What we believe about the Lord’s Supper (July 2013)

We believe in the ordinance of the Lord’s supper as a celebration of our redemption.

Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper on the evening preceding the Crucifixion, during the Passover Feast (Luke 22:7-23). The Passover celebration commemorated the redemption of Israel from the bondage of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:24-27). For the Christian, the Lord’s supper commemorates the redemptive act of Christ in establishing the New Covenant. Jesus transformed the Passover meal into a memorial meal of himself for believers. Jesus is himself the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

We believe this ordinance is intended to remind us of Christ’s atoning death.

The Lord’s supper is recorded in three Gospels (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20). These passages reveal that the broken bread represents the body of Christ given for us. The cup passed among the disciples symbolizes the blood Jesus shed for the sins of mankind (Hebrews 9:22). In receiving the bread and the cup, Christians remember that because Christ died they receive forgiveness for sin.

The Lord’s supper is also an act of obedience and worship of Christ. The Apostle Paul recalled Jesus’ words identifying the bread with his body and the cup with the new covenant made possible through his blood sacrifice (Hebrews 9:14, 15). Jesus commanded the eating and drinking of these elements in remembrance of his death (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

But participating in the Lord’s supper is more than just an activity in which we remember Christ’s sacrifice. Paul affirms that it not only bears witness but that it also points us to the future when Jesus will return (1 Corinthians 11:26). Therefore, it is also a foretaste[i] of the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).

We believe the Lord’s supper is a proclamation of hope.

Christians believe that Christ will return for his followers, the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). In receiving the bread and the cup of the Lord’s supper, the people of God testify that they eagerly await his coming and their ultimate redemption (Titus 2:13-14).

We believe the Lord’s supper is open to all Christians.

To participate in this ordinance one must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Anyone who confesses Jesus as Savior and Lord is eligible and invited to participate, regardless of church membership. Therefore, there are also no age requirements for participation. Participation by youth and children is left to the discretion of parents. And while participation is celebratory, the Lord’s supper should always be observed with appropriate decorum[ii] (1 Corinthians 14:40).

The Bible clearly counsels that participation in the Lord’s supper should come only after serious self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28). The concerns of self-examination include being truly committed to Jesus Christ, being conscious of what he did on the cross, and having a loving regard for his body, the Church (1 Corinthians. 11:17-32).

The frequency of observance of the Lord’s supper is left to the discretion of the local church, but whenever the ordinance is celebrated it is a unifying act of the body of Christ both locally and worldwide.

[i] Foretaste – a preliminary glimpse of that which will be fully experienced later.

[ii] Decorum – dignity; governed by acceptable standards of behavior.