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Its Practice Today

The references to the Remembrance in the New Testament are surprisingly few. Apart from the account of its institution by Matthew, Mark and Luke the only other references are:

(1)Acts 2:42 where it is found in its setting in the church of God in Jerusalem,

(2)Acts 20:7 where the disciples in Troas met on the first day of the week for its observance,

(3)1 Cor. 10:16 where the aspect of communion in its commemoration is in view, and

(4)1 Cor. 11:17-34 where disorderly accompaniments come under severe apostolic censure.

Such infrequent reference may be due to the fact that the Breaking of the Bread was one of the accepted fundamentals of the Christian faith, occupied an important place in the newly formed service of God, and was acknowledged and observed throughout all the churches in the fellowship of assemblies which came under the one teaching of New Testament times.

Paul was clearly disturbed that the sacred nature of the Remembrance should be endangered in the church of God in Corinth. He reminded the saints that this was an ordinance associated with the lordship of Christ, as, for example,

the cup of the Lord ... the table of the Lord" (10:21).

the Lord's supper" (11:20).

I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you"

(11:23).

the Lord Jesus . . . took bread" (11:23).

ye proclaim the Lord's death" (11:26).

whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord"

(11:27).

The Remembrance had thus a unique and honoured place in the New Testament churches when they gathered together on the first day of the week for the orderly conduct of the service of God. It was a collective act of affectionate appreciation of the many and varied excellencies of the Lord Jesus, a fresh weekly sense of communion in all that the broken bread and outpoured wine so deeply symbolize, a proclamation to all who witness it of the death of their risen, soon returning Lord.

Strangely, perhaps, the Remembrance is not specifically referred to in Hebrews. We see clearly in the epistle the development of emphasis on the infinite superiority of the Lord Jesus to whomsoever and whatsoever He may be contrasted or compared; of how His death has cleansed and sanctified not only the worshippers to serve the living God, but also the heavenly sanctuary that there they may offer their service Godward. For this purpose He is Great Priest over God's spiritual house and by reason of this His people have holy boldness to enter the holies. So for this purpose the people of God were enjoined not to forsake the assembling of themselves together.

Seeing then the Remembrance is not specifically referred to in Hebrews, what is its relationship to all this costly arrangement acquired by God for a heavenly sanctuary service? We conclude that on the first day of the week the New Testament churches of God gathered together to break bread (Acts 20:7); on which occasion they drew near into the holies in divine service (Heb. 10:19-22); 50 that with one accord they might with one mouth glorify the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:6); thus offering up a sacrifice of praise to God continually (Heb. 13:15); giving effect also in their sequence to the spiritual exercises in view in 1 Cor. 14:26; everything being done "decently and in order" unto edification, "for God is not a God of confusion" (1 Cor. 14:26,33).

Those early days of the present dispensation of grace may seem a long way off but we firmly believe that the teaching and practices of the New Testament churches hold good throughout the dispensation, "even unto the end of the age". In this connexion it is our humble yet earnest conviction that the Lord has guided us today in the churches of God to a very becoming, orderly way of giving effect to those early ordinances to which we have just referred.

It is our practice in all the assemblies to meet together every Lord's day morning to keep first of all the Remembrance of the Lord Jesus in broken bread and outpoured wine. After any necessary preliminaries such as reading letters of commendation, as the assembly draws near in worship, an exercised brother goes to the table, takes the loaf and gives thanks, following which the assembly partakes. He then takes the cup in like manner. Our entrance into the holies is "by the blood of Jesus" and we draw near "through the veil, that is to say, His flesh". With what eloquence do the symbols in the Remembrance testify to us, the wine speaking of that blood and the bread speaking of His flesh, His body! Thereafter the assembly continues in the service Godward of praise and worship in the heavenly sanctuary. It is the holy priesthood service of 1 Pet. 2:5.

We can think of nothing which could be designed to move the hearts of God's people in worship more than does the memorial of the Lord's death in the Breaking of the Bread. There is something akin to it in Israel's priestly service in the offering of incense as, for example, in Lev. 16:12. "And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil". It was from the fire of the altar of burnt offering that the fragrance of the incense arose to God.

Again, we recall the experience of David in Psa. 39:3. "My heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire kindled: then spake I with my tongue". And so it is still. Nothing is so calculated to enable us to glorify unitedly the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to unloose our lips to magnify the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light, as musing afresh on the memorial of the broken bread and outpoured wine. It is from an appreciation of this great divine attribute, the grace which brought the eternal Son to the shame of the Cross, that the incense of worship arises, freshly, spontaneously from the hearts of God's people at the Remembrance.

There can be no greater directive to the disciples than, "This do in remembrance of Me". There can be no loftier service than when they respond to the invitation of Heb. 10:19-22 and collectively enter the holies to "worship by the Spirit of God". Little wonder the Holy Spirit placed on record, "and they continued stedfastly in ... the breaking of bread"; and again, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place. .. let us draw near. .. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is". Well did one of our own poets put it:

But when He comes in glory

And takes His rightful place,

We'll be glad that we remembered

When we see Him face to face.