Tag Archives: Lord’s Supper

Anamnesis: A Fresh Experience of the Cross of Christ

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

Luke 22:19

Remembrance is the Greek word, anamnesis. Anamnesis does not only mean memory by mental recall, but the fresh experience of a past event by reenactment. This mysterious work of the Holy Spirit brings the evening of the Last Supper forward in order that the people of God may experience the crucified and resurrected Christ afresh.

At the Last Supper, the apostles enjoyed all the benefits of the Cross before Christ actually died. Similarly, when we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, we encounter afresh all benefits of Christ work on the cross after he died: liberty, forgiveness, renewal, healing, etc.  These benefits and more are imparted to us at the moment we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. All that Christ was, all that Christ did, and that Christ is today is communicated afresh to us when we partake of Holy Eucharist.

It is highly significant that the only regular ritual act instituted and commanded by Jesus sets forth supremely his death. It is his *death*, his body given and blood shed, which the bread and wine were intended to signify. In issuing the command to ‘do this in remembrance’ of him, he intended that his atoning death should be kept before every generation, indeed ‘placarded’ before their very eyes. This according to Paul is the function of preaching. It is one of the functions of communion also.

The ministry of both Word and sacrament makes Christ’s death contemporary, presenting it anew not to God (for the sacrifice itself was offered on the cross once for all) but to men (for its benefits are always freshly available).

John Stott, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1970), 119.

Eating and Drinking With God

The Covenant Meal

And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence!

Ex. 24:11 NLT

Holy Eucharist is the act of giving thanks through the partaking of the Lord’s Supper: each believer commemorates the death of Christ by receiving the elements of bread and wine. At the table, the resurrected Christ meets the people of God as the heart of God makes known the love of God in bread and wine.

Christ is present in the bread and wine of Holy Eucharist, he is present in the congregation, and he is present in the faith of each believer. This meal of the Lord renews within us the power of the Cross, the security of the new covenant, and love for Christ and one another. Through prayer; we are nourished by His presence. Through faith; we are strengthened by His grace. Through receiving; our intimate relationship with God is renewed.

The Lord’s Supper is precious: an encounter with the living Christ. Grace is poured forth, faith renewed, spirit-encouraged, healing released, and hope restored at the table of the Lord. We eat and drink with the living resurrected Christ.

Eating and drinking at the Lord’s Table is an experience of God’s work of salvation in Jesus Christ. It proclaims the Gospel through dramatization. It enacts the death and resurrection of Christ in such a way that the senses are engaged [as] the worshiper . . . sees, tastes, smells, and experiences the symbol of Christ’s death in the bread and wine. In this way, Christ is communicated to the whole person, bringing healing to body, soul, and spirit.

Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1992), 79.

HT: Webber Quote of the Week

 

“Both Convey the Same Christ”

Word and Sacraments

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

John 6:51

The Lord’s Supper is precious: an encounter with the living Christ. Grace is poured forth, faith renewed, spirit-encouraged, healing released, and hope restored at the table of the Lord. At the table, the resurrected Christ meets the people of God as the heart of God makes known the love of God in bread and wine.

This same renewal occurs in the hearing and receiving of the Word of God. In the Word, we are drawn to Christ: faith received, hope renewed, obedience empowered, and hearts healed. The Word and sacraments work together: the sacraments portray to our eyes the written truth of God’s promises.

The sacraments are visible means through which we and Christ commune. They encourage us to be like Christ in all His holiness. The grace received through the sacraments is no different from that received through the Word. Both convey the same Christ.

Joel R. Beeke,  Feed My Sheep, ed., Don Kistler (Soli Deo Gloria Ministries, 2002), 121.

Thus does God make known His secret purpose to His Church: first he declares His mercy by His Word; then He seals it and assures it by His sacraments. In the Word we have His promises: in the sacraments we see them.

John Jewell cited in Philip E. Hughes, Theology of the English Reformers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 189.

Security Like No Other

The Covenant of Joy

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

Hebrews 7:22

Next week will be my fifteenth anniversary as an ordained presbyter in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (C.E.C.). I have been blessed by God to preach most Sundays during those same years. I love preaching and one of my favorite topics is the blessings of the new covenant (Heb. 7:22). The New Covenant gives me a unsurpassed security in my relationship with the Lord: I do not have to fear being rejected, discarded, or ignored by God. The new covenant gives me and you a security that no other person, document, or event can provide.

What makes the New Covenant better than the Old? The New Covenant secures the promise of an indwelling Holy Spirit who by his mighty power will produce an obedient and holy people of God. In the New Covenant, God promises that he will keep us by his divine power, therefore we need never to fear losing our salvation (Eph. 1:13-14).

The new covenant is an eternal binding promise that God in Christ will love each believer and never let them go (John 10:25-30, Isa. 49:15-16). The new covenant is God’s promise that he will pursue us and woo us and guide us and change us so that we as believers will follow him all the days of our lives (Jer. 32:38-41). Not only does God commit himself to keep us, but he places his Holy Spirit in us as a seal to the deal. The Holy Spirit becomes a deposit guaranteeing our final salvation upon the Second Coming of Jesus (2 Cor. 1: 18-22). Therefore, we need no longer to be sin-conscious, self-conscious, or performance-conscious, we are now free to be fully conscious of Christ and all the benefits he has provided for us in the Cross (Eph. 1:3).

Here we have arrived at the central mystery of living the Christian life. Christ has died for our sins and risen from the dead. Because of his blood and righteousness we are forgiven and counted righteous by God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9; Rom. 5:19). Therefore, Christ has become the Yes to all God’s promises (2 Cor. 1:20). Everything promised by the prophets for the new covenant has been purchased for us infallibly by Christ. These new-covenant promises include, “The LORD your God will circumcise your heart . . . so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart” (Deut. 30:6); and, “I will put my law within them . . . on their hearts” (Jer. 31:33); and, “I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezek.11:19); and, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes” (Ezek. 36:27).

All of these new-covenant promises have been secured for us by Christ who said at the Last Supper, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). The blood of Christ obtained for us all the promises of the new covenant. But look again at these promises. What distinguishes them from the old covenant is that they are promises for enablement. They are promises that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We need a new heart to delight in God. We need the Spirit of God whose fruit is joy in God. We need to have the law written on our heart, not just written on stone, so that when it says, “Love the Lord with all your heart,” the Word itself produces the reality within us. In other words, we need the gift of joy in God. Left to ourselves, we will not produce it. That’s what Christ bought for us when he died and shed the blood of the new covenant. He bought for us the gift of joy in God.

John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 52.

The Presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper

Christ Present, Not Absent, at His Table

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Luke 22:19-20

In Roman Catholic and Protestant discussions on the nature and meaning of the Lord’s Supper, Roman Catholic polemicists often criticize Evangelicals for dumbing down the nature of the sacraments by making them mere symbols. They lump all Protestants together as Memorialists: Christians who honor Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross by reenacting the Last Supper meal without faith that Christ is actually present. True some Protestants obey Christ’s command to practice the Lord’s Supper as an attempt to simply remember Christ’s work on the cross (Luke 22:19). These groups or denominations descend theologically from the reformed movement of Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531). Zwingli adhered to a figurative understanding of the words of Jesus, “This is [signifies] my Body.”

However, the Reformed branches (i.e., John Calvin) and the Wesleyan/Arminian branches (i.e., John Wesley) of Evangelicalism believe that Christ is present in the bread and wine by the power of the Holy Spirit.

John Calvin stated that if Christ is not present then “this holy sacrament [is] frivolous and useless.”

We begin now to enter on the question so much debated, both anciently and at the present time—how we are to understand the words in which the bread is called the body of Christ, and the wine his blood. This may be disposed of without much difficulty, if we carefully observe the principle which I lately laid down, viz., that all the benefit which we should seek in the Supper is annihilated if Jesus Christ be not there given to us as the substance and foundation of all. That being fixed, we will confess, without doubt, that to deny that a true communication of Jesus Christ is presented to us in the Supper, is to render this holy sacrament frivolous and useless—an execrable blasphemy unfit to be listened to.

John Calvin, A Short Treatise on the Lord’s Supper

John Wesley preached that where Christ is present, grace is present, and where grace is present, strength to live the Christian life is present.

The grace of God given herein confirms to us the pardon of our sins, by enabling us to leave them. As our bodies are strengthened by bread and wine, so are our souls by these tokens of the body and blood of Christ. This is the food of our souls: This gives strength to perform our duty, and leads us on to perfection.

If, therefore, we have any regard for the plain command of Christ, if we desire the pardon of our sins, if we wish for strength to believe, to love and obey God, then we should neglect no opportunity of receiving the Lord’s Supper; then we must never turn our backs on the feast which our Lord has prepared for us.

John Wesley, “The Duty of Constant Communion”

HT: Euangelion

Heavenly Worship (Part One)

Lifted Up With the Ascended Christ

At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.

Rev. 4:2

Heavenly worship occurs during the celebration of the ancient liturgy as the people of God are lifted up to heaven with the ascended Christ as they partake of Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist unites heaven and earth by elevating the church into an experience of worship with the people of God, past and present, around the throne of God in the presence of God.

Heavenly worship recognizes that the line between the physical reality of earth and its three dimensions and the spiritual reality of heaven and its angelic worship will become blurred as we enter the presence of the Lamb of God , slain yet standing, on the altar of God.

The worship that we experience on earth should be an experience of the worship that is presently occurring in heaven. Not only should heavenly worship be our experience, but our models of worship should reflect those elements of worship used in heaven.

Biblical instruction directs the people of God to worship following the model and practices of heaven. Earthly worship is to mirror heavenly worship in “spirit and in truth” (Ex. 24:9-11; Isa. 6:1-5; Ezek. 1:4-28; Dan. 7:9-14; Heb. 12:22-24; Rev. 4:1-5:14).

In order that pious souls may duly apprehend Christ in the supper, they may be raised up to heaven . . . and for the same reason it was established of old that before the consecration the people should be told in a loud voice to lift up their hearts.

John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.17.36.

We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth.” Worship, for the Orthodox Church, is nothing less than “heaven on earth.” The Holy Liturgy is something that embraces two worlds at once, for both in heaven and on earth the liturgy is one and the same—one altar, one sacrifice, one presence. In every place of worship, however humble its outward appearance, as the faithful gather to perform the Eucharist, they are taken up into the “heavenly places”; in every place of worship when the holy sacrifice is offered, not merely the local congregation is present, but the church universal—the saints, the angels, the Mother of God, and Christ himself.

Timothy (Kallistos) Ware, “The Earthly Heaven,” Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader, ed., Daniel Clendenin (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1995), 12.

Koinonia and the Lord’s Supper

Koinonia: Sharers in the Life of God

When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ?

1 Cor. 10:19 NLT

I was raised in a tradition that taught that the Lord’s Supper (i.e., Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion) was merely symbolic.  By the partaking of the grape juice and the consumption of a cracker, a simple memorial meal was offered to give thanks for the death of Christ. I always appreciated these quarterly services, but I thought there must be something more to this solemn ritual. The spiritual experience of the celebration of our Lord’s Body and Blood had to be more significant than just a service of memory by mental recall.

As a young Christian, I studied Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians faithfully and diligently. In my studies, I found key biblical words which provided deeper meaning to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10: 14-22) than previously I had been taught. Consequently, I realized that large segments of the Body of Christ also made that same discovery and practiced those truths for centuries.

One of those words of significance was the Greek word, koinonia (1 Cor. 10: 16).  Koinonia is translated as share (NLT, NASU, NRSV), participate (NIV, ESV), partake (The Message), fellowship, commune (NKJV), and union (Douay-Rheims). As the reader can see, Koinonia is a word of great depth and meaning. The Apostle Paul is saying that when we receive the elements of wine and bread; we are sharing, participating, partaking, fellowshipping, communing, and uniting with the risen Christ. In Holy Communion, we experience afresh all the benefits of the finished work of Christ and encounter through Christ’s presence sanctifying grace to live the Christian life.

When we drink the Blood of Christ and and eat of the Body of Christ . . .

1. We share in the power of the resurrected Christ. He is risen and therefore alive, and by his power, we are made victorious.

2. We participate in the very life of God. We become receivers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

3. We partake of his grace. Sanctifying grace to live the Christian life: strength and power to respond to every life situation according to the will of God.

4. We fellowship with God and all his saints as the congregation enters into heavenly worship (Rev. 4 & 5).

5. We commune with Christ enjoying afresh his love, grace, and covenant promises.

6. We are brought into union with the heart and will of God. Our hearts are “righted” as we receive Christ the Body and Blood of Christ. By partaking, we submit to his Lordship afresh conforming our hearts and wills to his designs and purposes.

In summary, the Apostle Paul describes our Eucharistic meal as a koinonia. Koinonia means sharing, partaking, fellowship, communing, and unifying participation in the life of God. When we drink the Blood and eat the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ: we commune with Christ, we share in his resurrection, we partake of his grace, we fellowship with God and his saints, and we are brought into union with his heart and will. In short, we become partakers—people who share in the very life of God.

Daily communion and participation in his holy Body and Blood of Christ is a good and helpful practice. Christ clearly says, “He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life.” Who doubts that to partake of life continually is really to have life in abundance? For myself, I communicate four times a week . . .  on the Lord’s Day, on Wednesday, on Friday, and on Saturday, and on the other days if there is a commemoration of a martyr.

St. Basil the Great of Caesarea (375 A.D.) cited in What the Church Fathers Say About  . . . ed., George W. Grube (Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life, 1996), 8.