the bread, and to drink the wine, in thankful remembrance that the body of Christ was broken and given, and his blood shed, for them.

Christians are called not to reinvent the wheel. Nadab and Abihu teach us clearly that the Lord does not play nice with those who want to make His worship about themselves. That’s why the first word of the answer makes all the difference in the world. Christ has given to us a massive blessing of grace in that He has promised to us that He will be with us until the end of the world in His own body and blood through the elements of the Lord’s Supper. He has established that we are to feed upon Him by bread and wine (more on that in a second), not crackers and 7-Up.

There is an exciting prospect in the idea that God through His Son continues to give Himself on our behalf each time we come together at the table. While the sacrifice was once and for all, that does not change the fact that as the Minister of the Word administers, that is oversees, the setting a part of the common bread and cup, for the nourishment of the saints, he is in a literal sense giving Jesus to his flock. It is the very fulfillment of the testimony of Christ in John 6:35, “And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”.

Take a moment to let that sink in. In order to feed on Him we must come to Him.

That is one of the reasons why we need to remember that faith is an active verb, it’s not a feeling or an idea. Faith grabs hold of that which gives life. That merciful gift granted from above has enabled us by the power of the Holy Spirit to take advantage of the sustaining work available in the Lord’s Supper. If we want to advance forward from weakness to strength, we can’t be satisfied with barely engaging in the Christian life. When Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him it is with the understanding that we would move forward using the instruments He provides to accomplish that work. Herein lies Paul’s whole point to the Corinthian believers as to why they lack so much, because they do not take seriously the sacraments, the means of grace. It is incredibly important in the scheme of things. There is such a richness in the elements of bread and the cup that we fail to gain if we don’t put in the effort to not just learn why they should be important to us, but why they are important to our Lord and Savior.

Let’s take a step back and think about the mechanics again. First of all, we have a Minister. What and who is that? In the ARP that means a man (and by man we mean an XY creature, see 1 Tim. 2:12) who the Presbytery has tried through exams, both oral and written, and set apart by the laying on hands, by the call of Christ, and because of that he has the right and responsibility to care for the sheep of His pasture by ensuring the elements are properly administered in the worship of the church. Elders and Deacons are ordained by the local church, they have extremely vital roles and callings, but one is to shepherd/rule the people, and the other is to care/provide for the people. Only the agent of the Lord given that role can properly engage in it. The Christian faith is not one built on the foundation of anarchy, but on things done decently and in order. We must humbly be obedient in all things.

The Lord’s Supper is not a time for games, nor to try and be hip and relevant to 2024 or whatever. I’ve personally been witness to a number of really troubling things from what we sometimes call “big-box” churches who are trying to find a way to sell Christianity to a culture which does not have the patience or the curiosity to be bound by the witness of the Bible. So instead of humbly standing under the good witness of Jesus they feel as if the sacraments need improved upon to meet people where they are, but that is never what Christ did when it came to establishing His ways. Christ knows the way, the truth, and life because that is Him.

In closing, I do want to touch on the question of wine vs. grape juice. If we are going to spend time taking seriously how God would have us to celebrate His Supper the actual items we are putting into our mouths probably rate a word. There isn’t much disagreement over bread, whether it be leavened or unleavened as long as it is bread, and not crackers you are in like flint. It is true that there used to be not much of a question about the wine either, until the Nineteenth century temperance movement and the invention of Dr. Welch allowed for grape juice that stayed without spoil. But especially in the South and Midwest most, if not all for a time, left the confines of Manischewitz for Concord. Does it matter? In a way, yes, there is no doubt that what the Lord gave to His disciples was alcoholic wine. It’s why Paul condemns the Corinthians for getting drunk at the Table. That’s only possible with fermentation. So what are we to do today? I have my own personal conviction (wine), however, the conscience of many is troubled by the idea of using it in 2024. The Communion of the people of God is to be a unifying place of mercy and love. Romans 14 does in fact in my mind play a role here. There is the way it should be done, and then there is the way it needs be done based on the capacity and conviction of the church. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind, and let believers be at peace in it.

No extra words today.

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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