Concerning Communion

How often should the ordinance of the Lord’s supper be observed?

The church is clearly instructed to observe this ordinance. People who are unwilling to participate have spiritual needs which they need to address with the Lord.

Jesus did not tell the church how frequently they were to participate in communion. He said, “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup…” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Frequency is an issue that is left to each person and fellowship to decide. It is noteworthy that Christ patterned this ordinance after the Passover which was celebrated once a year.

Some people partake of communion once a week or more. While that may not be singularly wrong, there is danger of it becoming casually ritualistic. The other danger is that some people find security in their frequent communion. Salvation is not derived from participating in this ordinance. Salvation is by grace through faith which brings about holy living.

Should children take communion?

The scripture does not give an age requirement for participating in communion but it does give some requirements. It unequivocally says “let a man examine himself” (1 Corinthians 11:28).

Communion is also something that should only be partaken of by those who have been saved. An infant or two-year-old does not have the mind to examine himself. Just as infant baptism is contrary to Biblical teaching, so is infant communion. It is a parent’s responsibility to know their child and oversee the timing of the child’s participation in the communion. While parents are to raise their children with godly practices, communion is a special memorial that is reserved for the born-again. Children should recognize the seriousness of partaking and have a great reverence for the service. If a child takes communion he should have a personal experience of salvation.

What about transubstantiation?

Transubstantiation is one of the false theologies concerning the nature of the bread and fruit of the vine. This doctrine, which is espoused by the Roman Catholic church, states that during the ceremony of mass, the “bread and wine” are changed, in substance, into the flesh and blood of Christ, even though the elements appear to remain the same. This is drawn from the scriptures where Jesus said “this is my body” and “this is my blood” (Matthew 26:26, 28).

Jesus was not speaking literally because He still possessed His literal blood and body. He was speaking metaphorically.  Jesus was drawing an analogy. He expressly said in 1 Corinthians 11:26, “as often as ye eat this bread….”  He told the disciples to partake of the Lord’s supper “in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).  This also implies that He was not present physically in the communion bread itself.  The bread and fruit of the vine are simply symbols of the body and blood of Christ.

—mws