Church Life

Communion

COMMUNION

- one of God's CHANNELS (MEANS) OF GRACE to us.

THE MEANS of Grace. God wants us to: 'GROW in the GRACE of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ' (2 Peter 3:18) GRACE is the freely given LIFE and BLESSING of God. All GRACE IS IN CHRIST. It flows from Christ's death, burial and resurrection. On the cross it was all paid for. When Jesus cried: 'It is finished' ('Tetelestai') this was a commercial word meaning 'PAID IN FULL'. In the resurrection this grace was released to Jesus and to us.

Although the grace of God is freely available God has ORDAINED CHANNELS or MEANS of Grace which are normal ways it flows to us. As we give ourselves to these channels we'll receive an abundance of grace and GROW IN GRACE. 

We see the early church doing this: 

'They continued stedfastly (1) in the apostles TEACHING, 

and (2) FELLOWSHIP, 

(3) in the BREAKING OF BREAD and 

(4) in PRAYERS (and PRAISE).' (Acts 2:42). 

These channels of grace are mostly related to the church meeting together. An isolated christian is not involved in the means of grace and doesn't grow.

THE BREAKING OF BREAD or COMMUNION is one of two ordinances Insituted by Jesus. 

(1) BAPTISM represents the once and for all start to the christian life (our New Birth) showing how we died and rose to new life with Christ, entering a RELATIONSHIP with God through Jesus. Thus we are only BAPTISED once. 

When we receive Christ into our heart he comes in to have FELLOWSHIP with us: '...if anyone opens the door of his heart to me, I will come into him and sup (eat) with him.' (Revelation 3:20) To eat a MEAL with someone has always signified having FELLOWSHIP with them-that is the main purpose of eating together. This is what the LORD'S SUPPER is about-fellowship (COMMUNION) with Christ and each other.

(2) COMMUNION is a time to draw near to God and deepen our FELLOWSHIP with Him-and the best way is over a meal. It is only for Reborn Christians who've already entered into relationship with God. It is for them to renew and deepen fellowship. It is inappropiate for others. We see this in the original Supper where only Christ's disciples were there (Judas had left) Only if you are in God's family can you sit at the family table. We receive Communion again and again for though we enter into relationship once we continually renew fellowship. It is a meal-the Lord's Supper which represents our ongoing need to feed on the life of Jesus and to receive cleansing and forgiveness.

'As they were eating Jesus TOOK bread GAVE THANKS (BLESSED) and BROKE IT and GAVE it to them saying: 'Take eat, this is my body which is GIVEN for you do this in rememberance of Me' Likewise He also TOOK the CUP after supper and GAVE THANKS and GAVE IT to them saying: 'DRINK from it all of you. For this CUP is the NEW COVENANT in my BLOOD, which is shed for you (for many for the forgiveness of sins)' and they all drank from it.' (harmonised from Luke 22:19-20, Matthew 26:26-28 , Mark 14:22-25)

Jesus' actions in instituting Communion have rich SYMBOLISM. 

(1) HE TOOK BREAD. Jesus TOOK HIMSELF (HIS BODY) He is the BREAD OF LIFE born in BETHLEHEM ('House of BREAD') He was born to feed the world with Himself. 

(2) HE BLESSED IT (lifting it up to God, OFFERING IT up to God with thanksgiving) Jesus offered himself up to God as a willing sacrifice. 

(3) HE BROKE IT Jesus allowed his body to be BROKEN for us on the cross. BREAD in Hebrew means 'that which is crushed between the jaws' Bread contains nourishment but only when crushed by our jaws is it released to us. Jesus was crushed in the Jaws of Death so that the LIFE that was IN HIM could be released to us. (see also John6) 

(4) HE GAVE IT to his disciples to eat. The LIFE and BLESSINGS purchased at the cross were FREELY GIVEN to us for our nourishment. 

(5) We must TAKE and EAT it. We have the choice to accept or reject this grace. We must believe and receive the life of Christ into ourselves. He is the BREAD OF LIFE, to be received daily in our fellowship with him.

Jesus then TOOK the CUP (symbolic of the NEW COVENANT) containing the WINE (symbolic of his LIFE-BLOOD POURED OUT on the cross), BLESSED IT and GAVE IT to his disciples to drink. Life, joy, forgiveness and all the blessings in the CUP (new covenant) are in the WINE (his BLOOD) for 'the life is in the blood' and when his blood was poured out the price was paid to establish the covenant and that life could be made available to us. Christ has BLESSED and GIVEN that LIFE to us and now it's up to us to DRINK DEEPLY from the CUP-forgiveness, peace, healing and all the blessings that are in the WINE (blood)

'Do this in REMEMBERANCE of Me.' If a husband 'forgot' he was married he would stop living as a married man. His wife would then remind him with their wedding photos and rings-the symbols of their union. In the busyness of life we can forget our roots and identity in Christ. Communion is a time to remember who we are-that we're God's children, forgiven and beloved, purchased by BLOOD. As we look at the symbols of bread and wine we remember that every blessing comes by GRACE from the cross of Jesus Christ. Every blessing is in the bread and wine (the body and blood of Christ) so when we eat and drink, we are receiving the grace of God, acknowledging our need of his sustinance. This keeps us from pride and trusting in self and causes us to look to Christ. The cross is the heart of our faith and we continually need to come back and focus on it,and remember (bring to the forefront of our mind) what Christ has done. Communion helps us to do this.

Luke 24:13-35 On the Road to Emmaus Jesus had his 2nd Communion. Jesus drew near to 2 disciples but they didn't know him. (v15,16) Often Jesus is with us but too caught up with our problems we do not discern his presence. But: 'As he sat at table with them (fellowship) HE TOOK BREAD, BLESSED and BROKE IT and GAVE IT to them' (v30) 'Then their eyes were opened and they KNEW Him.' (v31) Later they told the other disciples 'how He was recognised by them IN THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD.' (v35) Jesus draws close to us and reveals Himself to us in the Breaking of Bread. Our eyes are opened and we see him anew.

'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 though many are one bread and one body, for we all PARTAKE of that one bread.' (1Corinthians10:16,17). 

COMMUNION ('Koinonia'-a spirit of generous sharing, the opposite of greedy grasping) means FELLOWSHIP, the mutual sharing of life and blessing. In Communion we actually PARTAKE of the body and blood (we receive in a special way the spiritual life and grace that the bread and wine represents -see also v18-22) You PARTAKE of the spirit of those you have close fellowship with-that's what fellowship means! In Communion we partake of the LORD. He has FREELY given and freely offers His grace and we freely give our thanks and praise and rededicate ourselves to Him. Thus the Lord's Supper is a time of Communion, a place to renew and deepen our fellowship with the Lord. It reminds us that our fellowship is based and centred on the cross. It also deepens our fellowship with each other for we're reminded we are ONE BREAD and ONE BODY and share the same salvation, Saviour and life. We are sitting at the same family table in fellowship. So to properly enter into Communion we must be in a spirit of unity and forgiveness with brothers and sisters. (1John 4:7-21).

1Corinthians 11 gives instructions for Communion proving Christ gave it to all the church, not just the original disciples. Those who ate in a spirit of grasping and division were not eating the LORD'S SUPPER. (v17-22). 

Communion was so important it was supernaturally revealed to Paul (v23): 'Jesus TOOK bread and when he had GIVEN THANKS he BROKE IT and said: 'Take eat, this is my body which is BROKEN for you, do this in rememberance of Me' (v23,24) 'Likewise He also TOOK the CUP after supper saying: 'This CUP is the NEW COVENANT in my BLOOD. This do as often as I drink it in rememberence of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till he comes.' (v25,26). 

'As often as you eat' shows we are to take Communion repeatedly and there is no limit. 'Until he comes' shows that he instituted communion for the church until his return. 'You proclaim the Lord's death" means we confess (show) our faith in the blood by drinking.

It is the 'LORD'S SUPPER' (v20). He has invited us to come to his table and eat. "He has prepared a table for me in the presence of my enemies...my cup runs over.' (Psalm 23) All the blessings (healing etc) are on the table-symbolised in the bread and wine for they all come through the body and blood of Christ. We are free to TAKE and EAT them. All the blessings are great but the FOCUS of attention is JESUS. Our eyes should be open to see JESUS-THE HOST IS PRESENT. He has provided everything on the table. He wants us to enjoy all the blessings but most of all he wants to enjoy our fellowship. No good host would invite but not come! He said: 'REMEMBER ME- put me on the forefront of your mind-remember I am with you.' SEE JESUS the Focus of the Feast.

Therefore we must approach the Lords Table knowing we do it in his presence, at his invitation and not to participate unworthily. Treating the body and blood lightly is UNBELIEF which opens the door to destruction. (v27-32) We need to judge (check,prepare) ourselves to make sure we are entering into the meal properly. COMMUNION IS POWERFUL. For received wrongly it can be a cause of early death. Received correctly it is a major CHANNEL OF GRACE. (like a high voltage wire)

MEDITATION AT COMMUNION

SEE JESUS standing here. Open our eyes to see Jesus. You are sitting at his Table-his banner over you is love. He wants to share Himself with us. He calls us to a deeper fellowship with Him. The doorway to this is in our heart to draw close to the cross and remember 

Looking at the bread remember that all the blessings are from body of Christ broken for us. Looking at the cup remember that all blessings are through the blood. 

As we see him dying for us, let go of all pride and superiority: 

'Forbid it lord that I should boast save in the cross of Christ my God- all the vain things that charm me most I sacrifice them to his blood' 

Forgive and pray for the person that hurt us. 

How dare we not, when we remember we were forgiven of so much. 

Confess any sin, see him die for it, release it and receive forgiveness.

See him carry your sickness, rejection and shame and receive health, favour and acceptance from God. 

As you see him giving his life for you, THANK HIM and REDEDICATE yourself (your plans, your week) to Him. 

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