Not all “breaking bread” in the Scripture is the church ordinance of communion. Some would formalize even the mealtimes as a sort of communion, but Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 that meals are to be left at home. Instead, the church assembles for the solemn observance of the Lord’s Supper, or communion with Christ.
There is a “when ye come together” call to assembly that the Apostle Paul called the church in Corinth to do.
“Well, we’re part of the invisible church.” I’ve never been sure about that one… how do you join that church? Who’s the pastor? How do you use your gifts to edify that church? Can you be excommunicated from an invisible church? Churches in the Bible were always visible assemblies of people in Jerusalem, Corinth, Ephesus, and so on. There’s an institutional use of the word church, but the communion that we enjoy through the Lord’s Supper is a church communion.
The word church means “assembly,” and the assembly that Jesus started was different from the assembly in the marketplace or the political or civil assemblies (“churches”) common in Jesus’ day. His church was an assembly of baptized believers, called by God to preach the Gospel, baptize the converts, and teach them to grow in the Scriptures.
To be put under church discipline, or excommunicated (as in 1 Cor. 5:11 “…with such a one no not to eat”), is to remove someone from the union within the body. The local body is not just a small part of the body, it is the body of Christ (c.f. 1 Cor. 12:27), and the jurisdiction for church discipline (removal from communion), apparently, is within that local congregation.
The church in Corinth must have had members, because they were told to remove the leaven lest his sin spoil the whole lump. Church membership is not spelled out exactly like we do it with a vote of the congregation through Roberts’ Rules of Orders, but they definitely had members and non-members.
Tonight’s Lord’s Supper for our church members is a solemn time to remember the sacrifice of our Savior. Our local body communes together around Christ’s broken body and shed blood, no longer in remembrance of our sins year after year (as the sacrificial system remembered), but “IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.”
You don’t have to wait until tonight to examine yourself; you can (and should!) do that today, so that when you come to the Lord’s Table tonight, you can celebrating Christ’s sacrifice!
The Lord’s Supper is not a weekly observance for us, so when we observe it, it is quite special. It is a cleansing time for our church family. It is a solemn reminder for our church body that we are unified ONLY because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us.
We ought to observe it—“This DO in remembrance of me.”—and I am excited for the service tonight. See you then. -Pastor Ryan