What We Believe:
The Lord’s Supper
(A more in depth understanding.)
Teachings on the Lord’s Supper vary greatly across denominations. It may be confusing for some to understand why this special meal, which was given to us by Jesus in order to bring us together, has become an issue that causes so much division. The answer to that question starts with the Bible.
In this congregation we believe and confess that the entire Bible is God’s Holy Word. It was given by God, for God’s purpose. It is the primary source for all that we believe. Some denominations do not believe this is true. The problem here is that once Scripture has been reduced to something less than fully God’s Word it becomes, in part or in whole, something man-made. Then culture and conscience become our guide. Culture and conscience have often fallen far short of being good or right throughout history. This is the primary reason there are so many different teachings on the Lord’s Supper, because many churches have left the teachings of God’s Word for their own ideas. Sadly this is true even among some churches that call themselves Lutheran.
The formal confession and doctrine of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod hold that Scripture is God’s Word not man’s ideas. In that light we believe that Scripture must be the foundation for our understanding of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord Jesus Himself gave us this Holy Meal. The giving of this gift is found in Mathew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-25; and Luke 22:14-20. All of these note that Jesus specifically states the bread is His body, and the wine is His blood.
Many have suggested that the word “is” means something figurative, that it only represents His body and blood. A problem with this understanding is that we must then take everything else He is saying figuratively. If the “is” means only a symbol or representation than so is the forgiveness He states it offers. Forgiveness that is only figurative is no forgiveness at all, and in that light your sins would remain on you, you would have no part in the promise of Heaven. If this meal provides us forgiveness of our sins, as Jesus Christ taught, then the true presence of His body and blood, as He taught, must also be true. (John 6:22-69)
This point is supported by what is written in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, particularly looking at verses 15-22. Here we read that when we eat the bread and drink the wine we are participating in the body and blood of Jesus. These verses further state that when we commune together we are also joining ourselves to the teachings of that altar or house of worship. This is an important point which is often dismissed or overlooked. The Lord’s Supper is not a private or individual event. It is a public statement which coveys your acceptance of the doctrines and teachings of that church. To commune, with those who deny God’s Word as Holy Scripture, is to state publicly that you are in agreement with them on that point. The same is true for any teaching of any church with which you join for the Lord’s Supper.
Additionally in 1 Corinthians 11:17-33 it explains not only are we binding ourselves to the same confession, but to take this Holy Meal in an unworthy manner is to bring God’s wrath and anger upon us; bringing judgment on us rather than blessings and forgiveness. What is an unworthy manner? It means not believing the truth about what this meal brings, or to take this Sacred Meal with unrepentant sin in our hearts.
This congregation is a friendly, warm, and welcoming group of people. The congregation, and I myself as the pastor, would love to invite every visitor to join us in this gracious and Holy Meal. However we must, as a congregation, accept the heavy responsibility to protect the visitors in this house of worship from doing anything which would bring harm to them. Since we cannot know or judge what is in the heart or mind of our visitors we must err on the side of caution and ask guests to not come forward to this meal without speaking with the pastor first.
This is not meant to be a judgment against our visitors, nor is it meant to suggest that we are in any way superior to those from outside our congregation. It is truly a heartfelt desire to ensure that everything we do here in this holy house would be to the benefit of those who worship with us, and to the glory, obedience, and honor of our loving holy God.
Guests who would like to join us for this meal must be willing to state that they believe and confess the following things:
That you believe and confess the doctrines of the ancient Apostolic Christian Church and that the Bible, in its entirety is the Word of God.
That you believe and confess the true presence of Jesus real body and real blood, received with the bread and the wine.
That you can examine yourself and your imperfections before God, and understand that, in spite of any and all failing, God does offer full forgiveness, through the work of Jesus Christ, to all who genuinely repent (apologize) to God, through this Holy Meal.
If you would like to dig deeper into the study and history of the Lord’s Supper throughout the history of the Christian Church what follows will give you some information to get started. Note the dates indicating when these people lived. This has been the teaching of the Holy Christian Church from the very beginning. Most of the “new ideas” about the Lord’s Supper came about in the 1500’s and 1800’s. The documents cited here are available in libraries and on the Internet. One cannot find such “new ideas” anywhere in the ancient Church.
Ignatius (43-107AD), a student of John the disciple, wrote, “They [who deny the Lord’s body] abstain from the Lord’s Supper because they do not confess the flesh of our Savior who suffered for our sins, and was raised by the Father.1” He also wrote, “Be eager to partake of the one Lord’s Supper, for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup of His blood, and one alter.2”
Justin Martyr (100-166 AD) writes clearly that in the Lord’s Supper we receive the true body and blood of Jesus when he explains, “This food is called among us the Lord’s Supper, of which no one is allowed to partake but the one who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the Baptism that is for the remission of sins, and regeneration, and who is living as Christ has commanded. For we do not receive these as common bread and common wine; but rather as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His Word, and from which our blood and flesh by conversion are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the Apostles, in the Gospels, have delivered to us what was commanded to them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, ‘This do in remembrance of Me, this is My body;’ and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, ‘This is My blood;’ and gave it to them alone.3”
Irenaeus (130-200 AD) writes, “For as the bread of the earth, receiving the invocation of God, is no longer common bread but the Lord’s Supper, consisting of two things, an earthly and an heavenly.4”
Hilary of Poitiers (300-368 AD) write, “In the sacrament by which His flesh is communicated to us…we indeed receive in a mystery the flesh of His body.5”
Cyril of Jerusalem (313–386 AD) writes, “For as the Bread and Wine of the Lord’s Supper before the invocation of the Holy and Adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, while after the invocation the Bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the Wine the Blood of Christ.6”
John Chrysostom (347–407 AD) in his sermons on 1 Corinthians 13 states, “For as that body is united to Christ, so also are we united to Him by this bread. This which is in the cup is that which flowed from His side, and of that do we partake.7”
Theodoret of Cyrus (393-457 AD) records a conversation, between Orthodoxus and Eranistes.
Eran.— “What do you call the gift which is offered before the priestly invocation?”
Orth.— “Food of grain of such a sort.”
Eran.— “And how name we the other symbol?”
Orth.— “This name too is common, signifying species of drink.”
Eran.— “And after the consecration how do you name these?”
Orth.— “Christ’s body and Christ’s blood.”
Eran.— “And do you believe that you partake of Christ’s body and blood?”
Orth.— “I do.”8
The teaching of the Christian Church from its very foundation was that Jesus true body and true blood are present with the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. The Church has also taught, from its beginning, that this Holy Meal should not be taken with those who have a different confession of faith.
1Epistle to the Smyrnians
2Epistle to the Philadelphians
3Apology I : LXVI (66)
4Against Heresies ch. 8 : 45
5De Trinitate, Book VIII : 13
6Five Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XIX : 7
7Homily XXIV, 1 Cor. x. 13
8Dialogue II.-The Unconfounded