The following is the text of a leaflet I wrote for Brotherhood Baptist Church, Eldoret, Kenya. A longer written paper is available here .
Why does Brotherhood Baptist Church celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week?
In this church we keep the Lord’s Supper every week. Most other churches do it less often; perhaps once a month. Why do we do this?
In this leaflet, we will use the words “the Lord’s Supper” (which the apostle Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 11:20). We could also say “the Lord’s Table” (this is in 1 Corinthians 10:21) or “Communion” (which means “fellowship”, in 1 Corinthians 10:16 in the King James Bible), or “Eucharist” (which means “thanksgiving” – 1 Corinthians 11:24). All these words are referring to the same event – where Christians take bread and wine to remember the death of Jesus. This is not the “Mass” which is held in the Roman Catholic church. The “Mass”, though it uses bread and wine, is a very different meal. The Roman Catholic church teaches serious errors about Jesus and salvation, and these are taught through the “Mass”. Therefore we do not use the word “Mass” to speak about the Biblical Lord’s Supper.
Every question about Christianity should be answered from the Bible, the word of God. If a teaching is not in the Bible, then we cannot command people to believe it. Proverbs 30:5 says “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him”. The next verse continues, “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”
Firstly, we must say that the Bible does not tell us how often to hold the Lord’s Supper. There is no verse which says “do it every week”, or “do it every month”. Jesus told us to hold the Lord’s Supper to remember him (1 Corinthians 11:24), but he did not say when. Therefore, if another church has a different practice, we do not condemn them (Romans 14:10). The Lord has given them freedom to decide what they believe is best. Jesus has given us the same freedom. We think that our practice is the best response to the Bible.
A great gift from Christ
True Christianity does not have many outward symbols. Special clothes, statues of Jesus, altars, and so on, are not in the Bible. There are not many special services either. Ministers do not have powers to bless fields, or houses – this is not Scriptural. But, Jesus did give his church two special acts – 1) baptism and 2) the Lord’s Supper. Both are very closely related to him and his death. He gave us the Lord’s Supper especially to focus on and remember his death for our sins. He said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Christ gave himself at the cross to pay the price for our sins. God’s anger fell on him as he shed his blood (Romans 3:24-25). He did this freely, as a gift to us. He did all that we needed – the whole price is paid and nothing remains. Everyone who trusts in that death is saved now and forever (Hebrews 7:25). The worst sinner is welcomed and made a child of God, because of Calvary.
This is something to remember often! It is true that we can – and should – remember Jesus’ death every day. We do not have to take bread and wine before we can remember. But, since Jesus gave us the Supper to remember him in a special way, should we not use them often? And should we not expect a special blessing?
Every week, believers in a church praise God with singing – because God is great! We pray to him – because we adore him, and we need him. We hear his word preached – because man cannot live only on bread (Matthew 4:4). But what is the greatest reason for praising God? It is the death of his Son for our eternal salvation. What is the heart of God’s word? It is the gospel of Christ, where he died in our place. The death of Jesus should be at the heart of our worship. Jesus himself personally gave us the Lord’s Supper for this.
Sunday is “the Lord’s Day”. It God’s special day, when Jesus rose from the dead. The church meets on Sunday to rejoice and remember Jesus. Jesus gave us a special meal to help us with this. Why would we meet on Sunday and not use this gift from Jesus? Is it wrong to use it too much? Surely not.
Renewing our vows
Here is another reason. Sadly, believers are not yet perfect. They still sin – all of them (1 John 1:8, 10). They need again and again to be sorry, to come to God, confess their sins, remember the death of Jesus, and to be reminded that Jesus loves them and forgives them.
One of the devil’s weapons is guilt. He makes believers feel that they have failed God too many times; that their service is no use, and that God rejects them. These are all lies. According to the Bible, fellowship with God is always restored by true repentance (1 John 1:9). And then God wishes us to go out and serve him again.
The Lord’s Supper is especially helpful for this. Jesus gave the Lord’s Supper to represent the “New Covenant” in his blood (1 Corinthians 11:25). Through this covenant, believers become the people of God and enjoy the privilege of serving him (Ephesians 2:10). When we take the Lord’s Supper, we are taking part in the covenant’s renewal. We remember the basis of the covenant: the blood of Christ. In our hearts, we repent for the sins of the previous week, and are reminded again of free forgiveness. It is true that we can do these things without the Lord’s Supper. But when Christ has given it for this purpose, should we not use it? In truth, we are very weak people. Though we would like to keep Christ and his gospel central in our lives and churches, we often begin to forget. The Lord’s Supper is God’s gift to help stop this from happening.
God, when he made the world, made the world to have weeks (Genesis 1:1-2:3). It was God’s plan for the church to gather together once a week, every Sunday (Exodus 20:8-11, Acts 20:7). A new cycle begins each Sunday. Should not that new cycle begin by renewing our covenant commitment? There is no good reason not to.
Keeping the Lord’s Supper often has many other blessings. Firstly, it reminds us that the church are all brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no “Master” or “Lord” in the church, except Jesus. We all sit round the table together, as equals. We share one loaf of bread, and one cup (1 Corinthians 10:17). Sadly, many churches in Kenya have forgotten this. The Pastor preaches every week and makes all the important decisions. Soon people make the mistake of thinking he is more important than the others. The Bible tells us that the church is a body and that every part of the body is needed (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). Nobody – whatever their gifts – has higher spiritual privileges in Christ than another believer. All are sinners, who become children of God through trusting in Christ. Round the Lord’s Table, as we all take together of the one loaf and the one cup, we can see this truth clearly. Rich and poor, young and old, strong and weak – we are all brethren, equal in Christ (Galatians 3:28).
Here is another blessing. In many church services, there is never any silence. Somebody is always preaching, or singing, or praying. There is no opportunity for believers to quietly remember their sins and seek the Lord. The Lord’s Supper gives us this opportunity to do so together on a Sunday.
Thirdly, having the Lord’s Supper every week is a powerful sign to those who are not yet converted. They can see that they are outside the church’s life. They are outside now, and will be in eternity, unless they repent.
The Lord’s Supper is also important in helping believers to keep walking rightly with God. When someone falls into sin, the leaders of the church need to help them to return. Until they return, they are not allowed to take part in the Supper. Sin is serious. The Bible says that unrighteous people will not enter heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9). The Lord’s Supper each week is a picture of heaven: God’s people sit and feast with him.
Question: Who should take the Lord’s Supper?
The Lord’s Supper is the “family meal” of the church. It is for all of the church members – those who have been received into the church. We have another leaflet available about becoming part of the church to explain this.
Question: Do you drink alcohol?
Very many people in Kenya are offended by alcohol and believe that only drunkards drink alcohol; therefore we use red grape juice without alcohol.