PART 7 COMMUNION
PART 7 COMMUNION
Finding God and Growing
I believe that this is really what we are talking about in this book. How does God come into my life and how do I grow in order to exhibit Christ-likeness?
The question posed is, do the elements of bread and wine at communion turn into the literal body and blood of Christ? We looked at certain considerations that might help us in ascertaining this answer. I will recap them below so that you can read them again albeit in summarized form so that hopefully whatever your answer is to this question at least it will be based on an informed manner.
- There Are Two Views Concerning the Eating of His Flesh and the Drinking of His Blood
Literal view: the consumption of the bread and wine literally becomes the eating of Christ’s flesh and the drinking of His blood.
Suggested Reading: John 6:1-69; Matthew 26:26-28
This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. (John 6:50-53)
And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave 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. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. (Mark 14:16, 22-24)
Figurative view: the eating of Christ’s flesh and the drinking of his blood is to be taken figuratively (symbolically).
Suggested Reading: John 6:1-69; John 7:37-39; Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22-23; Luke 22:19-20
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. (John 6:53)
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)
- Examples of the Literal and Figurative Interpretation of Scripture
A literal interpretation means that a reference to a person or thing means exactly what it says.
Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. (Matthew 5:35)
A figurative interpretation means that references are symbolic of someone or of something else.
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew12:50)
- At Communion Is the Changing of the Bread and Wine into the Literal Body and Blood of Christ Supported by the Scriptures?
The Old Testament Scriptures
~ After the flood, God instructed Noah and his family not to eat the flesh of animals with blood in them. The draining of the blood offered recognition that they had taken the life with permission and were partaking of God’s bounty as his guests. (Genesis 6:3-8; Genesis 8:13-18; Genesis 9:1, 4)
~ Abram’s nephew, Lot, was captured along with the booty by of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram rescued him and recovered the stolen items. Melchizedek, King of Salem and a priest of God gave Abram bread and wine and blessed him. (Genesis14:17-24)
~ The Jews were to celebrate the Passover Feast on a yearly basis, eating a sacrificial lamb and unleavened bread. Over the bread, they would make a proclamation saying, "This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate when they came from Egypt." The words “this is” are to be taken figuratively. The unleavened bread is not the actual bread that their ancestors ate when they came from Egypt. (Exodus 12:1-12)
~ The children of Israel were not to make a graven image (something made or carved into the shape of an animal, human, or some other object) or any likeness (image of any sort) whether of heaven, in the earth beneath, or in the water below the earth, for the purpose of worship. (Exodus 20:1-5)
~ When the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, they would offer animal sacrifices on the altar that was located in the tent of the Tabernacle. The animal sacrifice would be made as atonement for sin. Its blood would be sprinkled on the altar to purify it and render the offerer clean, paving the way for reconciliation with God. The meat of the animal was not to be eaten unless the blood had been drained, because the blood contained the soul of the animal and was the medium of expiation (to atone for) for the souls of men. (Leviticus1:1-2; Leviticus 17:1-16)
The Hypostatic Union
~ As Jesus and his disciples were sharing the Passover lamb, Jesus offered them bread and wine, saying eat, for the bread was his body, and drink, for the wine was his blood. (Matthew 26:17-29)
~ At the last supper, Jesus gave them the cup and told them to divide it among themselves and then broke the bread saying, “This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:7-20)
~ On the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, Jesus declared that whoever believes in Him would have rivers of living water flowing out of his belly. Jesus was not saying that literal rivers of water would pour out of believers, but that the Holy Spirit, who they would receive, would flow out of them.
However, this would take place after His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension beginning on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit would come and indwell anyone who believed in Christ, thus satisfying the inner person and enabling them to bear fruit. (John 7:2-53)
The Church Age Scriptures - The Current Age in Which We Live
~ The Gentile believers were asked not to drink blood or eat animals with blood in them because these practices were not in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. These laws were to be observed by the Gentiles because the early church would meet together for group meals, called agape feasts, at which time the food and drink was to be shared amongst one another (Acts 15:1-30)
~ Just as the Jews eating of sacrificial meat indicated a sharing or joint participation in the worship of demons, so the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the wine in the Lord’s Supper indicated communion (sharing; joint participation) in the worship of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:14-33)
~ Eating the communion elements evidences a visible sermon proclaiming "the message of the Cross", that is, the reality of the Lord's death, as well as the certainty of His return (1 Corinthians 11:18 34)
- What Do the Fathers of the Church Believe Concerning the Elements of Communion?
Transubstantiation is the doctrine which was formulated at the Counsel of Trent (a counsel of the Roman Catholic Church that defined church teachings between 1545-1563 AD) concerning the elements of communion. It stated that the substance of the bread and the wine changes into the substance of the body and blood of Christ. It is no longer bread and wine, but Christ really present under the appearance of bread and wine39.
The Church Fathers are those whose writings have preserved, to a certain extent, the history, doctrines, and traditions of the early Church. These writers are grouped and named according to the time in which they lived. There are those who lived closest to the time of the apostles and presumably will hold to doctrinal beliefs that are similar to theirs. Many believe that the last of the original apostles to die was the apostle John in about 95 AD. So, those writers who lived prior to 120AD will be included in this group and will be known as the Apostolic Fathers. There are two other groups of Church Fathers, those who lived from 120 AD to 325 AD and are called the Ante-Nicene Fathers and those who lived after 325 AD who are called the Post-Nicene Fathers.
There were 10 Church Fathers who believed in Transubstantiation and 9 who didn’t believe in Transubstantiation with one being inconclusive.
- What Precedes Spiritual Growth?
There are two views
~ At water baptism, the Holy Spirit shows up and the infant or adult at this time becomes a child of God. Later, at Confirmation, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer in order to strengthen them for Christian service. At communion, Christ comes into the believer’s body by means of the elements of the bread and wine that turn into His literal body and blood according to a doctrine known as Transubstantiation, which causes the participant to evidence His qualities of character to others.
The more a person partakes of communion, the more they come in contact with Christ’s literal flesh and blood. Another way to say this is, at communion deity shows up in the elements of the bread and wine and when consumed sanctifies the recipient’s soul.
~ Whosoever repents of their sins to God the Father and believes in his Son Jesus Christ will receive another member of the trinity called the Holy Spirit, who will come and indwell the body.
- How Does a Believer Grow Spiritually?
There are two views:
~ Be baptized in water; attend catechism, receive first communion, be Confirmed, go to church on a regular basis, confess your sins to a priest, attend the six days of obligation, and observe the two church fasts. If you want to grow spiritually, then follow what it is that the church says is necessary in order to prepare one’s heart for participating in communion. If you have tried to the best of your ability to follow these guidelines, then Christ will be received by you at communion. The more often they partake of communion the more Christ-likeness will be evidenced to others such as there being a lessening of racial and national prejudices or neighborhood resentments, and an increase in neighborliness, compassion, patience, and forbearance towards others.
~ When we sin mentally, verbally, or overtly we should confess this to God the Father. Following this, we should be renewed in the mind (applying God’s word in all areas of thought, so that human perspective is replaced with divine perspective), which triggers the filling (control) of the Holy Spirit, whose spiritual qualities of character become operational within us and expressed toward others thus evidencing Christ-likeness.
So, there you have it. My prayer for you is that you shouldn’t except everything that is taught from the pulpit as always being from God. You should know the “WHY” behind what you are taught.
I will leave you with these questions to ponder.
Is what you are being taught giving you an assurance that God has come into your life?
Is what you are being taught causing you to rely on God more and more?
Is what you are being taught causing you to be more aware of your weaknesses and how to replace them with God’s perspective?
Is what you are being taught causing God to show up in your life on a daily basis?
Is what you are being taught causing you to become more Christ-like?
May God bless you with Himself each and every day.
39The Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989, 19 March 2013 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
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