( In 14th September 2007, I posted this piece in the old blogpastor, which I have now revised and re-published.)
Don’t miss this excellent post of the different views of holy communion by Alex Tang of Random Musings. It includes the view of Joseph Prince of New Creation Church.
John Piper’s view is the best fit and description of wrpf’s belief and practice regarding holy communion. John Piper writes:
“Let me read the key sentence from the Elder Affirmation of Faith once more and then show you in the Bible where it comes from. “Those who eat and drink in a worthy manner partake of Christ’s body and blood, not physically, but spiritually, in that, by faith, they are nourished with the benefits He obtained through His death, and thus grow in grace.”
Where does this idea of “partaking of Christ’s body and blood . . . spiritually . . . by faith” come from? The closest text to support this is in the previous chapter: 1 Corinthians 10:16-18. As I read it, ask, “What does ‘participation’ mean?”
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ (koinōnia estin tou haimatos tou Christou)? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ (ouchi koinōnia tou sōmatos tou Christou estin)? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar (koinōnia tou thusiastēriou)?
Here is something much deeper than remembering. Here are believers—those who trust and treasure Jesus Christ—and Paul says that they are participating in the body and blood of Christ. Literally, they are experiencing a sharing (koinōnia) in his body and blood. They are experiencing a partnership in his death.
Partaking of Christ’s Body and Blood, Spiritually, By Faith
And what does this participation/sharing/partnership mean? I think verse 18 gives us the clue because it uses a similar word, but compares it to what happens in the Jewish sacrifices: “Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants [a form of the same word] in the altar?” What does sharer/participant/partner in the altar mean? It means that they are sharing in or benefiting from what happened on the altar. They are enjoying, for example, forgiveness and restored fellowship with God.
So I take verse 16 and 17 to mean that when believers eat the bread and drink the cup physically we do another kind of eating and drinking spiritually. We eat and drink—that is, we take into our lives—what happened on the cross. By faith—by trusting in all that God is for us in Jesus—we nourish ourselves with the benefits that Jesus obtained for us when he bled and died on the cross.
This is why we lead you in various focuses at the Lord’s table from month to month (peace with God, joy in Christ, hope for the future, freedom from fear, security in adversity, guidance in perplexity, healing from sickness, victory in temptation, etc.). Because when Jesus died, his shed blood and broken body, offered up in his death on our behalf, purchased all the promises of God. Paul says, “All the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Every gift of God, and all our joyful fellowship with God, was obtained by the blood of Jesus. When Paul says, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” he means: Do we not at the Lord’s table feast spiritually by faith on every spiritual blessing bought by the body and blood of Christ? No unbeliever can do that. The devil can’t do it. It is a gift for the family. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we feast spiritually by faith on all the promises of God bought by the blood of Jesus.”
John Piper’s full article is titled, “Why and how we celebrate the Lord’s Supper”.