Our communion or breaking of bread together is a practice that our Lord established but in our day the true reason and purpose have almost been forgotten. As Acts records, communion (breaking bread) was one of the four essential practices of the narrow road followers of Jesus.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” [Acts 2:42-47 NKJV]
First, we must remember that Jesus presented communion as a blood covenant. This is recorded in Luke 22:20 (NLT). “After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.”
Paul speaks to the church at Corinth and states, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” [1 Corinthians 10:16,17].
The symbolism of the blood covenant was very clear to the first disciples, God made a blood covenant with Abraham. Such a covenant contains lifelong obligations and commitments. Therefore it is serious business with God and the Christian today also.
And while the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship are foundational for church health and growth, God uses the Lord’s Table as the key to ensuring the purity and power of the church. “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.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 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. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world” [1 Corinthians 11:25-32].
Then the power of breaking bread together is centered around the need for purity of the church. Just like the liver of the body removes impurities and keeps a person healthy, the Communion Table is also designed to cause each Christian to thoroughly examine themselves and clear their conscience of wrongs. If these sinful impure practices are not removed the body of Christ becomes weak and sick. In fact, physical death can result. “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”
Paul’s words “…not discerning the Lord’s body” is suddenly very significant! This is the stated reason for many Christians becoming weak and sick and dying early. The body of Christ does not just mean His human body. Here it is clearly speaking of the church, the “body of Christ.” “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” [1 Corinthians 12:27]. Since we are connected, what one member does hurts the rest of the believers of the local church.
We cannot downplay these grave warnings from Paul’s letter to these first century Christians. This is not superstition! God demands holiness in his church because He has given precious promises, the Holy Spirit, and his amazing grace to deliver us from the bondage of sin.
Can we dare say the “reason many are weak and sick among” us, “and many sleep” is the sin that pervades the modern church today? Do we take the Word literally? Is communion is a cleansing time or an old ritual in your church? Sacred must always mean we take God’s Word seriously and actually examine ourselves and respond in repentance to God’s Word.
You must come to know that sin is a medical cause of some physical disease and has been proven to be a direct cause of many medical diseases. For example, many medical textbooks now agree with the Bible and state that fear and anxiety are a primary cause of coronary artery disease, angina, and heart attacks. The scripture even states people will be dying from heart disease, “Men’s hearts failing them for fear” [Luke 21:26].
Many have found out as they truly deal with their sin, they receive physical healing also. This is why Proverbs warns, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but he who confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy” [Proverbs 28:13].
Americans always think as individuals and refuse to see the damage and effect they pour out on others in their families, churches, and nation. And here Paul reminds us that our sin infects the church like a disease. Like Eve affected Adam and both infected mankind, every Christian defiles the local church if they live in sin.
Paul is clearly connecting the church, the “body of Christ” with the individual Christian who is also the “body of Christ.” “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” [1 Corinthians 12:27]. Since we believers are connected, what one member does affects the whole body of the local church.
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!” [1 Corinthians 6:16]. Our sin infects the whole body of Christ. We offend the entire local church and will be judged for it.
1 Corinthians 6:15-20 (NLT)
15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never!
16 And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.”
17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
18 Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.
19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,
20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
As you see, your bodies are called God’s temple, and if you do not keep it pure God reserves the right to destroy it. If your actions damage the church by what you teach, or how you act you will suffer by God’s hand if you refuse to repent. Again Paul warns if you are, “not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.” God is not silent on this matter even in our present times.
1/ Therefore, if the church is to prosper through God’s blessings, it must examine itself and clear up all past offenses between its members. Now small churches need to have communion frequently because the possibility of hurts and offenses is accelerated by their close associations. Misunderstandings easily happen.
2/ Remember “a whisperer separates the best of friends” [Proverbs 16:28]. “And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases” [Proverbs 26:20]. And also remember the early church met very frequently for “breaking of bread” because it was vital to spiritual growth and God’s hand of blessing.
3/ Maintaining a clear conscience is a powerful weapon to protect us from spiritual disaster, “…having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,” [1 Timothy 1:19]. If our church expects a powerful time of prayer and miraculous answers, we must have effective, purifying times of communion.
This is why we suggest churches follow the pattern of Acts 2:42 and have the teaching of scripture first, then the saints can be convicted and purified by the Word of God. By then responding with confessions, repentance, and obedience, everyone affirms the Word, testifying of God’s grace in their lives, confessing their faults publicly to one another, and exhorting one another. This prepares the whole church for the Lord’s Table, where all examine themselves, confess and repent of any sin God reveals.
Next, after everyone has cleared and purified hearts, they are ready for the sacred cup of communion with God. This always causes rejoicing, and praise with a pure heart releasing powerful worship. If the church concludes with group intercession, crying to God with clean hands and pure hearts, the family of God finds answers to their prayer.
Therefore, the close social union of membership demands constant times of spiritual examination. Sin is subtle and the enemy loves to see believers defeated, powerless, and unable to have their prayers answered. As we fellowship and exhort one another we inflame one another to obedience and purity. When the body of Christ is clean, it is healthy. A healthy church bears much fruit, and so glorifies God!
God empowers His church then to fulfill its mission and together with one voice proclaim the Good News of Christ and His kingdom. The common distribution of our spiritual gifts ministers God’s love throughout our church and community. And the deep communication of our loving exhortations, confessions, and testimonies matures the saints around us.
Never forget, Communion is not a mundane ritual. Forever remember your duty to keep your blood covenant with the Lord Jesus, to fully obey His commands and wholeheartedly serve only Him. Paul exhorts you to“…keep yourself pure” [1 Timothy 5:22].