Last week in the Tuesday Tea I introduced the eighth Article of Faith of the Amarillo Primitive Baptist Church and dealt with the first ordinance of the church which is baptism. This week I will again consider the eighth Article of Faith this time considering the second ordinance of the church which is the communion service.
“We believe that baptism and the Lord’s supper are ordinances of Jesus Christ and that true believers are the only subjects of baptism and that immersion is the only apostolic mode.”
The Purpose and the Timing
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)
The scriptures do not give us explicit guidelines for how often we should engage in the Communion Service as a church. The tradition among Primitive Baptist has been to have Communion somewhere between 2 and 5 times a year. Often churches choose to have Communion twice a year so that it occurs every 6 months. No matter the custom of the local church though the timing should support the purpose of the Communion Service.
As the Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11 the purpose of the Communion Service is that we might show and remember the Lord’s death for our sins until he returns in the second coming. So if this is the case, then how should this effect the timing of the Communion Service? In my mind this instruction dictates that we not engage in the Communion Service so often that it becomes ritual or habit. Anytime a process becomes a ritual we lose the significance and often the reflection that should accompany it. Thus, there is not a right or wrong regarding the number of times a church engages in the Communion Service but I would certainly shy away from a weekly or monthly model.
Come not Unworthily
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:27)
What does Paul mean by eating and drinking unworthily? Certainly, by the model of scripture we understand that Communion should not be open to everyone. When Christ engaged in the first Communion Service he only included the Apostles, those that were truly part of the young church at the time. Throughout scripture we understand that you must be a member of the Primitive Baptist church and in good standing to partake in the Communion Service.
However, that is not what Paul was referring to in this passage of scripture. Rather, Paul is making a point about the state of mind of the individual when they enter the Communion Service. In particular the subject being addressed here is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If one does not understand that Christ paid the toll for your sins and that you could do nothing to save yourself, then that person is not fit for the Communion Service. The idea of being worthy is not based on being sinless or judging proper repentance, but rather on knowing that we are wholly dependent upon Jesus Christ for our Salvation.
Let us be wholly focused on Christ when we come to His table!
May the Lord Bless you this week,