LISTEN: The Passover, the Communion, and the 4 Views, by Daniel Whyte III

Daniel Whyte III
Daniel Whyte III

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As many of you know, today is also Passover — the holiday on which the Jews commemorate their deliverance from Egypt. There is a special connection between the Passover of the Jews and the Christian faith because the meal that we refer to as Jesus’ “Last Supper” with his disciples was actually a Passover meal. It was at this last supper that Jesus Christ instituted the ordinance of communion (or the Lord’s supper) and commanded that it be done in remembrance of Him. That communion ordinance is what we are going to celebrate today.

Dr. John MacArthur said, “This final Passover was the first Communion. This is epic, this is massive, this is monumental, this is a turning point in all redemptive history. To put it another way, this evening Jesus brings to an end the Old Covenant and the Old Testament and inaugurates the New Covenant and the New Testament. He goes from Passover, the last legitimate Passover, to the Lord’s table, the first new memorial feast. He ends millennia of a celebration looking back to God’s delivering power in Egypt and inaugurates a new memorial, looking back to the cross and the deliverance far greater accomplished there.”

Now, there is some confusion among believers about “the Lord’s supper.” So, by the grace of God, before we take communion, I want to do some teaching to clear up the confusion that some folks have regarding communion. We are going to start by reading all four passages of Scripture regarding the instituting of the Lord’s Supper.

As we read these passages, I want you to keep these thoughts in mind:

1. Jesus established the Lord’s supper. Matthew 26:26-28 says, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

2. Jesus Christ gave the command to repeat the Lord’s supper. Luke 22:19 says that after Jesus broke the bread, He told His disciples, “this do in remembrance of me.”

3. Jesus Christ must be the person’s Saviour if they are going to receive the Lord’s supper. First Corinthians 11:27 says, “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily [in an unworthy manner — having sin in their lives, or being a person who is mocking God by taking communion knowing that they are not saved], shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” In other words, you should not partake of the Lord’s supper if you do not belong to the Lord. If you have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you should not take communion.

Mortimer J. Adler, author of the bestselling book “How to Read a Book”, said the highest level of reading is synoptic reading — that is reading multiple texts about the same subject at the same time. That is what we are going to do right now.

First, please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 26:26-29:

26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

Now, turn to Mark 14:22-24:

22 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.

24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Our next passage is Luke 22:14-20:

14 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.

15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:

16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:

18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Now, I want you to turn to our final passage which is the passage we always read before we take communion — First Corinthians 11:23-32:

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Every time we take the Lord’s Supper, we are remembering that the Lord died on the cross for our sins.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily [in an unworthy manner — having sin in their lives, or being a person who is mocking God by coming into the house of God to take communion knowing that they are not saved], shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

(That is what you and I need to be doing — examining ourselves. Are you living in sin? Are you perpetuating lies? Are you living a lie? Are you shacking up? Are you bitter, resentful, and unforgiving toward others? Are you guilty of not tithing and giving? Have you been grumbling, murmuring, and complaining?

Children, are you disobedient to your parents? Wives, are you lovingly and willingly submitting to your husband? Husbands, are you loving your wife and caring for your family?

If these things are not being done on a regular basis, you need to confess that as sin. You can still take communion if you are a child of God, but you must lay those sins at the altar.

Don’t sit next to your mate thinking that the speck in his eye is bigger than the telephone post in your eye or vice versa. It is interesting how we can always see the speck in someone else’s eye but we cannot see the telephone pole in our own eye.

Some of us like to sit back and judge others, but we don’t judge ourselves. In fact, we get offended when someone rebukes us. We need to confess our own sins, failures, and faults — and if we look at our lives alone, we will find that the shortcomings in our lives are enough for us to be concerned about. So, examine yourself, confess your sins, and get your heart right with God before you take part in the Lord’s Supper.

Look at verse 28.)

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

(Now, some people will say, ‘Oh, that verse frightens me. I just won’t take the Lord’s Supper then.’ Well, if you do that, you are being disobedient because Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” That is a command, not a suggestion. Instead of getting scared, what you need to do is confess, repent, and turn away from your sin. If you say to yourself, “Oh, I’m afraid I might die and be damned,” understand that that is not God’s will for you. God wants you to confess your sins and repent. He wants you to change your behavior and come to the Lord’s Supper with a pure heart and a clear conscience.

Do you know what the problem is with many families and churches today? People want to avoid the consequences of their sin and still be blessed by God, but they do not want to change their wicked, evil behaviour that brings about negative consequences.

Jesus Christ died for all of our sins, and our remembrance of His death is one way the church keeps itself pure. So, it is fitting for us to confess our sins before we take communion. Make up your mind that you are not going to keep doing whatever evil you are being convicted of. Ask the Lord to forgive you and to cleanse you and then take the Lord’s Supper with a clean conscience.

Verse 30 — )

30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

(You say, preacher, what is Paul talking about when he says many people sleep? He is saying that many people are dead. I know this is not going to make people feel good, but if you don’t confess your sins, repent of your sins, and get your act together, and you take the Lord’s Supper unworthily, God may kill you. Yes, God does kill Christians who continue to live in sin. That is well established in the Bible.

Verse 31 says — )
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

(Make sure you judge yourself. Sometimes, you have to look in the mirror and say, ‘self, stop doing that.’ You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble and heartache in life if you just judge yourself.)

32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

This brief message today is simply titled “The Passover, the Communion, and the 4 Views.” We have just read four passages together regarding the Lord’s Supper. And, if you kept in mind what I shared with you at the beginning, you will recall:

1. Jesus established the Lord’s supper. Matthew 26:26-28 says, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

2. Jesus Christ gave the command to repeat the Lord’s supper. Luke 22:19 says that after Jesus broke the bread, He told His disciples, “this do in remembrance of me.”

3. Jesus Christ must be the person’s Saviour if they are going to receive the Lord’s supper. First Corinthians 11:27 says, “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily [in an unworthy manner — having sin in their lives, or being a person who is mocking God by taking communion knowing that they are not saved], shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” In other words, you should not partake of the Lord’s supper if you do not belong to the Lord. If you have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you should not take communion.

Now, I don’t consider myself a scholar like the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Al Mohler. I’m just an old-fashioned, Bible-thumping, hell is hot, heaven is sweet, Jesus saves evangelist. God has blessed the church with scholars who are very good at teaching, writing, and making things plain. I believe many preachers waste time trying to be original. When it comes to the Word of God and the Gospel, in most cases, the Holy Spirit will have one preacher to say the same things that others have said in the past. He may say it with his own style, but it is the same truth. Therefore, I do not believe in reinventing the wheel.

With that being said, I have 20 to 25 books in my library that address the subject of the Lord’s Supper or at least touch on it in some way. I read several of them in preparation for this message, and they all basically say the same thing. And so, if you do not mind, I am going to read from the author of The Moody Handbook of Theology, Bro. Paul Enns. Bro. Enns is a teaching minister at the Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, and he is also an adjunct professor at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Out of all that I have read on the subject of the Lord’s Supper, he explained everything the best in my opinion. And I love it when people who are scholars are able to make something that can be difficult seem simple. So, right now I am just going to read to you regarding the four views of the Lord’s Supper.

The reason why I am trying to help you with this today is because you will often come in contact with Catholics, Mormons, Reformed Christians, Presbyterians, and Anglicans, among others, in our society. As you reach out to these people, you will find that they have different views of Biblical issues, and if you don’t take the time to learn, you will have no idea what they are talking about. More importantly, you need to know if what a church is doing or if what someone is teaching is violating the Word of God.
Right now, let’s begin with what Bro. Paul Enns has to say:

Protestants have historically recognized two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, whereas Roman Catholics have held to seven sacraments: baptism, the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper), confirmation, penance, extreme unction, holy orders, and marriage. There is a difference of opinion regarding terminology. Catholics (and some Protestants) prefer the term sacrament, which comes from the Latin sac-ra-men-tum, meaning “a thing set apart as sacred.” The term sacramentum in the Latin Vulgate was also used to translate the Greek word mus-te-ri-on [mystery] and “came to be used for anything that had a secret or mysterious significance. Augustine called it ‘the visible form of an invisible grace’. A “sacrament” was later defined as an “outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” It is for this reason that many Protestants (and Baptists) have preferred the term “ordinance” which does not have the connotation of conveying grace. An ordinance might simply be defined as “an outward rite prescribed by Christ to be performed by His church.”

Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper on the eve of His crucifixion, commanding that His followers continue to observe it until His return. This was a new covenant or testament in contrast with the Old Mosaic covenant. To enact the covenant, death was necessary because death provided forgiveness of sins. Paul also rehearsed the ordinance for the Corinthian church. Of course, the issue at hand is, what is the meaning of the Lord’s Supper?

(Many Christians get saved, get into the church, and take the Lord’s Supper once a month or every Sunday and they never really understand what they are doing. As some of you know, Gospel Light House of Prayer is an arm of our evangelistic ministry, Gospel Light Society International. Our main concern is getting souls saved and getting those new Christians discipled — rooted and grounded in the fundamentals of the faith. We don’t go deep, but we do cover the fundamentals. So, if you pay attention, you will get a great blessing out of this and you will have a better understanding of what you are doing when you take the Lord’s Supper.

Bro. Enns says there are four views of the Lord’s Supper in Christianity. Three of these views are wrong and one is right. Bro. Enns goes on to explain each of these four views, so listen carefully.

1. THE FIRST VIEW OF THE LORD’S SUPPER IS TRANSUBSTANTIATION.

This is the Roman Catholic view concerning the Lord’s Supper — transubstantiation — which means “a change of substance.”
(I know that some of you like the beauty and solemnity of the high church tradition that you experience in Catholic churches. Quite honestly, I like some of that myself. It is very easy to get into a religious or spiritual mood in that type of environment.

Before I got saved, I attended a service at a Catholic church when I was stationed on Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. One of the things they required us to do was go to some kind of church or chapel meeting on Sunday. There were only two churches on base, and I decided to go to the Catholic church. I went, and the priest blessed me and gave me the sacraments as they call them. I thought I had done something good. In fact, I called my mother to tell her about it, thinking that she would be pleased that I had gone to church. I quickly found out that she was not pleased at all when I told her that it was a Catholic church. Even with her not being the most educated person in the world about religious or theological matters, she knew that she had not raised her children to be Catholics.

Bro. Enns goes on to say…)

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a miracle takes place at the Eucharist (the Mass) in which the elements of the bread and wine are actually changed into the literal body and blood of Christ, although the sensory characteristics (which the Catholics call “accidents”) of the elements — touch, taste, and smell — may remain the same. The Creed of Pope Pius IV stated: “I profess that in the Mass is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; …there is truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood.” As the priests consecrate the elements, their substance is changed from bread and wine to the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. Thus, in Catholic teaching, the participant actually partakes of the body of Christ. The Catholic Church claims that this is the teaching of John 6:32-58.

John O’Brien, a Roman Catholic, has stated, “The Mass with its colorful vestments and vivid ceremonies is a dramatic reenactment in an unbloody manner of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.” A contemporary Roman Catholic theologian equates it with salvation, stating, “In his body and blood, then, Jesus himself is offered. He presents himself as a gift for salvation.”

There are several serious problems with this view.

(1) It views the work of Christ as unfinished, the sacrifice of Christ continuing in the Mass. Yet Christ declared His work completed (in John 19:30, when He said, “it is finished”) as did also the writer of Hebrews.

(2) Christ’s human body would have to be omnipresent if this teaching were true; however, Christ’s human body is localized in heaven as the Bible shows in Acts 7:56.

(3) In instituting the Supper, Christ used a common figure of speech — the metaphor (“This is My body, this is My blood”) — in referring to the bread and cup. He was physically present yet distinct from the elements when He referred to them as His body and blood. Similarly, in the John 6 passage, Jesus used a powerful metaphor (“eat My flesh…drink My blood”) to vividly picture a saving faith relationship to Himself. To insist that these expressions are literal language is to do violence to fundamental hermeneutical principles.

(4) It was forbidden for Jews to drink blood (in Leviticus 17), yet this is what Jesus would be asking them to do if transubstantiation were what He intended.

2. THE SECOND VIEW OF THE LORD’S SUPPER IS CONSUBSTANTIATION.

This is the Lutheran view and it means that Jesus’ body and blood are actually present in the elements, but the bread and the wine remain such; they do not change into literal body and blood as taught in Roman Catholic doctrine. To emphasize the presence of Christ in the elements, Lutherans use the terms “in, with, and under” to express the actual presence of the body and blood of Christ. Martin Luther illustrated the point by stating that “as heat penetrated an iron bar when placed in the fire, the bar nonetheless remained iron.”

Lutherans also differ from Roman Catholics in rejecting the notion of the perpetual sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist. Luther insisted, however, “that by partaking of the sacrament one experiences a real benefit — forgiveness of sin and confirmation of faith. This benefit is due, however, not to the elements in the sacrament, but to one’s reception of the Word by faith.”

The problem with the Lutheran view of the Eucharist is the failure to recognize Jesus’ statement, “This is My body,” as a figure of speech.

3. THE THIRD VIEW OF THE LORD’S SUPPER IS THE REFORMED VIEW.

The Reformed view is also called the Calvinist view because its adherents are from the Reformed churches (and others) who follow Calvin’s teaching on the subject. Adherents to this view reject the notion of the literal presence of Christ in any sense and in this are similar to adherents of the memorial view. This view, however, does emphasize the “present spiritual work of Christ.” Calvin taught that Christ is “present and enjoyed in His entire person, both body and blood. He emphasizes the mystical communion of believers with the entire person of the Redeemer… The body and blood of Christ, though absent and locally present only in heaven, communicate a life-giving influence to the believer.” [According to the Reformed view,] because of the mystical presence of Christ in the elements, grace is communicated to the participant in the elements; moreover, it is a grace that is similar to that received through the Word, and, in fact, it adds to the effectiveness of the Word.

A problem with this view is that there is no explicit statement or inference from Scripture suggesting that grace is imparted to the participant through communion.

4. THE FINAL VIEW OF THE LORD’S SUPPER IS THE MEMORIAL VIEW.

The memorial view is also referred to as the Zwin-gli-an view because the Swiss reformer Ul-rich Zwin-gli is considered a clear exponent of this view in contrast to other current views of his time. In contrast to the Calvinist view, Zwingli taught that there was no real presence of Christ but only a spiritual fellowship with Christ by those who partake in faith. Essential to the Memorial view is the notion that the bread and cup are figurative only; they are a memorial to the death of Christ. While Zwin-gli acknowledged a spiritual presence of Christ for those who partake in faith, Anabaptists rejected the idea of Christ being present in the Lord’s Supper any more than He would be present anywhere else. The memorial view emphasizes that the participants demonstrate faith in the death of Christ through this symbolic activity.

The memorial view has much to commend it in the Scriptures. An examination of the passages reveals the significance of the Lord’s Supper. First Corinthians 11 shows that it is a memorial to His death: the recurring statement “in remembrance of Me” makes this clear. The bread symbolizes His perfect body offered in sin-bearing sacrifice and the wine symbolizes His blood shed for forgiveness of sins. First Corinthians 11 also shows that it is a proclamation of the death of Christ while waiting for His coming: it involves a looking back to the historical event of the cross and an anticipating of His return in the future. First Corinthians 10 shows that it is a communion of believers with one another: they eat and drink the same symbolic elements, focusing on their common faith in Christ.

That concludes Paul Enns’ discussion on the four views of the Lord’s supper. And, as you now see, the fourth view — the Memorial view — is the Biblical view. It is the view that we hold here at Gospel Light House of Prayer.

Now, we encourage all people to attend a local church in order to participate in the Lord’s Supper. In fact, we have a directory and a map on our website, GospelLightSociety.com, pointing people to Bible-believing churches all around the world. So if you get saved through the preaching of the Gospel through our ministry or through another ministry, you can find a church where you can attend, join, be baptized, and take the Lord’s Supper.

Now that we have a proper understanding of this ordinance instituted by Christ, we are going to proceed with our communion service — our celebration of the Lord’s Supper — in remembrance of Him.

Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.