February 8, 2024 Show with Jim Elliff on “The Lord’s Supper is a Meal”



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Before I introduce my guest today, I just have some sad news. I learned this morning that a very dear friend of mine who was one of my very first Christian friends after becoming a born -again believer in the 1980s,
Jack Montalbano, he went home to the Lord. He went home to the
Lord this morning after a bout with cancer. Decades ago,
Jack had victory over non -Hodgkin's lymphoma, but the cancer recently returned with a vengeance and took his life.
And this is sad and tragic news for those who knew and loved Jack, but not tragic news for him.
He is face -to -face with the Savior that he loved and followed for so long.
And I cut my teeth on Christian theology in Jack Montalbano's basement in Lindenhurst, Long Island, because when
I first became a believer, I was attending weekly Bible studies being conducted by my pastor at that time,
Mike Gaydosh, my very first pastor as a born -again believer. And I miss those days of not only learning about the
Christian faith in that basement, but so many memories of explosive laughter and fun and fellowship.
Jack was a—he was one of those proverbial gentle giants.
He was about 6 '8", weighed over 300 pounds, but was as humble and sweet and kind and gentle as a man could be, and loved his
Lord, and he will be missed. Please pray for his wife, Evelyn, and for his surviving family.
I may be going to a funeral soon, depending upon where in the United States it's being held. Jack went home to be with the
Lord in Florida, but I know that he is from Long Island, where I am from, so I'm assuming he may be having—his family may be having a funeral for him on Long Island.
But I will keep you posted about that. But today I have a returning guest on the program who hasn't been on Iron Sherpa and Zion Radio for a number of years, a dear old friend who is another one of those folks that I have extremely fond memories of from my earliest days of Christianity.
His name is Jim Elliffe. He's the founder and president of Christian Communicators Worldwide, also known as CCW, and he's founder of Christ Fellowship of Kansas City, Missouri.
He's an author and a conference speaker, and I have such fond memories of him. In fact,
I was just telling Jim before the program that to this day, and in fact, even very recently,
I have been for all these years, since the 1980s, raving about a message delivered by Jim Elliffe at the church where I was saved, at Calvary Baptist Church of Amityville, Long Island, which today is known as Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Long Island in Merrick, after they merged with First Baptist Church of Merrick.
And Jim preached a sermon on the root of bitterness and the power of forgiveness.
And there was something unique that happened at Calvary Baptist Church in Amityville that I never witnessed before or after that.
It was almost like a Holy Ghost revival. There were people weeping and publicly confessing sin, and it was just an extraordinary experience that I never recall being repeated there, because that was not the normal kind of thing that you would witness.
In fact, it's just not the normal kind of thing you would witness at a Reformed Baptist Church ever. But truly something that has permanently been etched on my heart and mind, and I hope that Jim has a recording of that sermon, because I would be surprised if you did not preach that at other locations over the years.
But today Jim is going to be speaking about, The Lord's Supper is a Meal, and quite a controversial topic.
I'm not even 100 % how much I personally will be agreeing with Jim today. But I just hope that those listening who have different views on The Lord's Supper aren't too angry about hearing a view that may not represent their own view, because I know that issues like this can be very touchy.
But it's my honor, privilege, joy, and thrill to have you back on Iron Trip and Zion Radio. Jim Eliff. Thank you so much,
Chris. Great to hear your voice. Great to hear your voice as well. In fact, I often, when
I look at my computer console right now, and it's cluttered with junk,
I still chuckle to this day remembering you walking by my office at Calvary Baptist Church in Amityville.
I had an office for WMCA Radio, where I was the
Long Island representative, and I had an office right in that church building, and I remember you walking by the doorway, looking at the junk on my desk, and you asked me, when was the last time you saw wood on that desk?
I still remember it vividly. Oh, boy. But, Jim, if you could, let our listeners know about Christian communicators were wood.
Yeah, I was laughing, and I didn't hear what you asked me. Oh, could you tell us about Christian communicators were wood?
Okay, tell you about that. Okay, yeah. We've been around several decades, and it's a ministry through which we teach, some of us teach the
Word, especially not only in conferences and other kinds of meetings, but also in something we call
Bible Intenses, by which we engage people for many hours together on one text of Scripture without commentaries, just learning how to interpret the
Bible, and this has been a huge blessing to us. I just did it again last week, and my assistant did it in India last week, so this is something we do quite often.
We're really interested in getting people in the Bible and learning how to really meditate on Scripture and glean from the
Scripture, and then also we're doing quite a bit of writing, and we publish books all without charge, by the way, for those who will commit to read them on our site, and so we've published many books, and of course we have an active blog and various other things that have to do with writing.
So that's mainly it, teaching and writing, and we've been doing it a long, long time now. And the website is ccwtoday .org.
Oh, one other thing that I thought I'd mention is that when
I worked for WMCA Radio, I was the first person to fill in for the late
Andy Anderson, of his talk show, Andy Anderson Live, after he passed and went home to glory after I think he had bladder or stomach cancer.
My general manager asked me to fill in every day until they found a permanent replacement, and one of my guests was
Jim Elliffe, and the station received an avalanche of complaints because I was speaking against the altar call.
Not a very popular position to take in mainstream evangelical radio, and we also had some criticisms,
I think gracious criticisms of Billy Graham and that ministry, but hey, you gotta speak boldly about what you believe the
Bible teaches, and you can't be overly concerned with people's feelings when it comes to things like that. That's right, in love, though.
Amen. That's for sure. Amen, and we were not nasty at all about Billy Graham or those who practice the invitational altar call system.
Now tell us about Christ Fellowship of Kansas City, Missouri. Yeah, Chris, we're actually a small network of house churches.
We have five pastors, and our main meetings are in the homes, which is a building, by the way, so we meet in buildings called homes, and this has been wonderful.
We've had 20 years of history. We're deep running in terms of our doctrine and our view of leadership and all the things that we hold to be important for churches to be, but we just have a different venue, meet in a home, and every six weeks or so, we meet together.
All the congregations meet together. It's been a wonderful, wonderful experience, and one of the things that we do is eat the
Lord's Supper together every time in our homes, so it's been a great laboratory in a way for really examining some of the first century issues, practices, and making the distinction, of course, between what's descriptive and what's prescriptive, but we've really had a wonderful time.
It's been an amazing church. Amen. Well, if you want to find out more about Christ Fellowship of Kansas City, Missouri, if you live in that area or if you are passing through that area or if you have family, friends, and loved ones in that area, go to ChristFellowshipKC .org,
ChristFellowshipKC .org, and I hope that my niece, Patrice Farrell, who is a beautiful Christian niece,
I hope that one day she pays you folks a visit because she lives very close to that area.
Okay. Good. And, well, today, as I said, we're speaking about something that has a bit of controversy connected to it.
The Lord's Supper is a meal. And if you could, first of all, lay out the primary or the main premise of what exactly that means, and then we'll get more involved into detail and so on.
Of course, yeah. Yes, actually what isn't controversial to scholars is that the early church ate a meal that they called the
Lord's Supper. So that's not controversial in itself, but the practice of it today has, with the morphing, with quite a bit of morphing over history, over the long history, looks a lot different than the early church experienced it.
So we take the Lord's Supper, the term, and the only real designation for this, and it is or agape meal, both of them implying a meal.
And this description tells us what we ought to do. It's a supper highlighting, of course, the elements of the bread and the wine or grape juice, whatever is used.
So that's something we do every week when we gather together. So we don't take the
Lord's Supper. We eat the Lord's Supper. It's a true fellowship meal built upon what we're representing, what is being represented through the bread and the wine or juice.
So that's the simple idea. We've had over 900 meals together, for instance, as a church over these years.
And when I first met you, when you came to preach at Calvary Baptist Church of Amityville, you were pastor of a more traditional
Reformed Baptist church in Little Rock, Arkansas, if I'm not mistaken. Yes. And did you have this view of the
Lord's Supper being a meal back then? Or if you didn't, how did that develop? No, I didn't.
It developed in my understanding of the Scripture, and definitely didn't. We did take the
Lord's Supper elements every week. That was a practice that we had, but we had not really seen the import and really the instruction, apostolic instruction, to eat the
Lord's Supper together on a weekly basis. So now it's been about 20 or so years since this became a reality in our understanding.
And this also is a view that I have only heard from those that also believe in the house -church model.
I've never heard of someone, a pastor or elder or another individual, outside of that house -church view that practices the
Lord's Supper as a meal. Are there actual, more traditional, mainstream kind of churches that are also doing this?
Yes, there are some. I think they're wrestling... And by the way, we don't think meeting in house churches is the only way, by the way.
Thank goodness. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, no, we don't. And a lot of our work is in just traditional churches.
Yes, there are some churches that have done that. In fact, I guess to restate a little bit about my history, we did have a time where for several years we had a meal, but we didn't think of it as the
Lord's Supper. We had a meal every Sunday together after our morning meeting.
And so the practice of having a meal also was a step forward, but we didn't put all the pieces together until, as I said, maybe about 20, maybe a little bit ahead of that time.
That all came together in our thinking, this is exactly what's being talked about in the Scripture. So, yeah, there are some churches here and there, not many, of course, in the traditional vein, because the church buildings are typically not as accommodating to do this as a home would be, of course.
You know, we haven't built our architecture around this idea. Well, why don't you tell us about the meal at Gaius's house?
Yeah, I began this book that I, a small book that I wrote, The Lord's Supper is a Meal, with a fictional story, actually, about eating at Gaius's house.
Gaius actually is the home of the person where the Corinthian church met.
That's listed in Romans chapter 16. Gaius has hosted the whole church, writing from Corinth.
So, yeah, I just tell a fictional story about another couple and some servants, slaves, who went down with him, all of whom had been converted to the ministry of Paul, eating together in Gaius's large home.
And everything seemed normal. The wealthy people sort of hobnobbed with the other wealthy people that they were used to talking to.
The slaves or the poor people tend to group up with those people. When it came to eating, they carried their own meals, and the poor had very little, and the wealthy people had a lot.
But actually, you know, it was a meal like this, in that kind of context, that kind of experience, where Paul wrote and said, you come together for the worse.
And as these people were doing what socially was common, everybody probably thought in the
Corinthian church that everything was right and good, but the apostle Paul saw something there that was strikingly bad to him.
And he said, when you come together to eat, you actually come together for the worse, because what you're eating is not the
Lord's supper. It's your own meal. It's not the Lord's supper. And when you have this supper as a meal, give us more about, before we go on with some of the other chapter themes in the book, give us some more details about what is actually taking place.
I'm assuming that you have the primary elements that are traditionally had in the
Lord's table, bread and wine or bread and grape juice. By the way, do you believe that it is required to have either fermented wine or unfermented grape juice?
There are churches, obviously, as you know, that are strongly divided over that in the body of Christ.
Well, it's what we practice, and we do believe that's part of the point.
But I understand there might be places in the world where this is not possible, so surely the
Lord would understand if it's not possible to do that. Do what? Which though? Fermented or non -fermented?
No, just not even have the grapes, period.
You know what I'm saying? There might be places in the world where they don't have access to that. So that might be an exception, which
I'm sure the Lord would understand. No, we do. It's accessible to all of us that are listening to this, and I do think it's important to do that.
At any rate, that's a very secondary issue to us, but I think it's important to do that myself.
Well, which way do you do it, though? You haven't answered if it's fermented. We do. Because we have had—well, at any rate, we use the grape juice.
Okay. Yeah, but I don't think we're totally contrary to having the wine.
The question there has been, of course, with sometimes people have had an alcoholic background and so forth.
Right. So, yeah. And how about the bread? Do you only use unleavened bread, or does it matter to you?
We think it matters. It's part of the symbolism. For instance, very clearly in 1
Corinthians 5, unleavened, related to sin, a whole history of symbolism about that from Passover on.
So we use unleavened bread. Now, when you have the elements, like, for instance, at the
Last Supper, the actual partaking of communion seemed to be after the
Passover meal, the scriptures referring to when the supper was ended, he took the cup.
And so do you have the Lord's Supper, even though you connect it with a meal, do you have it in a distinct section of that meal as a more ceremonial aspect after the meal?
Or do you just pile plates filled with mashed potatoes and meatloaf and string beans and corn and apple pie, and then you have your unleavened bread and your grape juice?
I mean, how does that work? Yeah. I mean, again,
I don't think that this is prescribed in the scripture as far as the eating of the
Lord's Supper is concerned, about when in the meal or how in the meal exactly. One of the things that is important to consider is that in the
Mediterranean world, the bread was the utensil that they used to eat their food.
And even in the scripture passage you're mentioning, it's only the cup that they took afterwards. And that had more to do,
I think, Chris, with the formulation of the Passover Seder experience and the import of the symbolism about the particular cup, which he was lifting up and drinking at the time.
But the bread was earlier, by the way. So in the Lord's Supper meal, it doesn't seem to be any ceremony about the meal.
And in our case, most of our congregations, they're free to do however they wish to do it as individual congregations.
We've done it different ways. We've taken those elements different ways. But we like to have someone talk about that before the meal begins.
We're all in the kitchen around the food, and we'll take a few minutes to hear something out of the scripture, maybe to pray, to sing something.
And then they do pick up these elements after we've made something of them, and then they pick them up and take them with them to the table.
Because historically, they would have been just, again, the drink and the bread that they would have used in the meal.
So it's a little bit different, this not being the staple part of our meals, but it was always part of a banquet to have wine and always part of every meal to have this bread, this unleavened bread, or leavened or unleavened, but in this case, unleavened bread.
And so that poses a little conundrum to think through.
One of our congregations does that immediately following the meal, and we've stopped in the middle of the meal and highlighted these things.
The one thing that I think is important is that it does need to be highlighted. This is the cup which we bless and the bread which we bless.
So we do take some time to think about that. Amen. And we have to go to our first commercial break.
And if anybody has questions of your own for Jameleff on The Lord's Supper is a
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today, just to start the ball rolling at least, and mention Iron Sharpens Iron Radio. We're now back with Jim Eliff, founder of Christian Communicators Worldwide, and we are discussing his book,
The Lord's Supper is a Meal. If you have a question, send it to chrisarnson at gmail .com.
Give us your first name at least, city and state, and country of residence. Before I go to any listener questions, and we already have some, tell us about The Lord's Supper is a
Weekly Meal, and this idea of it being a weekly meal seems to be, in my experience, growing in popularity amongst churches, perhaps especially
Reformed churches, that have historically, perhaps for decades or a century or more, been only having it once a month, and some churches have it less, but there seems to be a growing popularity in wanting to have this meal every week.
Perhaps even the younger pastors are moving in that direction, seeing it as a more biblical way to be faithful in regard to the supper.
But if you could, tell us about that, The Lord's Supper. Yes, okay, yeah, that's a very interesting question, and thank you for that.
Yeah, in the passage, in a very important passage related to The Lord's Supper, 1
Corinthians 11, where there was an abuse of The Lord's Supper, we learn a great deal about it.
We learn clearly that it was a meal, for instance, but he says five times, when you come together, he uses that phrase, when you come together, and for instance, he says here in verse 18, when you come together as a church, and then just after that it says, when you come together to eat.
And this is sometimes a connection point, I think, for people to discover that this is a regular practice of their lives.
There are other historical information about that as well, but yeah, that in 1
Corinthians, Acts chapter 20, and in Troas, it says it was the first day of the week when they came together to break bread.
I think these are the two prominent places you would go, Acts 20 and 1 Corinthians 11, to see this practice outside of the other historical information.
So many churches have, this history, I mean, is played out in some of the denominations, right?
There are some denominations, whatever their view of the Lord's Supper is, that are practicing that on a weekly basis, and so that's just a continuation.
I do think it's clearly what did happen on a weekly basis, and almost every scholar
I've ever read on this subject would agree with that, that this was just the practice that they had.
By the way, usually at the end of the day, it was a supper, and a long line of suppers, from the
Passover meal to the Last Supper, throughout all the years of the
Lord's Supper, looking forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. So it was just something that they did after work, because until 313,
I think it was, when there was an edict, everybody worked.
You didn't get the day off on Sunday. Everybody just did their work, and when they were through with their work, they gathered as a church.
It was the Lord's Day, but it wasn't a day off until then, at least in the Roman world.
So yeah, they would eat a supper together regularly. When they come together to eat, and when they come together as a church are the same thing.
And as far as the Lord's Supper is a meal for intentional and undivided fellowship, how does that relate specifically to those two aspects?
Well, I think when we think of the purposes of the
Lord's Supper, one, of course, to symbolize the death of the body, the blood of Jesus Christ, but particularly the
Lord's Supper from the passages in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, especially,
I think make this clear. Well, I think there are other places, maybe Galatians chapter 2 as well, and the conflict
Paul had with Peter not eating with Gentiles was a Lord's Supper experience as well.
But this idea of being this kind of warm fellowship built upon the death, the body and the blood of Jesus Christ.
In other words, their eating together was a way to say, in fellowship with each other, was a way to say,
Jesus Christ has made this possible by his death for us. And this is what allows us to have fellowship with the
Father on a vertical level and fellowship with one another on a horizontal level.
We also see this from the whole sacrificial system in the Old Testament, the eating of the food after the sacrifice, this idea that the people who made sacrifices were sharers in that.
They were sharers, and we are sharers as well, 1 Corinthians 10, in the body of Christ.
And we are one bread, which speaks of our fellowship together.
The very problem that was going on in Corinth was a problem on the horizontal level of abuse of this fellowship and not including, you know, it was sort of a status division that was going on.
And Paul has gone into some detail about the importance of fellowship, so much to say that when they eat the meal with this kind of broken fellowship, not considering one another, they're eating their own meal.
They're not eating the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is a meal that is intentionally about our fellowship with each other.
And by the way, there's very little fellowship in just a small cracker and a little sipping, a little drink, you know, a cup.
That, in a funny way, is about the thing that might be done in a church meeting that has the least fellowship connected to it.
But that, I believe, is kind of a hangover from Catholicism that didn't get corrected, really, in my view.
So fellowship around the table is strongly thematic in the
Scripture. Even our future, eternal future, is spoken of by Jesus as fellowship around the table.
And so this, in that culture, and even in our culture, is just a strong statement about our fellowship.
And that's what they did. It was the Lord's Supper. They were eating a meal together.
And it's not called communion. That's what we hope to experience. It's not called Eucharist.
That's the word for giving thanks. Jesus gave thanks. But those are words that are used that kind of cause people to separate out the eating of the elements with the meal itself.
But it's called, you know, the Lord's Supper. And as my son said one time, the
Lord's Supper is a supper after all, isn't it? You know, it is a supper. And by its own name, or the term agape feast, of course, explicitly saying it's a feast.
It's a meal together. So this is what the early church did.
They came together to eat, and they had fellowship together.
Having that 900 meals together as a church in our context over here,
I have to tell you, has so deepened our love and relationship with each other. It's incredibly deeper. Can you just imagine and think about that?
I mean, there's not much not to like about that, is there? That we spend time together around the table, just getting involved in each other's lives in a deep way because of Jesus Christ.
Partly because of his death. Amen. And I'm sorry, are we going to continue on with that point?
No, that's fine. Go ahead. If you could hone in on an essential element that should be, obviously, a focal point of the
Lord's Supper, no matter what other views you have on the physical aspects of partaking it, is the
Lord's Supper is a meal to proclaim Christ's death. Yeah, right.
That's exactly what the Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 11. There's a section in 1
Corinthians 11 where it's something that's often quoted when pastors lead a church in the
Lord's Supper. You know, I received for the Lord that which I also deliver to you, that the
Lord in the night took the bread. When he was betrayed, he took bread. And when he'd given thanks, he broke and he said, and so forth.
This is my body. But that section is in the context of this fellowship problem that is going on.
And if you look at it carefully, it begins with a four. He's going to explain something.
Four, he says. He's been talking about the broken fellowship in the church, which is causing judgment by God on them.
And he's going to explain something with what Jesus Christ said he was doing with his body and his blood.
And he says four, and he gets to the end of it, and he says, therefore. So he's using this not as something which has to be said each time we eat the
Lord's Supper together. There's no commandment to say these words at all. It's okay to say them, but there's no commandment to say them.
He's actually using this to emphasize that this death, which was sacrificial for others, it's totally hypocritical for you.
While you're emphasizing the death of Jesus Christ in these symbols that you have in your hands, and then to have these status divisions among you and not caring for each other, even in the meal itself.
This is the height of hypocrisy when you do this. And he's emphasizing there that we're proclaiming the
Lord's death, not just in what we say about the body and the blood, but we're proclaiming the
Lord's death in our eating this meal together, in our fellowship together, by imitating this kind of sacrificial love for each other.
Therefore, he goes on to say, whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup in an unworthy manner, and the word can be translated as unfitting, or a way that does not correspond, in a manner that does not correspond, will, and then he goes into a segment about judgment.
The reason that is inset in 1 Corinthians 11, for those of you who can picture or are looking at the scriptures, the reason that is inset is to make the point that these people in Corinth were being entirely hypocritical, and this is the reason, not being like Christ.
Right here in the midst of holding this bread and drinking this cup, you are actually demonstrating the opposite of what
Jesus Christ said. That is unfitting, and that brings about judgment. That's how
Paul is explaining that judgment has come to these Corinthian people, many of them sick and weak, and some of them have died because of it.
Yeah, I would imagine that there are a lot of folks in modern evangelicalism that believe that that would never possibly happen in the 21st century, that people might actually die from, in some way, disrespecting the intent of the
Lord's table. Mm -hmm. Yeah, well, I actually think,
Chris, that it was a total shock to these people. Yes. You know, it really took the apostles' look at this, the apostles' understanding to read what was happening in their situation.
Now, we know not all sickness is a judgment in any way by God, but he saw this clearly as connected to this problem.
Listen, Paul gets really exercised about this. This is about as strong a word as he says to any church, right?
And it has to do with the Lord's Supper. We take the Lord's Supper so incidentally, you know, like it's almost nothing.
But he is talking about their fellowship, which is built upon the death of Jesus Christ.
That's what brings—it's the death of Christ that broke the middle wall of partition down between Jews and Gentiles, you know.
This is his theme. This is where he—this is what he harps on, really, in all the books in one way or another.
I mean, just one after another, he's so concerned that this fellowship be taking place. And the way this fellowship shows up in the church life is to eat this—eating this meal together, which is an apostolic tradition.
And it's built upon the death of Jesus Christ. He got exercised about it when what apparently was a
Lord's Supper meal in the Antioch of Syria above Israel.
You may remember it's mentioned in the book of Galatians when Paul stands up and rebukes
Peter for eating. Yes, yes. The Jews, remember, that had come from Jerusalem. Yes.
And he confessed before he'd been eating with the Gentiles. What—what—and when you think about what
Peter was doing, you know, the one to whom much had been revealed about opening up to the
Gentiles, right? Sort of an iconic figure about, you know, the sheep's coming down and all the things that he experienced about being open to the
Gentiles. And here Paul has to actually rebuke this apostle in front of everybody openly, because this is what—Paul gets really, again, very exercised about this.
Here we have a meal where we're intentionally having fellowship because of the death of Jesus Christ.
This is the Lord's Supper. This is what we do. We always do this when we come together to—to provide this opportunity and to demonstrate and symbolize what we mean together.
And you're doing the very opposite of this. And so it's—it's just—it's very acute.
You know, Paul is very worked up in both of those cases over a meal.
Interesting, isn't it? Yes. And let's squeeze in one listener question before we go to our midway break.
We have Mike in Monroe, New York, and he's asking a first question that you've already covered, but you could feel free to clarify anything about it.
He said, Is Brother Jim's church part of a fellowship or association of churches that also practice the
Lord's Supper in this way? And I'll ask his second question after you answer that one. Okay, yeah.
We are part of a couple—we have relationships with—we have relationships with the
Southern Baptists, and we have relationships with FIRE, Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals.
But, no, it is not monolithic across the board. There are some, but not monolithic across the board that they eat the
Lord's Supper in the way that we do. So I wrote this book hoping to encourage the brethren to think about it, you know, to think about this.
But there is a small network of churches that is sort of an association that you were just mentioning earlier, where you come together—you worship separately but then come together for a joint meeting, so obviously there's some kind of an association.
Yes, in the North Carolina, Kansas City, yes, we do that. In our homes, when we meet, that's our main meeting.
And in our main meeting, we eat the Lord's Supper together every week, and that's the main thing. And then at various times, we come together as a whole.
So we are one church. We meet in various ways as a whole, like all the women were together from all the congregations last night.
So I don't mean to go into all the details about our church, but all of these—we call them congregations—that meet in a home on a
Sunday, they're eating the Lord's Supper together every time. And we're usually together, frankly, four or five hours.
I mean, we're together a long time. We just fellowship a lot. So we come together, we have a session, an hour and a half, maybe two hours, where we're hearing the
Word, we're very intent upon the Bible, having a big impact on our lives and edifying each other, etc.,
sharing our lives, sharing our needs, and so forth. And then we'll eat a meal together.
We eat that meal, and we fellowship together, and it's a joyous time. Well, we have to go to our midway break, and Mike from Monroe, we're going to ask
Jim your second question when we return from the midway break. Please be patient with us, folks, because the middle break is always a little longer than the other breaks because Grace Life Radio, 90 .1
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Last but not least, if you are not a member of a Christ -honoring, biblically faithful, theologically sound, doctrinally solid church like Christ Fellowship in Kansas City, Missouri, I have extensive lists of biblically faithful churches spanning the globe, and I've helped many people in our audience all over the planet
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Meal. chrisarnson at gmail .com gives the first name at least, city and state, and country of residence.
Mike from Monroe, New York, second question to you is, Has Jim ever received any criticism for this unique practice, which
I think is a wonderful way for anybody to get close to one another around this glorious ordinance?
Thank you for that question, Mike. You know,
I think because I have fairly often talked about this issue with pastors, and they have many questions.
The typical response is, Wow, you know, just like my response was when
I began to see it in the Scripture. I mean, what I've been missing, I just I've been missing so much.
And now I see this as something God makes, is actually an apostolic tradition, in my view, and makes all the sense in the world.
And what is there not to love about it? And so most of the responses I've gotten have been that way.
Sometimes I have just a very occasionally, I'm a pretty nice guy, you know, so generally people are nice to me.
So I have not had, you know, just people screaming at me or anything like that.
But there have been questions, especially from people who work the
Lord's Supper, something they take with the two elements into sort of this liturgy and ceremony of the church.
This is a really such a big overturn of that idea that I believe they rightfully should be very cautious and examine things very closely, you know, to make sure they, you know, they understand what
I'm saying and what the Bible is saying and so forth. And I can understand that initial negative response.
After all, you have years and years of people doing this, just, you know, taking the little bit of bread, the little cup and doing it in a more or less ceremonial way.
But I think, again, I understand that. I understand that kind of pushback.
But it's always been up to this point in talking to pastors meetings, which I've done a considerable amount of, people have been actually very gracious because I think deep down they understand that, at least understand this, that in the early church, they obviously were eating a meal here.
And it is obviously called the Lord's Supper or a coffee feast. And I just think they know that part of their history.
They tend, a lot of the people tend to fall back from, get their doctrine mainly out of the Reformation or from a period of time after the
New Testament church when things begin to change, when Catholic traditions were forming in the second, third, especially the third and fourth centuries, when institutions, the church became more institutional.
There were larger crowds of people, priesthood and altars and, you know, ceremony and feast days and all of the things entered into church life, which were really reflections of some pagan practices or maybe
Old Testament cultic worship. I don't say that in a negative sense, but the Old Testament worship was priestly, priest acting for the people.
I mean, and so they were built on those sorts of things as they gradually developed in the early centuries.
But if you go all the way back to the New Testament, the first 150, 200 years, especially, you just see, you know, it was very primitive and they were eating meals together.
Now, the question I think they have to ask is, has
God shaped it differently? Do we go back to the New Testament and find out what
God prescribes and what describes? So we need to look at what's described as well, because there might be principles behind it, a part of that that's prescribed.
So we have to be careful about that. Or do we go, do we believe God is making things new all along and we're developing and we're where we are because God really led us to be where we are?
So those are questions one has to ask. But for me, I believe we go back to the
New Testament and we find out what we should be doing in terms of the church.
We, you know, we just, I think we need to be committed to that. I really believe that was a Reformation idea.
But I believe in the Reformation, several things hung over of a ceremonial nature.
And this is one of them. And again, just taking a little sip and a little and being very independent, separate.
This is not even the idea, in my view, of what the Lord suffers there for. It is to be about fellowship and sharing in the body of Christ and sharing in one another.
And this is the heart of it. We're missing the heart of it. That's the thing that bothers me, you know, that.
And I mean, we're really missing the meaning, I think, of the Lord. So we get the meaning about the body and the bread being symbolic of Christ.
That's one thing that is to be displayed. But the point in the law, in these sections, for instance, particularly in 1
Corinthians 10 and 11, I mean, longer section here. It's very clearly revealing that it's about this sharing or this koinonia in the body of Christ and with one another.
That's just like it was in the Old Testament sacrifice when they sat down and ate a meal. Just frankly,
I mean, it's a sharing, right? It's a sharing in each other's lives built upon the death of Jesus Christ, built on the sacrifice of Christ.
So I really feel mainly a great deal of sadness that churches don't experience this.
Can you imagine that we've had 900 meals together? Just think about that. What would that be like for you to have 900 meals together in terms of warming up your fellowship and your love for each other?
It's a method. It's something God has designed for the churches to do.
And, you know, they, in Corinth, it just says five times when you come together as a church, when you come together to eat.
And so this is what they did. When it's the Lord's Day, they came together to share their lives together and to really, you know, really know each other well and have true fellowship built upon Jesus' death.
So I get some pushback sometimes. But I also understand that pushback because of just, you know, these traditions that have been around for so long.
And it's kind of unnerving when we want to when somebody says something different than that.
But I don't claim to be like have all knowledge. You know,
I don't at all. But I'm trying to explain what we have seen as a church.
And I think it's hard not to love what God does this way.
So you don't share my exhaustive knowledge on all things?
Well, Chris, I just know one guy like you. I'm kind of set up. So I just count on you to do that part.
I have I have an anticipated opposition that actually involves something that you said about the way other people view the
Lord's table and practice it. You use the phrase that there were some people who and I can now
I can't remember exactly what you said, but it was something to the effect that it was no big deal. It was not very important or something.
And some people might think that when you're having the
Lord's table as a part of a meal with fried chicken and mashed potatoes and baked beans, that it's trivial.
It's trivializing the actual ordinance to being very common because we have three meals a day every day of our lives.
Most of us. Yeah, I see what you're doing. So why don't you respond to that? Hmm. Yeah.
Well, I like fried chicken, don't you? Oh, yeah. I love it. One of one of the things that I think what we need rather to do is lift up the idea of meals in the
Bible and how important meals are in the
Scripture as a for the practice of fellowship. Anyway, just in general.
The idea of meals, I mean, it is a way that God talks about communion with each other, even even uses that in Revelation 320, which is just popping in my come in and I will eat with you and you with me.
This is like the way to talk about fellowship. When you you know, when you think of heaven, you think of a table with the patriarchs around the table and eating with them.
You know, this is this is the thing. It's a there's the marriage supper of the lamb. So elevating the idea of a meal, not formalizing it, not formalizing it.
It is what it is in a way, because it's relaxed and, you know, we're able to just be ourselves and share our lives with each other.
But I think raising that will help us to see. And then also to remember it, to see this connection, also to remember that in the
Old Testament, in the sacrifices, they would sit down, need a meal from that animal that had been sacrificed and so forth.
And and it's always associated with a meal. In other words, the whole line of. The whole linear connection between Passover, the
Last Supper, the Lord's Supper, the marriage supper, the lamb, they're all about meals. So I think we would be maybe misunderstanding the value of a meal or the heightened view we should have about meals in relationship to fellowship, rather than saying that meal denigrates something about the
Lord's Supper. It's it's what what the death of Jesus Christ created.
It created fellowship for us. And the best picture of fellowship and the most often repeated picture of fellowship in the
Bible is we're eating together. And you did. Oh, you did specify earlier that you do separate the partaking of those two elements of the fruit of the.
Yeah, there is. Right. There is the cup which we bless, you know, the bread which we share.
We think there's something special about that, those elements. Right. And so we highlight those elements and and people can do that,
I think, in different ways. It's not prescribed for us exactly how that's highlighted. We don't do a
Passover Seder. That's not what we're doing. It's something different, something new. But eating meals together, joyous meals.
This is a this is a happy time to eat together because of what Jesus Christ has done for us.
But as forgiven people, people who've been justified by Christ's death, we we can have fellowship on a level that others cannot have.
So, you know, we highlight those things and then we have a meal which is a joyous meal. And, you know, it's it's given.
We like to give proper due proper emphasis on those things. But you remember when you build a whole tradition where you get really quiet, you have certain kind of music playing.
You say certain words as a ceremony over. No, you do think sometimes deacons do things.
Your movements are all choreographed, perhaps, and all those kinds of things that happen around this, which, again,
I think it's a bit of a Catholic hangover. But you do all those kinds of things.
And then you take that away. You're thinking, well, we're we're not sort of sacralizing this like we had in the past.
And so you understand we might be missing what was not required.
If you know what I'm saying, we might be missing something. Yes, we could. We could create something that we like or don't like.
But maybe we like it or we've just done it so long. We really tried to find ways to to make and try to find ways to find as much meaning as possible.
And I think there can be some meaning in that for sure. But in taking that away, in a sense, you know,
I can understand people's reaction to that. But I think in the early church, it really wasn't that way.
By the way, I'm sorry. Yeah, go ahead. I was just going to tell Michael in New York that you have won a free copy of The Lord's Supper is a meal.
Thanks to the generosity of Jim Eliff and Christian communicators worldwide. And also thanks to our friends at Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service, CVBBS .com,
who will actually be shipping the book out to you. So please give us your full address in New York state and we'll have
CVBBS .com ship that out to you as soon as possible. We have
Brian in Palm Bay, Florida. He's asking two questions that are somewhat off topic, but they are involving the
Lord's Supper. What do you think about new believers being baptized first before allowed being allowed to take the
Lord's Supper? That's his first question. Yes, that's right.
I do. I do believe that this is a this is a supper for the church.
And the church historically, in almost every denomination, regardless of what you believe about baptism, the mode of baptism or the time for baptism, in almost every denomination is a body of baptized believers.
Not everyone, but in almost. And so that's that's a without spending a long time demonstrating why that's so.
Yes, we do believe that a person needs to be a true believer, openly pledging their their adherence to Christ and with baptism and, you know, being part of therefore being part of the church.
And they would be the ones to take. They would be the ones to eat the Lord's Supper. So others would be there like there would be some children there, but for them it is a meal.
But for us, for the believers, this is the Lord's Supper. Yeah, that's one aspect of bringing back what you were saying earlier about separating or highlighting the two elements of the
Lord's Supper. In some distinctive way, apart from the meal, because if you have kids there, they're obviously eating the meal they're eating, they're eating the fried chicken and mashed potatoes and the corn on the cob.
But they're they're not going to be unless they're old enough to have been baptized as believers are not going to be having the elements.
Yes. And Brian's second question, since the Lord's Table is reserved for believers, when should we allow children to partake in the
Lord's Supper? Yes, as children come to know Christ.
And I mean, we're Baptistic. I'm Baptistic, you know, in my beliefs, believing that baptism follows conversion to Christ.
We baptize disciples, people who decided to follow
Jesus and put their trust in him, and we baptize them. So, you know, then after that happens in their lives, whatever time, whenever that might happen, then they are free to eat the
Lord's Supper. We'll be doing that this week, for instance, with a young man, probably 13 years of age, who's come to Christ.
He's been there with his family, but he's not been partaking of the special elements. And now he will be doing that with us.
Okay, we have. Oh, by the way, Brian, you've also won a free copy of The Lord's Supper is a
Meal. Please provide us with your full mailing address in Palm Bay, Florida.
So that's cvbbs .com, Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service, and ship that out to you.
And also, if you are a first time questioner, and that goes for everybody today, if you submit questions.
If you're a first time questioner, you're also going to receive a free New American Standard Bible. Compliments of our friends at nasbible .com,
who sponsored this program, and compliments of cvbbs .com, we'll ship it out to you. We have
Thurgood in Superior, Colorado. And Thurgood asks,
Do you have a strictly memorialist view of the Lord's Supper? Or do you have a more traditionally reformed view that has a lot more spiritual aspects involved?
Yes. Well, I don't think it's going to be advisable to get into the weeds here about all of this.
But principally, I believe what Jesus established in what he said is he told us what these symbols were.
And then the apostles, in my view, established the tradition of the supper, which is,
I believe it's called a tradition in 1 Corinthians 11, where two traditions are mentioned.
And the first one uses the word tradition. Then he goes to the next one, which is the
Lord's Supper issue, which he calls instructions. I believe this is an apostolic tradition to be obeyed, by the way.
And so I believe in all the means of grace, there are spiritual things that can happen.
So I'll just leave it right. That can happen. But I do hold a view of, essentially, that what we've established here is that it's symbolic of something.
And we live that out in our fellowship with each other. But in any kind of thing we do,
I think as believers, there's potential for great spiritual benefit and spiritual experience to be had in it.
So that's not a great answer, but I don't have time to develop it more, I don't think, and stay with the
Lord's Supper here. Thanks, Thurgood. Please give us your full mailing address, because you've also won a free copy of the
Lord's Supper. Yeah, I think people might be able to hold different views about that issue and still eat the
Lord's Supper. My emphasis is on the Lord's Supper as a meal. So they might be able to have different views about that issue he just mentioned.
Okay, let's see here. We have a charity in Cooper Landing, Alaska.
Cooper Landing, Alaska. And charity wants to know, Is your view compatible with a church that every time, when partaking the
Lord's Supper, they invite everyone to a meal after the worship service?
And I do know churches that do that. Every single time they have the Lord's Supper, and sometimes it's every week, they will have a meal.
But it's after the Lord's Supper in the actual worship service, and then you go into the fellowship hall and you have your meal.
Is that good enough, in your opinion, to reflect the spirit of what you believe is the most biblically faithful way?
That's a great question, a really great question. I think it would be significant about the language people use.
In other words, where people err a lot in language is they say, we're going to take the
Lord's Supper. That's not a correct way to say that. We eat the
Lord's Supper. So what we're having, the Lord's Supper is a meal with the elements highlighted.
So it's way better, what she's mentioning is way better, I think, than many people would do.
I think if I were in that situation, I would want to move what is done related to the elements of the
Lord's Supper closer to the meal in that context of the meal. I think it would say more of what needs to be said about fellowship being created in the death of Christ.
Although I don't think you'd be necessarily could, I think you could possibly work with what you're doing and get closer.
But I mean, the actual Lord's Supper is a meal with those elements. So when you said that's what it is,
I would think you would want to actually bring that over into the actual meal itself. So I mean, that's way better than many people do,
I think, connecting a meal to the same day as you eat those elements, have those elements rather.
But I think getting closest to what went on in the early church and what
I think the Lord's Supper is, what it actually is, it's a meal with these elements highlighted.
I think it might be better to actually think about moving it over into the meal itself. So that's a partial answer.
But I think you have to do some work on making that connection, if you know what
I'm saying. So at least I would prefer that if I were in that church pastoring, I would move it over into the meal itself.
Okay, Charity. Well, you've also won a free copy. Good question. You've won a free copy of the Lord's Supper as a meal.
Make sure we have your full mailing address in Alaska so that CVBBS .com can ship it out to you.
Susan Margaret in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania asks,
Are you saying that you believe that the partaking of the hot dogs and hamburgers and the
French fries and the salad are actually a part of the ordinance? I'm saying that, yes, the
Lord's Supper is a meal. Yeah, that's exactly what
I'm saying. The Lord's Supper is a meal. Now, we can pick the worst kind of foods, you know, better foods here to make this sound better.
But it's not the point. It's not about what we in fact, let me let me make this very clear.
Paul is adamant about saying if it's about your appetite, you need to curb that appetite at home before you come and share your food with each other.
He makes that very clear in First Corinthians 11. It's not it's it's not about the nature of the food.
The food is the context for the fellowship that is created by the death of Jesus Christ.
Does that help a little bit? Oh, yeah. Paul is making that clear in First Corinthians 11.
You can go and read. That's that's the text you really ought to read carefully. It's First Corinthians 11. And he doesn't he doesn't because of this, he said, you have homes to eat in.
He's not saying don't eat the Lord's Supper as a meal because he comes to the end of the whole thing and he repeats again.
So when you come together, you know, when you come together to eat, wait for one another, which means another definition of the word wait there, which you might find the margins of your
Bible is, you know, sort of play the host, you know, with each other.
In other words, share your food with each other. So it's not the food is the mean or means of having fellowship, the context for fellowship.
The important thing is the fellowship. And he's very adamant about that in this text.
It's not about your appetite. So you're not coming in to stuff yourself with this meal. But you're coming here to share with each other and, you know, to, you know, share your lives together.
And that day, it appears that they brought their meals in separately. Some would go ahead and eat. Some even got drunk.
That was an abuse. But it shows you what was happening. They were eating, you know, but and some were lacking.
And he he's disturbed about that. And he says, this is not the fellowship that was created by Jesus. This isn't what
Jesus did when he died sacrificially. That's your brother. That's your sister. You know, share your life with them.
Share what you have with them. And so it's that fellowship. The walls are broken down.
That fellowship we have is because of Jesus Christ's death. So food is is there as a context.
But otherwise, it's it's the main thing is the fellowship itself.
So that's that's what we're after. Food will be necessary because it's a supper.
It's an agape feast. So feast, you know, have the supper, have the food, but don't make it about your appetite.
Make it about sharing. Now, I can be honest with you that the first time
I ever heard of. The concept of the Lord's Supper being a meal, it was probably over a decade ago, and it was someone who at the time had a much stricter view of house churches.
I think at that time, the individual actually believed that that was required of people, of Christians to be faithful to the biblical understanding of assembling together.
I think that he has departed from that now and is actually. Yeah, I hope so.
I hope so. That would be wrong. Yeah, I think he's meeting actually in a rented facility now, just like people would do as a church.
Yeah, but yeah, but I don't know if he's I'm not mentioning his name because he may have changed his view on this as well.
But what turned me off to the idea of the Lord's Supper as a meal from this individual is he actually said to me that we put the bread and wine on the table right alongside everything else that everybody's eating, like the cream spinach and the pork chops and everything else.
And and you just and you just go up and you you take your whatever you want and slap it on your plate.
And you take the elements and you sit privately and partake of the Lord's Supper. There's no more formal highlighting of those elements.
Now, I'm assuming from what you said, you would probably be equally opposed to that. Let me say there are different things you can do.
We're not nobody's prescribed here what to do. You know, in the Scriptures, you'll have a hard time.
All you find is the cup which we bless, the bread which we share. So and in Jesus Passover meal, it was a
Seder. They just did various ceremonial things all the way through that meal. So it's hard to use that as a model.
You know, I don't think the Lord was telling us to do Seder, Passover Seders. So I think we're required to highlight that however we do it.
The one thing to think about is that it is possible in that context, that culture when bread was the utensil.
All right, that's how they ate their meal. And when you had a banquet with people, other people, you almost always had wine.
And it had to be fermented because that's it wasn't a way to keep it from being fermented. But that's another question.
I don't care if it's wine or grape juice or whatever. But so you had that.
And these were the staples of every meal. So it's a little bit difficult question to say how.
You know, that was on the table already. So is is he saying for those of you who are believers, this bread, this cup, which we're highlighting here.
Is to remind us of the death of Jesus Christ, his body and his blood. In other words,
I would say that there's nothing inherently wrong with putting it there with the foods in a separate place.
But what you need to do is highlight. So we take some trouble to do that. I mean, we talk about we open the scriptures together.
One of the different brothers will share something every week. We often sing together.
We pray together. We remember those things. And so we're highlighting that and then they're eating them like the early church probably would.
They probably be eating them along with their meal. But if we don't do that, we can do something else.
I think one of the congregations does a little bit differently than that. I think this is this is something you need to work out in your own mind.
But remember, we're not trying to repeat. We ultimately need to to seek to obey the script.
You know what the Lord has revealed in the scriptures and not past experiences of ceremonies the way they've been handled.
So, you know, we can get that mixed up and think, well. You know, we've got to do it like that in order for it to be sacred enough or something.
So I just say we have to be careful about that. And I think it was just a pretty simple idea.
This bread and this this wine, which we always would have with a meal. This for us believers is about the death of Jesus Christ and reminds us that we are together and we have fellowship because of all the walls are broken down because of Jesus Christ's death.
So I'm not too concerned about whether it's at the end of the table or on a separate table or done together.
I've done all of those things. You know, I've done everything. So you can, you know, I mean, especially done together or not together in the middle of the meal at the end of the meal.
I've done I can do those things because I'm finding different ways that I might want to highlight that.
There's no formula here, in my view, no ceremony that he's describing.
So that I think we need to be careful about mixing up, you know, the ceremonies that have developed in the third, fourth century as the church began institutionalized, as there were priests, as there were, you know, the things that developed and we that we have some hangover from.
I just think we need to be careful not to think that's the only way that we highlight what's going on here.
Okay. Yes. And we have to go to our final break. Don't go away. We're going to be right back. James White of Alpha Omega Ministries here.
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ChrisArnzen at gmail .com. Okay, Jim, we have Ray J. in Watts, California, who asks, if you visit a church that has a more traditional
Lord's Supper that is a part of a liturgical service separate from any meal, would you partake of it?
I believe I would if it was a true church. I mean, in other words, there are many progressive churches that I don't think understand the gospel.
If they're not representing the true gospel, I think that would be a problem. I think I would, but I would be thinking to myself, this is a mighty small meal.
So this has not even happened yet? You haven't visited like a Reformed Baptist church, for instance?
I have been, yes. I have been, and where God is honored, and they're preaching the gospel, and I did that not long ago in Shreveport, for instance.
So I would do that, but I would encourage them to a fuller understanding, you know, everybody to a fuller understanding of this.
I think we're missing something. And so yes, I would, and I wouldn't,
I wouldn't think that would be a reason to, I wouldn't think I would not do it if they were true church, and preaching the gospel through it, in a sense.
So that's my position. Others may have a different position, but I don't think that, I think that's the right way to handle that.
In other words, we see a good part of it alike, but the context that is created by Christ's death is missing.
So that's a big miss to me, but it would keep me from, you know, eating that very small meal.
Well, Jim, we are now out of time, and I really loved the interview, and found myself having a lot more in common than I perhaps anticipated with you about this very subject.
And I want to make sure that our listeners have your contact information.
First of all, if our listeners want to find out more about Christian communicators worldwide, you can go to ccwtoday .org,
ccwtoday .org. And if you want to find out more about Christ Fellowship in Kansas City, Missouri, christfellowshipkc .org,
christfellowshipkc .org. It was such a joy to have you on, Jim. I look forward to many frequent future returns by you to this program.
I want to thank everybody who listened, and I want you all to always remember for the rest of your lives that Jesus Christ is a far greater
Savior than you are a sinner. Thank you, Chris. Thank you, brother.