"Then came the day of unleavened bread when the passover [lamb] must be killed...and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill him. ...And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover that we may eat...And when the hour was come he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup and gave thanks, and said, Take this and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took the bread and gave thanks, and brake it and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood which is shed for you."Luke 21:7,2,8-20.
Such is the simple account of the institution of the Lord's Supper, as recorded by Luke; and again as the appointed time draws near we call to mind the words, "This do in remembrance of me." And in compliance with that request, we will again commemorate our passover by the repetition of the simple ceremony thus instituted by our Lord.
Monday afternoon, March 26th, 1888, will be the anniversary of our Lord's death at Calvarythe 14th day of the first month, Jewish time, which begins at sunset of the previous evening. Sunday evening, March 25th, will therefore be the anniversary of our Lord's Supper, instituted in commemoration of his death, as the antitypical paschal lamb"the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."
On that occasion the church at this place will meet at our usual upper room, No. 101, Federal street, Allegheny, (side entrance), at 7:30 o'clock, P.M., and we most cordially invite to meet with us all who love our Redeemer, and who appreciate the ransom sacrifice which we meet to celebrate. Provision will be made for the entertainment of those from a distance. Let as many as can, meet with us. A number of meetings will be arranged for several days following which will afford a favorable opportunity for inquiry regarding the plan of the ages. Since all the consecrated are ministers of the truth, it behooves all who can to avail themselves of the opportunities which these conferences afford, for the more thoroughly equipping themselves for their respective fields of usefulness.
But we are aware of the fact that only a few can assemble here: nevertheless, let all the faithful in Christ Jesus, in every place, "Do this in remembrance" of God's Lamb who redeemed us by the sacrifice of himself. Such, in every place should assemble together, even if there [R1014 : page 3] be but two or three of like precious faith. And even the solitary ones may break the bread and partake of the wine, in heart communion with the Lord and with the scattered fellow members of the one body yet in the flesh.
Christians in this matter, as on many other points, have left the teachings of the Word and the example of the early church, and follow various customs as to the time of its observance. Few observe it as a "supper" at all, Protestants in general selecting for convenience the noon hour instead of the evening. Some commemorate the Lord's death every Sunday, some once a month, and some once in three months. They seem to regard the time and frequency as a matter of indifference, and they might reason, If it is a good thing to do, why not do it ofteneven daily. To this, others would reply, and truly: It would lose much of its solemnity and force. And so it does as they now celebrate it. Those who celebrate every Sunday, mistake the record in Acts 2:42,46 and 20:7,11. They surely err in supposing these occasions to be the Lord's Supper. They undoubtedly refer to a common usage in the early church, of eating a plain meal together when they gathered every first day of the week from distant places, just as it is the custom now in country places, except that they all ate together, and made it more of a "love feast." These "feasts of charity," or love feasts, are referred to by Jude (verse 12), in which he shows that all who partook were not brethren indeed. The institution of these love-feasts was not by any command of our Lord, or of the apostles, but like the celebration of the first day of the week, seems to have been the spontaneous prompting of grateful hearts. The early church thus celebrated the resurrection of our Lord (not his death) every week, and the breaking of bread in their love-feast was probably a pleasant reminder of the fact that the Lord was made known to the disciples at Emmaus and on other occasions after his resurrection in the breaking of breadat their ordinary lunch. (Luke 24:29,30,42; Jno. 21:12,13.) They thus celebrated both his resurrection and the opening of their eyes to know him. But they neither used wine (no less important than the bread in the celebration of the Lord's Supper), nor did they call it the Lord's Supper, nor observe it with special solemnity, but rather with thankfulness and joy. "They did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart" "breaking bread from house to house," (Acts 2:46,) and, for a time, daily.
Those who celebrate the "supper" at noon on Sunday once a month, or once a quarter, have no plea for their custom except that St. Paul said, "As oft as ye do this," etc. (1 Cor. 11:23,25), which they think gives liberty for doing it when they please. On the contrary the apostle uses the word "As oft," in the sense of whenever. "Whenever ye do this," carries the mind to the context to see what is referred to. We find Paul in the context referring to the "same night in which he [our Lord] was betrayed," and the bread and wine there and then instituted by our Lord as his remembrancers, to take the place of the typical passover eaten by the Jews. Paul wrote to those who well knew the Jewish custom and how often it was celebrated, so that "as oft," or whenever, to them signified each time, each anniversary.
The Lord's Supper was designed to supplant the annual commemoration of the typical passing over of Israel's first-born, whose lives were saved through the blood of the typical lamb. Such an event could only be properly celebrated on its anniversary, which our Lord and his disciples and all the Jews strictly observed. They no more thought of celebrating it at any other time, than Americans think of celebrating the signing of their Declaration of Independence on any other day than the fourth of July.
It was the custom of the early church to celebrate it, as we do, on the fourteenth day of the first month, Jewish time, as the Lord indicated; and though there was a great falling away from the original purity of faith, which commenced even in the days of the Apostles, this custom was still retained by some Christians down to the fourth century, when it was peremptorily abolished by the Council of Nice, when the great falling-away, predicted by the Apostles, had partially developed the great system of error afterward known as the Papacy.
On this point we quote the following from Mosheim's Church History (see page 523). He says, "There arose toward the close of this [the second] century, between the Christians of Asia Minor and those of other parts, particularly such as were of the Roman church, a violent contention. ...The Asiatic Christians were accustomed to celebrate...the institution of the Lord's Supper and the subsequent death of the Redeemer, on the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month. ...This custom they stated themselves to have derived from the Apostles Philip and John."
But let no one misunderstand us to teach, that those who have commemorated the Redeemer's death at inappropriate seasons are therefore condemned of our Lord. No, thank God, the Gospel church is not placed under Law, but under grace, in this as in every matter. And those who in heart sincerity have so partaken of the emblems of our Lord's body and blood, while they may suffer loss in the sense that the occasion by its too frequent remembrance has lost some of the power it was designed to have on their hearts, have nevertheless not been spurned by him whose sacrifice for sins they thus confessed. But surely, when the intent of our Lord's words is grasped, all the fully consecrated will gladly comply with his arrangement, assured that it is best and most appropriate; as well as most acceptable to him of whom it is a remembrancer.
Not only has the proper time been lost sight of, but the true meaning of the symbols, wine and unleavened bread, has also been obscured by the spiritual darkness of the "dark ages." Trinitarian errors, which in the third century were introduced into Christianity from heathen philosophy, have done much to warp and twist the minds of God's children, and to hinder clear views of the sacrifice which our Redeemer gave as our ransom price. (See Nov. '87 TOWER, on this point.)
The typical lamb by which the Children of Israel foreshadowed Christ and the coming deliverance, (except the blood which was sprinkled upon the house as a protection,an atonement) was eaten by all. So with the emblems by which we are instructed to remember the real lamb. The bread is to be eaten by all; the wine may only be partaken of by a few. The bread and wine symbolize the body and blood of our Lord. Our Lord as a man was the living bread [literally, bread of life] which came down from heaven to give life to the world. The illustration is perfect: Mankind is dying for want of life and needs some food so full of life-producing quality that it will arrest the wasting of death, and repair and restore to the original perfection lost in Adam. Men have sought panaceas, elixirs, life restorers, in every quarter,in animal and vegetable food, in minerals, and in chemistry; but all in vain; no such "bread of life" has ever been found. But when men had for four thousand years sought in vain, the true bread of life came from heaven, of which, if a man eat (partake or appropriate to his use, as it is his privilege to do) he shall live forever. That is, If by faith in the means which God has provided to accomplish his redemption, he accepts the favor of life, he can have it on those terms, and those only. This our Lord symbolically termed eating his flesh.
Notice how perfect is the illustration. The Son of God as a heavenly or spiritual being, as he was at first, was not bread for man, and had he given his spiritual body as bread, we of a different nature (human), could not have appropriated it, just as that which would nourish and perfect a tree (viz., air, moisture, and earth) would not perfect men because of a different nature. Man is of human or flesh nature; hence if the spiritual Son of God would give to dying men the bread of life, it must be flesh, full of life-giving nutriment.
The preparation for this was the change of the Son of God from spirit to flesh. To this end he humbled himself, when he was "made flesh and dwelt among us." (Jno. 1:14.) The flesh was to be the life-giving bread; and since he who had been in the heavenly or spirit state had become earthly or human, being made flesh, it is truly said that this bread came down from heaven, from the heavenly or spirit condition to the earthly or human nature. This is the bread of life of which a man may eat and not die.John 6:50.
We have now found the bread of life, but how shall we eat him? We cannot eat anything that is alive, nor would anything that dieth of itself [by disease] be fit for food. So if our Lord had died what is called a natural* death, it would have proved that he was a sinner like other men; for death is the penalty of sin, and hence to partake of him would have given no new life. So then we see that there was no way to give us this life-food or "bread of life" except by the sacrifice of the man Christ Jesus, who did not die because his life, like [R1014 : page 4] ours, was forfeited, but who gave himself a ransom, a corresponding price, a substitute for allfor Adam and all who lost [R1015 : page 4] life through him. His life in the fleshhis example and counsel, teachings, etc., could not give life any more than music would keep alive a starving man. We may study and try to follow his perfect example, but we cannot do it perfectly because we are dying and lack strength. We need life, life-producing food, and he became flesh, for the very purpose of providing us this life supply which we could get in no other way.
*Really there is no such thing as natural death. In God's arrangement life is the natural condition and death comes as a violation of natural life,as a consequence or penalty for disobedience, sin. However, natural death, may be considered an allowable expression when referring to the fallen, condemned race, because it is the natural result of sin, common to all human sinners. So our Lord could not have died by disease, etc., unless he had sinned, in which case his flesh would have been far from life-giving. Nor could his life be taken, except as he chose to give it as our ransom price, and that his flesh might impart life to us.
So when speaking on the subject to his disciples, he told them that the killing of the lamb was needful, so that they could eat of him, saying, "It behooveth the son of man to suffer." Had he remained with them in the flesh, their teacher, they would indeed have been greatly blessed, but could never have gotten life. Hence he said, "The Son of man goeth as it is written of him," and "It is expedient FOR YOU;" "for if I go not away (If I remain flesh, if I do not submit myself in sacrifice and thus carry out the Father's plan for your redemption), the Comforter will not come." You cannot in any other way than by my sacrifice, and by partaking of me, escape from condemnation and come into harmony and acceptance with God, so as to be recognized of him as sons, and as such be granted life.
So, then, it is a mistake to suppose that truth is the bread of life, and that the eating of truth will justify us, or give us a right to life. It is a mistake to suppose that to believe the sermon on the mount and other of our Lord's sayings would give life. Truths they were, and good for food after and with the Lamb, but INDIGESTIBLE without it. Those very truths were indigestible to many, and acted as emetics rather than as nourishing food, and "many went back and walked no more with the Lord." Even the twelve got little nourishment from our Lord's teachings until after the Lamb was slain, and they by faith had eaten of that life-giving food. Then, under the strength and vigor of the life, they were able to find sweetness and strength in all things whatsoever the Master had spoken unto them. The eating of the Lamb, by the new life which it brought, restored them again to fellowship with God; and receiving the adoption and spirit of sonship, they were thereby enabled to appreciate and appropriate to their strengthening, truths in general, as "meat in due season."
Our Lamb was slain for us, on our behalf, because he was the bread of which all must eat, to have life, and because we could not eat him until he gave himself. Now, what did he give, and what do we eat? We answer, his flesh. But what is meant by this, his flesh? We showed above, that he "became flesh," (John 1:14) i.e., he became human. So then, to give his flesh, means to give himself, at that time a human being. Whatever he possessed therefore in the way of human rights and privileges, under God's law, he there resigned in our interestthat the human family which has no rights or privileges, having lost all those in Adam its representative, might receive back all of these rights and privileges and liberties. Adam's family was all in him when he sinned and lost life, and every right and privilege of sonship, and so we all are sharers in that one loss. So now corresponding full and sufficient rights belong to the new man, "the man Christ Jesus," who as a perfect and uncondemned being exchanged his higher rights for men's lower rights which Adam had forfeited. And when this one then gives himself and lays down all that he has (Matt. 13:44) in the interest and for the use of the condemned race, we see that the giving of his flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51) means the handing back to dying men of the life, liberties, and privileges lost. And the eating of his flesh would consequently mean, the appropriating to his own use by the eater, of all the rights, liberties, and life which the perfect sinless "man Christ Jesus" possessed,no more, and no less.
What he gave up when he died, is oursit is free to every child of Adam. But it will give life, etc., only to such as eat, i.e., by faith appropriate, those rights and privileges, freely given unto us of God, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
If a man becomes leprous, not only he, but all in him, i.e., all his unborn posterity are affected. So it was with Adam and his children: we were "born in sin" and under its penalty, death, as the natural law of our being. Now consider that if a medicine or bread of life, a sure cure for leprosy were provided, to do good, it must be received into the system and appropriated, else no cure would result. So it is with Christ and the condemned and dying sinner. Not only must the bread contain the elements he needs, and be made accessible to him, but he must eat, or by faith appropriate it, if he would be freed from his malady of sin and its curse of condemnation to death. And as each child born a leper would need to eat for himself, and the family could not all be cured by any one of them taking the medicine or life food, so it is with sinners, each must eat for himself of the life-giving flesh of the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. It is for every man; hence every sinner must have an opportunity to eat and live, and none can be cured and brought to life (perfection) without eating this bread of life. None can eat it ignorantly (though many eat its symbol ignorantly); hence none of the heathen have yet had a chance to eat and live, and since all must come to the knowledge of this truth, this of itself would be a proof of the judgment (trial) to come, in the great Millennial Day; for it must be testified to all IN DUE TIME (1 Tim. 2:4-6) in order that all, if they will, may eat and live forever. Since only the few come to even an imperfect knowledge of the truth, in this age, it is evident that God's "due time" for spreading this great feast before the world, is "in the morning," in the Age of Restitution, the Millennium, when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth.Hab. 2:14; Isa. 25:6.
In the Millennial age, men as they shall accept of Christ as God's lamb and their ransom price, will be permitted to partake of his perfections, physical, mental and moral; and as they do so, and conform to his teachings, they will gradually return to perfection, to all that was lost in Adam, attaining full perfection at the close of that age, or else for willful disobedience be entirely and forever cut off from life in the second death, for which there is no antidote, no bread of life, no cure.
We, the church, who receive this bread of life now, and eat or appropriate it, do not experience a gradual restitution of our human powers to perfection, nor in any measure our restitution to human rights and privileges, etc. Ours is only reckoned, and not actual. By faith only, we can and do eat of the flesh of our Redeemer, accepting by faith (contrary to sight) human rights and liberties and life from the sacrifice made by our Lord. Mankind who will live in the next age will have sight as an aid to their faith; for they will feel their gradual physical improvement as they take the steps of faith and obedience. But none can walk by sight now, hence fewer and most select is the "little flock" now being chosen out from the world, to be the Bride and joint-heir of Christ in the Kingship and Priesthood of the age to come. To eat the Lamb we must realize his purity, his perfection, his spotlessness, and his RIGHT to all God's favors prepared for man. We must see, too, that he has sacrificed, surrendered up, all these human rights and privileges in order that all these blessings might be restored to the fallen and condemned race, and thus permit all to come back to a standing and fellowship with God, which he does not grant to condemned creatures.
But why should any be permitted to eat thus of his flesh (his human perfections, rights, etc.) beforehandbefore the general time for spreading the feast for all? Ah! there is a very precious truth there; there lies covered from view of the world "the exceeding riches of his grace, toward us who are in Christ Jesus." Let us look at it.
The blood, symbolized by the wine, represents death; "the blood is the life" of anything; and when it is "shed," or taken from it, it implies the death of the creature. So the shed blood of Christ signifies the death of Christthe life given up for the sins of the world. In the typical Passover, the Lamb was eaten, but the blood was not. No Israelite was allowed to eat blood. This was symbolic of how all are to eat the flesh of the Son of man but all are not to drink or partake of his death. Those to whom our Lord gave the wine as representative of his blood, were invited to partake of and share in his death, which was proper, because they were to be members of his body; and not only he, the Head, should taste death for every man, but we his body should be "made conformable to his death" (Phil. 3:10), and become dead with him. (Rom. 6:8.) The "cup" then is the symbol of deathby partaking of it (intelligently) we pledge our lives even unto death in the service of our Lord and Redeemer. Whether or not we shall be found worthy of restitution and lasting life depends on our eating (accepting and appropriating) his flesh; but whether we shall be found acceptable as members of his body, his bride and joint-heir, depends upon whether after eating his flesh by faith in the present age, we shall drink of his "cup," consecrate ourselves entirely to his serviceunto death.
This being true, how appropriate that the giving of the wine was after the eating of the bread, and to those only who had eaten it. This teaches, in harmony with all the Scriptures, that only those who are justified from all sin by faith in the merit and sacrifice of the Lamb of God (and no others) are invited to crucify their (justified) humanity and share in the afflictions of Christ in this age, and in his glory which shall follow in the [R1016 : page 4] Millennial age and the eternity beyond.
Only those who both eat his flesh (appropriate his meritsjustification) and drink his blood (share with him in his sacrifice by rendering their justified humanity a sacrifice to his service) dwell in him, as members of the one "body of Christ," as members of the "true vine." (Jno. 6:56) Only such (verse 53) can have inherent life: that is, life independent of all conditionsImmortality. (See MILL. DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. X.)
These must all be first brought to a knowledge of the Lord, of the sacrifice which he gave, and of the justification and restitution provided in it, and may then partake of it freely and live. Of such, it is written, "He that eateth of this bread (without sharing "the cup") shall live for ever," and "He that eateth me, even he shall live by me"a dependent life, supplied to all who rely upon Christ, the life-giver, for it. The distinction is, that the Gospel church now being selectedthe body of Christwill, with the Head, have immortality, inherent life, and will be the source of supply to the world, who will come to this fountain for life, and live thereby.
We notice also the statement of the apostle that "He that eateth and drinketh unworthilynot discerning the Lord's bodyeateth and drinketh condemnation to himself." (1 Cor. 11:27-29.) The import of this is, that to all who fail to recognize Christ's sacrifice for their sins, the eating of those emblems implies their guilt as his murderers, in the same sense that the Jews cried out, "His blood be upon us and on our children." As the Jews made themselves guilty of innocent blood (death), so do all who now by eating the emblems say, his blood is upon usunless they discern the Lord's body and blood as their ransom. To all who do not recognize it as their ransomit signifies condemnation as sharers of the guilt of the breaking of his body and shedding of his blood, seeing that to them it speaks no forgivenessno remission of sins.
The common translation improperly renders the above damnation, whereas it should be condemnation. Yet to the great mass of those who ignorantly do this unworthily, i.e., without properly recognizing the meaning of the emblems and the value of the Lord's death which they symbolize, there is no actual blood-guiltiness but merely a symbolic guilt. In symbol or figure they break the Lord's body and take his blood upon them. The symbol rightly understood speaks peace and forgiveness of sins, and fellowship with the Lamb, but not understood it could only be interpreted, under the Law, as a symbolic confession of murder. But as it is all symbolic, the condemnation could only be symbolic condemnation. Only such as come first to a knowledge of the ransom effected by the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, can really come under the actual condemnation which the improper use of this symbol signifies.
The drinking of the cup of suffering and death, for his sakethe sacrificingmust all be done in the present age. When the age of glory opens, all the sufferings of Christ will be in the past, both those of the Head and those of every member of his body. When the prophets spake of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow (1 Pet. 1:11), they spake truly, of the entire Christ including the smallest and last member. When the glory ushers in, the drinking of the blood will be at an end, as well as all opportunity to share in that "high calling" as joint-heirs with Christ. Then the entire Christ of which our Lord is head, and we the members in particular, will have been broken and sacrificed, and the feeding of the multitude of earth will begin to be an actual fact. Restitution will then begin to be realized by mankind. We now have it imputed to us by faith, in order that in [R1016 : page 5] this time for sacrificing we may do so; for none can give himself a sacrifice with Christ, who has no right to life to surrender. Therefore we are first granted to partake of Christ's merits by faith, and by faith to find access to the Father, and acceptance in the Beloved, in order that we might receive the "high calling"; an invitation to become joint-sacrificers with Christ, and to drink of his cup, that we may also be joint-heirs of the glory to be revealed when the "body" is completed and the sacrificing over.
To the consecrated, therefore, the emblems (bread and wine) are not only remembrancers of the Lord's sacrifice, but also of their own covenant to share the sacrifice with him, if by any means they might fulfill the conditions and be accounted worthy to be "made partakers of the divine nature," and to be with our Lord and Redeemer, his "joint-heirs" and co-workers in blessing all people.
Paul calls our attention to this feature of the commemoration, saying: "The loaf which we break, is it not the communion [fellowship] of the body of Christ [the "little flock," the Church, of which our Lord is the head]? The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion [fellowship] of the blood of Christ [the entire anointed company]? For we, though many [members], are one loaf and one body, for we all share in that one loaf."1 Cor. 10:15-17.
All must eat of the flesh of our Lord Jesus: i.e., they must partake of those human rights and privileges which his sacrifice secured for all, either in this age by faith, or in the next age actually, else they will have no life-rights, either to make sacrifice of now, or to enjoy (without the privilege of sacrificing them) hereafter. So then we urge all believers to "DO THIS"; and to do it intelligently. While using the emblems, accept and apply and appropriate fully the justification from all sin and the right to life which God holds out through the Lamb of God, and in no other name or way. And especially let all believers who have been immersed with Christ into his death, and thus into membership in his "body" (Rom. 6:3,4), do this, remembering their justification through his blood and renewing their covenant to be dead with him as partakers of the new, the divine nature.
So far as possible meet with such as you can recognize as fellow-members of the same body, and exclude no believer in the ransom. Arrange for the meeting long enough beforehand. It matters not which of your number shall pass the emblems, even Judas may have assisted at the first celebration. Remember that "all ye are brethren" and privileged to serve one another in any matter as you have ability and opportunity. In honor prefer one another; but do not allow false modesty to prefer tares above wheat among you.