Breaking of Bread
Why Does Christ Assembly Have a
Breaking of Bread Service Every Week?
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Breaking of Bread, also called the Lord’s Supper, refers to a special worship service instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ. This ordinance of Christ does not impart a special form of grace, but it does unite every believer in worship and remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ until He returns.
Inauguration. The night Jesus was arrested, He brought His disciples together in the upper room for a last meal with them before He went to the cross. While the disciples were eating with Him, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it, and gave it to His disciples, and said, “Take it; this is My body” (Mark 14:22). The bread symbolizes the body of Christ. In the divine plan, God prepared a body of real flesh for Jesus (1 John 4:2). Before the foundation of the world, Jesus eternally existed as a person dwelling with the Father and Holy Spirit, united as one God (John 1:1; Colossians 1:19; John 10:30). In the fullness of time, God prepared a perfect, sinless body for Christ, being conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary (Galatians 4:4; Matthew 1:20). Therefore, Jesus offered His body as a holy, living sacrifice to bear the sins of the world and sanctify a people for God (Hebrews 10:5). He did not die for His own sins, because He had no sin, but for my sins and your sins, the Just for the unjust (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 3:18). Jesus offered the sacrifice just once, and for all people and times. He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus also took the cup and used it as a symbol of several truths. The cup reminds us of the past, present and future.
The cup pictures the past because Jesus wants us to remember Him. It focuses our attention exclusively upon Him as the object of worship during the Breaking of Bread service: “. . . do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). As we look back, we see our Savior. We remember the work of Christ, in paying the wages of sin (Romans 6:23), propitiating the anger of God at the sin of the world (1 John 2:2), opening a new and living way to draw near to God (Hebrews 10:20), and demonstrating the love of God for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). For the joy set before Him, Christ endured the cross and despised the shame (Hebrews 12:2). He stands now as the Author and Perfecter of our faith as we fix our eyes upon Him, particularly in the elements of the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus also linked the cup to our present blessings in Him. In the cup, we have the “blood of the covenant.” He explained that the covenant included pouring out His blood for many so that their sins would be forgiven (Matthew 26:28). Without the shedding of blood, God cannot forgive sin (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus described a “new covenant” in His blood (1 Corinthians 11:25). The word “covenant” means an agreement between two people, and only comes into effect when the maker of the covenant dies. Therefore, Jesus died to bring about the redemption of sin, a crucial feature of this new covenant we have with God (Hebrews 9:15-18). When Jesus lifted that cup, and called it the new covenant in His blood, He intended for each of us to remember, as often as we drink it, that He alone is the author of that new covenant, and He alone offers redemption from sin. In Him we live victoriously, and drink together as people joined to Him under the “new covenant” of eternal blessings and forgiveness. God writes upon the tablets of our hearts with the Spirit of the living God, so that we have become ministers of the new covenant who have received life from the Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 3:1-6). At the Lord’s table, we see the Maker of that covenant in the wine we drink together.
The bread and the cup also allow us to proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11:26). Only Jesus can so beautifully tie together the concept of death taking away sin to the eternal life He provides as a gift to every believer. Jesus said He would not “drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of heaven comes” (Luke 22:17-18). Jesus never leaves the bitter taste of death lingering in the elements, but always adds the aroma of glory to come. Jesus lives and we proclaim His life every week as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. When His kingdom comes, then the living Christ will drink the cup with His disciples (Matthew 26:29). From that first Lord’s Supper, the church of Jesus Christ has followed His command to partake together.
Early Church Practice. Shortly after Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles at Pentecost. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, preached to Jerusalem and three thousand souls were added to the church in one day. Those Jerusalem believers began to meet “day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house . . . .” (Acts 2:46). There, the early Christians were breaking bread daily, moving from house to house and also eating together with gladness and sincerity of heart (Acts 2:46). The number of men came to be about five thousand (Acts 4:4) and the Lord added to that number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:47). They were baptized and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer (Acts 2:42). They were feeling a sense of awe. (Acts 2:43). Later in Acts, Paul met with believers at Troas on the first day of the week to break bread and for the preaching of God’s word (Acts 20:7). We may glean from these passages that breaking of bread occurred as often as every day and also on the first day of the week. Therefore, the New Testament church had a variety of times it observed the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. At Christ Assembly, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday based upon the verses above, but recognize that Scripture does not set a mandatory frequency for the ordinance. It does, however, provide very specific guidelines for observing the ordinance.
Examine Yourself. In Corinth, the believers had problems with the Breaking of Bread. Paul said they were divided and factions existed among them. Some of them were drunk and others were hungry (1 Corinthians 11:17-20). He instructed them to return to the original practice for the Breaking of Bread which he received from the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul warned that some of the believers were sick and others slept because they had partaken of the Lord’s Supper while they were divided, drunk and shaming other believers (1 Corinthians 11:30). He urged each believer to examine his own heart and so avoid partaking of the elements of the Lord’s Supper unworthily (1 Corinthians 11:28). This self-examination should include looking into your own heart to be sure that you are in fellowship with the other believers (1 Corinthians 11:28). Furthermore, if you know that someone else has a problem with you, then you would do well to seek reconciliation with that other person before you partake of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 5:23-24). The Bible emphasizes that you must seek out the brother or sister who has something against you. Do not disrupt the service by doing it during the service, but rather go to them before you worship, in private, and seek reconciliation. The way to cure divisions in the Body of Christ is for members to reconcile with each other. Finally, be sure to confess your sin to God and know that He will forgive you, and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). To partake unworthily means that you “will be disciplined by the Lord so that you will not be condemned along with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32; Romans 8:1).
Elders. The elders of the church must shepherd the flock of God and exercise oversight according to the will of God (1 Peter 5:2). As the elders exercise their oversight function, believers should submit to them, for they keep watch over the souls of believers as men who will give an account (Hebrews 13:17). If the elders know that a person will be eating and drinking the elements of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner, they must be careful to stop that practice. In some instances, the person under discipline for unrepentant sin will be excluded from partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 18:15-20). The emphasis is always upon restoration of the fallen believer, and never a punitive measure aimed at a believer, for every believer stands holy and blameless before the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:22).
Holy Spirit Service. The Holy Spirit alone should lead the Breaking of Bread service and only believers may partake of the elements. We unite to remember the Lord Jesus Christ, and to praise and worship Him. This service uniquely focuses upon Jesus Christ alone. The males (1 Timothy 2:12-14; 1 Corinthians 14:34; see Assembly Practice—Silent Submission) choose hymns and read Scriptures that focus upon Jesus, because we are to remember Him. The women must cover their heads (1 Corinthians 11:3-16; Genesis 3:16; 2:18; see Assembly Practice—Head Covering) and participate silently. Never let silence by males or females be mistaken for inactivity—we should pray and worship even as we wait for the Holy Spirit to lead us. As the Holy Spirit fills everyone, the men lead with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Everyone sings, making melody with our hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God our Father (Ephesians 5:18-20). Everything must be done properly and in order during this time structured only by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:40). Every speaker should be careful to limit his remarks so that others will have ample opportunity to participate. We avoid petitions and prayer requests during this time, because we do not want to focus upon ourselves, but rather devote this time to the praise and worship of Jesus Christ alone. We also partake of the elements together. When a brother feels led, he will pray for the bread and give thanks to God. Then each of us will partake together. Likewise, another brother will pray for the cup and we will drink it together. Usually, we conclude with a song (Matthew 26:30).