There is a groundswell bubbling beneath the surface of contemporary Christianity. It is trying to burst forth freedom from “religion”.
My difficulty is, however, that this coming Reformation is CONTRARY to the original Reformation.
The Reformation of the Church popularized by Dr Martin Luther was a thirst to RETURN to a bible-based application of religious practices.
The new Reformation will make the same claim. The difficulty is that we now have a multiplicity of versions of the Bible that contradict each other. The contradictions are now leading to interpretations of ancient practices contrary to the original texts.
The Lord’s Supper is case in point.
There is a movement to refer to the Lord’s Supper as a “meal”.
The argument goes something like this:
- Jesus was observing the Passover with His Disciples.
- The Passover was a meal.
- The observance Jesus commanded was given at the Passover meal.
- Therefore, the observance is a meal.
Those that follow that logic and embrace its application are rejecting the Scripture as preserved in the Reformation Texts.
Paul the Apostle specifically instructs, “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is NOT to eat the Lord’s supper” (I Cor 11:20, emphasis mine). “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God…” (I Cor 11:22).
- The purpose of Christian assembly is NOT to eat the Lord’s Supper.
- Eating belongs in your house.
- Confusing Christian assembly with household meals is DESPISING God’s Church.
- Therefore, the observance is SACRED.
That is why it is called a “sacrament”, not a “meal”. The reformation texts also used the term “ordinance”.
At the root of the issue is how to translate and/or apply the Greek word, paradosis.
I Corinthians 11:2 reads “keep the ordinances, as I have delivered them to you.” The revised traditional texts now translate pardosis as “tradition”. At least that is closer to paradosis than the application of it being a “meal”. “Tradition”, however, is still weaker than the original “ordinance”. The Orthodox Jewish Bible, instead of translating the term into English, preserves the Hebrew:
Now, I commend you that in all things you have remembered me and you hold fast to the masoret torat haShlichim just as I transmitted and handed them over to you. (1 Corinthians 11:2, emphasis mine).
The beauty of this is the concept of the observance being something “set apart” from the meal itself. The context of Paul’s teaching is that the Lord’s Supper is NOT to be observed as any other traditional meal (see I Corinthians 11:27-34).
The meaning of paradosis and the masoret torat haShlichim is passing on that which was taught before. It deals with the substance of the teaching and of the body of precepts, especially that of a ritual.
No matter how you translate the original language, the observance is meant to be special, not common. To treat the Lord’s Supper as a common meal is literally to PROFANE the ordinance.
What is being lost through all this confusion?
- The observance was post-meal.
- The observance was to supersede the Levitical tradition.
- The observance was to establish Jesus as the High Priest of a different priesthood.
- The Passover is Levitical; the observance is PRE-Moses!
The ritual performed by Jesus Christ established Himself as the new high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was the priest of the most high God, not the high priest of Israel. He “brought forth bread and wine” and he “blessed” Abraham. Abraham gave of his tithes to Melchizedek (compare Genesis 14:17-20 and Hebrews 7).
Treating the Lord’s Supper as a common meal or even a part of the Passover Meal covers over the establishment of Jesus Christ as the High Priest of the most high God. As the high priest after the order of Melchizedek, Jesus was able to go to the Cross and offer His life vicariously for humanity. If the Lord’s Supper was just a meal, His sacrifice was in vain.
The Prophetic Psalm of David (110)
1 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
2 The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion:
rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,
in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning:
thou hast the dew of thy youth.
4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent,
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
6 He shall judge among the heathen,
he shall fill the places with the dead bodies;
he shall wound the heads over many countries.
7 He shall drink of the brook in the way:
therefore shall he lift up the head.