Why do Churches of Christ take the Lord's Supper every Sunday?
IT'S A MATTER OF DIVINE DESIGN.
Central and of first importance to Christians are the facts of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3ff). These are:
- the fact that Jesus died for our sins...
- that He was buried...
- that on the third day He rose from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:4)
The "third day" is the first day of the week (Luke 24:1, 7, 21). Without the resurrection, His "dying for our sins" has no vindication (Romans 4:25). Therefore, Jesus' death for our sins and His resurrection belong together (Romans 4:25; 8:34).
The Lord's Supper was Jesus' own appointed way to remember His death (Matthew 26:26ff). The first day of the week was His appointed day to rise from the grave (Luke 24:1, 7, 21). Hence, it is the Lord's Day (cf. Revelation 1:10). Acts 20:7 reveals that the early church took the Lord's Supper on the Lord's Day (cf. Acts 2:42, 1 Corinthians 11:17; 16:2). This fact is also verified by church history. (See Everett Ferguson, Early Christians Speak, Sweet Publishing Co., 1971.)
Since the death of Christ and His resurrection are the core elements of the gospel, they belong together and are matters of "first importance" (1 Corinthians 15:3ff). The Lord's Supper and the first day of the week also belong together (Acts 20:7) to help the church focus on those matters of "first importance".
Common sense can see that what is tied together in reality should be tied together in memorial. Yet, we are not left with just pure logic in this matter; the Holy Spirit has seen fit to reveal to us the practice of the early church under apostolic supervision in Acts 20:7 (cf. John 16:13, 14; Matthew 28:20). Hence, it precisely and Divinely authorizes what plain sense demands.
Further, what other practice is as gospel-centered as Acts 20:7?
Would taking the Lord's Supper on Thursday reflect the total facts of the gospel? Would the Sabbath Day be a better choice? No, one must concede that what the Spirit has revealed in Acts 20:7 is a matter of Divine Design.
The evidence for Divine Design can also be seen in the spiritual benefits of taking the Lord's Supper every Lord's Day.
First, remembering weekly, 52 times a year, what God has done for us, through the gospel, will surely increase our love and gratitude for Jesus. So, it must be asked of those who have a less frequent practice, how can their spiritual needs be met more by taking the Lord's Supper less than what Acts 20:7 reveals?
Second, it is important to think about the resurrection while taking the Lord's Supper (Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 11:26; 1 Peter 1:3). Having the Lord's Supper on Resurrection Day works toward this end. One practice reinforces the meaning of the other. Again, Acts 20:7 has a practical design as per worship.
Third, there is the matter of unity within the church. All agree, even across denominational lines, that the practice of taking the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week was the practice of the early church. Hence, no matter what opinion is held as per the possibility of some other arrangement, all can unite on the "Acts 20:7 practice." Division occurs when people leave the "sure path" that is clearly revealed and agreed upon and begin pressing and practicing what "they think" will be pleasing to God. Since, only the practice of Acts 20:7 carries with it the guarantee that it is right before God and is a perfect reflection of the gospel elements, why not let it be?
In matters of practice, churches of Christ are committed to following those things revealed in the New Testament that have clear Divine Design.
Hence, we take the Lord's Supper every first day of the week because no other arrangement reflects the gospel as well as this practice can and no other practice can deliver the assurance of God's authorization like Acts 20:7 can. Hence, the Divine Design of Acts 20:7 is evident. Will man tear apart what God has tied together?
On the mere surface of it, a shorter version of the above would be to simply say that we can be sure that God is pleased when we follow a practice that the Apostles approved as per the taking of the Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7). They were commissioned by Christ to teach the churches how to observe what He had commanded them (Matthew 28:20). And, of course, He commanded them to take the sacred meal (Matthew 26:26 ff). We cannot be sure that any other practice will be approved by God except that which has been revealed in the New Testament. (1 Corinthians 4:6 may apply here.)
Another approach to answering the question is to point out that the very reason the church as a group exists is because of the Lord's death and resurrection. These are matters of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:4). So, how can a church come together for worship on the first day of the week and not take time to remember its very reason for existence and worship? Of course, it may be stated that the Lord's death can be remembered in other ways instead of taking the Lord's Supper. But the Lord's Supper is His own appointed way of remembering that gospel event, so why not honor it?
31 December 1997
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