Fellowship and the Lord’s Supper

Edward Robinson, Exmouth

There are in the scriptures many forms of service enjoined upon believers, so fitted by the Holy Spirit, diligently to be engaged in, each having a gift from Him. The apostle Paul, would encourage the Corinthians in his First Epistle 1. 4-8, to be so engaged in the testimony of Christ, coming behind in no gift, 'that they may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ', and adding, v. 9, 'God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto (into) the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord'. The understanding of the term fellowship, its implications and the quality of the links envisaged is emphasised. It will readily be seen that such a fellowship (that of His Son) implies that the believer is joined with Him in every aspect of life and that he is in it by the sovereign calling of God Himself. Coupled with this is the truth that he (or she) is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and we see how thoroughly equipped spiritually is the normal Christian.

The apostle, however, to whom was committed in such large measure the will of God, in one instance refers to his writings as the commandments of the Lord, 1 Cor. 14. 37. Not in general terms but speaking of matters more specific, he says, 'Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances (instructions), as I delivered them to you', 1 Cor. 11. 2. There would appear to be two such, i.e. baptism and the Lord's supper. The former is personal in its bearing, the latter, properly speaking, the only church ordinance. It is important to observe that neither is for the believer in any degree optional. The two are clearly linked together as we read, 'Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers', Acts 2. 41, 42.

The true character of the Lord's supper, its dignity and authority is clearly indicated by the apostle, 1 Cor. 11, 23-34, when he makes known that it was received by him from the ascended Lord in glory. There can be no question of the wisdom of such an inauguration, intended to cement the fellowship between Christians in truth and love to the One who instituted a fellowship filled with the fragrance of Himself, who would have them to meet together week by week to remember Him. So it has continued until to-day, in essence a fellowship able to survive the vicissitudes through which the church on earth has passed in the intervening years, us He himself says, 'until I come'.

In the public aspect of the Lord's supper there is a testimony rendered in the partaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup, to the death of the Lord, as Paul states 'For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew (announce) the Lord's death till He come', 1 Cor. 11. 26. There is doubtless a reference to the cross with its public shame in which the saints, so doing, would take their part. But in its inward bearing it is a legacy from the One who was about to leave them but greatly desired to be living in their hearts, as He says 'Take, eat: this is my body . . . this do in remembrance of me', and again as to the cup, 'This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me', 1 Cor. 11. 24, 25.

It becomes clear as we consider the Lord's day, the Lord's table (a wider thought, carrying the idea of responsibility), the Lord's supper, that the Person of the Lord Jesus himself is paramount. Indeed, in these remarkable verses, 23-34, treating of the supper. He is the centre of our worship, as the One who gave His all, Himself, and would now provide an occasion that we might fully give expression to our hearts' apprecition. Sadly, there are such times when He himself is not addressed in worship, but the Father only; when perhaps it is then said, 'We worship thy beloved Son'. The question then might arise, is it possible to worship other than by addressing the One before our hearts.'. May this precious occasion then increasingly be one when we prove the nearness of the Lord, and bring delight to the Father by the Spirit.