10.1 It is not important whether we hold the Holy Communion. Partaking of bread and cup was the customary way to remember the Lord’s death at the time of the apostles. Today, however, there are many other ways for Christians to remember the Lord’s death.
• After the Lord Jesus gave thanks, broke the bread and gave it to the disciples, he said, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk 22:19; see also 1Cor 11:23-25). The Lord clearly instructed that partaking the Holy Communion is the way to remember his death. It is by keeping the Holy Communion that we proclaim the Lord’s death (1Cor 11:26). How then can we dismiss the Holy Communion as unimportant?
• Partaking of the bread and the cup to proclaim the Lord’s death was to be done not only by the apostles but also by all believers, even those of modern age, until the Lord comes (1Cor 11:26).
• The partaking of the bread and the cup during Holy Communion is not merely a custom or formality. It carries great significance and spiritual efficacy (see next question).
10.2 The Holy Communion is nothing more than an occasion to remember the Lord’s death.
• While the Holy Communion is an occasion to remember and proclaim the Lord’s death, it also consists of essential spiritual functions for believers. By partaking of the Holy Communion:
- We unite with the Lord in the Holy Spirit (1Cor 10:16; the Greek word for “communion” in 1Cor 16:16 is Koinônia, meaning fellowship; Jn 6:56); and we also unite with one another (1Cor 10:17).
- We receive eternal life (Jn 6:53-54).
- We will be raised on the last day (Jn 6:54).
10.3 Transubstantiation teaches that after giving thanks, the bread and grape wine transform materially into the physical body and blood of the Lord Jesus. Consubstantiation teaches that the physical body and blood coexist with the bread and the grape wine. Why does your church not agree with either view?
• The bread and grape juice are the body and blood of the Lord after giving thanks. By eating and drinking the communion, we may receive the spiritual effects promised by God’s word. But the bread and juice have not changed materially.
• The manna that the Israelites ate in the wilderness prefigures the true bread from heaven—the flesh of the Lord Jesus (Jn 6:31-33, 49-51). According to Paul, the Israelites ate “spiritual food” and drank “spiritual drink” (1Cor 10:3-4). The prefiguration is applied in spiritual terms. Therefore during Holy Communion, we partake of the spiritual body and spiritual blood of the Lord.
• The Lord Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life, flesh counts for nothing” (Jn 6:63). Here he elaborated on the previous passage(vv. 32-57), which his followers found difficult to accept (v. 60). In other words, the flesh and blood Jesus was referring to was flesh and blood in the spiritual rather than the material sense.
10.4 Symbolism teaches that the bread and cup only symbolize the flesh and blood of Jesus. Why is this view incorrect? The Lord Jesus could not have given his flesh and blood to his disciples to eat and drink since he was not yet crucified when he gave thanks for the bread and cup.
• When the Lord Jesus instituted the Holy Communion, he did not say, “This symbolizes by body”; or “This symbolizes my blood”; rather, he said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood” (Mt 26:26, 28).
• The Lord Jesus said, “for my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (Jn 6:55). During Holy Communion, the bread we eat is actually the Lord’s body and the cup we drink is actually the Lord’s blood. The body and blood, however, are not material but are spiritual (see previous question).
10.5 Only priests may partake of both the bread and the cup. Believers in general may only partake of the bread.
• When the Lord Jesus instituted the Holy Communion, the disciples partook of both the bread and the cup (Mt 26:26-27). They were believers, not priests.
• When Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning the Holy Communion, he was addressing the members in general (see 1Cor 10:16; 11:26). So every believer has the privilege to partake of the bread and the cup.
10.6 Why does your church not allow non-members to participate in the Holy Communion?
• In the Old Testament, Gentiles were forbidden to eat the Passover lamb (Ex 12:43). The Passover feast prefigures the New Testament Holy Communion (1Cor 5:7-8). Similarly, those who do not participate in the salvation of the Lord may not partake the Holy Communion since they are foreigners to the kingdom of God.
• The Lord’s body and blood are holy and pure; those whose sins have not been cleansed through baptism are not worthy to partake of the Holy Communion (see 1Cor 11:27-29). And only those who have received the correct baptism for the remission of sins may partake of the Holy Communion.
• The Holy Communion is a fellowship (Koinônia) among the believers within the church. Unbelievers or those who do not share the same faith with us are not part of the communion in the true church. So they should not partake of the Holy Communion.