The Memorial of our Lord’s crucifixion comes again, the correct time this year 2005 being after 6 p.m. March 22. The date is determined after this manner: The moon nearest the Vernal Equinox comes new at the Thirtieth Meridian East, Jerusalem time, at 11:31 a.m. March 10, thus establishing 6 p.m. March 9 as Nisan 1, Bible reckoning. Counting to Nisan 14, we arrive at 6 p.m. March 22; and any time that evening after 6 p.m. would be proper for the celebration. We here at Mount Dora shall start the service at 7:30 p.m.; and we issue a cordial invitation to any one in this vicinity to join with us if they be of one mind on the matter.
THE MEMORIAL’S MEANINGS
In this Memorial, commonly known throughout Christendom as the Lord’s Supper, we have one of the sacraments. The Roman Catholic and some eastern churches recognize seven different services as sacraments: baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, holy orders, and matrimony. Protestants hold to only two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The word “sacrament” is from the Latin sacramentum, and in early ecclesiastical usage was used in a wide sense to denote any ritual observance or sacred thing. In every day usage it had been applied in two ways: (1) as a pledge deposited in public keeping by the parties in a lawsuit and forfeited to a sacred purpose; (2) as the oath taken by a Roman soldier to the emperor, and thence to any oath. These ideas later combined to produce the concept of a sacred rite which was a pledge or token - an oath of loyalty - which in time led to limiting the word to baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
While the Roman Church observes seven sacraments, we believe the Protestant concept to be more in harmony with the Scriptures, because the Lord’s Supper and baptism are the antitypes of the two Old Testament sacraments; namely, the Passover and circumcism. In Matthew 28:19,20, the risen Jesus specifically gave the disciples “the great commission” - to “baptize into [according to the Diaglott] the name of the Father, and of the Son, and by the Holy Spirit”; and in His last words to these same disciples on the night before He died He commanded them to “do this in remembrance of Me.” This latter is stressed by St. Paul in the 11th chapter of 1 Corinthians as obligatory upon all who clearly recognize that “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,” which sacrifice is declared every time we partake of the bread and the wine in the Lord’s Supper.
When the sacraments mentioned foregoing are rightly and sincerely observed, they bring rich spiritual blessing to those who participate. The elements themselves - the bread and wine - in the Lord’s Supper are of themselves only dead material; thus, it is only their faithful and sincere use that have any efficacy at all for the participants. The same would be true of the water used in baptism. It is only when we are “buried with Him in baptism” (Col. 2:12) that the water takes on an added significance not discernible to the ordinary onlooker.
THE SPECIFIC SYMBOLS
In the Lord’s Supper there are especially three thoughts symbolized, and they prove to be the three most important things to the Lord’s people in this life: (1) by our breaking the bread we symbolize our dear Lord’s Ransom-sacrificial death on behalf of the Church and the World; (2) by our partaking of the bread and wine we in the first place symbolize faith-appropriating justification through the death of Jesus; and (3) by partaking of the bread and wine in the second place we symbolize our consecrated humanity and our pledge to “walk as He walked.” It is readily self-evident that these three things are the main things to us in this life; and these three things should be kept acutely in mind in our preparation for and participation in the service - just as did the Jews in their scrupulous preparation to observe the Passover. In this latter, the day before the Passover the head of each house took a feather brush and a napkin and very carefully swept every evidence of leaven from the corners and remote places of the residence, which, when completed, he then burned the napkin and its contents - to be sure there would be no leaven remaining anywhere. With us, we do not scrutinize our home; rather, we adhere to St. Paul’s counsel, “Let a man examine himself,” rather than the structure in which we abide.
St. Paul stresses the first of the above points when he tells us, “As oft as ye eat of that bread and drink of that cup ye shew the Lord’s death till He come.” The words “as oft as ye eat” do not obligate us to do this often, as some mistakenly think, any more than observance of a birthday should be celebrated every day, or week, or month, even though we might say of such an occasion that we also show forth our birth as often as we perform a celebration of the event. Any memorial should be kept on its anniversary - once a year. [It has been reported in the news recently that several denominations are contemplating changing the observance of the Passover Memorial to once a week. Some already observe once a month, or more, so, if it is changed to once a week, it will only magnify their error on this matter.] Nowhere does the Bible tell us to celebrate the Lord’s birthday (which would occur but once each year), but we are directly commanded to observe the date of His death - which also can occur but once each year. By our participation in the Memorial of our Lord’s death we declare, or preach His sacrifice, which is one meaning of the word shew in the text. However, it is in order here to mention that we shew the Lord’s death in the Memorial by act rather than by words, because we maintain a silence during the sharing of the loaf and the cup.
And by what act do we shew His death? After blessing of the bread, it is stated that it was broken; and, since all of the accounts make mention of this, it must be an essential part of the performance. Indeed, the breaking of the bread is the very act that declares the breaking of our Lord in death; “He hath poured out His soul unto death.” Once this is clearly seen, we can immediately recognize that the giving of the individual wafers to the participants, or the breaking of the bread before it is passed about by the one conducting the service, must be contrary to the underlying spirit of the service. The breaking of the bread by each individual says by that act that he is willing to be broken with Him in like manner as He was. “As He was, so are we in the world.” And as often as we engage in the services, just that often do we shew forth the Lord’s death till He come - shew His Ransom-sacrifice for us, which is truly the rock foundation of our faith. Without it we would be as the heathen - without God and without hope in the world.
When St. Paul told the Corinthians (1 Cor. 2:2), “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” he in effect was saying that the two things uppermost in his mind were Jesus the Christ - who gave Himself a ransom for all - and Him crucified. His narrow way began at Jordan and ended in fullness on the cross. “Leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)
In Matthew 26:28 Jesus said His blood was shed “for many for the remission of sins.” Therefore, when we partake of the bread, and especially of the cup (His blood), in clear understanding of their import, we may rest secure that we have forgiveness of sins. “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin… If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7,9) And this is our strong assurance regardless of what other men may think of us. It is sound doctrine that “Man looketh on the outward appearance” (1 Sam. 16:7); and quite often what men see is colored by their prejudices, their selfishness, or their evil minds.
We are justified by faith in His blood; and, as such, we receive His righteousness - vitalizedly in some, reckonedly in others. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted [reckoned] to him for righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6) Thus, we no longer have the Adamic condemnation (the disobedience by which many were made sinners), but we are participants of His obedience whereby many are made righteous. Speaking specifically to the saints at Rome - and through them to the entire Christ Company during the Gospel Age - St. Paul declares, “We are buried with Him by baptism into death… in the likeness of His death.” (Rom. 6:4,5) These words some attempt to accept literally, and this causes them to adopt very foolish customs and beliefs. They say, What was the likeness of His death? And they proceed to reason that He was nailed to the cross; and, with the cross at the back of His head, He could not allow His head to fall backwards, it necessarily must fall upon His chest, as practically all pictures of the crucifixion show Him. Therefore, if they are to be “baptized in the likeness of His death,” they must be baptized face down in the water. Of course, this presents a very contrary view to what baptism should really give.
The third feature relative to drinking of the cup has to do with participation in the sin-offering, a privilege reserved exclusively for the Christ Company. During the Age many have offered themselves thus, only eventually to fall by the wayside, losing their part in that offering. But to all who partake of the cup in sincerity and in truth we may be certain that the fiery trials of the Great Example will be passed on to them, each according to his ability to bear. During the Dark Ages, when the Roman Church was in its heyday, the participation of the cup was much more severe and brutal than it is today - although much the same spirit still prevails in the world, and may yet touch those who would follow in His steps. But in this we may accept the axiom, We know not what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future; and a few lines from the poet tends to emphasize this:
Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind nor tide nor sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.
What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it has sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.
The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.
Let us keep in mind that those who despised our Lord the most were the “good” people of His time. It was because He had such perfect answers to their criticisms that the Scribes and Pharisees came to despise Him so badly. He proved Himself to be their Master at every controversy, they who were putting themselves forth as the teachers of Jewry - who claim to sit in Moses’ seat. And having pampered their pride for so many years, they were sadly lacking in the humility which was necessary for them to receive Him. In addition, He was ever ready to give fellowship to the “untouchables” - the publicans and sinners; and this, too, was anathema to the religious leaders of the nation. They were angry because He taught the people, which caused them to ask embarrassing questions of those who had been teaching them previously. And similar conditions exist today in Big and Little Babylon, which should not surprise us. “All that walk godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” If this is not a part of our own experience, then we should begin to question whether or not we actually are following “in His steps.”
However, this matter probably needs some clarification -the spirit of a sound mind. It is quite possible to bring disrepute upon ourselves through our own foolish acts - things that appear right at the time, but which are motivated by poor judgment. Perhaps none of us are without some of these experiences - some more, some less. Often such situations are the manipulations of Satan. We know he tried that on Jesus Himself, when he told Him to jump from the temple and that God would bear Him up. Had He heeded this unsound suggestion, and found Himself disadvantaged physically because of it, His suffering would not have been “for righteousness,” but for foolishness, an act of sheer presumption. The years should teach us all something; the chastenings of the past should sober us for the present - and they will to those who are rightly exercised thereby. Such stabilizing influences usually keep pace with our growth in knowledge and in grace.
THIS IS MY BODY - IS MY BLOOD
In Matthew 26 and in Mark 14 we find the recording of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Among Christians - many of them sincere and honest - there has been conducted the sharpest controversy about the meaning of the words that head this section of our article. Satan has spread error on almost all Scripture, but especially has this been true of the words given above. The worst of all these errors has been the one concerning the Mass, being the basis of the doctrine of transubstantiation, the same being the central feature of the “abomination that maketh desolate.” In a broad sense there are two general views on the meaning of these words: (1) Those who teach the real presence of the body and the blood in the loaf and the cup; and (2) those who hold to the representative meaning of those expressions. Much ingenuity has been displayed in the defense of both positions; some of the ablest of Christian minds have been on both sides of the controversy. As most of our readers know, our own view is that there is no actual presence of His Body and Blood in the bread and the wine; we regard them merely as representations of the same.
Let us consider first of all, that view which holds to the real presence - namely, that the words, This is My Body, This is My blood, teach that the actual body and blood of Jesus are present in the bread and wine, and are imbibed by the communicants. There are three main views on this feature of our subject, the first of which is that of the Roman Catholic Church. That system holds to what is commonly known as transubstantiation, which means the actual body and blood of Jesus are substituted, or changed into what before was merely bread and wine. This transformation is produced by the priest performing what is commonly known as the Mass. To make this position at all tenable, Roman teachers admit that the emblems retain what it termed “the accidents” - that is, they still look the same to the human eye, they taste the same (that is, no difference whatever can be noticed after the so-called change), have the same form, color, weight, etc., of bread and wine. But, despite the “accidents,” they contend the bread and the wine are actually lost and take on the essence of the body and blood of the crucified Lord. And this substitution, this transubstantiation, the priest proceeds in the Mass to sacrifice afresh for the sins of the living and the dead. Thus, “the daily sacrifice was taken away” (Dan. 8:11), and “it cast down the truth to the ground.”
By the way of refutation, we would say of the foregoing view, if it were correct, the wording should be changed to, This has been changed into My Body; this has been changed into My blood. To teach a doctrine which would require a change in wording to make good sense is of itself an admission of something badly wrong with the teaching. Furthermore, the Bible contradicts their view. If they were right, they should no longer speak of the bread and the wine - now changed into the body and the blood - but should then speak of those emblems in new phrase - as the body and blood. But five different times does the Bible itself refer to “bread” after its consecration and during it’s eating. (See 1 Corinthians 10:16,17; 11:26-28.) And in these same verses, using the container for the thing contained, the reference is to the “cup,” describing the cup as “the fruit of the vine” - wine, and not blood. Therefore, by calling the elements bread and wine during their appropriation the Bible itself directly contradicts transubstantiation.
The physical condition of the bread and wine after consecration also contradicts transubstantiation. Both still taste exactly the same; and enough of the wine will still intoxicate the drinker, which blood will not do. It is generally known that priests often do become tipsy, or even intoxicated, if they must perform several masses in one morning, drinking a full glass of wine on each occasion. One of the vilifications that the Roman Catholics hurl at Martin Luther is that he got drunk - which is probably true, and it is probably true of very many other priests for the reason just stated concerning multiple masses in one morning. In that service the priest does not minister any of the wine to the communicants, but drinks it all himself. Chemical analysis also confirms this - not only of the wine, but also of the bread. They are both exactly the same as they were before consecration - and this leaves a wide spread between the chemical contents of a human body and the sacramental wafer that is given the communicant. In lesser degree, the same may be said of different kinds of bread - rye bread, white and whole wheat bread, black bread, etc.
CONSUBSTANTIATION – INSTRUMENTALIZATION
Some sections of Christendom teach consubstantiation, which carries the thought of a mingling of the bread and wine with the body and the blood; that is, both are present in the emblems. The Lutherans and Episcopalians teach what may be termed instrumentalization, although they do not use that term itself. Their thought is that by means of the bread and wine – which remain bread and wine during the service - the actual body and blood of Jesus are communicated to those who partake. Thus, it may be properly stated that transubstantiation, consubstantiation and instrumentalization all teach that the real body and the real blood are conveyed to those who partake during the service.
Therefore, the arguments that apply against one of the foregoing would apply against all three, and is our thought that the Bible directly contradicts all three of them. (1) The Bible account of the original institution of the Lord’s Supper on the night before His death is certainly contrary to these views. The body and blood of Jesus could not possibly have been in the bread and the wine He gave the Disciples because He was not yet dead; He was still very much alive. Thus, when he held in His hand unleavened bread He had taken from the table, it was self-evidently quite a different thing from His body. Nor did He give any indication in the words He used that any significant change had taken place in that loaf.
With the exception of the two disciples on His right hand and on His left, none of the Disciples even touched Him in that service; nor is here the slightest hint in the wording that His body and His blood were being fused into the bread and wine. Thus, such an assumption is based solely upon pure imagination. There is not the slightest suggestion in the whole event that would indicate that Jesus or the Disciples thought there was actual presence of body and blood in the bread and the wine. Also, the Mosaic Law expressly forbade the Jews from drinking even the blood of animals; and Jesus had told them He had come not to nullify the Law but to fulfill it. We may be certain some of the Disciples would have raised that question immediately, as they were all very scrupulous in their dietetic habits. Therefore, to claim that subsequent observance of the Lord’s Supper should be different from its original would in itself declare that they are not the same thing; that is, they are not the Lord’s Supper at all.
Jesus had told His followers, “My flesh I give for the life of the World.” (John 6:51) That being true, the implication would be that He has now taken His flesh to Himself again for this new purpose, and such a procedure would be a contradiction of the Ransom; He would be taking back the Ransom price. The Scriptures also tell us that The Lord is that spirit, which, being true, He is no longer human; that is, He does not now have His human body and blood with Him to disperse in the services mentioned above.
This teaching also has unreasonable implications, one of which is that we must believe that the body and blood of Jesus must be in many places at the same time. On certain occasions, such as Easter, etc., practically the whole Christian world celebrates the Lord’s Supper; and He would have to be present in every one of them if we are to accept the three teachings set out foregoing. Also, when we consider the millions of persons who have observed the Lord’s Supper over the centuries, and even today, we must conclude that His body and His blood are inexhaustible elements if we are to believe these elements are present in every such service. This immediately reveals the absurdity of the teaching. There is nothing at all reasonable about it; we must accept it as one of the great unexplainable “mysteries.” This also is contrary to Scripture which tells us, “Come, let us reason together, saith the Lord.” (Isa. 1:18) And, whenever we are asked to accept with blind belief what is contrary to our reason, we may certainly conclude that the Father of Lies must be its author; and not the great Teacher of Truth. Such an attitude always encourages superstition, ignorance and credulity with accompanying degrading results.
THE UNDERLYING ERROR
The chief reason for these errors is that their propounders accept the position that there is but one meaning to the word is. But, like many words in our language, it has more than one meaning. However, as noted above, those who hold to but one meaning of the word, have come up with three varying views of it. There are especially two literal meanings of the verb “to be”: (1) it is the predicate to denote actual existence; (2) it is the predicate to denote actual representation; but the meaning is literal in both instances. Thus, if we should say, A dog is an animal, we express actual existence; but, if we should say, as is so often done, of a picture on the wall, This is my father, my mother, brother, or what not, we would then mean an actual representation. And this would be true even if the picture represented one long ago dead.
The question now properly arises; Do other Scriptures substantiate this view? Take for example, some of the parables. Before giving specific examples, we would stress that in a parable the thing said is never the thing actually meant: In Matthew 13 Jesus gave the parable of the wheat and the tares, which He explained in response to the disciples’ questions. There He repeatedly used the verb “to be” in various of its forms, saying that he who sowed is (represents) the devil, and the reapers are (represents) angels.
The same may be said of types in the Bible, which are also representative things, presenting hidden meanings. For example, “This is [John the Baptist - represents] Elias [the Church] that is to come.” (Matt. 11:14) “That rock was Christ [represented Christ].” (1 Cor. 10:4) “These women [Sarah and Hagar] are [represents] two covenants.” (Gal. 4:24) In each of these examples the verb is means represents because a representative thing is interpreted.
Some Biblical institutions are representative things; and, whenever the Bible explains them and uses the verb to be to predicate the interpretation, it always means to represent. “He [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision” (Rom. 4:11); and Gen. 17:10 says “This [circumcision] is [represents] My Covenant.” Clearly enough here, circumcision could be nothing more than a representation when it used the word is; and much the same may be said of the Passover. When the Jews in subsequent years would be asked by their children what mean these things, the head of the house was to tell them, “It is [represents] the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover.”
Another consideration proves that the word is in these texts is used to predicate actual representation and not actual existence: It is the language that Jesus uses in connection with the cup, “This is the New testament.” (1 Cor. 11:25; Luke 22:20) Certainly in this expression the word is cannot be the predicate of actual existence; the New Testament, or Covenant, is not a cup at all - it will be a contract between God and man, and mediated by The Christ during the Millennium. Hence, the word is here means representation, and not actual existence. It would follow, then, that the same meaning is carried in all the places where Jesus discusses the subject of the bread and the wine.
There is yet another point in proof: It is St. Paul’s direct explanation of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Cor. 11:26. Immediately after quoting our Lord’s language in explanation of the bread and the wine, he explains it and the Church’s participation in it by these words: “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew [preach, reveal] the Lord’s death.” Preaching, revealing are done in two ways - in words and in acts. When we keep the feast we do not speak; therefore, the announcement must be in acts, not words - in pantomime; and this is done in the breaking of the bread, and in the drinking of the wine. Thus, these acts are a representation of something else. Since the breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine represent Jesus’ death, the bread and wine must then self-evidently represent His body and His blood. Therefore, all of the foregoing is clear proof that the word is does not mean existence, but actual representation.
STILL DEEPER THOUGHT
The Lord in Luke 22:20, and St. Paul in 1 Cor. 10:16,17; 11:25 teach a still deeper meaning to these words. By the language, “We, being many, are one bread, one body,” the Apostle shows that the one bread to be broken represents the Church as well as Jesus, for the Church is the body of Christ (Rom. 12:4; Eph. 1:22; Col. 1:24). In 1 Cor. 10:17 the Apostle calls the Church both the one bread and the one Body of Christ, which in the preceding verse he says is represented by the bread of blessing. Hence, the bread, in addition to representing the body of Jesus, represents the Church also as Christ’s body. That being true, it would be equally correct to say the bread and wine represent the actual body and blood of the Church, the participants in the service, if that statement were true of our Lord. But no one with the spirit of a sound mind would think to suggest such a meaning to the Apostle’s words.
It is well here to stress the words of Jesus in Luke 22:20, Diaglott: “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood, that in your behalf being poured out.” As the Authorized Version translates this, the average reader would conclude that the clause, “which is shed for you,’ modifies and explains the word blood; but the Greek grammar forbids such a construction. The participle translated poured out and its governing article do not modify the Greek word for blood. The participle translated poured out with its governing article sustains the same grammatical relation to the word is as the Greek words translated New Covenant. Therefore, our Lord’s statement means that the cup by His blood (merit) represents two things: the New Covenant, and that being poured out for us. What is meant by the latter? Since a cup in Biblical symbols represents experiences that the Lord pours out for His people, we would understand that the cup in this connection also represents the sufferings unto death of the Church with Him.
Much of what has been presented herein has been gleaned from the writings of others, with some of our own thoughts interspersed; and it is our hope that our effort will prove a blessing to all who endeavor to “walk in newness of life.” Also, we would stress that it is not our intention to supplant the Passover article in Volume 6, the reading of which we heartily recommend to all. Thus, we pray for all a special blessing in the preparation for, and participation in this 2005 service, as we “do this in remembrance.” The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace!
“This is my body,” the Master said,
“Which is broken for you this day;
And this is my blood, which is being shed
To open for you the way.”
Oh, the pain that the Savior bore,
And the grief that the Pure One knew!
By men depraved He was bruised sore—
Though not for Himself, but you.
Man could not grasp His wondrous thought,
Nor the matchless love that was shown.
He suffered and died alone.
And now comes the call to His faithful few:
“You may share what is left behind
Of the grief and suffering the Loved One knew
For the blessing of all mankind.”
It was an unfriendly race He sought;
So may each to the table worthily come--
Nor earthly loss bemoan
Till he finally hear that sweet “Well done!
Sit down in my Father’s throne.”
(Brother John J. Hoefle, Reprint 386, March 1988)
THEY KNEW NOT THE TIME OF THEIR VISITATION - LUKE 19:44
Our Lord reproved the teachers of Israel because they did not discern the signs of the times; because they “knew not the time of their visitation.” His words imply that their ignorance was a mark of carelessness and unworthiness, and of Divine disfavor. He said “Ye can discern the face of the sky: but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” There was a reason, and the realization of that reason might have meant, to some at least, a correction of it - a drawing near to God to be taught of Him. So now in the time of our Lord’s second presence we find the world largely increasing in wisdom along various lines, and many hearts in perplexity and wonderment looking for those things which are coming upon the world, their hearts failing them for fear of the impending dissolution of the social structure in anarchy, and yet none are so blind respecting the times in which we live and the great changes impending, as the leaders of religious thought.
They are blinded by their false theories. They have declared that the Lord’s commission to His church is that she should convert the world into a Kingdom of God, and thus bring about the reign of righteousness; and they are so determined that their theories must not fail that they cannot see what is rapidly becoming apparent even to the worldly; namely, that the numbers even nominally converted every year are increasing far less, proportionately, than the natural increase of the world’s population: so that if they had millions of years before them, the conversion could never be hoped for; but at the end of millions of years, true Christianity could not expect to claim as large a percentage as at present. Their theory also blinds them to the fact that much of the increase of church membership in civilized lands is merely for popularity’s sake, and for the sake of worldly prosperity, social standing, etc., and not the result of love for God and righteousness, nor significant of a consecration to walk in the “narrow way” of self-denial, self-sacrifice, etc.
The worldly, therefore, are really in a better condition to discern the signs of the times than many prejudiced nominal Christians. But none can see these things from the true standpoint except as they take that standpoint, and it is only granted to those who are fully consecrated to the Lord and who hearken to His Word. These shall not be in darkness, the Lord will not hide from them either His good purposes as respects the blessing of The Church and, subsequently, of the world, or His purposes respecting the chastisement of the world in a great Time of Trouble, preparatory to its blessing, which will come after it has been humbled.
(Pastor Russell, Reprint 2981, March 15, 1902)