Friday, November 28, 2014


The Lord’s Supper: 
Confusions of Semantics and Synonyms


The Lord’s Supper is often mistaken for the Lord’s Table due to semantics and synonyms. The Lord Jesus and the Apostles spoke clearly about His Supper and showed how it is to be observed. In spite of such Biblical clarity, our minds get cluttered in words and wrong practices which often emanate from traditions and lack of careful study of the Word. There are many who link the Lord’s Supper with ministries and even leadership roles rather than allow it to capture our minds and spirits and get ourselves lost in the wonder and awe of the greatness of the cross and the death of the Savior. Many often equate the ‘Lord’s Supper’ with the ‘Lord’s Table’ and give undue importance to the furniture and the settings of the table. Others think that worship is impossible without the ‘Table’ and confuse between worship and remembrance. Many go away from remembrance meetings without adequately remembering our Lord, His sufferings, His death and resurrection as their thoughts center on the Table and all the blessings the Lord has for us on His Table. 

The Lord wanted us to remember Him in more ways than one. He wanted us to remember what He has taught us and asked us to practice it to challenge the world and its ways. He wanted us to remember and proclaim His death and confess it in our lives by the observance of the Supper. At the same time, He has invited us to His table to partake in all that He has prepared for us all the days of our lives. These are distinctly different and distinguishable, yet there are truths which bind together if we meditate on it with expediency and devotional dynamism. He

Why the confusion?

The common confusion about the ‘table’ and the ‘supper’ originates from the similarities that we read in 1 Corinthians 10 about the bread and the cup in relation to His Table while the same elements mentioned in all passages related to the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 11. It is true that both the supper and the table belong to the Lord and His people are the partakers of both. Both indicate privileges and responsibilities. These similarities make some think that they are one and the same. But if the table and the supper denote the same truth, why has the Holy Spirit used different words? Is there any possible difference between the two? Is it possible to understand the truth that is embodied in both, distinguish them carefully and experience both uniquely?

Blessings and Remembrance

1 Corinthians 10:16 speaks about blessings that we receive from the table of the Lord. So it is profitable to understand what is meant by ‘table’ in this and other passages in the Bible. As a matter of fact, we read about the ‘table’ of the Lord in many passages in the Old Testament to which Paul connects as he wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:1-3). Though the Table of the Lord is mentioned in both the Testaments, the Lord’s Supper is a truth that is taught, commanded and practiced in the New Testament only. The Lord spoke about the portion of the priests at the altar as the table of the Lord (Malachi 1:7, 12) which the priests were given to enjoy. Psalms 23:5 speaks about the table the Lord prepares for us. That table contains all the spiritual blessings that the Lord has in store for us as we tread the enemy territory. The table in the wilderness prepared by the Lord is spoken about in Deuteronomy 8:3, Psalms 78:19 and in Proverbs 9:2. In all these situations, the table speaks about the provisions, care and blessings that the Lord has for His people. Here the idea of wooden furniture is not at all envisaged, although sometimes even a literal table, like that of David from where Mephibosheth ate, can be seen as a physical illustration. Thus we see ‘table’ as a generic expression of all that the Lord gives to His children on a daily basis in terms of His care, caring, provisions and blessings. This is what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 10.

The Lord’s Table is for us to partake, enjoy and receive as we fellowship from it. It is what we receive from the Lord. Is that what we do at the Lord’s Supper? Not at all! The Lord’s Supper is not a time of receiving any blessing from the Lord, but a time to remember and proclaim the Lord and His death (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).

The Lord’s Supper is observed as often as we gather to remember the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:26) and proclaim His death. We read that it was being observed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), largely to commemorate the day of resurrection of our Lord. The Jewish day was from twilight to twilight which is why Paul preached till midnight which caused the sleeping Eutychus to fall down and die. But there is no mention of a particular time or day to gather at the Lord’s Table because we are always at His Table to receive all that He has spread before us. As we draw near, we don’t  need to do anything physically to draw from a physical table, but appropriate from a spiritual table that is full of all His goodness spread before us for as long as we are in this life and will extend to all eternity.

Remember how the Lord’s Table is differentiated from the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:18-21) that the idolaters draw from! But we do not see any such distinctions about the Lord’s Supper which is solely set up by us to remember our Lord and to proclaim His death.

It is also interesting to distinguish the order given at the Lord’s Table and that of the Lord’s Supper. At the Lord’s Table, we have the cup first and then the bread whereas at the Lord’s Supper, we first take the bread and then the cup (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:24 & 25). The significance of this distinction is pertinent. The blessings of the Lord’s Table with all His care and provisions come to us through His shed blood and so we draw near unto the Table of the Lord through His shed blood. But when we come to the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord first by breaking and eating from the bread. The bread reminds us of the persecution that the Lord endured in His body, and how He was crushed and mutilated by men at first and then crushed in the hands of the Father during the three hours of darkness. Afterwards we remember His shed blood through the wine which was the purchase price of our salvation and how when the whole blood was shed, His life was completely given for us.

Let us also note that the Table of the Lord is invisible and that we enjoy all the blessings that the Lord spreads before us by faith. But the Lord’s Supper comprises of the visible bread and cup of wine which we see and partake of physically. We are asked to observe the Lord’s Supper, but there is no commandment to observe the Lord’s Table which is a continuous spiritual experience of all believers.We receive from the Lord’s Table all that the Lord gives us, but the Lord’s Supper is a time when we remember the Lord, His sufferings, His death and Resurrection till He returns for His Church. So the Lord’s Table is a continuous experience of receiving and enjoying what the Lord grants to all His children whereas the Lord’s Supper is heavenward from our hearts when remembrance and thanksgiving go up from our hearts. As we remember Him, we cannot but worship Him for what He is and what He has done for us.

Interestingly it is the Lord who invites all His children to His Table and gives them all His blessings all the time. They come and draw from His Table and get themselves enriched to live as His children. But the Church has the responsibility to administer the Lord’s Supper and even keep the visibly unworthy persons from partaking of it (1 Corinthians 5:11-12). 

It is also true that the bread at the Lord’s Table denote all believers and their unity as one body of Christ. But at the Lord’s Supper, we remember the broken body of our Lord as we partake of the bread. This is a serious distinction as we draw near the Lord’s Supper to remember Him.

The Bible warns all who ‘live’ in an unworthy manner as they enjoy the blessings made available to them at the Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 10:21), but those who ‘eat and drink’ in an unworthy manner at the Lord’s Supper are warned of dire consequences (1 Corinthians 11:29).

The Whole Truth

Every child of God is expected to bear witness to these truths and must clearly distinguish between the Lord’s Table and the Lord’s Supper and partake of both in full significance and keep away from fallacies and fads which the enemy brings to confuse us. We must give thanks to the Lord at His Supper for everything that He has done for us on the cross. We must also gratefully enjoy all the spiritual provisions that He has filled His Table with so that we will all be enriched in every aspect of our Christian life day by day.


Saved and Be Sure of It!

A well known evangelist, along with a few others, was invited to a believer’s home after the evening’s Gospel Meeting. After dinner, while all were exchanging pleasantries, the host softly requested the evangelist to go with him to their bed room for a brief chat. As they both entered the room, the host’s wife was waiting there. So the evangelist thought that probably they had some family concerns and that they expected him to help them resolve it. But when the door of the room was closed, the host told the evangelist that of late, his wife developed confusions and doubts about her salvation and that he could not remove her doubts in spite of great efforts. To the evangelist’s utter dismay, the host concluded by saying that as a result of discussing and handling his wife’s doubts and confusions, it seemed that he also started developing doubts about his salvation.

You are not alone!

All human beings face the reality of doubts and confusions at some time in their lives. Believers also sometimes develop doubts about their faith. Abraham was faced with doubts about God’s promises a few times. Elijah’s faith was shaken when Jezebel threatened him. Many of the Psalms of David indicate doubts and confusion as he was confronted by the enemies. The disciples of Jesus sometimes had doubts which they raised with Him. So doubts are a reality in human lives, but we do not need to live in doubt and perpetuate it. We should not allow doubts to enslave us. We must get our doubts cleared and live victoriously.

The Enemy’s Ploy

There are many believers who are confronted with doubts and confusions about their salvation. This is often a tactic used by the enemy of our souls to shatter our faith, drain our joy and make us backslide. That’s why the Holy Spirit instructed us through Paul that we must always wear the helmet of salvation when engaged in Christian warfare (Ephesians 6:17). The enemy knows that if he can shake the very foundation of our faith which is the salvation of our souls, then it would be easier for him make us coldhearted towards the Lord, His Church and His Word. So we are instructed to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) to make sure about our faith. Regular self examination is foundational to our Christian life. 

This self-examination is not for the Lord, for His knows His own (John 10:14 & 27; Romans 8:16; 2 Timothy 2:19). It is for our confirmation and confidence (Lamentation 3:40) so that we will be able to draw nigh unto the Lord with courage and boldness when the enemy tries to shake our confidence in the salvation we have experienced. Then only we will be able to witness to others that we are saved and are children of God and that we are eternally secured in Him.

Genuine Self-examination

There are three groups of people who develop doubts and confusions about their salvation. The first group includes people who are not genuinely saved, but have a feeling that they are saved. They would have lifted up their hands at a gospel meeting or filled the columns in a booklet about salvation sometime in the past and have a feeling or impression that they are born again. Such people ought to face the following questions and find satisfying answers:

    Do I remember the moments when I got saved? 

   Did I experience guilt of sinfulness at the time I got saved and repent of it all?

Did I truly confess my sins and agree with God that I am a sinner and deserved only God’s punishment of eternal hell?

   Did I confess that the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary was in my place as the only way to save me from my sins?

Did I truly receive the Lord Jesus into my heart as my Savior and Lord?  

  Am I walking in the newness of life and enjoying the inner witness and assurance that I am going to heaven? 

When a person who has doubts about his salvation examines himself on the basis of these questions, it will be clear whether he is genuinely saved or not. If there is still doubt, these questions will help him to get saved and be sure about it once and for all.

Doubts are Human

Secondly there are those who have genuine human doubts about their salvation. Such doubts often come as we are aware of our failures and inadequacies. But such doubtful occasions are for us to draw closer to the Lord, get confirmation about our salvation from His Word and be reassured.

The doubting backsliders

The third group with doubts and confusions about their salvation are those who are backslidden. It starts with carnality in life and repeated sins (1 Corinthians 2:3). They try to live victoriously, but for various reasons they are unable to get victory over sins. Then they wonder whether they are genuinely saved or not. These doubts overpower them and tend to make them believe that perhaps they are not truly saved. Doubts further lead them to lose their fervor for the Lord, His Word and for spiritual things. They slowly lose their first love for the Lord Jesus (Revelation 2:4). As a result, they do not enjoy fellowship and thus miss the gatherings of the assembly for prayer and the study of the Word. They continue in sin and lose the joy of their salvation (Psalms 51:12). They have poor or no desire for the Word which stunts their spiritual growth and drains their strength to resist sin. They lose spiritual discernment as the Spirit of God is grieved and sometimes quenched (2 Corinthians 2:14). Public witness becomes an embarrassment for them. They fall into a deeper love for the world and the things in it (James 4:4).

There’s a Way Back to God!

To the backslidden persons, the Word of God says that there is always a way back to God. It is possible only if we genuinely confess our sins, as did King David and Apostle Peter. The Lord Jesus is faithful, then, to forgive our sins, reestablish the joy of our salvation and help us grow spiritually. He is our advocate before the Father to argue our case and grant forgiveness for all our failures and weaknesses (1 John 1:7 & 9; 2:1-2; Psalms 32:1).

Baptism: A critical time!

The Bible teaches us that we can be truly and genuinely saved and that we can be sure of it. When we are genuinely saved and experience the joy of our salvation, we will be helped by the Holy Spirit to live a victorious Christian life. It is this victory that we publicly declare at the time of baptism. So it is important that every candidate for baptism is helped to find assurance of salvation before getting baptized.  

Divine Assurance

God wants to assure all His children all the time about their salvation and help them to enjoy their position as God’s children with all the privileges attached to it. Let us appropriate and appreciate such a great salvation all the days of our lives.