Communion is something that I value personally. It is an ordinance until Jesus’ return. And it is also a sacrament in that it is essential and significant. However, we will see it also imparts grace to us. I encourage believers to regularly practice communion at home with the family during church services.
2. Communion and the New Covenant
When the Lord instituted this act, it was just before His death and resurrection.
Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.Mark 14:23-24
Jesus says that the communion wine is related to the New Covenant that is about to start at His death.
3. Jesus Commanded us to Practice Communion
Paul received from Jesus what he passed onto the Corinthian church:
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you:1 Corinthians 11:23
Communion is, therefore, something we should do when we gather.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.1 Corinthians 11:26
4. Who May Partake of Communion
A. People of the New Covenant.
In 1 Corinthians, we find a warning for those who are not worthy.
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. If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.1 Corinthians 11:27-30
Because communion is related to the New Covenant, only those of the New Covenant should partake of the communion bread and wine. That is, you have received and confessed Jesus as your Lord and believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. If you have not taken that step, I encourage you now. So First Communion should be once a person has believed and confessed that Jesus is their Lord and that He was raised from the dead.
B. Believers Walking in Righteousness.
In the lesson on righteousness, a definition of being righteous was:
… He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.1 John 3:7
That lesson taught us that we are now the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe…Romans 3:22
Let us apply this truth when taking communion; we are righteous when we believe, but we need to walk in righteousness. Therefore, reading again 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, we find that some should not take communion – those not walking in holiness. Just because we sin does not mean we should abstain from communion. We should examine ourselves and confess our sins.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.1 John 1:8-10
However, if we have a mindset of not being willing to change for the better; it is not the fruit of repentance. So I believe that if someone is genuinely trying to overcome sin, then there is nothing to stop them from taking communion. However, if it is their attitude that they can ask forgiveness and then plan on continuing to sin, they should not take communion.
C. Correct Concepts of Grace.
God forgives us when we sin against Him and others, because that is the nature of who He is. However, some think that we can confess and continue sinning, which comes from a wrong concept of grace. Scripture warns us that there are some of whom judgment will come upon if they do not want to change and accept the discipline of the Father. There are two sins that I would be particularly concerned about when taking communion.
- Sexual sin
- Judgmental attitude
D. Sexual Sin
When we sin sexually, God says it is different from all other sins because we sin against our own body:
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?1 Corinthians 6:18-19
In Paul’s warning about sickness and physical death, he says these diseases are in the body.
E. Judgemental Attitude to Others.
The context of the teaching concerning the Lord’s supper is Paul’s concern over division in the body of Christ:
For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.1 Corinthians 11:19-20
We need to be careful not to judge others. Jesus taught us about blind spots in our own eyes and the danger of accusing others when He said:
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.Luke 6:41-42
F. Judas as an example
We see judgement played out in the life of Judas:
Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him.John 13:26-27
In the instance Judas took communion unrighteously, Satan entered him. The result was Judas committed suicide due to shame and guilt.
Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.Matthew 27:5
5. The Meaning of the Communion Bread
A. Jesus is the bread.
And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.John 6:35
Here Jesus is saying He IS the bread of life. The words “I am” is in Greek the phrase eimi:
εἰμί eimi; I exist (used only when emphatic): — am,
When He said this, He angered the religious leaders. He was effectively saying “I am Yahweh! I have come from heaven”. Yahweh means I am who I am!
B. The Bread is Jesus’ Flesh.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”John 6:51
C. Old Covenant Priesthood.
In the Old Covenant, only the priests could eat the bread, so when Jesus said to them that everybody had to eat of His flesh, then He was saying everybody was a priest.
And the remainder of it Aaron and his sons shall eat; with unleavened bread it shall be eaten in a holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of meeting they shall eat it.Leviticus 6:16
D. Divine Health and Strength.
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.John 6:48-50
When they were in the wilderness, God provided the Israelites with manna as their source of sustenance that provided them with health and strength to live.
And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.Exodus 16:35
6. The Meaning of the Communion Wine
A. Jesus’ Blood is the Wine.
And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.Mark 14:24
The words “This is”, is the same Greek word Jesus used for “I am”
εἰμί eimi; I exist (used only when emphatic): — am,
A correct translation is:
And He said to them, “I am the blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.Mark 14:24
Jesus is the sacrificial Passover Lamb of God:
B. Old Covenant Blood.
There is no New Covenant without the shedding of blood.
For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.Hebrews 9:16-18
The Jews under the Old Covenant were understandably angry when Jesus said they had to drink His blood. NOBODY was to drink the blood in the Old Covenant.
And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people.Leviticus 17:10
For Jesus to say, ‘unless you drink my blood, you do not have a part of me’ was heresy!
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.John 6:53
C. The Blood Brings Salvation.
In Covenantal Atonement, we learnt that the blood and Person of Jesus Christ reconciled us to God. Then in Transformation Through Salvation, we learnt that the word salvation means to rescue us or deliver us and that salvation starts with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We also found that salvation delivers from sins, sicknesses and torments. Finally, Healing is in the Atonement teaches that the blood of Jesus includes healing.
7. Abiding in Him
Jesus said an interesting statement:
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.John 6:56
However, we need not extrapolate this into the communion. Jesus refers to coming into the New Covenant, meaning He comes inside of us. Abiding happens when we are born again. Jesus comes inside of us at the new birth, and at the same time, we come inside of Jesus Christ as part of the body of Christ. The communion symbols are for us to remember this event and to praise Jesus for doing so. It does not mean that the symbols become flesh and blood of Jesus!
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 remembrance of Me.”1 Corinthians 11:24-25
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.”
Jesus comes inside of us at the new birth.
that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.John 17:21-23
Answering the Question – “Does the Wine and Bread Become the Body and Blood of Jesus?”
Understanding that Jesus is saying He and His blood are the atonement that brought in the New Covenant immediately corrects the teaching called transubstantiation where the wine BECOMES the blood and the bread BECOMES the body. Jesus is not saying that the wine is the blood; he says “I AM the blood”, in precisely the same way He says “I AM the bread”.
8. An Impartation of Healing Grace is Available
A. Judgment on Sickness and Infirmity.
We found that judgment of sickness came upon those who did not partake worthily. Illness happens because people open themselves up to a Satanic attack when they walk unrighteously. The heart of the Father is always to restore, not to judge.
So if partaking in an unrighteous manner brings judgment, then how much more will there be life once we have confessed our sins and are genuinely walking a life of self-control. Healing and resurrection life will flow into our bodies.
Righteously taking communion can be an act of judgment against the forces of darkness. Christine and I give thanks for health and healing each time we partake of communion.
B. Faith in the New Covenant.
The communion symbols are nothing, as the bread and the wine does not become His body and blood. Our faith is not in the bread and the wine. It is in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, bringing in the New Covenant. When faith in Jesus’ healing power is released, grace benefits the recipient with divine health.
© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries / Dr Neville van Eerten 2022