Encouraging, Living, Reaching


Hindrances to Participation at the Lord’s Supper

Hindrances to Participation at the Lord’s Supper

Isn’t it beautiful that we can gather together on the Lord’s day, the first day of the week, and that there is liberty to voice praise to God and the Lord Jesus Christ for all that has been done on our behalf?

To shout out Christ’s worth publically and thank Him for the path he traveled, starting from his heavenly dwelling to this creation that has been made ugly by sin’s effects. That path continued all the way to the cross where he would be delivered up for the sins of many and would bear the weight and penalty of sin, the eternal wrath of a righteous God.

Qualifications to participation

It’s a lovely privilege to express this, but unfortunately what comes along with the remembrance meeting is a lot of baggage.  There seem to be many unnecessary qualifications that we have in our heads concerning participation in this meeting.

It’s almost as if there is a graded system. We imagine in our heads that if someone is able to call out a hymn, that they are somewhat spiritual. We then think that if someone calls out a hymn along with a little comment, that they are that much more spiritually insightful, and the examples go on and on!

Discouraging men from participating

Unfortunately, this can turn participation in the remembrance meeting to something that is weighed and measured by the listeners – and it can turn it into an extremely intimidating time as a younger (or even older) brother to be involved.

We think (incorrectly) that we need to have some measure of spiritual status to raise up a prayer of praise or to participate by simply calling a hymn.  Here are some key things for us to remember:

1. The only thing you contributed to being loved by God is your sin

There is no status that needs to be achieved to be able to praise the Lord except the status that Christ has secured for you. It is not by “works of the law” that you are able to stand before God (Galatians 2). It is simply by grace through faith.

Recognize your sinfulness and littleness before a righteous God and take the liberty to open your mouth in thankfulness for what Jesus has done for you, in the way that is real to you.

2. God is more concerned with your heart

God shows in his Word very clearly that he is much more concerned with your heart rather than an outward appearance or an outward show.  By God’s Spirit, he says in 1 Samuel 16:7 that “… the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

We need to realize that God “knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” (Psalm 103:14). He knows our souls, and what matters to him is the genuine praise being given to Him, not the fancy words or long prayers necessarily.

3. We are true worshipers, not simply people who worship

“…believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” – John 4:21, 23.

Jesus, speaking to the Samaritan woman, is emphasizing that worship is not confined to any specific place or any specific time.  He’s saying that worship unto God the Father (and now unto himself) is primarily concerned with the state and “posture” of our minds and hearts.

Place and time don’t matter

Reason and culture tells us to elevate the “Sanctuary” or the place we gather and time we gather to a greater level than every moment of every day, but this is not what Jesus or the New Testament teaches! Jesus teaches us here, and Paul continues in the epistles that true worship has to do with Spirit and Truth, with the inner man, and that it is not dependent on a place or a medium (word, song, action, thought).

With this being said, let’s not devalue the breaking of bread meeting, but let’s realize the sacredness of every single moment of every single day, and see those times as an opportunity to offer up worship to our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

With this realization, let’s not be confined to formalities of what our worship or praise has to look like or sound like when we are in the breaking of bread meeting. Realize your feebleness, your smallness before a righteous God, yet your boldness to approach Him through Christ, and offer up thanks that is in your heart to Him!

 

Joseph Guirguis

Joseph Guirguis was born in Toronto and raised in Ajax, Ontario. He is in fellowship at Rossland Ridge Bible Chapel in Ajax. Although raised in a Christian family, he came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus in his mid-late teens, and acknowledges his unending need of God’s grace since that time. His great desire is to serve his brothers and sisters in the Church.

10 Responses to Hindrances to Participation at the Lord’s Supper

  1. Tom

    While we should never look down on what our brothers are offering to the Lord, and while taking part audibly should never be done in a competitive spirit or with a desire to exalt ourselves, it remains true that some offerings are notably better than others. The word of God tells us so. Abel “offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain” (Hebrews 11:4).

    If the purpose of gathering is to remember the Lord (Luke 22:19) and to “proclaim his death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:25-26), then those hymns, prayers and little meditations that more accurately and scripturally serve to remind us of him (rather than ourselves or other things) and proclaim his death (as opposed to our blessings, distinctives or other, unrelated truths of scripture) are to be preferred over those thoughts that are more general and less related to the reason for our gathering.

    Yes, Joseph, we can all worship anywhere at any time, and that is a wonderful thing. But there is something to be said in scripture for gathering (Hebrews 10:25) to the Lord’s name, not just living worshipfully. And when we gather, we may choose to offer poor sacrifices, good sacrifices or better sacrifices.

    Why not make an effort to offer the best sacrifices?

    • Crawford Paul
      Crawford Paul

      I don’t agree with any of this Tom. In fact a careful reading of 1 Cor 11 states that it’s the partaking of the bread and cup that does the proclaiming not men standing up and sharing. The way we conduct the Lord’s Supper in brethren circles is man made and not prescribed by scripture. Therefore any requirements for participation are also man made.

      • Tom

        I agree with you that it is the sharing of bread and cup that do the proclaiming. That is not at issue. But surely what we say audibly before and during such “partaking” can either support or undermine the meaning of what we are doing.

        I’m curious: are you suggesting, Crawford, that as long as the ritual of taking the bread and the cup together takes place, that the context and atmosphere in which it takes place does not matter?

        • Crawford Paul
          Crawford Paul

          What the scriptures teach is that the only requirements for the Lord’s Supper are the bread and the cup. There is also a requirement for self-examination prior to it. There are no other parameters given. The fact that we have 45 minutes before it (in most cases) is not found in scripture.

          I attended a mainline denomination church several years ago and it happened to be the first Sunday of the month when they had the Lord’s Supper. After the pastor spoke one of the men got up and shared about the death of the Lord. He gave thanks for it and then all took part in the bread. Then a man shared about the blood, gave thanks and we all partook. It is obviously different than how “we” do it but it was not against scripture.

          • Tom

            I don’t disagree with you on any of that. The Lord’s Supper may well be ordered any number of ways that are not actively anti-scriptural.

            What I am suggesting is that if we ARE going to have audible participation from the men before and during the sharing of the bread and cup that is not pre-planned by the elders (something Joseph’s article seems to assume), there are some types of sharing (in length, content or tone) that are more conducive to remembering the Lord than others and therefore better suited to the purpose.

            Can we agree on that?

          • Crawford Paul
            Crawford Paul

            Well sure we can agree on that but again that’s following man’s requirements. The topic is much bigger than this article (as most topics are) and requires thinking through the teaching on the Lord’s Supper. Much too big to discuss in a text conversation like this. Yes? 🙂

    • ian

      This is a subject that is very close to my heart. And I must be careful not to become overcome or ruled by emotion, but I should like to share on this.

      I trust that we all agree that the breaking and eating of bread, and the drinking form the cup of wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ is instituted and commanded by the Lord Himself. (Mark 14:22-24)

      A month or two ago I took my wife to the beach for our anniversary. We enjoyed a solitary meal together there, that included bread and a glass of wine. We were “two or three are gathered” together, we both had the indwelling Holy Spirit and there was bread and wine. But I hope that you would agree with us that we did not remember the Lord in this meal to the fulfillment of His mandate.

      The bread and the wine are not the actual body and blood of the Lord Jesus as He is seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb 1:3), but are in fact only symbols to aid in our remembrance of Him. It is not sufficient to partake of the symbols and not of the substance they proclaim. The mandate of the Lord Jesus is “do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24-25). Neither should we neglect the bread and cup as if they were not necessary for obedience where possible (1 Cor 11:26).

      My wife and I are in fellowship in an assembly and although we could have been “two or three gathered together IN MY NAME” (and have been in the past on occasion), it would according to Hebrews 10:25 be wrong for us to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together” on a regular basis if we are in fact in professed fellowship with a local assembly.

      The frequency of the breaking of bread is not regulated in scripture and is therefore left to observing the pattern of the apostles and early church. In Acts 2:46 we see that the early pattern of the church was “continuing daily” “and breaking bread from house to house”. But later we learn that as progressive revelation was given (mainly through the apostle Paul), and the church began to be set in order(1 Cor 11:34)(Col 2:5), we see the practice move to the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Also we see the change from a meal to the breaking of bread(Acts 2:46)(1 Cor 11:22).

      On the subject of patterns we have a beautiful picture of the breaking of bread in the account of the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-32. [We can understand that this is the breaking of bread as it was in this that they recognized Him (Luke 24:30-31). He did not take the cup as He had already said that “I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine until that day that I drink of it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:25)]. We see here that the Lord Himself went through “all that the prophets had spoken”, “and beginning with Moses and all the prophets” and “in all the scriptures”(Luke 24:25-27), all scripture is then valid, “He expounded all things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27). Here we see the topic: “all things concerning Himself”. Again there is no commandment here but a pattern of the Lord Himself, and who better to follow (John 10:27). But there is a commandment to “remember me”.

      As to the “45 minutes” there is no prescription in scripture as to the duration. In fact it appears that “decently and in order” can apply all the way to “midnight” if led (Acts 20:7). There appears to be no limit in scripture to time but to the number of those that prophesy or speak in a tongue, “two or three at most” (1 Cor 14:27,29). And women are to “keep silence” (1 Cor 14:34).

      I confess that I am saddened to see that this is even a discussion on a website called assemblyhub. I did not know that these precious ordinances were even in question and attack in other assemblies. I thought that this was only happening where I am in fellowship. Brothers and Sisters, we have something very precious that is not afforded many of our brothers and sisters in other types of gatherings, a quiet sustained period of meditation, sharing and worshiping, every week, focused on the blessed Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let each of us bring his or her alabaster flask and brake it at the feet of our Lord and Saviour and let us enjoy this foretaste of heaven as we gather together, in His name, to worship Him and partake of Him to whom is due all Glory, Honor and Praise. Amen.

  2. David

    Amen brother! Let’s erase all of those silly misconceptions, come together to worship the One who loved us and gave Himself for us, and give Him who is worthy our thanks.

  3. Mark Jacobberger

    I agree with Joseph, Tom, and Crawford. I can’t say I agree with David only because I’m not sure what David means by silly misconceptions. We certainly need an atmosphere of openness and grace during our Worship & Remembrance meeting so that our younger brothers are not hindered in their worship and remembrance contributions. The only scriptural requirement is that we as priests, examine ourselves before partaking.

    That said, I would like to freely offer two thoughts in defense of Tom’s comments. If the Elder’s believe it is good and honoring before the Lord for this meeting to be a Worship & Remembrance meeting then we should follow and submit to that leading. In fact, we are clearly instructed to do so unless a practice is clearly against scripture. Therefore, even if the extra 45 minutes is seen as a tradition, it is not a tradition (but a command) to follow the oversight in their leading before the Lord, as to what this 45 minutes, content wise should consist of.

    If it is deemed to be worship and remembrance then in following our Oversight we must ask ourselves, what is worship and Who are we remembering? Worshiping and remembering the Lord certainly couldn’t be an exhortation to the saints, it couldn’t be lengthy expository teaching, nor a funny story that focuses on myself. Worship is ministering directly to the Lord. Remembering is remembering our Savior. Ezekiel 44 demonstrates a ministry that is directly for and to the Lord and another ministry that is to the house (the saints) of the Lord. Thank the Lord for those son’s of Zadok!

    Now, if the elders in any local assembly chose (in their autonomy) to lead this meeting into sort of a sharing meeting, then anything that is said is under their guidance and can be “shared”. For example, we had a brother in our Worship and Remembrance meeting that spent 10 minutes telling the saints about his work for the Lord and it was wonderful work indeed. Yet in our local assembly it was completely inappropriate. At other assemblies, it is within their liberty to add sharing, worship and remembrance to their local meeting.

    I think this is what Tom was trying to get to in his explanation of some things that are inappropriately said. I don’t think individual assembly autonomy was taken into consideration, since as Crawford correctly pointed out, the extra 45 minutes is a God honoring tradition that we have added to our remembrance and breaking of bread time together.

    Every assembly has the freedom to decide what kind of content they will encourage in this sacred meeting. Is your local assembly completely open to any kind of sharing? So be it, those local elders are responsible to and before the Lord. But if it is decided the time is for the purpose of Worshiping our Lord and Remembering our Lord then let our thoughts and audible contributions reflect Him.

    • Crawford Paul
      Crawford Paul

      Hi MArk. I don’t have a problem with the elders asking for specific content as long as they clearly indicate that this is only their preference and that it’s not the “right” way of doing it.

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