The Communion Table is designed to cause each Christian to regularly examine themselves and clear their conscience of wrongs.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. [Acts 2:42-47 NKJV]
Our communion or breaking of bread together is a practice that our Lord established but in our day the true reason and purpose has almost been forgotten. First, we must remember that Jesus presented communion as a blood covenant. “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” [1 Corinthians 10:16,17].
The symbolism of the blood covenant was very clear to the first disciples, God made a blood covenant with Abraham. Such a covenant contains lifelong obligations and commitments. Therefore it is serious business with God.
So the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship are foundational for church health and growth. God uses the Lord’s Table as the key to ensuring the purity and power of the church.
Paul writes, “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”
“For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” [1 Corinthians 11:25-32].
We are called to see how serious this event is for our spiritual cleansing. Just like the liver of the body removes impurities and keeps a person healthy, the Communion Table is also designed to cause each Christian to thoroughly examine themselves and clear their conscience of wrongs. If these sinful impure practices are not removed the body of Christ becomes weak and sick. In fact, we will face God’s judgment!
Obviously, from reading this explanation from the Bible, sin is a medical cause of some physical disease. For example, many medical textbooks now agree with the Bible and state that fear and anxiety are a primary cause of coronary artery disease, angina, and heart attacks. The scripture states people will be dying from heart disease, “Men’s hearts failing them for fear” [Luke 21:26].
But on the other hand, many have found out as they truly deal with their sin, they are receiving physical healing also. This makes sense because Proverbs warns, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but he who confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy” [Proverbs 28:13].
This is why “…not discerning the Lord’s body” is suddenly very significant! It is the stated reason for many Christians becoming sick and dying prematurely.
You need to understand that the body of Christ does not just mean His human body. Here it is clearly speaking of the church, the “body of Christ.” “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” [1 Corinthians 12:27].
Since we are connected, what one member does effects the whole body. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!” [1 Corinthians 6:16]. Our sin infects the whole body of Christ. We offend the entire body and will be judged for it.
Paul continues to warn us about what we do with our bodies by saying “…each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” [1 Corinthians 3:13-17].
As you see, our bodies are called God’s temple, and if you do not keep it pure God reserves the right to destroy it.
Therefore, if the church is to prosper through God’s blessings, it must regularly examine itself and clear up all past offenses between its members. That means each of us must get real with God and confess and repent of any known sin.
Now small churches need to have communion more frequently because the possibility of hurts and offenses is accelerated by their close associations. Misunderstandings easily happen. Remember “a whisperer separates the best of friends” [Proverbs 16:28]. “And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases” [Proverbs 26:20].
And also remember this, the early church met very frequently for “breaking of bread” because it was vital to spiritual growth and keeping God’s hand of blessing.
Maintaining a clear conscience is a powerful weapon to protect us from spiritual disaster, so we find Paul also says, “…having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,” [1 Timothy 1:19]. If our church expects a powerful time of prayer and miraculous answers, we must have effective, purifying times of communion.
Is your church shipwrecked? Are you shipwrecked? What does it mean to be spiritually shipwrecked? If our churches expect a powerful time of prayer and miraculous answers, we must have effective, purifying times of communion.
1/ This is why I suggest churches follow the pattern of Acts 2:42 when they worship and have the teaching of scripture first, then the saints can be convicted and purified by the Word of God.
2/ Then everyone can respond with confessions, repentance, and obedience. When the Christians affirm the Word by testifying of God’s grace in their lives, confessing their faults publicly to one another, and exhorting one another they are prepared for the Lord’s Table. They have followed Paul’s direction to take Communion with a serious mind and clear consciences.
3/ So then everyone has cleared and purified hearts and they enjoy communion with God. This always causes rejoicing, and praise automatically rises from a pure heart releasing powerful worship.
4/ If then the church concludes with group intercession, crying to God with clean hands and pure hearts, the family of God finds amazing answers to their prayer.
So I hope you see that the close social union of church membership demands constant times of spiritual examination. Sin is subtle and the enemy loves to see believers defeated, powerless, and unable to have their prayers answered.
As we fellowship and exhort one another we inflame one another to obedience and purity. When the body of Christ is clean, it is healthy. A healthy church bears much fruit, and so greatly glorifies God!
Then God empowers His church to fulfill its mission and together with one voice proclaim the Good News of Christ and His kingdom.
Never, never, forget that Communion is not a mundane ritual. And forever remember your duty to keep your blood covenant with the Lord Jesus, to fully obey His commands and wholeheartedly serve only Him.
Paul exhorts you to“…keep yourself pure” [1 Timothy 5:22].