Monthly Devotional

The Lord’s Supper & Worship

By Gary McBride
[Portion from Chapter 1. Pp. 13, 15. 26]

[Page 13] There is a great divide in the Church, the Body of Christ, which likely comes as no surprise to most believers. This divide I am talking about is not a matter of doctrine or even biblical interpretation, but rather of practice. There must be a warning given at this point – practice does not produce spirituality. In fact, certain customs that are unique to any group may become a source of pride, and thus lead to a sinful attitude.

The practice that is seen in some local churches and not in others is the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper accompanied by a time of worship. The “breaking of bread” can occur apart from a specified time of worship. In most denominational churches, its observance follows either ministry or a gospel message. The Lord is still remembered and believers are obedient to the command to “remember Him.”

On the other hand, worship can take place at times separate from the “breaking of bread.” Believers can worship on their own or gather with other saints and worship in their homes, at a camp site or in other venues. Worship is not reserved for one hour per week nor is it the exclusive property of a certain group. Regardless of how individual believers meet, worship should be part of every Christian’s life.

[What is Unknown ] Within the Christian world, there is much variety as to how the “ordinance” of the Lord’s Supper is conducted, and how often it is observed. When Scripture is studied objectively and with sound methods of interpretation, it is clear that there is very little teaching about the Lord’s Supper. In particular there is no revelation as to how it was done as to practice and procedure, nothing about format or frequency, or whether it was a separate assembly or an exercise that was part of another local church.

There is no pattern to follow as to what accompanied the “breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup.” The Lord and the disciples sang one hymn in the upper room after the supper. That is the only reference to singing that accompanied the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Prior to taking the bread and cup the Lord Jesus was engaged in a teaching session as recorded in John 13 and 14. In Acts 20, Paul preached, but the content of the message is not known. Before passing the bread and the cup, the Lord Jesus prayed and gave thanks. This is the only mention of prayer in connection to the “Lord’s Supper.” There is little evidence from the Gospels or the book of Acts to build a case on how to observe the “Lord’s Supper.”

As to some of the issues previously mentioned, Scripture is silent with regard to almost all of church life. There is virtually no instruction as to how things are to be done. Nothing is said about how often to meet, the time or length, the format or flow of the “assembly.” There is no teaching about corporate singing or music, hymn books or choruses. There is nothing about what children are to do during meeting times, or ow believers are to dress, nothing about where they are to sit nor if and when they were to stand.

Some Christians have selectively built doctrine out of the silence of Scripture or a phrase taken out of context. Verses, or a text, taken out of context become a pretext for how things ought to be done. For instance policies on dress have been taken from Peter’s action in John 21 on putting on his coat before he went to see the Lord. The silence of Scripture on musical instruments is used to reinforce a stand on music but the fact that the Bible does not mention hymn books is overlooked. That Paul stayed in Troas until the Sunday and the disciples came together to “break bread” is sometime presented as proof that there is only one day of the week to observe “the breaking of bread.”

Quite likely based on the institution of the Lord’s Supper in the upper room and the time the saints gathered in Troas, the “breaking of bread” was in the evening. Traditionally and historically it has been observed on a Sunday but even for this issue there is no “thus says the Lord.” Here again, there is no definitive word to say that this should be the standard practice for all time and in all places.

[Portion taken from: What’s Up with Worship? By Gary McBride – commended to the Lord’s work in 1980, serving the Lord as missionaries to Zambia; Northland Bible Camp, Ontario, and now itinerant ministries assemblies, etc.]

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