PART 5 FAVOR WITH GOD AND MAN

Thu, 12/03/2020 - 7:00am

PART 5 FAVOR WITH GOD AND MAN

6

AT COMMUNION IS THE CHANGING OF THE BREAD AND WINE INTO THE LITERAL BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST SUPPORTED BY THE SCRIPTURES THAT RELATE TO THE DISPENSATION KNOWN AS THE CHURCH AGE?

Will any of these Scripture sections taken from the book of Acts, the Epistles, or the book of Revelation provide further insight as to whether the elements of the bread and wine at communion become the literal body and blood of Christ? This dispensation, called the Church Age, is the time when the Holy Spirit came to indwell those who repented and believed in Christ.

Let’s start by taking a look at some Scriptures from the book of Acts.                                

Why were saved Gentiles prohibited from partaking of meats offered to idols, of blood, of things strangled, and from fornication? 

 

Suggested Reading: Acts 15:1-30

And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. (Acts 15:1)

The elders and apostles of the Jerusalem church sent Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas to read a letter to the churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia informing them that the Gentile believers did not need to be circumcised in order to be saved. The background to this was that there were many Jews who believed that before a Gentile can become saved, they must first become circumcised which would signify their conversion to Judaism. Once circumcised, they would be obligated to keep the entire Mosaic Law. If they followed in these steps, then their subsequent repentance and belief in Jesus would secure their salvation.

That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. (Acts 15:29)

The conclusion by the elders and apostles was that a Gentile does not have to be circumcised and subsequently keep the law of Moses in order to be saved. However, there were some conditions which the Gentiles should abide by. These are that they should abstain from eating meats offered to idols, from committing fornication, from blood, and from eating things strangled. It’s pretty obvious that the warning to not engage in fornication would inhibit their spiritual growth. But why were they asked to abstain from eating meats offered to idols, from blood, and from things strangled?  

In respect to not eating meats offered to idols, this had to do with the association of eating meats that were involved with animal sacrificial offerings in regards to pagan worship. The prohibition about blood had to do with not drinking it. And as far as not eating things strangled, this referred to animals killed by strangulation whose meat still contained blood in it.  

The reasons for these restrictions about blood were because the early church would meet together for group meals, called agape feasts that were initially held daily, but later on were changed to meet once a week, at which time food and drink was to be shared amongst one another. An issue that became contentious was that the converted Jewish Christians were still abiding by the dietary Mosaic laws, which prohibited them from consuming blood whether in meat or drink. So, a proclamation was made mandating that when the Gentiles brought food and drink to the feast, they were not allowed to bring meat offered to idols, not allowed to eat meat with blood in it, and not allowed to drink anything with blood in it.

At Communion Are the Elements of Bread and Wine Changed into Christ’s Literal Body and Blood?

  • No
  • Even though many Jews became Christians, they continued to observe aspects of the Mosaic dietary laws, two of which were that they were prohibited from eating meat with blood in it and of partaking of any drink with blood in it.
  • When the Jews and Gentiles ate together at the Agape Feast, the Gentiles would make sure that if they brought meat it would not have been offered to idols, the blood would have been drained out of it, and if they brought something to drink it would not contain any blood.
  • If communion was celebrated and the Jews were told that the wine would become Christ’s literal blood, they would not have drunk it, but rather they would have walked away from this observance, and in all likelihood might have left the church.  

At Communion Are the Elements of Bread and Wine Changed into Christ’s Literal Body and Blood?

  • Yes
  • Even though many Jews became Christians, they continued to observe aspects of the Mosaic dietary laws, two of which were that they were prohibited from eating meat with blood in it and from drinking any kind of drink which had blood in it.
  • When the Jews and Gentiles ate together at the Agape Feast, the Gentiles would make sure that if they brought meat it would not have been offered to idols, the blood would have been drained out of it, and if they decided to bring something to drink it would not contain any blood.
  • When communion was celebrated, the Jewish Christians would be told that even though the bread became Christ’s literal body and the blood became Christ’s literal blood, neither of these elements would have any fleshy taste or appearance of such.
  • Because they couldn’t see Christ’s flesh or taste His literal blood, this would be considered by the Jewish Christians as an acceptable practice to engage in.                                                                                         

There I would like us to go next is the book of 1 Corinthians.   

If a believer were to knowingly partake of the meat of an animal that was offered in sacrifice to idols, what would this indicate that they were participating in?

 

Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:14-33

The issue of eating meats previously offered in pagan sacrifices is revisited here because many Jewish believers took issue with their fellow Gentile believers who knowingly ate such. Not only did these meats have blood in them, but what was also ascribed to anyone who was partaking of them was the purpose for which they were offered, and that was to worship demons. The apostle Paul’s recommendation in order to resolve this issue was threefold: Gentile believers were to no longer attend the pagan temples; they were to ask no questions when buying meat in the market place or when attending a feast held by unbelievers where meat was being offered, and if when they attended a pagan feast they were told in advance that the meat had been used in pagan sacrifices, they were to abstain.

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. …Israel…are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? (1 Corinthians 10:16-18)    

At Communion Are the Elements of Bread and Wine Changed into Christ’s Literal Body and Blood?

  • No
  • Another reason for communion is that it is a sharing or joint participation of the church in the worship of Christ.

At Communion Are the Elements of Bread and Wine Changed into Christ’s Literal Body and Blood?

  • Yes
  • Communion is a sharing or joint participation of the church in the worship of Christ by means of partaking of the bread and wine that are changed into His literal body and blood.
  • Christ’s flesh and blood are different from that of meats with blood in them offered in sacrifice to idols in that they are clean or pure.          

The final Scripture sections will look at are also taken from the book of 1 Corinthians.                                                                                                                                                                   

What should come to mind when we partake of the elements of communion?                        

 

Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:18-34

When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. (1 Corinthians 11:20-21; 23-26)

As we have already been informed, the Corinthians held agape/love feasts, which involved church members coming together for a social meal on the first day of the week.

What was the purpose of these feasts?

They were intended for mutual relief or charity to the poor. In this instance, when the richer members of the church showed up, they ate their own food and consumed enough wine to get drunk such that nothing was left for the poor to eat or drink after they arrived. Subsequently, when the Lord’s Supper was to be observed following the consumption of the meal, the poor looked upon it with physical motivation (satisfying one’s hunger and thirst) rather than spiritual motivation. A solution was found that would hopefully prevent this from happening again. And that was that to provide everyone who arrived with food and drink before any consumption was to take place.

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30; 33)

Following the meal, another consideration was brought forth. And that is before anyone partook of the elements of the Lord’s Supper, they should examine their motives or state of mind beforehand. I would assume this would involve some pronouncement of such by the host. Otherwise, the result could be discipline from the Lord which had already took place upon some of them such as the loss of physical strength through disease or even physical death who ate of the bread and drank of the wine unworthily.

     Again, a purpose for taking communion is reiterated here. For as often as they ate of the bread and drank of the wine, they evidenced a visible sermon that proclaimed "the message of the Cross", that is, the reality of the Lord's death, and also the certainty of His return (until He comes14).

At Communion Are the Elements of Bread and Wine Changed into Christ’s Literal Body and Blood?

  • No
  • Partaking in the breaking of the bread and in the drinking of the wine is a memorial or proclamation of the reality of the Lord's death, and also the certainty of His return.

At Communion Are the Elements of Bread and Wine Changed into Christ’s Literal Body and Blood?

  • Yes
  • Partaking in the breaking of the bread and in the drinking of the wine is a proclamation of the reality of the Lord’s death by the changing of these elements into His literal body and blood.

Well, there you have it. Most of the verses which relate to the topic of communion have been looked at from three dispensations. You have two things currently at your disposal to help you in deciding whether the elements of the bread and wine actually turn into the literal body and blood of Christ at communion. The first has to do with trying to determine whether the reference to a person or thing in a verse means exactly what it says or whether the reference is symbolic. The second has to do with making a determination if any of the Scripture sections has provided enough insight so that you will be able to make an informed decision on this topic.

In the next chapter, we are going to take a look at what many believe has settled the answer to this discussion, and that are the opinions of the early Church Fathers. Just who they are and what they have said about this subject is what we will focus on.

 

Endnotes

14Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament, 2000, 2 April 2009 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

 

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