When and How

Scripture does not tell us how often to partake of the Lord’s Supper, but it is clear that, in the early church, it was done with regularity in the house church meetings as a full meal (see 1 Cor. 11:20-34). Because the Lord’s Supper has its roots in the Passover Meal, was part of a full meal when it was instituted by Jesus, and was eaten as a full meal by the early church, that is how it should be practiced today. Still much of the church follows “the traditions of men.”

We should approach the Lord’s Supper with reverence. The apostle Paul taught that it was a serious offense to partake of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world (1 Cor. 11:27-32).

We are admonished to examine and judge ourselves before partaking of the Lord’s Supper, and if we discover any sin, we need to repent and confess it. Otherwise, we can be “guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.”

Because Jesus died and shed His blood to free us from sin, we certainly don’t want to partake of the elements, which represent His body and blood, with any known unconfessed sin. If we do, we can eat and drink judgment upon ourselves in the form of sickness and premature death, as did the Corinthian Christians. The way to avoid God’s discipline is to “judge ourselves,” that is, acknowledging and repenting of our sins.

The primary sin of the Corinthian Christians was their lack of love; they were bickering and fighting with one another. In fact, their lack of consideration even manifested itself during the Lord’s Supper when some ate while others went hungry, and some were even drunk (see 1 Cor. 11:20-22).

The bread we eat represents the body of Christ, which is now the church. We partake of one loaf, representing our unity as one body (see 1 Cor. 10:17). What a crime it is to partake of that which represents the one body of Christ while involved in fighting and disharmony with other members of that body! Before we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we need to make certain we are in right relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.