Having meals together around the kitchen or dining room table is something fewer and fewer families are doing nowadays. Having hectic schedules to contend with; both parents working; electronic technologies competing for our precious spare time; children involved in after-school and recreational activities that carry on into the early evening, and “dinner on the run”; the luxury of quality family fellowship around the meal table is slowly becoming extinct in many households.
What’s the effect? Family values are not strengthened; parental input and oversight weaken; family unity breaks down resulting in family dynamics that are drastically redefined. There is no opportunity for the children to learn of their family heritage or histories; no opportunities to “pass down” treasures of the family. In a sense there is disconnectedness among the family; each person striving for themselves and not necessarily for the common good of the family. Then there are those fractured families; those with only a single head; either a mom or a dad. In these cases, there is even more magnification of disconnect and loss of the common good of the family unit.
Society has drifted far from the will of God in reference to family dynamics, especially as it pertains to unity and fellowship. The influence of modern values, worldviews, philosophies, and morals have corrupted and tainted the family. God knew this outcome would happen. He knew the world would bring this deterioration to the family. I believe that is why He commanded those who are in His family to commune together regularly and commemorate the heritage and history of the chosen people of God. We are His children; Jehovah is our Father; Jesus the Son is our Savior and Lord; the Holy Spirit is our Paraclete and teacher and the body of believers is who make up our family unit. God wants His family to function differently than the families of the world. God wants our focus to be centered on Him and all He provides for His family. God wants His family unified through intimate fellowship.
So why are we saying to our family members things that God has not said to us concerning fellowship around the meal table?
Why are many born-again believers in Jesus Christ being told by pastoral leadership they are not worthy to participate in the communion meal because of unconfessed sin in their lives; because they have not forgiven someone that harmed them; because they are holding an aught in their heart toward someone or because they have backslidden into old sinful behavior patterns? Why is this happening?
Could it be we are leaning onto the traditions of man and having the counsel of God darkened over our minds and hearts? Have we forgotten the command we were given that said to do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth?
I believe this to be the case!!! Instead of properly exegeting (pulling out of scripture) the interpretative will of God as it pertains to the communion meal, we have put into scripture (eisegesis) what God has not put there. Because of this, we have wrongfully misinterpreted the will of God as it pertains to communion and has denied many born-again believers their inherited right to partake of the communion elements along with the rest of their God-given family members.
Do you find yourself being one of the people who has been told you cannot take communion? Have you been told that if you are guilty of any of these sins in your life and proceed to take communion that you will be bringing judgment upon yourself?
Are you one of these people? If you are, let me say you are being misguided and being taught an “untruth” concerning your privilege to participate in the communion meal.
The misguidance stems from a traditional misinterpretation of scripture passages from 1Corinthians 11:23-32, specifically the 26th to the 29th verses.
Somewhere in the annals of Christian tradition lie three false teachings that come from verses 26-29.
- The first deals with “unworthiness” in taking communion
- The second deals with what a person is to examine in himself before taking communion
- The third pertains to the nature of judgment that is brought upon someone for sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
I say “untruth” because any doctrinal teaching that is not reflective of the revealed will of God is a false and untrue doctrine. When such false doctrine is assimilated and incorporated into the sanctification walk of the believer, it weakens their faith and opens them up to deception. We must exercise great caution and care to guard against such teachings.
So, from where did this false teaching originate? It came from interpreting verses 26-29 out of context to the body of scriptures that surround the account of the Church at Corinth concerning the communion meal. The Apostle Paul was concerned about the manner in which they came together to take the Lord’s meal.
Somewhere, there developed a misinterpretation of the following points:
- Reason for doing communion
It is incumbent upon us then, to shed the light of truth on these four verses; to deliver people from the shackles that have held them back from communing with their brothers and sisters, and to restore them back to their rightful place at the communion table.
But before we can learn anything about communion, we must construct a basement foundation that it will rest upon. Why should we do this? Because any structure is wholly dependent on its foundation. Poorly constructed foundations provide poor support for the building; well-constructed foundations provide excellent support for the building, so we must build an excellent basement foundation of knowledge to rest our communion table upon.
Transcendence is our basement foundation.
It is defined as to be independent of the world; to exist above and apart from the material world.
By implication, whatever is transcended is not subject to the physical limitations of the material world, it rises above those limitations and is free to become something else; something the material world could not limit it from becoming.
Jesus Christ is who introduced the dynamic of transcendence to us during His observation of the Passover Meal on the night He was arrested. In order to understand the significance of transcendence we must first build a sub-basement from the following three areas:
- The Historical Old Testament Passover Meal
- The Significance of the Old Testament Passover Lamb
- The Identification of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb
The Historical Passover Meal
The Israelites were enslaved by the Pharaohs of Egypt for 430 years. The Nation of Israel is the chosen people of God who were in physical bondage and slavery and could do nothing on their own to escape. They were in need of rescue and only God could do it.
The difference between “rescue” and “escape” is that if you can get yourself out of danger, you have escaped. If you can do nothing to escape then you need someone to overpower your situation and get you out of danger, you need rescue.
The manner God chose to rescue his people was through the means of a substitutionary sacrifice of an innocent animal. That sacrifice brought propitiation, (the regaining of favor or the goodwill of God) to his chosen people. In this case, it protected the Israelites from the anger, wrath, and agitation of God toward Pharaoh.
The head of each Israelite home sacrificed an innocent lamb and used its blood to cover the doorposts and lintel of the entrance to the home. When the death angel came to destroy all the firstborn in Egypt, (men and animal), he “passed over” those homes that had blood on the doorposts and lentil. The judgment of God toward Pharaoh passed over those inside the homes. Deliverance from their physical bondage came that night because God broke the shackles of captivity and slavery under Pharaoh and the next day the Israelites left Egypt and headed toward the land of promise – Caanan.
This account of physical deliverance from bondage in Egypt authored by Jehovah God is a true historical event. It gave to mankind a prophetic foreshadowing of the process of spiritual deliverance and rescue from the bondage of Sin and death that was to come through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the propitiation of God’s judgment against fallen man.
After their deliverance, God commanded the Israelites to remember and celebrate the events of that night throughout the generations so the people would not forget that God Himself rescued them and brought them out of bondage.
The commemorative meal is called the Passover Meal.
The Significance of the Old Testament Passover Lamb
The lamb that was chosen to be sacrificed had to be a one-year-old male without physical defect. It had to be slaughtered and then eaten by every member of the family. Its blood was used to “cover” the doorposts of the home; to act as a sign to the death angel that those behind the door belonged to God, His chosen Israelite Nation, and they were to be shielded from the wrath of God’s judgment on the first-born of Egypt. The lamb took the place of the first-born in each Israelite home. The lamb was sacrificed in their place. It was reckoned worthy to be sacrificed because it was without physical defect, and innocent. Since the life of every creature is contained in its blood, there had to be an exchange of life as payment for the cost of rescue; the life of the lamb in place of the life of the first-born. This exchange is called substitution, the taking of one life in place for another. The sacrifice propitiates the anger, wrath, and agitation of God.
The Identification of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb
God’s disposition toward mankind with respect to being spiritually separated from His presence as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, is to bring reconciliation and restoration between Him and who he spiritually created – man. This can only be accomplished by appeasing the wrath He has against mankind and pacifying His desire to condemn mankind to an eternal second death separation in the lake of fire. Enter Jesus Christ. He is the manifestation of God’s grace toward mankind. He is the atoning sacrifice that brings propitiation for man’s sinful nature. What I mean is that Jesus Christ brings forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration between God and mankind as a result of his sacrifice on the Cross at Calvary.
Jesus Christ can do this for one reason and only one reason. He is accepted by God to be innocent of sin. He is unblemished as it relates to sin. He is in this respect as the Passover lamb was; innocent and unblemished. This fact qualifies him to be an acceptable sacrificial entity that represents all of mankind in God’s sight.
It is crucial that you understand this point of fact. Adam represents all of mankind from the human perspective and Jesus represents all of mankind from the human perspective because he was fully human when he walked the earth more than two thousand years ago. Adam sinned against God, Jesus Christ did not. Therefore, all mankind is credited as sinning against God because of Adam and all mankind is credited as not sinning against God because of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ being an acceptable sacrificial entity had to die (pay the cost for sin) in order to bring propitiation (appeasement) from God. This act of Jesus Christ brings spiritual deliverance from the wrath and condemnation of God. It brings spiritual release from the bondage of sin and death and the authority of Satan over our lives.
It is this recognition that one must have when they are taking communion. The transcendent recognition of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. No other focus is to be in mind. If the elements of the communion meal are taken without full transcendent recognition of these points, then judgment is the outcome.
Therefore, if anyone has received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, then they are not to be denied a seat at the communion table. The requirement to sit at the communion table has nothing to do with a sinful lifestyle. The requirement has everything to do with what Jesus Christ has done. He gave His body to satisfy the requirements of the Law, and He shed His blood to provide remission of sin. Your acknowledgment of this, and your receiving of Him as Lord and Savior are all that is needed for you to partake of the communion meal.
So, come to the communion table with a heart of peace, and gratitude, and love for what Jesus Christ has done for you.