The Lord’s Supper
We meet around the Lord’s Table every week, usually on Sunday mornings towards the close of the Morning service. The Lord’s Table is open for all who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
What is the Lord’s Supper or the Lord’s Table?
The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Our Lord on the night before his crucifixion. He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying: “This is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way He took the cup saying: “This cup is the new covenant of my blood which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19-20). In this way Our Lord commanded His followers to remember Him and His death for them.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11:26 that the Lord’s Supper is to be observed as a perpetual remembrance of Him ‘until He comes’, in other words, until the end of the world.
Various titles are used to describe this ceremony: ‘The Lord’s Supper’ comes from 1 Corinthians 11:20, the term ‘Communion’ from 1 Corinthians 10:16 (AV), ‘The Lord’s Table’ from 1 Corinthians 10:21, ‘The Breaking of Bread’ from Acts 2:42, and ‘Eucharist’ comes from the Greek word which means ‘thanksgiving’ in 1 Corinthians 11:24.
The Lord’s Supper is a ceremony commanded by Our Lord to ensure that His followers remember Him and His death for them.
‘Christ was sacrificed ONCE to take away the sins of many people’ (Hebrews 9:28 ). We do NOT believe that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice.
What happens at the Lord’s Supper?
The service is very simple, after a hymn and a reading from scripture, there is usually a brief explanation of the scripture by the person leading the service, who is normally the pastor, an elder or visiting preacher. He then asks for a prayer(s) of ‘thanksgiving’ for the bread. Anyone present may offer that prayer. The bread is then taken to the congregation and each person breaks off a small piece.
The same procedure is carried out for the wine, a prayer of thanksgiving is offered by the congregation and then each person takes a small glass.
Some Baptist churches may vary slightly from this pattern, but this is the general process.
The Lord’s Supper is a simple ceremony in which the bread and the wine are symbols of the body and blood of Our Lord. We do NOT believe that the bread and wine change into the body and blood of the Lord.
What does the Lord’s Supper mean?
- It is the Lord’s Supper – He asks us to come to it.
- It is a simple way of remembering Him – ‘until He comes’.
- It is a setting out, in picture form, of the way our salvation was brought about.
- It is an opportunity for thanksgiving and praise.
- It is a time when we can renew our vows before Him and to Him.
- It is a ‘means of grace’, a way of growing as Christians, as we think about Him and His promises to us.
- It is a fellowship of love because we do it together.
The Lord’s Supper is one of the central acts in Christian worship. It is a way of remembering what Christ has done for us and of being strengthened for every day Christian living.
Who should join in the Lord’s Supper?
The Lord’s Supper is for sinners who see the true worth of the Lord’s death for them, and have claimed His forgiveness.
Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 11:27 about eating the bread and drinking the cup of the Lord ‘in an unworthy manner’ have caused problems for some people who have felt that they must be ‘worthy’ to come to the Lord’s Supper. If they feel themselves to be sinners or weighed down because of failure in the Christian life, they consider themselves ‘unworthy’ to attend. But the exact opposite is the case, the Lord’s Supper is for sinners. To take the bread and the wine in an unworthy manner is to take it without regard to its true worth, to come without a care about your sin or your shame. What the Apostle Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 11:28 is that ‘a man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.’ If any sin needs to be forgiven, then things must be put right with the Lord and with other people (1 John 1:9) before coming to the Lord’s Table.
The Lord’s Supper is for sinners who know Christ as Saviour and are seeking to walk in fellowship with Him.
How often should the Lord’s Supper be held?
Acts 2:46 hints that the early Christians celebrated the Lord’s Supper very frequently: ‘Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes…’ Acts 20:7 says: ‘On the first day of the week we came together to break bread’, in other words on Sunday. And that is what we do, meeting every Sunday, usually at the conclusion of the Morning service.
The above notes, adapted from the Windsor Baptist web site, help us to explain the Lord’s Supper to those unfamiliar with Baptist beliefs and practices.
Policy regarding the Lord’s Supper
The church in its Basis of Doctrine affirms the abiding and binding nature of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.
In the light of the scriptural example found in the Acts of the Apostles, the church believes that the Lord’s Supper is best and most correctly administered only to the gathered company of baptised believers.
The church recognises that the situation has changed from the simplicity of the primitive church. Factors which have changed include the multiplication of denominations and the increased mobility of people. Furthermore, other sister churches in fellowship in the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland do not provide letters of introduction between them for members visiting other churches. The church does not wish to needlessly deny the ordinance of remembering the Lord’s death to any of the Lord’s people. The church therefore will extend a welcome to all visitors who know the Lord and are seeking to live under His Lordship, and in fellowship with His people, to meet around the Lord’s Supper examining themselves.
In the case of someone who, in virtue of the fact that they participate in the Lord’s Supper consistently over a period of months, ceases to be a visitor, the Office Bearers shall arrange to visit them for the purpose of:
- Assuring themselves as to the spiritual condition of the person concerned.
- Explaining the views of the church regarding the proper administration of the Lord’s Supper with a view to encouraging the individual concerned to baptism and/or church membership.
If such a person considers the evidence so presented and declines to obey the scriptural pattern of baptism and membership of the local church, at the discretion of the Office Bearers, they will be asked not to participate in the Lord’s Supper in future.