Our Beliefs: 8. Communion

Posted on 03/05/2017 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:

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Please click one of the offering plates in Second Life or at http://almcyberchurch.org, and give as the Lord leads.

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POWER IN THE BLOOD
by Lewis E. Jones

Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you o'er evil a victory win?
There's wonderful power in the blood.

There is power, power,
wonder-working power
In the blood
of the Lamb;

There is power, power,
wonder-working power
In the precious blood
of the Lamb.

Would you be free from your passion and pride?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Come for a cleansing to Calvary's tide;
There's wonderful power in the blood.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Sin-stains are lost in its life-giving flow;
There's wonderful power in the blood.

Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood;
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There's wonderful power in the blood.


THE OLD RUGGED CROSS
by George Bennard

Verse 1:
On a hill far away
stood an old rugged cross
The emblem of suffering and shame
And I love that old cross
where the dearest and the best
For a world of lost sinners was slain

Verse 2:
O that old rugged cross
so despised by the world
Has a wonderous attraction for me
For the dear Lamb of God
left his glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary

Verse 3:
In that old rugged cross
stained with blood so divine
A wonderous beauty I see
For it was on that old cross
Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me

Verse 4:
To the old rugged cross
I will ever be true
Its shame and reproach gladly bear
Then he'll call me some day
to my home far away
Where his glory forever I'll share

Chorus:
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross
'til my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged cross
and exchange it some day for a crown


I SURRENDER ALL
by Judson W. Van DeVenter

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame;
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!


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For awhile, with some breaks here and there, we've been going through our Statement of Beliefs.

And you can find the items we're covering by going to almcyberchurch.org and clicking the "What We Believe" link, or here in Second Life by clicking one of the "Church Information" signs.

As as we've done for all the other items on our list, I'd like to start off by making it plain what the reason is NOT for having a statement of beliefs.

That reason is NOT because agreeing with these points of view is will somehow make you more spiritual, or save you from hell. You do NOT need to sign off on these, or adopt them as your own in order to "fit in" here or be considered a part of our family.

The reasons for this list of beliefs and this series discussing them in more depth include the following:

1. To provide a sense of doctrinal structure.

It is normal to feel a bit lost or out of place without some sort of structure. We like to have all our t's crossed and our i's dotted..... or our t's dotted and our i's crossed, whichever one you prefer.

The human mind is based on form and structure. To have no mental structure is considered mental illness or insanity. And since our perspective of spiritual issues is usually intimately linked with our mental understanding of doctrinal issues, as well as our feeling of comfort and connection with others, we offer these to you for the sake of the mind.


2. To provide possibly differing perspectives.

We all see through a glass dimly. None of us have it all figured out, regardless of what the leaders of our chosen denomination might believe. And if something discussed here differs from what you might firmly believe is true, then that is an opportunity to step back and watch your mind's antics. Is it creating division? Is it resisting unity? Is it weakening its opinion of "us" and strengthening its opinion of "you" as more discerning or less deceived?

We trust in our mind's understanding much more than we dare to believe.

But what does Proverbs 3:5-6 (TLS*) say?

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not dwell in or rely upon your own understanding.
6 Know Him in all things, and He will direct your paths, making them plain and straight.

So whether or not you agree with what is said here today, it doesn't really matter. God never told us we had to mentally understand everything perfectly lest He burn us in hell for all eternity. Instead, He has always called us to trust completely in Him.

He didn't inspire the words of Scripture which say, "For now we see in a glass dimly," and then follow it with, "but if that dim vision does not see everything perfectly clearly, I just might send you to hell." Instead, He has repeatedly called us to walk with Him, and to trust in Him, and has promised that some day we will see Him face to face and everything will become perfectly clear.

So let's bring our attention back into the Presence of God in His Holy Temple, the body in which You and He currently reside, and feel His Breath, His Presence, His Life there, for He is the One to whom any worthwhile teachings point.

And now, let's read the next item on our list.


8. Communion

Communion represents the Lord Jesus' body and blood. By participating in the partaking of the Lord's Supper, we proclaim His death until He returns.


Now there are different points of view concerning the nature of communion. Some believe it is a representation that serves as a reminder, while others believe that the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ.

One approach we COULD take would be to compare the arguments for each teaching, and see which one seems, to our minds, to be more in line with Scripture. And that's not necessarily a bad method.

But instead, let's do something together. Let's pretend we don't already know. After all, we might not actually BE pretending. Remember, we see through a glass dimly, and we just might not be seeing this as clearly as we think.

And let's travel back in time, and read the words of Jesus Himself, and then consider what we should do today in response.

Does that sound fair enough?

Okay then, let us begin.


You might be familiar with the story recorded in the sixth chapter of John, in which Jesus says that, unless one eats His body and drinks His blood, that person has no life in them.

But the narrative does not start there. And to get a bigger picture by seeing the full context, let's start with the first verse.

And we're not going to read the entire chapter here today. I do recommend that you read this yourself later. But we're going to cover the parts that are most relevant to our topic today.


John 6:1-14, 26-60 (NKJV)

1 After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.
2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.
3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.
5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"
6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

7 Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little."

8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him,
9 "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?"

10 Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost."
13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."

...(the discipes crossed the sea and Jesus walks on the water; the next day, the people cross the sea looking for Him)...

26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."

28 Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"

29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

30 Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?
31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"

32 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."

35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.
37 All who the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven."
42 And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, 'I have come down from heaven'?"

43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, "Do not murmur among yourselves.
44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
45 It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.
46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.
47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
48 I am the bread of life.
49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"

53 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.
58 This is the bread which came down from heaven -- not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."

59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"


Okay. So let's take a look at a few of the events that unfolded here.

First, in verse four, we see that it was almost time for the Passover. And that was an important thing to record here, as we will see in just a moment.

Now, we could go into great depth here concerning the Passover, as there are many nuances that could help to uncover many beautiful spiritual truths. But to do it full justice, we would have to be here for a few weeks or months, so let's just touch on the basics as we keep our attention on the big picture.

The first Passover took place in Egypt, during the time of Moses. God had already sent a number of plagues on Egypt because Pharaoh had refused to let God's people, who were his slaves, go free.

And the final plague was the death of all the firstborn males in Egypt. All the firstborn, that is, except for those within the homes whose doors were marked with the blood of a lamb.

The lamb had to be "without blemish," which meant no defects. It had to be "spotless." This seems to have symbolized the perfect sacrifice that was to come, unspotted by sin, that perfect sacrifice being Jesus, the Spotless Lamb of God.

The Passover lamb also had to have none of its bones broken. This, too, was fulfilled in Jesus, as we see in the story of the Crucifixion, when the thieves crucified beside him had their legs broken to speed up their death, but since Jesus was already dead, the soldier instead thrust a spear into His side, piercing His heart, to ensure He was, indeed, dead.

The manner in which the lamb was to be eaten was also important.

Exodus 12:11 (NASB)

11 Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste -- it is the Lord's Passover.

So they had to be ready to go. They were not home. And they had to be ready to let go of Egypt and set their sights on wherever God would call them to be.

This seems to point to our letting go of the things of this world -- the ways things have always been -- our imagined control of our lives, which are actually controlled by Egypt -- or the stories of this life co-authored by earthly minds reacting to temporary circumstances and events.

In this way, communion could serve to remind us that this world is not our home; we are simply pilgrims who are passing through. And our earthly attachments bring destruction and death, while walking in and with the Spirit of God both brings Life and IS Life itself.


So when Jesus said we must eat His flesh, this was a clear reference to the eating of the Passover lamb.

"Let go of your attachments to Egypt," He could have said, "because I am setting you free from its control over you. And be ready to walk with Me instead."

It was ALSO a reference to the unleavened bread, which was to be purified and pierced.

But how about the blood?

The Israelites were instructed to smear the blood of the sacrificial lamb on their door posts. And while they did not drink the blood, the door posts and lintel of the home could symbolize your physical body. Just as the temple was once a building made by human hands, so your body is now the temple of God, a temple not made with human hands.


Exodus 12:23-27 (NASB)

23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.


The form of this world is passing away. It was always temporary, awaiting the angel of death to bring it to naught.

With time, our bodies die and decay, and return to the dust from whence they came. Our houses decay and eventually fall apart or are torn down. Our kingdoms rise and fall, and eventually become distant memories recorded on parchments; and those scrolls and books and digital records eventually pass away as well.

But the angel of death, the marching of time, while it comes for all things in Egypt, in this world of form, those within the houses marked with the Blood of the Lamb are untouched by the breath of this fleeting age. And the real you, the being you are, the Breath of God and the God who breathes the you that you are, will leave this fading soil, as you dwell with Him in Timeless Eternity.


24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever.
25 When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite.
26 And when your children say to you, 'What does this rite mean to you?'
27 you shall say, 'It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.'" And the people bowed low and worshiped.


So when someone says to us, "What does the death of Messiah mean to you?" We can say, "It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord who has spared us from the destruction of this world, and who has brought us into Everlasting Life with Him."


Okay. So let's travel forward in time to the first communion.

Luke 22:14-20 (NASB)

14 When the hour had come, Jesus reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him.
15 And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."
17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves;
18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes."
19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."


So first we see the Passover lamb, whose body was eaten and whose blood was placed on the doorway to save God's people from the destruction of Egypt.

Next, we hear Jesus, before the celebration of the Passover, saying that they won't have life if they do not eat His flesh and partake of His blood.

And then, during the Passover meal, He tells His disciples that the broken bread is a reminder of His broken body, and the wine which is poured out for them is the New Covenant in His blood.

Very powerful symbols. Incredibly vivid reminders, pointing to and thus, for those who follow Him and trust in Him, connecting them with the spiritual realities to which those earthly symbols point.

Three weeks ago, we talked about baptism. We saw that water baptism was referred to by the early Church leaders as bringing salvation, because it symbolizes the immersion in and filling with the Spirit of God who saves us.

And today, we might see that this earthly ritual, this form called "communion," can be referred to as the only way we can have life, because it is the representation of our partaking in the broken body and spilled blood of the Spotless Lamb of God.

And if you believe the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ, that belief will neither save or condemn you any more than if you believe the bread and wine are representations of the spiritual reality behind the breaking of the body and the shedding of the blood of Christ.

It is, after all, that final Passover sacrifice which purchased our salvation from the death and destruction of Egypt. And we do not trust in rituals, traditions, symbols, or mental understandings and beliefs, to save us. Instead, we put all our hope and our trust in God, who loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son, to pay the price for our sins, and to bring us out of death and into Life, out of darkness and into Light, so that we can dwell with Him in that Heavenly Realm both now and for all eternity.