“Take your hands off of that Lord’s Supper Table!” Those were my grandmother’s direction to me at about seven years old while I stood in front of the sanctuary waiting on my grandmother to finish talking after a service when the Lord’s Supper had been served. That is when we took holy things seriously. I didn’t mean to put my hands on it. I was just standing next to it and probably got a little too comfortable, a little too distracted and a little too tired to be standing that close to the Lord’s Supper Table.
Maybe that’s what’s going on now in our churches with some of our pastors and believers. Maybe we are a little too comfortable around holy things. Maybe we are too distracted by the flesh and pleasures that we see in our sanctuaries. Maybe we are too tired from doing ministry out of the flesh. Well if that is your spiritual condition you should consider these directions – “Take your hands off that Lord’s Supper Table”.
This article is a brief and biblical response to several believers who have contacted me and sought my thoughts on a teaching they believe is spreading among younger pastors in their region. It is a teaching that purports to have a revelation of the Lord’s Supper that actually protests and offers an alternative to serving the Lord’s Supper in a biblical order. We have the established protocol of Jesus, the witness of apostles, the records of the Early Church and 2000 years of saints receiving the Lord’s Supper now being contested by some “new revelation” about the body and blood of Jesus.
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (I Corinthians 11:26). The elements of the Lord’s Supper should be without question. The elements of the Lord’s Supper are the bread and the cup. In order to serve the Lord’s Supper as patterned by Christ, practiced by the Early Church and as presented by the Apostle Paul you would have to have bread and fruit of the vine or wine. These elements are essential.
What should also be without question is the order of the Lord’s Supper. The order of the Lord’s Supper is bread and cup. That is the order of first mention and it is the order throughout the Bible. In Genesis 14:18 states, “Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God”. This is the first mention of the covenant meal that is in type and shadow a precursor to the Lord’s Supper, pointing, of course, to the greater reality of redemption through the body and blood of Jesus. What is the order? Bread and wine.
When Jesus gathers His disciples for their famed Last Supper Jesus gave leadership to the protocol at the table. This was His protocol – “And he took bread and gave thanks, and brake it…” (Luke 22:18). “Likewise also the cup after the supper saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). The cup was served, “after the supper”. That means the order stands – bread and wine.
In Matthew’s account this is the protocol patterned by Jesus – “And as they were eating Jesus took bread, and blessed it and brake it and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, “Drink ye all of it” (Matthew 26:26-27). The order stands again – bread and cup.
In Mark’s account this is the protocol recorded – “And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave it to them, and said, Take eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it” (Mark 14:22-23). The order stands again – the bread and then the cup.
When Paul recounts the Lord’s Supper narrative to the Church at Corinth he makes the claim that what he is giving them is what was given to him by Jesus, “For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you…” (11:23). In other words, the Apostle Paul is claiming divine revelation concerning the teaching of the Lord’s Supper. So the protocol Paul gives is the definitive protocol according to the pattern of Jesus, the teaching of the apostles and now by direct divine revelation. “That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread..” (11:23). “After the same manner also He took the cup, when he had supped saying..” (11:25). There it is again! It is the bread and then the cup!
From the Scriptures the conclusion is concrete and clear – The elements of the Lord Supper are bread and fruit of the vine. The order of the Lord’s Supper is bread and then cup. This is not trivial. This is doctrinal. The Lord’s Supper must represent the elements and the order of redemption. Remember, it is to “show the Lord’s death till He come”..” (11:26). If the elements or the order is not done according to biblical protocol the Lord’s Supper does not contain the message nor the ministry it is intended to be in the midst of the congregation.
How is it then, we have some who are claiming a new order to the Lord’s Supper? Who are these preachers who are now teaching God’s people to take the cup before the bread when receiving the Lord’s Supper? Have they received a greater revelation than the Apostle Paul? Have they a better order than the order of Melchizedek?
Where in the Bible is the blood of the lamb more important than the lamb? No one was saved out of Egypt by blood alone. They were saved out of Egypt by the body and the blood of a sacrificial lamb. What was the order? “Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin…” (Exodus 14:21-22). The order is the body and then the blood. The lamb is the source of the blood. The blood is the life of the lamb.
Who dares to place more importance on the blood of Jesus than the body of Jesus? What new doctrine is this? Does this line up with the principles and patterns of Jesus and the apostles? No. It does not. What some preachers are now teaching as the Lord’s Supper is heresy. This must be stopped. The Lord”s Supper is a cardinal ritual and core spiritual ordinance of the New Testament Church. It’s too important to get it wrong.
Pastors, I call us back to the protocol of Jesus and the apostles. Serve the Lord’s Supper according to the Word. “Wherefore whosoever shall eat of this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (I Corinthians 11:27). Please note the order. The bread is before the cup; the body is before the blood.
Pastors have a responsibility to the people of God to protect them from eating and drinking unworthily. That is exactly why the Apostle Paul is addressing the matters surrounding the improper protocol of the Lord’s Supper head on. He knows that the improper spiritual approach to the Lord’s Supper can cause sickness and even death in a congregation (I Corinthians 11:29-30).
Have you not read, “But let a man examine himself; and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (I Corinthians 11:28). We need an examination of how we are administering and receiving the Lord’s Supper. You may again and finally note the order. The bread comes before the cup. You eat before you drink. You also have to get saved before you can get filled with the Holy Ghost. It’s just God’s way of doing things!
This coming Sunday I pray pastors will lead churches into a biblical expression and the spiritual experience of the Lord’s Supper.