WORSHIP
THE FIRST-CENTURY WAY

Lord's Supper or Lost Supper?
                            Great Theologians  

About 1536 - JOHN CALVIN - REFORMED CHURCHES - "And truly this custom, which enjoins communicating once a year, is a most
evident contrivance of the Devil, by whose instrumentality soever it may have been determined....Every week, at least, the table of the Lord
should have been spread for christian assemblies, and the promises declared by which in partaking of it we might be spiritually fed"
(
Institutions Book 4, chap. 17, sect. 46; and Book 6, chap. 18, sect. 56)  

About 1775 - JOHN WESLEY - METHODIST - "If we are not obliged to communicate constantly, by what argument can it be proved that
we are obliged to communicate frequently?  Yeah, more than once a year?  Or once in seven years?  Or once before we die?"(
106th Sermon,
Vol. III, on Luke 22:19, "The Duty of Constant Communion").  

About 1800 - JOHN MASON - PRESBYTERIAN - "It is evidence [Acts 20:7] not only that Christians assembled on the Lord's day for
public worship, but that they did not part without commemorating his death....sacramental communion was a principal, if not the principal
object of their meeting"
(Letters on Frequent Communion, Edinburgh Edition of 1799, pg. 34-42) [1]  




      Oh Jesus, you were so determined to stand by Truth no matter how angry people got.  You confronted religious leaders who
persecuted you over it, and you refused to back down.  Even to the death.  What a guy!  What a God!  The God!
 

       I heard it was done out west.  I do not know if it is true.  But what I heard is that a young preacher felt as though his congregation was
taking far too much for granted the Lord's Supper and the horror of Jesus' sacrifice for us.   

       So he brought a lamb to services, tied it up, and put it on the covered communion table.  Then, before anyone could grasp was about to
happen, he raised a knife over his head and plunged it into the lamb so that it died.  

       The congregation gaped and gasped in disbelief at the atrocity done to the innocent lamb, some also wondering what the Humane Society
might do to them.  

      The young preacher, then announced, "This is what Jesus, our Lamb of God, did for us."  

       Perhaps it was "overkill."  But, have we gone to the other extreme?  Most people in the Christian religion world believe that having the
Lord's Supper every week makes it too commonplace, that partakers begin taking it for granted.   

       Are they right?   

      Tom Sine, in his book,
The Mustard Seed Conspiracy, says, "I believe the Lord's Supper is the very center of worship....Those of us
who are from sermon-centered backgrounds could profit from moving the pulpit over a bit and restoring communion and prayer to the center
of our common life.  We have so much to learn from the liturgical churches regarding the awesomeness of worshiping the Almighty....need to
learn to worship the Lord in the beauty of silence." [2]  

      Jesus said in all the gospels that the Lord's Supper was to be kept to "do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19, etc. and also 1
Corinthians 11:23-26).  He said the bread represented his body given for the world of sinners.  The wine represented the New Testament put
into effect by the loss of his blood and hence his life.  So, we have two things to reflect on as we partake of the Lord's Supper.  

      God, I look forward to Easter every year.  What Jesus did for us all on that day so long ago, is so special.  It demands everything special I
can dedicate on that day.  Thank you, Jesus.  

                   Jesus' Body Torture for Us  

      When we partake of the Lord's Supper, we recall his terrible crucifixion where his body was broken by the nails and his blood poured
out.  How could we ever take that for granted?  Let us allow our minds to go back to that horrible and wonderful day........  

      .....The hammer falls and the first cruel blow sends the pain shooting up Jesus' arms, racing through his body, and exploding in his head.   
      "Aggghhhh...gh....gh...gh...."  

       "
Oh, Father.  Help me," he cries out deep in his soul.  

      Jesus instinctively reaches with his free hand for the punctured one, but another soldier grabs it and pulls it back out of the way. Another
brutal blow falls on his quivering flesh.  Trembling fingers strain to fold down in an impossible attempt to grasp the spike and remove it.   
       "Aggghhhh!"  

      Finally, with two contemptible spikes piercing his arteries and torturing his ever-weakening body, Jesus is forced to stand.  He nearly
faints.  Two soldiers support the beam, keeping Jesus from falling backward.  They back him up to the tall upright beam darkened with the
blood of countless other victims of justice.  

      With each step his flesh is torn and the punctures in his mutilated wrists stretch larger.  They go slowly so that his wrists do not go back
through the spikes and free themselves.  Still the torture.  His muscles cramp and fiery pain shoots helter skelter through every inch of his
body.   
      Once there, two more soldiers on ladders lift up Jesus' crossbeam a few tormenting inches to wedge it into the cut-out section of the
upright beam.  

       "Aggghhhh....gh....gh...."  

      The two beams are secured together.  

      Jesus' entire weight is now supported by two thin tearing spikes and the bones at the bottom of his hands.  He writhes in agony.  In his
wildest imagination, he had not anticipated such torment.  Such horrible, hideous pain.  

      The soldier now kneels on the ground before Jesus.  He takes the victim's left foot and places it over the right foot.  Jesus, preoccupied
with the pain in his upper body, is not yet aware of what they are about to do to him next.  

      A larger and much longer spike is handed to the soldier.  Once more with the hammer.  

       "Aggghhhh....gh....gh...."  

      With three skillful blows the spike is sent mercilessly shooting through the top and arch of one foot, then the top and heel of the other foot,
and finally into the upright beam.  

      The pain shoots like fiery arrows through every nerve in Jesus' body.  He shudders in agony.  The cold spikes hold on, refusing any help,
defying any relief.  

      Jesus is temporarily oblivious of any voices around him, for the trauma seizes all thoughts.  

      Another soldier climbs on one of the ladders at the side up to the top of the beam.  His hammer has one last job.  The sign declaring the
felon's crime is nailed to the top of the cross over the Savior's head.  Each blow of the hammer shakes the entire structure and sends shock
waves through Jesus' body.  

      Suddenly, without warning, Jesus' lungs beg for air, for now he cannot get his next breath.  He gasps and struggles for oxygen.  

      "Uhhhcgk....  Uhhhhcgk....  Uhhhhcgk...."  

      Blood gushes out in mocking pulsating rhythm from the half severed arteries in his wrists and feet, almost as if from the nails themselves.  
Most of it spills to the ground, but some of it streams treacherously across his arms as if in search of something.  

      "Father!"  He groans and lifts his head toward the heavens.  But a sharp pain again shoots through his body.  He jerks, and for a moment
stiffens, then slowly gives over to a spasmotic twisting, twisting, twisting.  

      "Father!" he pleads, "give them..." his voice choked and broken, "a full...pardon...."  

      Jesus' head falls forward.  His eyes fill with tears of agony.  

      "They don't realize," he chokes, "what...they've...done...."  

      Oh, Jesus.  Your death.  It was so terrible.  I didn't deserve all you did for me.    

                   Jesus' Soul Torture for Us  

      His terrible death is not all we must think about during the Lord's Supper.  We must think about the reason he had to go through it.  That
reason was us.  That reason was our own sins.  

      During the Lord's Supper, we must remember the Old Testament (old covenant) of Moses where forgiveness of sins was impossible.  We
were supposed to keep it perfectly for salvation and we couldn't do it (Romans 3:23).  It only takes one sin to make us sinners (James 2:10).   

      True, the Old Testament (old covenant) allowed for sacrifices, but they couldn't take away our sins (Hebrews 10:4-11).  Creating a New
Testament (new covenant) and putting it into effect required that the testator die (Hebrews 8:13; 9:16f).   

      Look at what Jesus rescued us from!  Try reading through some of the 600 laws in the Law of Moses (that's the indomitable Exodus,
Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy that few of us have ever plodded through!) to see what Jesus saved us from.   

      And ultimately, what Jesus really saved us from was hell.  Biblical accounts of hell are in Luke 16:22-31, Revelation 9:1-6, Revelation 16,
Revelation 20:11-15 and 21:8.  Ever read it?  Is it fun to read about?  How about spending eternity there?  Oh, Jesus, you loved us so.  

      But there's even more.  Many thousands had been crucified before Jesus and would be afterwards.  And yet Hebrews 5:7 says, "During
the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions
WITH LOUD CRIES AND TEARS to the one who could save him from
death."  Jesus was conqueror of the ages.  Jesus had already conquered storms and leprosy and even death itself.  What was it that he had not
yet faced that he was so terrified of?   

      Jesus knew he would be temporarily forsaken by God.  How and why?  

      Look, now at Acts 2:27 ~  "Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay."  

      Many think that this verse refers merely to Jesus' body.  But in the original Greek, "grave" is "hadas," sometimes also translated "hades."  
According to
Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, "hadas" literally means unseen.  In Greek classical literature of that
period, it referred to the lower regions where Pluto reigned, or the netherworld, the realm of the dead, not someone's cemetery plot six feet
under.  

      The
Septuagint was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament completed two centuries before Christ and accepted as
authentic by all Jews.  The
Septuagint used the word "hadas" in Job 10:21 and Job 11:8 as the place of no return, the land of gloom and deep
shadow.  

      The word was used by Jesus in Matthew 11:23f and Luke 10:15 saying that the citizens of Capernaum will go down to hades on the day
of judgment for not believing Jesus was the Son of God.  He was not referring to six feet under, the grave.  

      The word was used by Jesus in Luke 16:23 to explain where Lazarus was in torment.  Jesus also used it in Matthew 16:18 to declare that
its gates will not prevail against the kingdom of heaven.  

      Both physical and spiritual death were personified in 1 Corinthians 15:55 where it is said, "'Where, O death [physical in the grave], is your
victory?  Where, O death [spiritual in hell], is your sting?'"  The second death is "hadas."  

      In Revelation 6:8, the difference in physical and spiritual death is made where the rider of the pale horse was Death [physical], and Hades
[spiritual] followed close behind him.  Further, in Revelation 20:13 it explains that both those in the sea [dead bodies] and in hades [souls] were
judged, then thrown into the lake of fire.   

      Therefore, this passage is talking, not only about Jesus' fleshly body, but also his soul.  More specifically, it seems Jesus descended to
hell.  Some people believe this happened during his three days in the grave.  Evidence seems strong that it happened the last three hours on the
cross during the darkness when Jesus said nothing.  A few minutes before his death, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "My God!  My God!  
Why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34).  

      Technically, death means separation.  Physical death is separation from the body.  Spiritual death is separation from God.  Romans 3:23
says the wages of sin is death.  2 Corinthians 5:21a says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us."  

      For a few minutes, or perhaps during those last three hours on the cross, some people believe Jesus descended to hell in our place!  Can
you just hear him?  Shouting out to Satan as he plunged to the farthest depths away from his Father?   

      "Punish me!  Not them!  Punish me!  I've got all their sins!  I am now them!  Punish me!  Punish me!  Not them!  Punish me...."  
       Why?  To complete the process.  Sin deserves punishment and separation from God.  But he descended for even more than this.  It was
also to get the keys.   

      Revelation 9:1 and 11 says that, when Satan fell, he had the keys to the Abyss ~ hell.  By the time Jesus appeared to John, Jesus said he
now had the keys (Revelation 1:18).   

      No one had ever escaped from hell before.  It was an impossibility.  That is, until Jesus.  If Jesus did, indeed, plunge briefly to hell, that
may have been what Jesus dreaded so, not only in the Garden of Gethsemane where an angel had to be sent to encourage him, but his entire
life (Hebrews 5:7).  Thousands of other people had been crucified, but no one had ever or could ever escape from hell.  

      Let us imagine for a moment what it might have been like if this indeed was the case (italics are only inferred words/thoughts of Jesus)......  

      
.....Punish me!  Not them!  Punish me!  [3]  

      With the power of ultimate love, Jesus plunges with an iron will.  Resolutely, he bursts through the gates of hell where he does not belong
so mankind can burst through the gates of heaven where we do not belong!  

      The sacrificial flames leap and lunge lustily.  Good is eaten alive by Bad.    

      Stop the pain!  Ahhhhhhhgh!  Stop the pain!  

      The raging fire.  Forever incinerating.  Forever blazing.  Forever the inferno.  

      Ghosts and forever shadows.  Night.  Murky, murky night.  Terrible darkness.  Darkness that goes bump in the forever night.    Please,
someone.  Turn on a light.  So lonely.  So terribly lonely.  Isn't anyone out there?  I can't see you.  Please come closer.  Someone, please.  
Anyone.  

      I'm so cold in this darkness....  So cold....  Oh for a little relief.  I'm shaking.  I can't stop the shaking.  Please.  Someone, do something!  
Teeth gnawing and grinding.  Forever exhausted from the shaking and trembling, the spasms and chilling. [4]  

      Jesus continues falling.  Falling through the empty universe.  Through the eternal empty cosmos.  Falling....falling....falling....  Through the
bottomless hole.  

      Where is everything?  Something to stand on.  Please!  Ahhhhhhh!  No floors!  No buildings!  No ground!  Ahhhhhhh!  No earth!  Stop
my falling!  Ahhhhhhh!  

      The stench.  It engulfs his senses.  The rank, foul smell.  Forever the retching and heaving.  

      Jesus' energies are turning from pain to anger.  Love demands anger.  Anger at sin and self-destruction.  Anger at the god of hatred who
convinces people the God of Love is against them.  

   
   No!  I will not allow it!    

      Satan is shocked at Jesus' burst of courage.  

      
You will never destroy them!  I will take the keys of hell away from you!  Jesus strains to take control.  

      I will break out of here and save them forever!  I will no longer allow you to accuse them, Satan!  I forgave them from the cross.
[5]  That means, their sins no longer exist.  

      "But," Satan hastens to remind Jesus, "their sins is what sent you here to hell.  They're the cause of all this, you know."  

      I forgive them too.  

      The moment Jesus forgives the world of its sins, all the burning and falling and cold and stench and darkness is gone.  Jesus is once more
strong.  [6]  And once more Jesus is the Water of Life, the Foundation of the Saved, the Wall of Salvation, the Light of the world.  [7]  

      Satan quickly hides his eyes from Jesus' brilliance.  How he hates the light.   

      I have come to do the will of my father in heaven.  [8]   Satan, hand me the keys!  

      "You know, that so-called father of yours probably doesn't even exist."  

      My father and I are united forever! [9]  

      "Stop kidding yourself!  He was only a figment of your imagination.  All that power you had to perform miracles?  That was me, not him.  
If you are the son of God...."  

      Those words again.  Those doubting words:  IF....  Just like at the beginning.  If you're God's son, turn these rocks to bread....  If you're
God's son, jump off a tower....  If you're God's son, come down from the cross.... [10]  

      "IF you are the son of God, go ahead and grab the keys, but you'll never get them to work.  You can't break out of hell.  No one has ever
done that."  

     
 N O O O O O O ! ! ! ! ! !  Jesus is angry.  

      "Your father, if he exists, has deserted you.  If you are the son of God, he would rescue you.  You have been forever forsaken by God."  

    
  N O O O O O O ! ! ! ! !   Jesus has had enough of Satan's lies.  His anger at Satan is now out of control.  

    
  Father, where are you?  Father, I have a gift for you.  It's all the forgiven ones.  I completed my sacrifice!  And the keys!  I have
the keys!
 [11]  

      Jesus races frantically through the corridors of hell.  He must escape.  For their sakes.  He must escape.  Zooming.  Looming higher and
higher.  Soaring.  Faster.  Faster!  Faster!!  

      And defiantly Jesus bursts out through the gates of hell!   

      ....Now, his soul back on the cross, he says, "It is finished."  

      Jesus, I cannot even begin to imagine your strength.  I am so weak compared with you.  You went into the prison of my soul and
rescued me.  I couldn't do it alone.    
                           Paradise Purchased  

      Paradise (Abraham's bosom) is in the Bible as in two different places.  Before Jesus, Paradise was so close to hell that the saved could
talk to the condemned.  The saved could see the condemned.   

      It was as though Paradise was not completely freed from Satan's control until Jesus came to finish his work.  Hebrews 9:15 says that
Jesus "died as a ransom [held ransom by Satan?] to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant."  That means no person
was truly saved until Jesus completed his ransoming work (read about this in Hebrews).  

      Revelation 7:17 says God will forever wipe away the tears of all the saved.  Yet, being that close to hell, and even being able to see it and
talk to people in it, would not be completely heavenly.  

      Apparently, if indeed Jesus descended to hell, then broke out, he took paradise with him (see Ephesians 4:8-10) to heaven.  Then he
returned to his body.  For in Revelation 22:2, paradise, where the tree of life is, is now in heaven.  

      At the end of the three hours on the cross and after he shouted hysterically, "My God!  My God!  Why have you forsaken me?" he then
quietly announced, "It is finished" (John 19:30) and died.  He'd accomplished everything required on his part.  Now he will rest for three days
before his Father brings him back to life to return to his friends to prove he will do the same for all who believe on him.  

      Think about this, and stand amazed.  Amazed that Jesus, who abhorred sin, became exactly what he hated ~ sin.  For himself?  No, he
was already safe.  It was for you and me.  

      Jesus and his Father spared nothing to keep us out of hell.  How can we even think of remembering his death just occasionally because it
might become common place and we might take it for granted?  Take Jesus for granted?  After all he did for us?  Never!  

      Oh God, I knew Jesus suffered on the cross.  I never understood what it mean for him to suffer for my sins.  He became me and
took my punishment for me.  How could he?  
 
                             Golden Silence  

      But there is more.  More that we must think about during the Lord's Supper.  Yes, we must think of the body torture Jesus endured in our
place.  Yes, we must think of the soul torture Jesus endured in our place.  We must also think of the reason he had to endure it all.  It is
explained in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32.  Let's look at it progressively.  

      First, we are told not to eat and drink the bread and cup in an unworthy manner.  This does not say we are supposed to be worthy of the
bread and wine.  We are not now, and never will be.  What it does say is that our manner must be worthy.  We're to concentrate on, not rush
through, the death of Jesus.  But there's even more.  

      We are to examine ourselves before taking them.  That means we could hold the emblem in our hand for a few minutes considering what
we're about to do.  Or the person of the Lord's Supper may announce a few minutes of silence to consider our sins before the ushers distribute
the emblems.  It takes time to think back over the week and consider what we did each day and how we may have sinned.  

      In verse 30, the writer explains that many are spiritually weak and sickly, and still others are completely asleep spiritually because they
haven't been doing this.  Then verse thirty-one says:  "If we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment."  

      Yes, the Lord's Supper serves partly as a time to examine ourselves and judge what we did the past week.  This is our weekly pop quiz
which we give ourselves.  As a result, the final exam given by God on the Day of Judgment isn't full of surprises, and we've been able to
correct a lot of things that might have been left "on the books" so to speak.  

      This takes time.  This means going over last Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on all week.  And if we don't know how, perhaps we
need to take this time to look up a few lists of sins.  It is not the obvious sins like murder that get us.  It's what we call the little sins; either the
sins of attitude, or sins resulting from poor attitude.   

      Is it masochistic to think of our sins like this?  Many people would think so.  Many people would arrogantly declare there is no such thing
as sin.  Many of us who admit we do sin, arrogantly declare we can't think of what they are.  God helps us.  Let's look at some of the lists of
sins in the New Testament:  

Romans 1:29-31 lists greed, depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, disobedient,
senselessness, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness.  

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 lists sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, thievery, greed, drunkenness, slander, swindling.  

Galatians 5:19-21 lists sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition,
dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies.  

Ephesians 4:31; 5:4f lists bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking, immorality, impurity, greed.  

Philippians 2:3, 14 lists selfish ambition, vain conceit, complaining, arguing.  

Colossians 3:8-9 lists anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, lying.  

1 Timothy 1:9-10; 5:13; 6:3-5 lists lawbreaking, rebellion, ungodliness, unholiness, irreligion, murder, adultery, perversion, slave trading, lying,
perjury, idleness, gossip, false teaching, conceit, controversial, quarrelsomeness, envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, constant friction,
robbing truth.  

2 Timothy 3:2-8 lists loving self, loving money, boastfulness, pride, abusiveness, disobedience to parents, ungratefulness, unholiness, without
love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherousness, rashness, conceit, lovers of pleasure, denying
power of godliness, controlling the weak-willed, never acknowledging truth, opposing the truth, depraved of mind.  

Titus 3:3, 9-11 lists foolishness, disobedience, deceit, enslaved by passions, malice, envy, hatred, foolish controversies, arguments, quarrels,
divisiveness.  

James 3:14-16; 4:1-3; 5:3-6 lists bitter envy, selfish ambition, boasting, denying the truth, disorder, fights, quarrels, murder, covetousness,
quarrelsomeness, fighting, wrong motives, hoarding wealth, failing to pay wages, living in self-indulgence, condemning the innocent.  

1 Peter 2:1; 4:3 lists malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander, debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, idolatry.  

2 Peter 2:14-19 lists adulterous eyes, seducing, greedy, boastful, lustful, enticing, slaves of depravity.  

Jude 7-8, 16 lists sexual immorality, perversion, rejecting authority, slandering celestial beings, grumbling, faultfinding, boastful, flatterers.  

Revelation 21:8 lists cowardliness, disbelief, vileness, murder, sexual immorality, false healing, idolatry, lying.  

      We are also to develop plans on how we are going to try to overcome our sins.   

      We always were and still are so unworthy.  When we take of the Lord's Supper, our souls cannot help but fall at the feet of Jesus
weeping, and whisper,  

      "Thank you!  Thank you...."   
                                Two Firsts  

      But there are people who will tell us keeping the Lord's Supper monthly, quarterly or yearly is enough.  In fact, they will also say it doesn't
really matter on which day we take it, suggesting that Friday, the day Jesus died, might be a good day to take it.  It could be a lot of people
honestly believe there is no directive on this, but there is.  

      There is only one directive in the New Testament telling us when and how often to keep the Lord's Supper.  But it only takes once for
God to say something for it to be true.  It is found in Acts 20:7.  It mentions two firsts, two priorities.  The first first is the day of meeting.  The
second first is the primary reason for meeting.   

      "On the FIRST day of the week we came together TO break bread."(NIV)  The original Greek reads, "En de ta mia-ton sabbaton,
sunag-menon hamon klasai arton...."  

      Let's take a brief look at a few of those Greek words, for they uncover a marvelous new world.  

      "Ta" is a little word but with great meaning.  It is another word for "ho."  These interchangeable words are used in connection with the
official affairs of state, such as THE constitution, THE governor, THE budget deficit.  In the Judeo-Christian state of affairs it is used regarding
THE ten commandments, THE Savior of the world, THE sabbath.  In Acts 20:7 it refers to THE first day of the week as the official day of
Christians.  Other places in the Bible Sunday is called THE Lord's Day (see Revelation 1:10).  

      "Mia" is the feminine form of neutral "heis" and is translated one.  "Heis" is 283 times in the New Testament as one.  "Mia" is translated as
first.  Even more dynamic is to discover that it refers to EACH and EVERY one WITHOUT EXCEPTION, as in Acts 2:6 where every man
heard the apostles speak in their own language.  

      Does this mean we get to keep Easter every Sunday?  You bet it does!  With all the agony propelling into ecstasy!  All the impossible
zooming into reality!  All the hopelessness exploding into victory!  

      Nothing can stop us now!  We will declare it and declare it and declare it!  Not one Sunday in the year, not one Sunday in the quarter, not
one Sunday in the month, but every Sunday of every week!  

      Are we sure of this?  Let's look at some more Greek words.  "Ton" means a certain day, a particular day, not just any day.  It never
appears alone.  In Acts 20:7, it appears as "mia ton."   

      When "ton" is combined with "pro" to create the word "pro ton", it gives the significance of copying another first, an original first, a
prototype.  "Mia ton" and "pro ton" have basically the same meanings.  Therefore, Sundays are set aside to recreate the prototype of the
meaningful thing that happened on the first Sunday of significance to the Christian.  

      So, what happened of significance to Christians on Sunday?  That question is an understatement.  What DIDN'T happen? is more like it.  

      On Sunday, Jesus, after being dead three days, came back to life (Mark 16:9, etc.)!  On Sunday he kept the Lord's Supper with two of
his disciples (Luke 24:28)!  On Sunday he appeared to his loyal apostles (Luke 24:33; and another Sunday in John 20:26-29)!  On Sunday he
gave power to his Apostles to carry on his work after he leaves (John 20:21-23)!  And on Sunday, The church of Christ was born (Acts 1:20,
21)!   

      What more do we want to make Sunday a special day?  Oh, God created all days equally.  But Sunday became special because of what
Jesus did that day, and remains special to Christians everywhere throughout all ages.

      Well, you may have spotted the word "Sabbaton" in that sentence, and being the intelligent person you are, quickly figured out it refers to
the Sabbath day.  Shouldn't, therefore, the Lord's Supper be kept on Saturday?  Since the previous words in Acts 20:7 already referred to the
first day, this word is used as a contrast to the Sabbath, and to help people understand when the first day was.  In other words the first day
after the Sabbath was to be remembered.  This is clear in Matthew 28:1 which refers to late on the Sabbath before dawn being just before the
first day of the week.  Early Christians sometimes called Sunday the "eighth" day of the week.  Since the word Sabbath is plural, it refers to
every first day after every Sabbath.   

      Some may be thinking that this just means the early Christians met on every Sunday to have a meal.  After all, verse 11 says they ate a
meal.  Is it talking about two different things?      

      From "Sunag" refers to a religious congregation or assembly and we get the word synagogue from it.  "Menon" refers to people who are
present together as a group.  They met together for religious purposes, specifically to "break bread" of the Lord's Supper.  Later, after
midnight, they broke bread for a different purpose.  This time they "ate" a meal, a term also used in Acts 10:10 where they were very hungry.  

      Are there other references to having the Lord's Supper daily?  No, those daily experiences were meals.  Acts 2:46 says the Christians in
Jerusalem daily broke bread together, EATING their MEAT with gladness.  The word translated eat here comes from the Greek word,
"metalam" from whence we get our word metabolism.  

      Okay, you may be thinking, it looks like the Christians broke bread as part of the Lord's Supper at the beginning of their meeting, then
Paul preached to midnight, then after midnight they ate a meal.  But don't you think this was a practice for just the early church?  After all, many
of them had seen Jesus for themselves.  Meeting every Sunday for the Lord's Supper would mean more to them.  Let's look at the last of that
sentence.  

      "Harmon" is extremely important.  Basically, it means to perpetually espouse or adopt in harmony with something.  It is NEVER
TEMPORARY.  Vine's
Expository of New Testament Words says "harmon" refers to something that is PERPETUAL and on going, such as
each and every such day perpetually.  

      So, what part is perpetual?  The day appointed to keep the Lord's Supper is perpetual.  Does it say year?  No, it says day.  Does it say
any day of any week of the year?  No, it says the first day of every week in the year.  And not just in the first century, but in the 21st century
also.  

      Think about the Old Testament Mosaic command, "Remember THE Sabbath Day to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8).  Did they keep the
Sabbath day once a year?  No, they kept it every week.  Did they keep any day of the week?  No, they kept the seventh day.  THE Sabbath
day meant EVERY Sabbath Day.  

      No Jew ever said, "Well, it doesn't specify, so we'll keep the Sabbath once a month, or quarterly or yearly."  So, why would a Christian
keep THE first day of the week for breaking bread monthly, quarterly, or yearly?  

      Okay, you're convinced.  But the kind of bread does not make any difference.  But for sure, we certainly don't want to copy the Catholics
who use unleavened bread.  So we'll use leavened bread to prove we're not following the pope.  Would it really be following the pope to use
unleavened bread?  

      "Klasai Arton" refers to bread, often the shewbread used by the priests in a Jewish religious ceremony.  What kind of bread was it?  Did it
matter?  

      When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, he was actually keeping the Passover Feast, also called the day of Unleavened Bread (Luke
22:7, Deuteronomy 16:5-8).  Observers were to clean their house and make sure there was nothing with yeast in it anywhere.  

      In 1 Corinthians 5:7, it says Jesus became our Passover lamb that was eaten at that feast.  Therefore, we do not have meat at the Lord's
Supper.  However, he took that same unleavened bread which originally referred to the Jews being in a hurry to eat and leave slavery in Egypt
(Exodus 12:8ff) and said it now represented his body.  

      Jesus gave new meaning to the yeast also.  He referred to the "yeast of the Pharisees" (Matthew 16:6 & 12) being their distorted
teachings of God.  Still later, the Bible referred to the "yeast of malice and wickedness" (1 Corinthians 5:8).   

      Therefore, the kind of bread we use for the Lord's Supper does have significance.  If Jesus specifically used unleavened bread, and he
referred to yeast as evil, who are we to change the symbols and use any kind of bread we want?  If we begin using leavened bread, we may as
well add sugar and chocolate and make it chocolate cake while we're at it.  

      So, what are the two firsts in this Acts 20:7 scripture?  We are to meet on every first day of every week in the year.  AND, the primary
purpose we are to meet that makes the first day unique is that we are to keep the Lord's Supper.  

      Every other day of the week we find Christians singing, praying, reading scriptures, and preaching.  But they never kept the Lord's Supper
just any time they wanted.  They were to meet on the FIRST day of the week TO (FOR THE PRIMARY PURPOSE) break bread.  

      Every Sunday, God?  I get to keep the Lord's Supper every Sunday?  Deep down I always wanted to.  But no one agreed with
me.  They thought we had to get fancy that day.  All you want is for us to compare our sins with your power to forgive.  That's all.  

                            Not in the Body  

      What happens to us if we do not partake of the Lord's Supper every Sunday?  What happens if we do not go through the process of
considering what Jesus did for us, and our sins that caused it?  

      Jesus spent some time on this in John 6:53.  It is dynamic.  It is warning enough to get us to never take the Lord's Supper for granted
again.  

      "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you!"  

      In fact, 1 Corinthians 11:33 says that if anyone missed the Lord's Supper, we are to wait for that person.  Most congregation "wait" by
returning to worship again in the evening to provide that opportunity for those who had to work or were otherwise tied up during the morning.  

      Well, can we take the Lord's Supper alone?  We could say that the church is the body of Christ, and based on the above verse, we would
have to take it with the body.  But that is stretching the meaning a little.  Let's just return to the examples God included in his Bible.  And while
we're at it, does a church leader have to hand it to us or put it in our mouth?  

      In the gospels, the Lord's Supper was instituted by Jesus with eleven of his twelve apostles (Judas having left by then).   

      Acts 20:6 and 7 says Sopater, Aristarchus, Secundus, Gaius, Timothy, Tychicus, and Trophimus were joined by Paul and "the others" at
Troas.  There, they "came together" on Sunday in order to have the Lord's Supper.  

      The church in Corinth was having trouble distinguishing between a regular meal and the Lord's Supper.  Paul led into this discussion by
saying, "In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your MEETINGS do more harm than good.  In the first place, I hear that when
you come together....When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat....Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of
the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning" (1 Corinthians 11:17, 18, 20, 27).  

      The following refers to all the times the church gets together.  That would include Sunday, of course, which is the minimum.  "Let us not
give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another ~ and ALL THE MORE as you see the Day
approaching.  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful
expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God" (Hebrews 10:25-27).  

      Why so forceful?  It is explained in an introductory statement:  "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good
deeds" (Hebrews 10:24).  It is explained further by the brother of Jesus:  (What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no
deeds?  Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you
well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:14-16).  

      In other words, while we're examining ourselves before the Lord's Supper, we need to consider whether we've done any good deeds the
previous week.  To make us worthy to be saved?  No, to prove our faith in, gratitude for, and love toward God.  James goes on to say, "You
believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that - and shudder.  You foolish man...faith without deeds is useless" (James
2:19-20).  

      Oh God, there is so much to think about during the Lord's Supper.  But we've never allowed for much silence.  We need the
silence to commune with you.  There's so much to commune about.  

                          But the Depth of Easter....  

      Some readers may have concluded that everything noted is true, but they cannot let go of that one very special Sunday of the year when
there are special programs proclaiming Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.  

      Let us never think that officially remembering Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection once a year is sufficient.  Let us never think we can
thank Jesus for what he did for us in the way he prescribed for us just once a year.  

      However, if it is against conscience of some to stop celebrating with a special Easter service once a year, then don't.  Romans 14:6 and 19
says, "He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.  He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who
abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.....Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual
edification."  

      If a special celebration of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection can attract people who normally never darken a church building door, do
it.  But, again, not to the elimination of the other Sundays of the year.  

      The same is true of Christmas.  All Bible scholars agree that there is never any command or example in the Bible for us to set aside a
special day or days to remember Jesus' birth until he comes.  This is the one time of the year that even atheists are forced to say the word
Christ, for they cannot say Christmas without doing so.  Infamous atheist, speaker and writer, Madolyn Murray O'Hare, celebrated
Christmas!   
       Do atheists and agnostics celebrate Christmas for selfish reasons?  Certainly.  Most of us do too, if we are willing to admit it.  But, Paul
saw good even in the selfish proclamation of Jesus.  He said,  

      "The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.  But
what does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this I
rejoice" (Philippians 1:17-18).  

      But, do not neglect the other 51 Sundays of the year to remember Jesus death until he comes.  Once these special holy days take
precedence to the point of eliminating the ones stipulated in God's Word, they become misleading.  

      Besides, who would want to eliminate the special time once a week when we consider the depth of Jesus' sacrifice, and the reason - our
sins?  

      Yes, God, I appreciate Easter.  But I'll never see it again like I used to.  I could never come back to life alone.  Jesus did it first to
prove you'll do the same for me!  Oh resurrection day!  How I long for it.  Every day.  

                   The Grandest Statement of Faith  

     But, there will be visitors mingled in with the congregation each Sunday who are not used to the Lord's Supper occurring suddenly without
fanfare.  They are used to more pomp and ceremony in connection with it.  Many are confused because they are used to it being kept only on
Easter Sunday in March or April.   

      Not having personally investigated the scriptures regarding the Lord's Supper, visitors may think that your congregation is being
sacrilegious.  Be sensitive to their feelings and be prepared.  

      Make a statement about it in the bulletin or order of worship handed to everyone when they enter the building.  Explain what will be
happening during the service and why.  Further, the person in charge of the Lord's Supper must explain what is about to happen, using
scripture.   

      The person in charge also needs to talk about what Jesus' death means to him and try to represent everyone in the audience.  (It may be
that, since this will take up part of the sermon time, the minister may be put in charge of this each week.)  

      The message of the Lord's Supper is the basic gospel message.  In a nutshell, the gospel is this:  

      "I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you
are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  

      "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:  That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was
buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  

      The Lord's Supper is the most dynamic sermon that could ever be demonstrated.  The Lord's Supper spells out the gospel.  The Lord's
Supper makes a connection between Jesus' death on the cross and our sins.  This is a connection most people in the world do not understand.  
What an opportunity to explain it!  

      As a result of being told this, after the first gospel sermon, "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and
the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' " Acts 2:37?  

      Do we want people to ask us what to do to be saved?  Then have the Lord's Supper every week and proclaim every week that Jesus
took our punishment for our sins and died in our place on the cross.  This should prick the heart of anyone except the most hardened.  

      "He actually did that for me?" they will think.  "For me?  I had no idea.  What can I do to accept his gift of salvation?"  




                   The Second-Century Church  

      Around 90 AD, an unknown Christian in Syria wrote in his Didache 14:1:  "Having earlier confessed your sins so that your sacrifice may
be pure, come together EACH Lord's day of the Lord, break bread, and give thanks."  [12]  

      And in Didache 9; 10; 14 he wrote this:  "Concerning the [Lord's Supper], give thanks in this way:  First concerning the cup, 'We give
thanks to you, our Father, for the holy vine of David, your Servant, which you made known to us through Jesus your Servant.  To you be the
glory forever.  

      "Concerning the broken bread, 'We give thanks to you, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you made known to us through Jesus
your Servant.  To you be the glory forever.  As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and being gathered together became one
loaf, so may your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom.  Because the glory and the power are yours
through Jesus Christ forever.'  

      "No one is to eat or drink of your [Lord's Supper] except those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord.  

      "Having earlier confessed your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure, come together EACH Lord's day of the Lord, break bread, and
give thanks.  No one who has a quarrel with his fellow is to meet with you until they are reconciled, in order that your sacrifice may not be
defiled.  For this is what was spoken by the Lord. [13]  

      Ignatius, a friend of the Apostle John, said in his Magnesians 9:  "If therefore those who lived according to the old practices came to the
new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath but living according to the Lord's day, in which also our life arose through him and his death (which
some deny)...." [14]  

      Justin Martyr wrote this around 100 AD in his Apology I,65:  "After we thus wash him who has been persuaded and agreed entirely with
our teachings....we pray that we who have learned the truth may be counted worthy and may be found good citizens through our works and
keepers of his commandments so that we may receive the eternal salvation.   

      "When we cease from our prayers, we salute one another with a kiss.  Next there is brought to the president of the brethren bread and a
cup of water mixed with wine.  Taking these he sends up praise and glory to the Father of all through the name of his Son and of the Holy
Spirit and makes thanksgiving at length for the gifts we were counted worthy to receive from him.   

      "When he completes the prayers and thanksgiving, all the people present sing out their assent by saying 'Amen'....When the president has
given thanks and all the people have made their acclamation, those called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread
and wine mixed with water for which thanksgiving has been given, and they carry some away to those who are absent." [15]  

                  ADDENDUM I ~ Who Serves It?  

       Historically, in the early church the elders often led the Lord's Supper because it was the Christians' main reason for meeting on Sundays.  
Then the deacons distributed it to the congregation.  Actually, who is to lead and distribute the Lord's Supper is not in the Bible; therefore it is
left to the discretion of the congregation.  It certainly is not listed among the duties of elders or deacons found in 1 Timothy and Titus.  

      However, by the last of the first century, many made it a regulation that the elders had to administer the Lord's Supper, and the higher the
leader's position, the better.   

       Indeed, Paul warned the Ephesian elders that it would be from among their own eldership that the first heresy would originate.  "Even
from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30).  Luke 22:17-19 says that
Jesus gave the bread to his disciples and told them to divide it among themselves.  He never handed it to each of them individually.  

       Christians are to keep the Lord's Supper every Sunday.  But the church hierarchy's insistence that only they be allowed to "administer it,"
that is, to hand it to other Christians, keeps Christians from obeying God's higher command to keep it every Sunday if they don't have someone
"ordained" by the church hierarchy in their assembly.  

              ADDENDUM II ~ Is he Really There?  

      Some well-meaning people believe (because they've been taught this by "religious" people) that the bread and wine actually become the
body and bread of Jesus.   

      In the mid 1500s in England, a Mrs. Prest of Cornwall continually talked with others about the inconsistencies of believing Jesus was
actually present in the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper.  When taken before the bishop, she said,  

      "I will demand of you whether you can deny your creed, which says that Christ doth perpetually sit at the right hand of His Father, both
body and soul, until He come again; or whether He be there in heaven our Advocate, and to make prayer for us unto God His Father?  If He
be so, He is not here on earth in a piece of bread....If He did not offer His body once for all, why make you a new offering?...If He is to be
worshipped in spirit and in truth, why do you worship a piece of bread?"  

      The bishop falsely accused her of starting her own church and had her imprisoned.  Many visits followed by people trying to get her to
recant, but she would not.  Finally she was sentenced to be burned at the stake, to which she replied, "This day have I found that which I have
long sought."  As they lit the fire, she prayed, "God be merciful to me a sinner."  Then, patiently enduring, she was consumed buy the flames
and her body reduced to ashes. [16]  

      So, how can we know whether the bread and wine are the actual body and blood of Jesus?  All we have to do is look closely at the
above scriptures which recount Jesus instituting the Lord's Supper.  When he said, "This is my body" and "This is my blood" he was still in his
actual body, and still circulating his actual blood.  Since Jesus had only one body, his body could not have been in two places at once.            

      In the early 1600s, in Lisbon, Portugal, an Englishman of Bristol, settled to set up business for his merchant employer.  William Gardiner
continued to worship as he had in Britain where historically the Apostle Simon had started the church late in the first century.  

      One day he went to a wedding which included celebration of the mass (Lord's Supper).  He was shocked at the superstition he saw.  He
returned the following Sunday where once again he witnessed people worshipping the bread.  

      Gardiner could not hold back his outrage at such misuse of the Lord's Supper.  He sprang forward, snatched the bread from the cleric and
trampled it under foot.  Someone in the congregation stabbed him with a dagger.  When they demanded to know why he had done such a
thing, he replied he had done so "out of an honest indignation, to see the ridiculous superstitious and gross idolatries practiced here."  

      Thereupon he was sent to prison and tortured excruciatingly.  Finally he was ordered executed.  A large fire was created.  He was pulled
up over the fire by pulleys, then let down near the fire where he was roasted by slow degrees.  He bore it patiently, and to the last thanked
God for the privilege of defending his truths on earth. [17]  

      As we investigate the Bible further on this subject, we learn that Jesus' Apostles, soon after the beginning of the church, clearly said
Christians were not to drink blood:   

      "James [Jesus' brother] spoke up....'we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality,
from the meat of strangled animals and from blood' " (Acts 15:13, 20).  Further, the following letter was written:  "The apostles and elders,
your brothers, to the Gentile believers....You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and
from sexual immorality" (Acts 15:23, 29).  

      Also in the early 1600s in Italy, Daniel Rambaut of Vilario was imprisoned because he did not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the
bread and wine (the "host") along with several other beliefs that were not in the Bible.  Although interrogated numerous times by various
priests, he continued to say that his understanding of the Bible and his conscience would not allow him to subscribe to such a belief.   

      Continually he told them that to believe the real presence in the host is a shocking union of both blasphemy and idolatry.  Further, the
words of consecration said by the priests called "transubstantiation," which supposedly turned the bread and wine into the actual body and
blood of Jesus "is too gross an absurdity for even a child to believe who was come to the least glimmering of reason...nothing but the most
blind superstition...." [18]  

      Even in the early church writings, the Lord's Supper was continually defended to pagans who complained that Christians were guilty of
cannibalism (as well as incest) because they regularly ate someone's flesh and blood (and were married to those they called their brothers and
sisters).  The Christians explained to their accusers that these were both spiritual in nature, and not fleshly.   

      Theophilus wrote about 180 AD:  
To Autolycus III.xv:  "Consider then if those who have been taught such things are able to live
indifferently and to be joined in unlawful intercourse or most ungodly of all to eat human flesh....With them temperance is present, self-control is
exercised, monogamy is preserved." [19]




                               ENDNOTES

[1].  Campbell, Alexander, The Millennial Harbinger,"Extra on the Breaking of the Loaf," pg. 74-82  

[2].  Sine, Tom,
The Mustard Seed Conspiracy, Word Books, Waco, 1981, p. 167  

[3].  
THE BIBLE, ISAIAH 53:4; 2 THESALONIANS 1:8-9 - Yet it was our grief he bore, our sorrows that weighed him down.  And we
thought his troubles were a punishment from God, for his own sins!....Those who refuse to know God and refuse to obey the Message [what
Jesus did for them] will pay for what they've done.  Eternal exile from the presence of [God] and his splendid power is their sentence.  

[4].  
THE BIBLE, MATTHEW 8:12 [NIV] - But the subject of the kingdom will be thrown outside into the darkness where there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth.  

[5].  
THE BIBLE, LUKE 23:33-34 - When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right,
the other on his left.  Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing."  

[6].  
THE BIBLE, MATTHEW 26:41b; 2 CORINTHIANS 12:10; 13:4 [NIV] -The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.  That is why, for
Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses...For when I am weak, then I am strong....He was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power.  

[7].  
THE BIBLE, JOHN 12:46 - I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won't have to stay any longer in the
dark.  

[8].  
THE BIBLE, HEBREWS 5:8 - Though he was God's Son, he learned trusting obedience by what he suffered, just as we do.  

[9].  
THE BIBLE, JOHN 10:30 - I and the Father are one heart and mind.  

[10].  
THE BIBLE, MATTHEW 4:1-11 (Jesus' temptation after his baptism at the beginning of his three years of preaching.)  

[11].  
THE BIBLE, REVELATION 1:18 - Don't fear:  I am First, I am Last, I'm Alive, I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever.  
See these keys in my hand?  They open and lock Death's doors, they open and lock Hell's gates.  

[12].  Ferguson, Everett,
Early Christians Speak, Sweet Publishing, Austin, 1971, p. 94  

[13].  Ferguson, p. 93-94  

[14].  Ferguson, p. 67  

[15].  Ferguson, p. 94  

[16].  Forbush, William B., Editor,
Fox's Book of Martyrs, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1968, p. 275-276  

[17].
 Fox's Book of Martyrs, p. 74-75  

[18].  
Fox's Book of Martyrs, p. 113-114  

[19]   Ferguson, p. 196