For several reasons some Christian brethren teach that the Lord’s Supper is not for the observance of members of the Body of Christ in this present dispensation when it is surely the Christ-given responsibility of every believer to make all see what is the dispensation of the mystery, in obedience to Ephesians 3:9. They say that the Lord’s Supper is not mentioned in any of Paul’s Prison Epistles, in which are set forth the hope and calling of the Body of Christ; that the Lord’s Supper was a religious ordinance which had its rightful place in the “Acts” transitional period, while the Nation Israel was on trial; but that it ceased with signs and water baptism with the full revelation of the “mystery”, mentioned about twelve times in Paul’s last seven Epistles.
These brethren also give as a reason for their rejection of the Lord’s Supper, it was instituted before the death of the Lord Jesus in connection with Israel’s Passover, when the Lord specifically stated: “this is My blood in the New Covenant.” Matthew 26:10 to 30. They rule out the Lord’s Supper because God has ceased to visit upon Christians, who partake unworthily thereof, the judgments mentioned in I Corinthians 11:25 to 33. They eliminate it because Israel is going to eat at the Lord’s table in the coming kingdom age. Matthew 26:29; Luke 22:20 to 30. The contention of these Christian brethren is, that the Lord’s Supper must be eliminated from this period of special Gentile favor by the same exegesis and dispensational principle that is employed for the elimination of the sign gifts of I Corinthians 12:8 to 11, and the water baptism of the “Acts” dispensation, from God’s program for the Body of Ephesians and Colossians. They also teach that “till He come” in I Corinthians 11:26 had no reference to the calling on high of the Body of Christ, but had reference to another aspect of the Lord’s coming.
So far as I know, only one of these Bible teachers, who has given up the Lord’s Supper for the Body of Christ, teaches that the Church of God of the Second Chapter of Acts is identical with the Body of Christ in Ephesians and Colossians. They differentiate between the Pentecostal Church of God and the Church which is Christ’s Body. But all claim that the Church of Ephesians and Colossians has no connection with Israel’s New Covenant, but that the Lord’s Supper has, and therefore the Lord’s Supper should be eliminated with water baptism by the same application of the principle set forth in II Timothy 2:15, “rightly dividing the Word of truth”.
I am here submitting several objections to the arguments of these Christian brethren, although agreeing with them that during the transitional “Acts” period, when the believers had not the several hundred written Scriptures telling of the death and coming again of Christ, the Lord’s Supper may have been more needed as a reminder of the finished work of the Son of God, than it is today.
My first argument we shall call a philosophical one. The Lord’s Supper, by no means, offers to the earnest and diligent Bible student the same problem as does water baptism. This is proved by the fact that seven of the leading “Fundamentalist” Bible teachers of this generation, in America, have all heartily disagreed concerning water baptism, but were all one as to the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. I refer to Dr. A. C. Gaebelein, Dr. W. L. Pettingill, Dr. James A. Gray, Dr. T. T. Shields, Dr. I. M. Haldeman, Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse and Dr. H. A. Ironside.
Three of these brethren taught positively that the Great Commission was not for the Body of Christ. Two of them taught household baptism, one an immersionist, the other a sprinkler. Some of them baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and some in the name of the Lord Jesus. Some of them taught that the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5 is water; and others said positively, “no”. Some of them said Romans 6:4 is water; others said “no.” No two of them agreed as to the authority for, the significance, mode and formula of, what they call “Christian baptism”. Neither could any one of them convince the other that his position was Scriptural. Not one of them could give an intelligent Scriptural defense of his position on water baptism. Concerning their baptisms, like other Fundamentalists, they were so uncertain that they didn’t care to discuss the question with an open Bible. Every interpretation held by them can be easily shown unscriptural as can every denominational creed concerning water baptism. But all of the seven men were agreed as to the significance of the Lord’s Supper. They taught that the Lord’s Supper is a reminder of what Christ did for God and for us. Here is a seven-fold unity concerning the Lord’s Supper and a seven-fold division concerning water baptism. It is unity and certainty in one case; division and uncertainty in the other.
While this argument is significant, important, and somewhat convincing, I admit it is not a Scriptural answer to the position of the Christian brethren who have no place for the Lord’s Supper in the Body of Christ. But now we proceed with the Scriptural objections, trusting that they may provoke again the Berean spirit of Bible study; but neither condemnation nor spiritual pride.
IS THE LORD’S SUPPER AN ORDINANCE?
Any attempt to show by the Scriptures that the Lord’s Supper is either a kingdom ordinance or a Church (Body) ordinance, will prove very difficult, if not futile. In the Bible it is not called an ordinance. Some Christian brethren say that it is, and in support of their claim quote I Corinthians 11:2; “that ye remember me in all things and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” The Greek word used in this verse is “paradosis” translated in the New Testament Scriptures twelve times “tradition”.
In Colossians 2:14, we read of the work of Christ on the cross: “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us:” This Greek word translated “ordinances” is the same word used in Ephesians 2:15 concerning the middlewall of partition, “dogma”. In Acts 16:4 the same word is translated “decrees”. When Christ on the cross blotted out the “dogmas” given to Israel through Moses, He did not blot out the “paradosis” which Paul gave to the saints at Corinth some years after Christ died on the cross.
WATER BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
With few exceptions the servants of the Lord who have received “denominational” or “undenominational” ordination, have been asked to state the two ordinances belonging to the Christian Church. The answer expected and required is, “Water baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” If God in His Holy Word has joined these together as inseparable ordinances, most assuredly no servant of the Lord should be guilty of putting them asunder. But where is the Scriptural proof that God has joined them together?
John the Baptist came baptizing with water that Christ might be made manifest to Israel. John 1:31. With what message was John’s water baptism identified? “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17. John baptized with water unto repentance. Matthew 3:11. “He came preaching the baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins.” Luke 3:3.
Water baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins was a kingdom ordinance and was a Divine command given with the proclamation of the kingdom of heaven. It was inseparably connected with repentance and remission of sins. Obedience to this water baptism command was essential for the blessing promised.
All students who have made an earnest endeavor to rightly divide the Word of truth, have divided the Gospel of Matthew at Matthew 4:17 and Matthew 16:21; “From that time” and “From that time forth”. The first Scripture marks the King’s presentation of the Kingdom. The second Scripture marks the rejection of the King and the Kingdom. If water baptism was to present the King with the Kingdom offer, then we shall not expect to find water baptism in the Gospels after the rejection is stated. And we do not.
Perhaps this can be more clearly seen in Luke’s Gospel. In Luke, Christ is born to take David’s throne and fulfill Isaiah 9:6 and 7 and bring peace on earth. Luke 1:29 to 33; Luke 2:14; Luke 1:67 to 77. This is the Kingdom Gospel and with it water baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins, and Kingdom signs Luke 3:3; Luke 9:6.
In Luke 12:49 to 52, the King’s rejection is announced with the withdrawal of the peace proclamation and a new baptism is there stated; namely, Christ’s baptism on the cross. This baptism was the Lord’s death which is remembered in the Lord’s Supper. There is no record of water baptism in the last half of the Book of Luke; that is, after the Lord’s death baptism is stated in Luke 12:51. It was after His “death” baptism is announced that the Lord Himself, ready for that baptism, broke the bread and took the cup, not unto repentance for the remission of sins, but to tell us of the baptism that is to abide after the water baptism has ceased to have any place in the Lord’s Grace program: to tell of His blood shed for the remission of sins. Luke 22:19 and 20. Baptism was also for the remission of sin for Covenant Israel.
Then let us observe that water baptism was a Kingdom ordinance given before the King and the Kingdom were rejected, and that the bread and cup were given after the King and the Kingdom were rejected, while Christ was on earth.
Water baptism was what the human baptizer did for the baptized and what the baptized human did for God to make God’s forgiving mercy efficacious. Therefore water baptism was a meritorious and obligatory ordinance, required with penitence for the remission of sins.
Christ’s death baptism was what Christ did for God and for sinful humanity when He cried “finished”. The Lord’s redemptive work is altogether sufficient. Water baptism was for the remission of sins. The blood of Christ is for the remission of sins. Water has no place in God’s message of pure grace; but the blood abides. The blood is altogether sufficient for the redemption of the believing sinner and needs not be supplemented by the Lord’s Supper to make it efficacious. The Lord’s Supper is neither meritorious, nor obligatory, in any way, to make the sacrifice of the Son of God more effective. It has been called a memorial that speaks of the once for all sacrifice of the Son of God, and surely no redeemed sinner should object to a reminder of that finished work.
WATER BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER IN ACTS TWO.
On the day of Pentecost the question of the convicted Israelites was, “brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37. What they were to do was told in Acts 2:38. But before reading that verse let us carefully note the words of Peter in Acts 2:36: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” They were testifying to Israel that Jesus was Christ, or Messiah.
When Jesus announced that Israel was going to crucify Him, He instructed His kingdom messengers, “that they should tell no man that He was the Messiah.” Matthew 16:20 to 22. After that there was no record of water baptism until they again were permitted to announce to Israel that He was the Messiah, after His death. On the cross the Messiah cried, “Father, forgive them”. Luke 23:34. The Father heard the prayer and was willing to forgive all and begin anew with them. This was in confirmation of the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 12:31 and 32. If Israel sinned against the Son of man, it would be forgiven them; but if they sinned against the Holy Spirit it would not be forgiven them. They sinned against the Son of man while He was on earth; but the Son of man had to go. Matthew 26:24. Israel began to sin against the Holy Spirit shortly after Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was sent to witness that God had raised Christ up from the dead to be Israel’s Prince and Saviour. Acts 5:31 and 32. Years later Paul was still testifying to Israel that Jesus was the Messiah, the message forbidden in Matthew 16:20; Acts 17:3 and Acts 18:5, and Israel was still committing the unpardonable sin, blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. Acts 18:6. In the Four Gospels Israel was committing the pardonable sin: they were sinning against the Son of man. In the Book of Acts Israel was committing the unpardonable sin; they were sinning against the Holy Spirit.
Water baptism was that Messiah might be manifest to Israel. John 1:31. Therefore, in answer to the question of Acts 2:37, Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38.
Does not this sound very much like the message of John the Baptist who preached baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins? Is not the order here in agreement with Mark 16:15 to 17, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”?
However sincere and conscientious those 3000 Israelites may have been, they would not have been added on the day of Pentecost, had they refused water baptism for the remission of sins. No able and spiritual grace Bible teacher among the Fundamentalists today, teaches that water baptism is a requirement for membership in the Church which is Christ’s Body, to obtain or retain eternal life, or necessary to receive the Holy Spirit. With them, therefore, water baptism, in what they term the present-day New Testament Church, has an entirely different meaning than it had on the day of Pentecost, and yet they call Pentecost the birthday of the same New Testament Church of which they are members. Why they do not preach Acts 2:38 is still a secret, perhaps an enigma.
Some true and faithful Christian brethren have interpreted Acts 2:46 to mean the Lord’s Supper: “they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.’ They have offered their dispensational exegesis as to why they do not obey Acts 2:44 and 45: “and had all things common: and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, as every man had need.” That this was a kingdom program none of them deny. They declare it is not practical today and not God’s order for today, Rather strange, if the ideal Church began on that day, identical with the Body of Ephesians and Colossians, and has continued unchanged down to the present time. The saved Israelites did the same thing with their property in Acts 4:34 and 35. Surely this was in accordance with the kingdom command of the Lord Jesus in Luke 12:32 and 33. Are Bible teachers consistent or intelligent to select or reject such of the Acts Church program as fits into their scheme of interpretation without Scriptural authority?
It cannot be denied that water baptism was a kingdom ordinance; neither can it be denied that the Lord Jesus instituted His Supper when He was declaring truth concerning the future of Israel’s kingdom. Luke 22:18. But the division of possessions and water baptism ceased. Soon the outside saints were taking collections for the Jerusalem saints (Acts 11:29 and Romans 15:26), and others were urged to this ministry. Paul was the apostle of the Gentiles and Paul’s commission from Christ, which sent him to the Gentiles, did not include such a division of property and water baptism. Romans 11:13. The Lord’s Supper was specifically mentioned by him as being for the saved Gentiles as well as for saved Israelites, by Divine authority and revelation.
THE LORD’S SUPPER—THE GOSPEL—AND SIGNS
Our Christian brethren who cannot reconcile the observance of the Lord’s Supper with “the dispensation of the mystery”, mentioned in Ephesians 3:9 and Colossians 1:24 to 28, argue that inasmuch as signs have no place in the last seven Epistles of Paul, in his “mystery message”, and inasmuch as judgment signs were connected with the Lord’s Supper in I Corinthians 11:25 to 29, the Lord’s Supper must have ceased when the signs ceased with Acts 28:25 to 28. Certainly the sign gifts were for members of the Church in. I Corinthians 12:8 to 11. They ask the question, “Can a believer take the bread and cup unworthily and drink damnation to his soul in this day of special Gentile favor? We quote I Corinthians 11:24 to 29:
“AND WHEN HE HAD GIVEN THANKS HE BRAKE IT AND SAID. TAKE, EAT: THIS IS MY BODY WHICH IS BROKEN FOR YOU: THIS DO IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. AFTER THE SAME MANNER ALSO HE TOOK THE CUP, WHEN HE HAD SUPPED, SAYING, THIS CUP IS THE NEW TESTAMENT IN MY BLOOD: THIS DO YE, AS OFT AS YE DRINK IT, IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. FOR, AS OFTEN AS YE EAT THIS BREAD, AND DRINK THIS CUP, YE DO SHEW THE LORD’S DEATH TILL HE COME. WHERE-FORE WHOSOEVER SHALL EAT THIS BREAD, AND DRINK THIS CUP OF THE LORD, UNWORTHILY, SHALL BE GUILTY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF THE LORD. BUT LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF, AND SO LET HIM EAT OF THAT BREAD, AND DRINK OF THAT CUP. FOR HE THAT EATETH AND DRINKETH UNWORTHILY, EATETH AND DRINKETH DAMNATION TO HIMSELF NOT DISCERNING THE LORD’S BODY.”
Read the verses that follow concerning Divine judgments of sickness and death.
Certainly this question of accompanying judgments provokes thought and should be answered by the Word of truth rightly divided. First let us refresh our minds concerning the signs which accompanied the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles during the “Acts” period. “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit. and worketh miracles among you. doeth He it by the works of the law. or by the hearing of faith?” Galatians 3:5.
“For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me to make the Gentiles obedient by word and deed. through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum. I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel. not where Christ was named. lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:” Romans 15:18 to 20.
“FOR TO ONE IS GIVEN BY THE SPIRIT THE WORD OF WISDOM; TO ANOTHER THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE BY THE SAME SPIRIT; TO ANOTHER FAITH BY THE SAME SPIRIT; TO AN OTHER THE GIFTS OF HEALING BY THE SAME SPIRIT; TO ANOTHER THE WORKING OF MIRACLES; TO ANOTHER PROPHECY; TO ANOTHER DISCERNING OF SPIRITS; TO ANOTHER DIVERS KINDS OF TONGUES; TO ANOTHER THE INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES. BUT ALL THESE WORKETH THAT ONE AND THE SELF-SAME SPIRIT, DIVIDING TO EVERY MAN SEVERALLY AS HE ‘WILL.” I Corinthians 12:8 to 11.
Surely in Galatians Paul is defending the authority, source and exclusiveness of the grace of Christ’s gospel. committed to him for the Gentiles. Did he cease to preach the Grace of Christ Gospel after Acts 28:25 to 28? The signs ceased, but the Gospel did not cease with the signs. The Gospel of Grace is so clearly stated in Romans 3:24 to 26, which we quote: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past. through the forbearance of God. To declare. I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
Paul did not cease to preach that gospel after signs waned and passed out and faith, hope and love remained. He committed to Timothy and Titus faith, hope and love and the pure gospel of grace; but no signs. By the same exegesis, the absence of signs for the elimination of the Lord’s Supper, the Gospel could be dropped.
When God brought to an end the program of miracles and Divine death judgments He likewise ceased the miracles of raising from the dead. When the sign gifts of healing the sick ceased. the judgment of sickness upon unworthy saints likewise disappeared. So we cannot prove that the Lord’s Supper and Divine judgments were inseparably connected. It is a known fact that many saints are taking the Lord’s Supper unworthily but they are enjoying good health and are not in the cemetery.
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