Biblical Communion: True Fellowship with the Lord

Once a person stands before the All Holy God accepted in Christ the Beloved,[1] clothed with the righteousness of Christ, that person has the basis of fellowship with God.  In sanctification as He writes His law on the hearts of the believers, they strive to be holy as He is.  He is then their God and they are His people, and they are privileged to call Him Abba Father.  First the gospel of grace, then following on their being accepted in the Beloved, the essence of the New Covenant is fellowship with the Father through fellowship with the Son, in fellowship in the Holy Spirit.

Real Affectionate Communication

Such fellowship in the New Covenant was foretold, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD….[2] Such communion is the essential quality of the New Covenant.  The Lord Christ Jesus is the mediator of this legacy, as declared, “And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.[3] The inheritance is the intimate knowledge of the Father and the Son. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.[4]

Just as Moses in the old covenant declared, “This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you,[5] so the Lord Christ Jesus declared,“This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.[6] Christ’s command in the institution of the His Supper is not simply “‘in memory of’ but in an affectionate calling of the Person Himself to mind.”[7]  The root meaning of the word “remembrance” here entails the concept of communion with the Lord Himself.

The Apostle Paul puts stress on the key idea of togetherness with the Lord in His supper in I Corinthians 10:16 when he states, “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?”The essential identity in the Lord’s Table cannot be literally the physical presence of the Lord, for reasons given in the scriptural accounts themselves, which will be addressed below.  The oneness taught is that of spiritual communion with God and with His people and is celebrated in the Lord’s Table.  In the new Jerusalem this communion will be face to face as outlined in I John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”But for now in the New Covenant, the reality of our togetherness with the Lord is celebrated in signsand not face to face.  This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.[8]His New Covenantobservance is intimate communion with Him.

Basis for Confidence in the Spiritual Presence of the Lord

In the truth of the Lord’s word that He desires the believers to have full assurance regarding what He has done and said, the authentication and pledge of His work is confirmed by an oath that they might have full assurance and consolation.[9]  “This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.[10] This is the legal declaration to the believers of Christ Himself belonging to them.  Just as in ordinary human life (for example, marriage vows, title deeds for houses and cars, etc.), here also there are strict legal declarations regarding taking possession of what belongs to believers.  In Scripture what had been foretold in the Old Testament took place in the New Testament.  Christ has given to the believer possession of Himself in His blood and in His body.  He has given them the formal legal declaration of the New Covenant in which they have His absolute promise and His assurance.

The believers have in this New Testament ordinance the title to all the blessings of Christ confirmed to them by His blood.  As His words declare in I Corinthians 11,”This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.[11]The purpose is clearly given, it is to show forth Christ’s death, to proclaim and publish it.  It is not merely a remembrance of Christ, of what He has done and suffered, but rather for the believers to participate in His glorious giving of Himself to them.  They are to declare His death to be their life, the cause of their comfort and hope.  They show forth His death, and precipitate in its fruits before God the Father.  The New Covenant has to do with Him being their God and they His people, His decrees being the desire and the contentment of their minds and hearts¾in a word, divine fellowship with HimFor this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Isra
el after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.

Spiritual Communion Taught by Contrast

In I Corinthians10, the Apostle Paul very forcefully teaches fellowship with the Lord, by using stark contrast to the well know occult practice of spiritual contact with devils.  The strong teaching has the purpose with of outlawing the intolerable sacrilege of fellowship with idols.  Such communication is real, highly dangerous, and forbidden.  “I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.[13]The dissimilarity is clearly seen in the command, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”[14]It is most important to see that the apostle is insisting on an awareness of a real fellowship a spiritual union between Christ and believers.  What is been stressed is not mere memorial, as the contrast in such would not make sense.  The direct contrast is between spiritual intimacy with devils and the Lord.  From this passage, therefore, it may be concluded that “the communion of the blood of Christ[15]is that real togetherness that the believers have with the Lord in the celebration of His Supper.  The Lord introduced the meal with His longing expressed as follows; “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you…  This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”[16]  Likewise with desire ought the believers to desire to share this meal with Him.  This communion with Him is of the essence of the New Covenant, in His declaration it literally is the New Testament in His blood.  In the context of true and false worship the Lord teaches of those one to whom He looks, “to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.[17]To truly wish to worship Him worthily the believer ought to thirst for His communion at the table of the Lord.  When he does, he will by grace realize ever more deeply the words of the Lord, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.[18]

from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.[19]

Communion is Through Faith

Communion with the Lord is the heart of the message in the biblical texts.  The believer’s faith is focused on Him.  The believer receives from His hand what He gives in a spiritual way.  As the Apostle Paul explained, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.[20]  Thus, continuing with the Apostle’s words, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”[21]  The communication of the Spirit of God is the most proper to convey His meaning.  So likewise the believer’s contact with the Lord is by the Holy Spirit of God, in the words of the Apostle, “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.[22]  The believer’s intercommunication with the Lord in His supper is according to His own instruction and, therefore, “in spirit and in truth.”

The teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in John Chapter Six (vv. 25-71) confirms the spiritual union of Himself and the believer and not “for the meat which perisheth” but rather “for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life” (John 6:27).  When the Jews asked what they were to do that they might partake of “the bread of life,” Christ answered, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29).  The whole theme of John, Chapter 6, is believing on Him, the Christ, as the true means of allaying spiritual hunger and slaking spiritual thirst.  Thus the Lord teaches, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”[23]  “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.[24]

The Lord’s words, “For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6:55), show how serious is the command to believe on Him.  The Lord Himself has commanded worship “in spirit and in truth.” It is the absurd to suggest that he might have been advocating physical eating of flesh and drinking of blood.  The clear principle of interpretation that He gives of His own words is, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.[25]  He is the true fo
od of the mind rather than of the stomach; of faith rather than of the mouth.  The believer is not to prepare teeth and stomach, rather with full faculties of mind and will to believe on Him.

While John, Chapter 6, is an evangelistic message spoken first to the Jews, and the Lord’s Supper is a message to believers, there is some affinity between them.  Once the principle of “comparing spiritual things with spiritual”[26] is strictly maintained then the believers will see a secondary deep sanctification message in the passage.  The Lord declared, “For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.[27]  The same Lord also said at the Last Supper, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.[28]  The believer’s participation in the Lord’s Supper taken spiritually and with desire can indeed be a dwelling in Him.  It can also be an excellent preparation for sufferings and trials as they suffer persecution for His name.

Believers in remembrance of the Lord must take the elements of the Lord’s Supper with great respect, to deepen their spiritual union with Him.  To confuse signification, which is a remembrance, with identification, which holds that the elements have become the actual body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, is serious sin against the Lord in His First and Second Commandments.  God forbids not only the worshiping of images, or the regard of them as the dwelling place of His divinity.  He forbids also the use of objects as mediums through which it is claimed that His power can come.  “For there one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

In the New Covenant that the Lord has placed it is important that the Church be both reformed and reforming.  While the idolatry and divination of Roman Catholicism shock the believer, it is important in not to react to such errors.  The opposition to such in past has caused many true believers to refrain from enjoying a profound appreciation the real spiritual presence of the Lord in the Supper that He has given to them.  The Scripture teaches that the Lord expects reverence and desire for the intimate communion with Him in this ordinance.  Taking His words most seriously the believer ought to desire with desire, deep fellowship with Him to draw from him mightily at each celebration of His Supper.  All this is by Him and Him alone, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”[29]

Our prayer to the Father for each believer in the celebration of the Lord supper is:

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.[30]¨

[1] Ephesians 1:6

[2] Jeremiah 31:33-34

[3] Hebrews 9:15

[4] John 17:3

[5] Hebrews 9:20

[6] I Corinthians 11:25

[7] W.E. Vine, And Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ:  Fleming H. Revell Co., 1940) #1. Anamnesis, pp. 274-275

[8] Luke 22:20.

[9]Hebrews 6:17 “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath…”

[10] Luke 22:20.

[11] I Corinthians 11:25-26.

[12] Hebrews 8:10.

[13] 1 Corinthians 10:20.

[14] 1 Corinthians 10:21.

[15] 1 Corinthians 10:16.

[16] Luke 22:15, 20.

[17]< /a> Isaiah 66:2.

[18] Matthew 5:6.

[19] Hebrews 7:26.

[20] 1 Corinthians 2:12.

[21] 1 Corinthians 2:13.

[22] 1 Corinthians 2:10.

[23] John 6:35.

[24] John 6:47.

[25] John 6:63.

[26] 1 Corinthians 2:13.

[27] John 6:55-57.

[28] Luke 22:15.

[29] Romans 5:2.

[30] Ephesians 3:16-21.