the meaning of communion

What Is The True Meaning Of Communion

Most Christians have feelings and ideas about communion and what it means when we participate in communion. But do we fully grasp what it implies when we partake?

What is the true meaning of communion?

In the first epistle to the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul made a very serious statement.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. (1 Cor 11:26-30)

Whether we see the bread and the cup as mere symbols representing His body and blood, or whether we see them actually somehow becoming Him in the sacrament of communion, there are implications we need to grasp when we partake. After all, doing so inappropriately comes with serious charges.

One passage from the old testament in 1st Chronicles, chapter 11, is particularly helpful in displaying a powerful concept when thinking about communion. There was a time when King David was embroiled with his men in battle against the Philistines. It was a very difficult day. David was with his men, in the heat, thirsty and tired. David made a statement that he was thirsty, and that he wished he could have a drink of water. His men responded quickly to what they thought was his request.

David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. And David said longingly, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and took it and brought it to David. But David would not drink it. He poured it out to the LORD and said, “Far be it from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the lifeblood of these men? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it.

What did David mean when he asked, “Shall I drink the lifeblood of these men?”

David’s mighty men crossed deep behind enemy lines simply to fetch some water so their king could have a drink. They risked their own lives for the sake of quenching his thirst. David recognized that to drink this water would be to as much as say, “it is an appropriate risk they took – risking losing their lives so I would not have to be thirsty was an appropriate risk.”

He couldn’t do it. For him to drink that water was to say that his men’s lives were worth nothing more than his pleasure and convenience. He poured the water out because he could not act in a way that said this kind of sacrifice – their lives for the quenching of his thirst – was appropriate.

So what does this story have to do with communion? Perhaps looking at the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross from a different perspective may help. Richard Wermbrand presented this concept many years ago in his book, “100 Prison Meditations.” It is a stark reality of what we are proclaiming when we participate in communion. Let’s try to look at it from the day before the crucifixion.

You are a sinner. You know it.

You realize that even by your own standards of right and wrong, you fall short. You’ve watched Jesus. You know him, you know what he is like. He is perfect. He does no wrong. And you’ve seen him work miracles, love the children, raise the dead and scorch the pharisees with perfect exposure of their hypocrisy. You know God is well pleased with him.

Jesus comes to you, and says, “you are a sinner and your sin deserves punishment. The wages of sin is death. Tomorrow, they intend to crucify me. They will take me out and flog me with 39 lashes, laying my flesh open in gaping strips. They will place a crown of thorns on my head, and then they will take me to the top of the hill and lay me on a cross of wood and nail me to it. I will be left there to bleed to death. When they do this, you need to be the one to drive the nails in my hands and feet. You have to be a part of my scourging. You need to take the whip and use it to do what a whip does. When they make the crown of thorns, you must place it on my head, push it into my skull.”

“These things will be excruciating for me, and after I have suffered for a while, I will die. But a sacrifice is required to atone for your sin. And when I have die, you shall know that your sins are forgiven. You see, this is how a man get saved.”

And then Jesus asks a question that weighs heavy on you. He says, “there is no other way your sins can be forgiven. Either you must allow me to die for you, or you must pay the price yourself. Will you accept my suffering and death for your sins? Or do you prefer to pay for them yourself?”

When we participate in communion, we embrace a reality – an agreement with God – that Jesus’ blood was an appropriate price to pay so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have fellowship with God. And if we can do that with indifference and a lack of repentance from what caused us to be separated from our heavenly Father in the first place, we come under greater judgement than those who have never heard and believed.

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besetting sins

How To Overcome Besetting Sin

How do you get victory over besetting sins – a sinful habit or way of thinking?

Many people know the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat over some particular struggle with sin; they feel good about themselves when they get it right; they beat themselves up over it when they get it wrong. It becomes a barometer for the measure of their holiness in life; after a while, it becomes the WHOLE measure of their success in life and the amount of holiness they have obtained, or else the WHOLE measure of their failure as a Christian and what a horrible person they still are. Ironically, in some ways this “measuring stick” becomes their God – it is their focus, their goal, their indicator of how good they have become when they succeed, and an indicator of the need for self-punishment and self-loathing when they fail.

The problem is, you don’t get victory over a besetting sin by beating yourself up over it when you fail any more than you stay in victory by getting all excited when you have some successes along the way.

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God speaks

God Speaks From Time To Time

There are some things that happen and they stick with you. I remember a moment very clearly that was one of those “stick with you” moments. Actually, it was fairly recently, and I hope it sticks with me forever, for the urgency it created in my soul at that moment.

I was listening to an audio version of a bible commentary on Romans, Chapter 9, written some time ago by a gentleman by the name of Andre Dellerba. And the point he made struck me in the moment as very profound.

God Speaks At Pivotal Points In Our Lives

What he said was that God speaks to us, occasionally, at pivotal moments in the history of our lives, and we are accountable for the decisions we make in those moments of time. Now, I know that the Holy spirit is constantly dealing with us as believers. There are times we hear Him nudging us in one direction or another – times when he convicts us of sin, or prompts us to contact that friend or relative that we just don’t enjoy spending time with, but they need us to do it.

Now, when Dellerba was discussing this issue of God speaking at pivotal times in our lives, he was speaking particularly about unbelievers, and how God will nudge them at particular points in their lives. His point was that God does not strive forever with man; and that as people harden their hearts to the promptings of the Spirit, God does not strive with people forever. God moves in specific moments and circumstances, and God will hold people accountable for how they respond to God in those moments when He speaks.

There Is A Price For Quenching The Spirit

As I was listening to this podcast, it struck me that there are times when God has spoken to me about issues in my life, and I chose to ignore those promptings of His Spirit. And I have to honestly say that in those moments in my life, where I knew that God was prompting me about a need to be obedient, and I chose to quench the Spirit about those issues where He was speaking to me, I’ve since had hard work to do in those areas in my life. I’ve had to turn over the fallow ground that resulted from my ignoring Him and choosing not to obey Him.

There is an even greater problem for the believer in ignoring those promptings of the Spirit that for the unbeliever, because the believer has an even greater witness. The believer has tasted, and has seen that the Lord is good. We walk not merely out of head knowledge or out of fear, but by the reality and the fellowship of the Spirit. The unbeliever, He prompts from the outside; for the believer, He is living inside, choosing to dwell with us, where He can be grieved in His very own home (John 1:14).

Do not forget that God’s purpose in saving us is not merely to get us out of hell. God’s ultimate purpose in saving us is to get the “hell” out of us. If we continue to ignore the promptings of His spirit, we can become ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:8). And if we do, what a waste we make of the purposes for which Christ died to save us.

The level to which we rise in our walk with Him when no one is watching us is the level to which He will be able to promote us and use us in the world. Strive always to walk in the awareness that the God of the universe walks with you, moment by moment and step by step. Strive to please Him, even when no one is watching.

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