THE FOLLOWING IS THE CONTENT OF A LEAFLET WE OFFER TO THOSE WHO ARE SIMPLY OBSERVING THE LORD’S SUPPER, AND NOT TAKING PART.
“We hope we have not offended you by asking you to simply observe what happens at the Lord’s Supper. We would like to set out, if we may, our reasons for this request.
First let us be clear that by asking you to sit back we are not making a judgement as to whether you are truly saved or not. Nor are we suggesting that you are not spiritual enough for us to have fellowship with you. Rather, we are simply seeking to do all things “decently and in order”, as the Scriptures require in 1 Corinthians 14:40.
Just before the Lord Jesus went back to heaven, He ordained that His disciples should remember Him in the way He set out. The words of Scripture are as follows, “And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me’. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you'”, Luke 22:19,20. The Lord’s Supper is observed, therefore, as an act of remembrance of the Lord Jesus.
The observance of the Lord’s Supper is also an act of fellowship or communion. In 1 Corinthians 10 the apostle Paul makes it clear to the believers in the assembly at Corinth that there are only three sorts of fellowship. There is the fellowship that Israelites had with God as they offered sacrifices upon the altar. There is the fellowship that Gentile unbelievers have when they offer sacrifices to their idols, behind which lurk evil spirits. And there is the fellowship of Christians, expressed when they break the bread at the Lord’s Supper, and drink the cup. His words in connection with this last sort of fellowship are as follows: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread”, 1 Corinthians 10:16,17. By drinking of the cup, believers acknowledge that their only claim on blessing is the blood of Christ. As they break the break together, they declare that the only circle of fellowship they wish to be involved in, is the fellowship of those who are members of the body of Christ.
Now the apostle is speaking in general terms in 1 Corinthians 10, for the one body of which he speaks is the sum total of Christians in this present age. How is this expression of fellowship to be carried out, we may ask. The answer is found in the fact that the word church is not only used of all believers of this present age, but also of believers as they gather together in the name of the Lord Jesus in a locality. The church of God at Corinth was one such company of believers, and they were able to observe the Lord’s Supper, as chapter 11 of the epistle shows. The apostle describes that company as “The body of Christ”, 1 Corinthians 12:27. This means that as far as representing and manifesting the truth of the body of Christ was concerned, the Church at Corinth was the body.
To summarise. When believers take the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper they are doing two things. Firstly, they are complying with the command of the Lord Jesus that they remember Him during His absence, and secondly, they are expressing their fellowship with one another as they all share the same loaf.
Now it is because of this second aspect that those not in fellowship are asked to simply observe. This is because you may discover that there are things about us that you may not wish to have fellowship with after all. And by the same token, we would like to be sure that our fellowship with you is meaningful, wholehearted and genuine.
If, after having observed what we do, and having asked about any matters that are not clear to you, and also, very importantly, given due consideration to the matter before the Lord in the light of His Word, you feel that you would like to have fellowship with us on an ongoing basis, we would be delighted to talk these things over with you.
When we do this, we shall need to enquire of the circumstances under which you were saved. Enquire also, (since it is expected in the New Testament that all believers will be baptized), whether in fact you have been baptized by immersion in water after you were saved. Then again, there are certain moral and doctrinal sins that render a person liable to be excluded from a local church. It would clearly be illogical for us to receive you if you were guilty of any of these things.
From the foregoing you will gather that breaking bread is not a casual matter, but one to be undertaken only after due consideration on the part of all those involved. Please feel free to discuss these things further if you so wish- we are here to help you”.
You will find more about being received into a local assembly under the heading “RECEPTION”.