Ecclesiology 044

Dr. Andy Woods | Dec 16, 2018 | 1 Corinthians 11:27 | Ecclesiology

Andy Woods

Ecclesiology 44, 1 Corinthians 11:27

12-16-18       Lesson 44

Father, we’re thankful for  Your people, thankful for today.  We ask for special blessing today on Sunday School class and the church service that follows.  We ask that You’ll be glorified in all things. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…  Amen!

If you all can locate John 13, the Gospel of John, chapter 13 and verse 5. We are teaching on, as you know, Ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church.  And we’re on Roman numeral XI, the subject is ordinances, so all of those ten prior subjects we completed, having finished Officers last week we’re now on the subject of ordinances.

So basically what is a church ordinance?  A church ordinance would be something that the Lord wants practiced regularly in His church.  And there are three potential ordinances, one of them I’ve got a question mark by it [Foot washing?] because I’m not really sure that’s an ordinance but it would be number one, Foot washing, number two, Communion, and number three, Baptism.  So we’re going to try to cover Foot washing and Communion today as time permits and then maybe, if the Lord tarries and we’re here next week we’ll talk about Baptism.

But you’ll notice that I’ve got foot washing with a question mark by it.  The denomination that my wife was raised, reared in, was called the Grace Brethren Denomination, and it was one of those denominations that I have an awful lot of respect for.  Some really good Bible teachers came out of that movement.  Names would include John Whitcomb, Alva J. McClain, David Hocking, a number of names you might think of.  Of course the best thing that came out of that denomination was my wife, they did a good job with her.  And these folks would basically practice foot washing services where you literally take off your shoes and sox and someone is coming along and physically washing your feet.  And they were basically treating foot washing as if it’s something that is normative in the church.  They took it as consistently, consistently foot washing as they did communion.

Now let me just kind of say this; if the church wants to do that I don’t see really in the Bible that says they can’t; there’s no “thus saith the Lord” never have a foot washing service.  So I’m not really against the church if they want to do that.  The question is does that type of church service, does that rise to the level or an ordinance that we would put on equal par with communion and baptism?  And I’m of the persuasion that the answer to that is no.

But first of all, where do they get this idea of foot washing services.  If you go over to John 13:5-7, it’s something  that our Lord physically did with the disciples in the Upper Room.  It says, “Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. [6] So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” [7] Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.”  Go down to verses 12-15, “So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? [13] “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. [14] “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. [15]“For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”

So it’s on that basis that a lot… not a lot but some Christian denominations, like the Grace Brethren denomination, which I have great respect for, engage in a ritual called foot washing.  I have to admit that when I first attended one of these services it took a little getting used to but it’s a very humbling thing when somebody actually washes your feet.

But here’s the question: is that an ordinance?  Is that something mandatory for all churches to follow on equal par with communion and baptism?  I’m going to basically say no, I don’t think it is, even though if a church wants to do that I don’t necessarily have a big problem with it.  And I say that basically for three reasons.  Number one, in the epistles…now what are the epistles?  The epistles are not the wives of the apostles; the epistles are the letters, we have thirteen letters of Paul and then we have eight general letters.

And beyond that we’ve got seven letters in the Book of Revelation, Revelation 2 and 3, that Jesus wrote to the seven churches.  And it’s those sections of the Scripture that if you want to say something is binding on the church you really have to find it there.  You can’t just find it in the gospels and you can’t just find it in Acts because Acts and the gospels are transitionary time periods. But you also have to find it in the epistles.

So you take, for example, communion, I can find that in the gospels; I can find that in the Book of Acts, I can find that in the epistles.  You take for example the subject of baptism, I can find that in the gospels, I can find that in the Book of Acts, I can find that in the epistles.  So that’s why I don’t have a question mark next to communion and baptism as a binding mandatory church ordinance.

The problem is foot washing, where do you find it?  You find it in John 13 as something Jesus Himself did but then again Jesus did a lot of things that we don’t do, right. I don’t know how many of us have walked on water lately.  I find it in Christ and His practice there in John 13, He did it one time but I don’t see any foot washing services ever from that point on.  I don’t find it in Acts, and I don’t find it in the epistles.  So therefore foot washing I don’t really think rises to the same level as a mandatory binding ordinance on the church.

Beyond that, when  you look at what Christ said here in John 13:15 it’s very interesting.  Jesus says, “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”   So what’s the example?  Is the example physical foot washing?  No, I think the example is the new commandment that He gives later on in the chapter, John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you” what? “love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another, [35] ‘By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  That’s the example that Jesus was setting here.  He wasn’t setting up a ritual; what He was saying is this wicked world will know you are My disciples when they tangibly see My disciples loving each other.  And Jesus role modeled that right there in the Upper Room in the form of a foot washing.  I don’t think He was creating a church ordinance when He did that; I think He was just exemplifying what a life of love can look like at a practical level.

And then if you jump over to verses 6 and 7 of John 13 it says this: “So He came to Simon Peter.  He” that’s Simon Peter, “said to Him, ‘Lord, do You wash my feet?’  [7] Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.’”

Now what is it that Simon Peter didn’t understand?  Did he not understand the physical act of washing feet?  I think it was very easy for him to grasp that.  What he didn’t grasp and what would take really the ministry of the Holy Spirit coming on the birthday of the church to fully explain to Peter is the walk of sacrifice, the walk of service, the walk of love.  That’s what Peter didn’t grasp.  If it was just a matter of grasping a physical service, church service, church ordinance, he would have picked up on it just like that.

So you sort of put all the clues together and I don’t really think foot washing is something that is mandatory  or binding on the church today.  It was something that our Lord did one time in the Upper Room to exemplify in that context the walk of love and the walk of service that we are to have for each other.

So the first ordinance would be foot washing, which I really don’t think is an ordinance.  That’s why I put a question mark next to it although some churches do practice it as an ordinance.  The two ordinances that I think we have in the Scripture that the Lord wants regularly practiced in His church are number one, communion, and number two, water baptism.

So let’s take a look at communion, shall we?  Three issues: number on, frequency, how frequent are we supposed to practice communion?  Number two, what in the world did Paul mean when he says before taking communion a man ought to examine himself?  If he doesn’t examine himself he’ll be judged as with the world.  And then number three, what is communion supposed to represent?  And by communion I’m speaking here of the Lord’s Table.

So number one, how frequently are we to practice communion in the local church?  I was raised in the Episcopalian denomination where we had the Lord’s Table every single Sunday.  And then my wife and I were members for a while at a Plymouth Brethren church in Dallas (when I was working on my Master’s Degree in Dallas, and they had communion every single Sunday.  Now we here at Sugar Land Bible Church in error because we don’t do it every single Sunday, we do it once a month?  And a lot of churches don’t even do it once a month, they do it once a quarter and so are they in error as well?

I think what the New Testament lays down for us in terms of a practice is not so much a number but rather a principle.  The principle is consistency, the principle is frequency.  So notice if you will Acts 2:42, I just want to show you how this begins to be unfolded in the life of the church.

Acts 2:42, this is when the church first started and it says, “They were continually devoting them­selves to” what? “to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread” that’s communion, “and to prayer.”  So here it doesn’t lay down a number, weekly, monthly, quarterly, it just gives you a principle that they were regularly practicing it.  But then the early church met in private houses, they had a corporate meeting in the temple, corporate meetings, and then they met house to house.  And if you go down to verse 46 it says, “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread” that’s their magic term there, “from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,” and so if breaking bread there is communion here’s it talking about how they were doing it every single day.  So one verse says consistently, another verse says it seems like they were doing it every single day.

Now go over to Acts 20 for just a moment, Acts 20 and take a look at verse 7 as the church is beginning to continue to develop and grow, and what does it say there?  Now it says on what? “On the first day of the week,” now it’s a weekly meeting, “when we were gathered together to break bread,” I would take that as communion, “Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.”  Now you guys should be grateful I’m not  your pastor because Paul just kept right on preaching right on till midnight… wow, what a long sermon that was.

But you’ll notice that this was happening daily, this was a daily meeting and it talks about them breaking bread.  So one verse says day by day, another verse says weekly, another verse says regularly, so what’s the answer.  People like to have a number, are we supposed to do this daily, are we supposed to do this weekly, are we supposed to do this quarterly.   And the answer to that is the church is not the nation of Israel.  The nation of Israel was a nation that was over a narrow strip of real estate governing one people group.  And so that’s why for Israel in the Mosaic Law you have specific numbers.

There was a specific amount of money you had to give for example.  It was not optional, it was like the U.S. tax code, because Israel was a nation over one group of people in one narrow strip of geography.  And that’s not the nature of the church, as we’ve talked about.  That’s why early on in our series we talked about how Israel and the church are different and we went through the twenty-four major differences between Israel and the church.  And that’s why when you come to the church you’re not going to find the numbers that you want because something may work well in one part of the world but not another part of the world.  Something may work well in the area of numbers in one time era of history but not another time of history because God has designed the church to be transnational in nature, and global in nature.

So what you discover when you get into questions like this is you don’t have specific numbers related to  (A) how many elders should you have, remember we talked about that.  Well, there is no number given but there’s a principle, the principle is the principle of plurality.  Another question people ask is well how much money should I be giving out of my personal finances to the church and they want a number?  Is it 10%, is it more than 10%, is it less than  10%.  And the reality of the situation is you don’t find a specific number in the New Testament. What you do find are principles though. 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 lays out principles, give secretly, give faithfully, give consistently, give sacrificially.  Now if we were the nation of Israel you’d have a specific number, not only in terms of leaders and tribes but also the amount of money you’re supposed to give, twenty-three and a third percent; three tithes, two annually, one every three years you gave twenty-three and a third percent of your money.

So we kind of look at that and we go to the New Testament and we say well where’s our number?  Well we don’t have a number because of the transnational emphasis that God has given to the church.  What you are given are principles.  See?  So when you look at this subject of frequency in terms of communion is it supposed to be daily, is it supposed to be weekly, is it supposed to be quarterly, you’re not going to have a number.   What  you’re going to have is a principle and the principle is practice this regularly, practice this consistently.  And who determines then want a given church should follow in terms of a number?  That’s the call of the leadership of the church which in this case would be the elders.

So God in the age of the church has given to the church principles to follow and how our specific church follows those principles weekly, quarterly, whatever, daily, whatever, is left up to the leadership to make that determination.  So what you have for the age of the church is not numbers the way we want them; if we were living under the Mosaic Law you’d have iron clad numbers but you have principles, principles for the plurality of elders, principles for giving financially, principles for the practice of communion.  And so the principle for us in the church age is not a number but it’s supposed to be practiced consistently.   And what that looks like at Sugar Land Bible Church and what that looks like for the church down the street or any church in Houston, or any church in the world for that matter is up to the leadership of that church to make that determination.

So the first thing to understand about communion is you’re supposed to practice this consistently.  Here at Sugar Land Bible Church we do it once a month but we don’t say “thus saith the Lord you have to do it once a month,” and if you don’t do it once a month then you’re somehow outside the will of God.  What we look for in our church and any church is are they regularly practicing this.

The second big issue that comes up related to the issue of communion is the issue of self-examination.  And I want to spend just a couple of minutes on this because it’s one of those places in the Bible where I think there’s massive misunderstanding and rarely have I even heard of a preacher or teacher representing this accurately.

So go over if you could to 1 Corinthians 11, verses 27-31, you’ll no doubt remember these verses since we read them pretty consistently when we practice communion here once a month.  Take a look at 1 Corinthians 11:27-31.  I’ll start at verse 23, Paul says, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; [24] and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” [25] In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” [26] For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

And then look at verse 27, “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner,” now I’m reading from the NASB and it says “unworthy manner,” so if you see that in your Bible I think you should underline that, “in an unworthy manner shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. [28] But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. [29] For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment” now the King James Bible, if I’m not mistaken, I don’t have the King James up here but in some versions it’ll say damnation.  It says, “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment” or damnation, “to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.”  Look at this, verse 30, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number have fallen asleep. [31] But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.”

So the way these verses are typically handled is this: when you come to the Lord’s Table  you’d better make sure all of your sins are confessed.  Every single sin you’ve ever committed in your life (as if you could remember all of them, mine are too many to remember them I’m ashamed to say).  So if you’re coming to the Lord’s Table with unconfessed sin in your life then you’d better watch out because the Lord is going to send a lightning bolt and strike  you dead, just like He did Ananias and Sapphira.  And my goodness, that’s why all these people were sick and weak in Corinth, because God moved in with church discipline “and a number have fallen asleep” which is a euphemism for death.

So the way this is typically handled is look,  you’d better make sure that your sins are confessed before you partake of the Lord’s Table.  And if that’s not happening the Lord can move in and exercise upon  you maximum divine discipline.  So a lot of Christians read a verse like this and they’re absolutely terrified to take communion.  I mean, what  happens if I confess 99% of my sins but can’t remember one… I guess I’m in a lot of trouble, etc. So there’s always this fear that comes over people basically because of a common misunderstanding and mishandling of the passage.  And they think verse 27 says “worthy,” not “worthily” but “worthy.”  “…therefore who ever eats the bread or drinks the cup in an unworthy manner,” they don’t think it says unworthily but they think it means if they’re unworthy, meaning they haven’t confessed all their sins, they’re going to be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.”  [1 Corinthians 11:27, “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”]

And so what God designed as a celebration actually becomes a tool that I think Satan uses in the minds of many Christians to put them into a state of fear unnecessarily and a state of bondage.  And what’s the correct understanding of this?  The word in verse 27 is not “unworthy,” it’s very important to understand this, it’s “unworthily,” and there’s a big difference between those words.  There’s a difference between  unworthy and unworthily.  Unworthy is some kind of personal thing; unworthily is the manner in which communion was being practiced.

So in the Greek language the word translated “unworthily” is an adverb, not an adjective.  What is an adjective?  An adjective modifies a noun, like the communion taker.  This is not an adjective here; this is an adverb.  Do you guys remember your basic school house rock or basic parts of speech?  And adverb modifies a verb; an adverb describes a verb.  It gives a descriptive image, if you will, to a verb.  Joe ran to the store: subject—Joe, object—store, verb—ran, now if I want to describe how Joe ran I would throw an adverb in there and I would say Joe ran quickly to the store.  Quickly is modifying the verb, how Joe ran.  It’s giving expression to that meaning.  In the English language adverbs typically end in “ly.”  And what I’m trying to communicate here is that word should not be translated as “unworthy,” it should be translated as “unworthily” because its describing how the Corinthians were taking the Lord’s supper.

So what were they doing?  If you just look at the context you see what’s happening here.  If you look at verse 21 it says, “For I received from the LORD that which I also delivered to you that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed…”  I’m sorry, I didn’t want that verse, I wanted verse 21.  Verse 21, “for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is” what? “drunk.”

What God is upset with is the manner in which they were partaking of the Lord’s Table.  People were actually coming to the Lord’s Table in an inebriated condition.  And they were taking the Lord’s Table and turning it into just a common meal.  And you see that there in verses 21 and 22.  It says, “for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.  And look at what he says here, [22]  “What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink?

In other words,  you’re taking something that’s scared and you’re turning it into something that’s profane, you’re turning it into a common meal and Paul says why don’t you do that at home.  I mean, if you want to have a common meal go do that at home, you don’t do that at the Lord’s Table, which the Lord set up in the Upper Room which is something that’s supposed to be sacred.

Verse 22, “What, do you not have houses in which to eat or drink?   Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.”  What does he mean when he says one person has nothing?  They had turned communion into what I would call a [can’t understand word] operation.  In other words if you had resources and you had money and  you could bring  your own communion materials I suppose then you could participate.  But what if you were impoverished?  What if  you were a believer in Jesus Christ but  you happened to be in poverty?  Then you were excluded.  And you see, this is what the Apostle Paul is upset about; he’s  upset about unnecessary divisions in the body of Christ.

If  you go to verse 18 he tells you this very clearly.  He says, “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.”  Why would he say there’s division amongst them?  Because if you had resources you could partake of the Lord’s Table; if you were a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and didn’t have resources then you could not partake.  And so they were creating an unnecessary barrier in Christ’s body.

Beyond that they were turning it into a pay to play operation.  Beyond that you had some people showing up in an inebriated condition.  Beyond that they had taken something that was sacred and they had turned it into something profane or something vulgar, that’s what vulgar means, common.  You know, we have the Latin Vulgate created by Jerome in the 4th century.  Why do we call it the Latin Vulgate?  Because he was trying to put the Bible into the language of the common person.  In this case it was Latin for centuries so they called it the Vulgate, so they were basically taking communion and turning it into something very common, very vulgar, turning it into a common meal, showing up in a drunken condition.  And beyond that they were creating unnecessary barriers in the body of Christ.

And you see, you understand this context then you start understanding why Paul uses an adverb there in verse 27.  The expression he uses is not “unworthy” but “unworthily.”  See the difference?  In other words, while they were taking communion they were having a disrespectful attitude of the Lord’s Table, not honoring what it represented.

So that’s what the Lord is upset about and you can see this very quickly when you understand it’s an adverb and  you put the whole thing back into its original context, which is what I’m trying to do here.  The three rules of real estate are location, location, location.  The three rules of Bible study are context, context, context.  So if you’re at the Lord’s Table and you’re afraid God is going to strike you dead because you haven’t confessed all of your sins from ten years ago you’ve missed the point of the passage.  And I would say that 99% of the body of Christ, maybe even higher, that’s what they think the passage means.

The danger here is coming to the Lord’s Table and treating it disrespectfully as you’re partaking of it.  That’s the danger.  It’s not oh my goodness, did I confess all my sins form ten, fifteen, twenty years ago.  See the difference?  And as long as you’re coming to the Lord’s Table with a respectful attitude you’re in no danger of being struck dead by the Lord, being disciplined to the point of death, getting weak or sick.  Now on the other hand, if you’re coming to the Lord’s Table basically acting like it’s a common meal and what’s the big deal, then you do run in danger of running into the Lord’s discipline here.

So I don’t know how many people have heard the interpretation that I just gave.  I would say probably in a room like this almost no one has ever heard that.  Has anybody heard what I just said before?  We’ve got a small handful of people; your majority of people out there think it doesn’t say unworthily, that it says unworthy.  And if you don’t have a proper understanding of that then you’re put into unnecessary fear.  So I just share that with you because I don’t want the Christian to live in unnecessary fear.  So that’s the whole concept of self-examination.  I’m examining myself to make sure that when I come to the Lord’s Table is my attitude towards the Lord’s Table respectful?  That’s the issue.

So communion is to be practiced frequently; we’ve gone over the concept of self-examination, that it means “unworthily” and not “unworthy.”  And let me go to a third issue and this has to do with meaning.  When we partake of the Lord’s Table what exactly does it signify?  And what exactly does it mean?  And what you will find within Christendom are three views on this.  We think the first two views are wrong and the third one is right.

But the three views are (A) transubstantiation, (B) consubstantiation, and (C) the memorial view.  So let’s go through these so you understand the differences because if you go to a Roman Catholic Church you’re going to get a different definition of what communion means.  If you’re going to go to a Lutheran Church you’re going to get a different definition than we present here concerning what communion means.  So let’s walk through these as time permits.

Number one, transubstantiation.  Most people know it, either they come out of a Roman Catholic background or they have Roman Catholic friends, etc.  Transubstantiation is the Roman Catholic view.  The Roman Catholic view is when  you partake of what they call the Eucharist, which we would call the Lord’s Table, those elements represent Jesus actual body and blood.  So the elements in transubstantiation in Roman Catholicism represent the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Now when you think about that for a minute, isn’t that cannibalism?  I guess I could find some verses where God, I guess, would be against cannibalism.  I mean, I hope I could find those kind of verses.  But you see, what is wrong with that?  What’s the big deal with that?  Well it’s wrong because the Bible is very clear that Christ was sacrificed how many times, ONE TIME!  I mean, it’s very clear.   Let me give you a verse or two to demonstrate this.

Look over at Hebrews 10:10, it says, “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  In fact, the word “once for all” is the word hapax in Greek, hapax means one time and in fact we have something in the Bible called a hapax legomenaHapax legomena, legomena means a word, hapax legomena means a word that’s only used on time.  So when you have examples in the Bible of a word that’s used a single time and that’s it we call it a hapax legomena, from this word hapax, and the word translated “once for all” is the word hapax, meaning one time in Greek.

So Jesus came into this world to die a single time.  That contradicts, does it not, transubstantiation.  If you believe in transubstantiation what you believe is Jesus is being recrucified every single mass.  See the problem with that?

Take a look if you could at verse 14, you get the same concept.  Hebrews 10:14, “For by” what? how many offerings? “one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”  The Bible is very clear Jesus died once.  Transubstantiation would contradict that.  How would it contradict it?  Because it teaches that Jesus is being recrucified every single mass because those are His actual body and blood that you are partaking of.

The second problem with transubstantiation is it doesn’t understand Christ’s metaphorical language.  Now here at Sugar Land Bible Church we’re all about taking the Bible literally whenever you can, but the fact of the matter is the Bible uses figures of speech.  When the Bible  uses figures of speech it’s sort of self-evident that those are figures of speech.  So transubstantiation takes literally what should be understood as a figure of speech.  Another way of saying it is transubstantiation take denotatively what should be understood connotatively.

Let me show you how they do this.  Take a look at Luke 22:19, where Jesus is outlining the Lord’s Supper for His future church, and it says in verse 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.”  So transubstantiation advocates argue well, there it is right there in the Bible. The communion elements are Christ’s body because Jesus just said that, didn’t He.  So when you partake of the Lord’s Table  you’re actually partaking of the physical body and the physical blood of Jesus Christ thereby recrucifying Christ every single Mass.

The problem is when Jesus communicated that who was standing right next to Him?  Peter was standing right next to Him.  Now Pete was no doubt looking at Jesus.  Would Peter have ever understood this as these elements represent Christ’s body?  No, he wouldn’t have understood it that way because He was right there in front of him, he could see Christ’s body; he knows what Christ’s body is.  So he would have understood this language in not a literal sense but a metaphorical sense because he’s looking there at Christ’s physical body as the two of them are having a conversation.

So what do we do with this language in verse 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.’”  We would interpret that metaphorically; the elements represent His body.  Transubstantiation says no, no, the elements are His body.    Do you see the difference?  And did Jesus used metaphorical language about Himself in the Bible?   Many times.  Doesn’t He say “I am the bread of life”? [John 6:48]  When He says that do you see Him as a loaf of bread, Wonder Bread written on the side?  No, we would understand that metaphorically.

Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world.”  Is He a flashlight that clicks on?  No, He’s talking about spiritual light.  [John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”  John 9:5, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”]

He calls Himself a gate and a door, does mean we need to apply some grease to Him when it squeaks.  [John 10:7, “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.’”  John 10:9, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”]  No, He’s obviously speaking metaphorically.

He speaks of Himself metaphorically as the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way the truth and the life.  [John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.  John 10:14, I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me.”    John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.’” John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”]

How about when He describes Himself as the vine?  I mean, is He literally a vine coming out of a branch?  [John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”]  No, He’s obviously using the concept of a physical vine to teach a spiritual concept.

And that’s how you understand Christ’s statement there in Luke 22:19.  “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.’” You don’t understand the elements bread and wine as His physical body; you understand those as metaphors.  And I think that would have been obvious to anybody standing there and listening to Him, including the Apostle Peter.

Beyond all of this do advocates of transubstantiation have any biblical support?  They don’t have any biblical support there in Luke 22:19 but let me tell you the main passage they’ll take you to.  Go over to John 6, verses 53-58. And you need to know the name Scott Hahn, he was a Protestant evangelical, just like we are, but then he had this mass conversion to Roman Catholicism.  And if  you watch the Roman Catholic Church Network, EWTN, Hahn is all over that network all of the time.  And his mission in life, and he’s written a number of books, if you go to Barnes and Noble you see all his books, Hahn, H-a-h-n.  His mission in life is to get evangelical Christians like ourselves to convert to Roman Catholicism.  He says I did it, and now everybody else is supposed to do it.  The title of one of his books I think is Rome Sweet Home.  And it’s this idea that the Protestant Reformation really was a mistake and we all need to come back and be Catholics.  The Roman Catholic Church looks at us as separated brethren; in other words, we haven’t really figured it out  yet that our real home is Rome and Roman Catholicism and it’s just going to take some teaching to win us back.  So there is a massive, massive effort on the part of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope’s evangelism plan to target evangelicals and get them into more of a Roman Catholic mindset.  They say Peter was the first Pope which is false.  They say the Roman Catholic Church is the true church, the mother church and Martin Luther was sort of a heretic and a trouble maker and we all need to go back to Rome.

So the name Hahn, you need to know that because he’s going to try to proselytize  you on this issue.  And he’s very effective, he knows Greek, he knows Hebrew, he knows church history, and I would be afraid to discover the countless people that he has swayed in his Rome Sweet Home mindset.  And I was watching him once on EWTN, the Roman Catholic Network, and by the way, you guys know I’m not converting to Roman Catholicism any day soon, I came out of the kissing cousin of Roman Catholicism, which is Episcopalian.  I mean, all that stuff is in my rear view mirror.  I don’t want to go back to that if my life depended on it.  And you say well why do watch EWTN?  Opposition research!  Right, the same way a conservative will watch CNN or MSNBC to see what the dark side is talking about.

So I was watching Mr. Hahn, Scott Hahn I think is his name, and he was going on and on about Rome Sweet Home and then he starts talking about transubstantiation, and then he starts quoting this verse right here, John 6:53-58.  And if you don’t know how to handle this you’ll think it promotes transubstantiation.  It says, “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.”  Well, doesn’t that kind of sound like we’re supposed to eat the physical body, drink the physical blood of Jesus Christ?  Verse 54, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day, 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 eats Me, he also will live because of Me. [58] “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

Now you look at that and this is how Mr. Hahn was using the verse on EWTN; there it is, right there in the Bible, transubstantiation.  [can’t understand word] the words at the Mass as you partake of the elements you’re actually eating the physical body and drinking the physical blood of Jesus Christ.  So how in the world would your typical evangelical Christian handle this verse?  I’m sad to say most evangelical Christians would just buy his interpretation hook, line and sinker because the guy looks very nice, he has a very nice family, he presents himself well on TV, and your average evangelical church today is more worried about getting people in the door numerically than they are about equipping the saints.  They don’t have a pastor-teacher whose going to orient them correctly so your average evangelical Christian is sort of caught without their footing on this and they say well maybe this Rome Sweet Home thing has something to it.

What I’m going to do, just very briefly, is show you the proper response to this passage and I’m going to show you the proper response to this passage by looking at the structure of John’s Gospel.  And you say oh no, not again, you spent three years teaching this when  you first got here.  But you remember the basic structure of John’s Gospel; there’s a heavenly genealogy, John 1:1-18; there’s the public ministry of Christ, end of chapter 1 through the end of chapter 11.  Then there’s His triumphal entry, chapter 12, it’s very clear that the nation of Israel is going to reject Jesus and so that shifts Him into the Upper Room Discourse, John 13-17 and that’s where Jesus starts to outline the new age that’s coming, the age of the church because it’s very obvious that we’re not going to have the kingdom because the King has been rejected by the nation.  And then what follows, chapters 18-21 are the passion narratives dealing with the crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection.

So Scott Hahn is quoting this verse and I guarantee you, I didn’t see it, he’s not giving this outline and he’s not telling people that what he just quoted from comes from part 2 of the book, before Israel rejected their King and before we have any insight or knowledge of the coming church.  Now the concept of communion is for the church and so he’s quoting a part of John’s Gospel that has absolutely nothing to do with the church.  The church is not even on the horizon, it’s not even known yet, it’s an unknown mystery or commodity when Jesus is speaking in John 6.

Now if Jesus had made these comments in the Upper Room Discourse that’d be different; you may have an argument because there the church and its coming work is being outlined, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  But these remarks are not found in the Upper Room Discourse, they’re found in Christ’s public ministry—in fact, very early on in Christ’s public ministry, before the church is even on the horizon.  So I kept waiting with bated breath watching EWTN for Scott Hahn to explain this.  I know he knows it because he graduated from some of our more elite Protestant Bible colleges.  But he doesn’t tell people what I’m telling you here.  He uses the Bible in a very selective way to achieve his agenda.  What’s his agenda?  Rome sweet home!  And a lot of people have documented that Scott Hahn gets his money from the Roman Catholic Church itself.  So he’s, to a large extent, on their payroll and he’s their guy that goes into Protestant churches to evangelize us t come back to Rome.  So he would use this verse and he’s not explaining at all to the audience on EWTN that the verse has nothing to do with communion.  It has to do with the public ministry of Jesus.

And by the way, speaking of the public ministry of Jesus what was Jesus even talking about here in verses 53-58 when He’s talking about the necessity of eating His body and drinking His blood.  He’s using that as a metaphor for what?  Faith!  In other words, the transubstantiation advocate is taking literally (once again) what the Lord originally set up to be understood figuratively.  You say well how do you know that?  How do you know He’s speaking figuratively here?  There are three rules of Bible study, context, context, context.  Back up in the chapter to verse 35 and verse 36.  If you understand verses 35 and 36  you’ll see exactly what Jesus is talking about in verses 53-58.

What does He say there in verses 35-36?  By the way, do you guys all agree with me that verses 35 and 36 come before verses 53-58?  I mean what is Hahn doing who knows better, in my opinion?  He’s piecemealing the Bible using improper Bible study methodology to deceive people because he has an agenda.  Go back to verse 35, what does Jesus say?  “I am the bread of life, he who comes to Me will not hunger, he who believes in Me will never thirst,” well then how exactly do I come to Jesus so I don’t hunger and thirst?  Verse 36, “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not” what’s it say again in verse 36, “believe.”  His whole point is to believe.   His whole point is to trust Him because you trust Him what does He do?  He comes into your life, He satisfies the deepest yearnings of your life spiritually, so He analogizes himself to the “bread of life” and He comes into a person’s life to quench spiritual thirst and to quench spiritual hunger.  That’s Christ’s point.  How do you access that?  By way of faith.

All verses 50-58 are doing is an amplification of that principle.  But if you’re not going to connect verse 53-58 back to its context which is clearly revealed in verses 35-36 then  you can make the Bible sound any way you want.  I mean, I hope we understand this folks, you can make the Bible say whatever it is  you want it to say if you don’t care about context.  Judas went out and hung himself, go thou and do likewise and what you do, do” what? “do quickly.” Well, there are three Bible verses I just strung together to support the doctrine of suicide.  So based on the Bible we’ve all got to go out and we ought to commit suicide… I quoted the Bible!  Well as you all know I quoted the Bible completely out of context, I strung a bunch of verses together to achieve a pre-ordained result.  This is what the kingdom of the cults do regularly; this is what Scott Hahn (who knows better) who’s on the payroll of the Pope, this is what he is doing over and over again to evangelical audiences teaching them that somehow transubstantiation s in the Bible.   But the reality is it’s not in the Bible at all.

So what is the problem with transubstantiation?  Number one, it violates the single sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Number two, it’s meant to be understood metaphorically if taken literally.  Number three, it’s totally lacking in Scriptural support to make it work you’ve got to go to some passage that’s not even related to the age of the church.  And you also have to ignore the context of that passage.

So what is the meaning of communion?  I can tell you this much, it’s not transubstantiation.  It’s also not something that’s somewhat close, which I don’t have time get into, consubstantiation, which we’ll cover next time.  The true meaning of communion is the Zwingli view; Zwingli, the Protestant Reformer in Switzerland as the Protestant Reformation was taking place, said no, it says “do this in remembrance of Me.”  We believe in the memorial view here, that the elements are designed to assist memory so that you can recall what Jesus did for us, which gives us an attitude of gratitude.  So I’ll cover the transubstantiation view and the memorial view next time as we continue to talk about church ordinances.