Why does the Lord’s Supper have bread and wine, instead of cookies and grape soda? Well, there are several mentions of the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament and they all include bread and wine. Isn’t it just simpler to do it like it says?
The simpler explanation is often the better one.
A divisive person, ignoring this, may counter: Well, consider the cultural context of that faithful Thursday evening. We all know they wanted to celebrate an early Passover, and Passover includes the eating of lamb, so this means Christ intended that we do not need to honor Him with any specific kind of food….
There are several obvious problems with this that hardly need explaining. First, nowhere does the Scripture assign to Christ such an intent (of replacing lamb with bread.) That would be an assumption of the divisive person. We don’t want to assign intents to authors of Scripture that are not found in the Scripture.
Second, the “context” the divisive interpreter draws is not a forgone conclusion. We don’t know whether the disciples would have even thought to purchase lamb yet, because Passover began the following evening. Perhaps they were only undergoing preparations. Hence, without perfect historical knowledge of the events, which we don’t have, we cannot make such an assumption. Thus, without complete and perfect knowledge of context, we should not assign meaning to Scriptural events and commands not made clear in the Scripture.
Third, and most importantly, Jesus Christ says His “yoke is easy and burden is light” (Matt 11:30). It is not hard, at least intellectually and physically, to follow Christ. We already covered that “the sacred writings … are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching” (2 Tim 3:16-16). Therefore, we don’t need to be ancient history scholars or theological experts to glean the true meaning of the Scriptures. The Scriptures are in effect understandable to all believers and the truths therein can be applied in their lives by taking the Scripture at its word.
This is why the faith that the Scripture teaches of faith manifests itself in works (James 2:17).
So what are those works? Well, they have something to do with what is taught in the Scripture. Christ tells us to do the following when starting the Great Commission:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you… (Matt 28:19-20).
Jesus Christ also explains the importance of putting into practice what He has taught at the end of the Sermon on the Mount:
Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall (Matt 7:24-27).
James gives the example of feeding one’s neighbor (James 2:14-16).
John asserts: Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth (1 John 3:17-19).
Paul states that “faith working through love” typifies the Christian walk (Gal 5:6).
The faith is meant to be practiced and the Bible is not shy about giving some details about what practiced faith looks like. It tells us how to love our neighbor through mercy, forgiveness, and generosity. Further, it tells us how to love God by presenting Him with “spiritual sacrifices” (Rom 12:1), which are acts of obedience pertaining to everything from sexual morality to how we dress,
Taking all of these into account, I think the conclusion is obvious: unless we are compelled by the greatest commandment, love, we have no justification to ignore something God asks from us. Using “historical context,” immensely deep theological interpretations, and other methods to ignore fulfilling something the Scripture says turns God into a liar. It means His Scripture really isn’t all that useful for teaching and correction, that His burden is not easy, that we are not compelled to do what He has commanded us though God iterates in pretty clear language that we ought to.
So, simplicity demands us to take God at His word unless we feel that we can be even more obedient to God by taking a different course of actions.
For example, if lying to the Nazis can save someone’s life, we may know it is disobedient to lie, but it is even more disobedient perhaps not to. We see this with Rahab the harlot in how she is commended for her faith.
However, we don’t want to run off with this principle and use it as justification to do anything we want. Let’s take a non-controversial example. For example, let’s say there is someone who is being considered to be an elder for a church. He’s a great man, he fulfills every qualification in 1 Tim 3:1-7, but his wife is a wreck and his daughter is 16 and pregnant. It would seem to me that because he can’t keep his household in order, perhaps for reasons out of his control, the faithful thing to the Scripture would be to decide not to install this man as an elder.
There are other seemingly innocent passages that drum up major controversy, one being the issue of outward adornment. I was sort of surprised at the negative reaction I got last Thursday night for saying that unless compelled by love to disregard prohibitions against ostentatious outward adornment, it is best that we do our best to follow what is said. How am I wrong?
I can be wrong if the Scripture is too confusing to understand and cannot be taken at face value concerning such a passage. However, I hope that can be discounted outright because of the Bible’s perspicuity.
I can also be wrong if the context of the passage is totally off. However, in the issue of outward adornment, we are given an example in church (1 Tim 2) and an example outside of church (1 Peter 3), which encourages us to adopt the understanding that it is God’s will that we not be ostentatious all the time. It is my contention that context is not at issue.
Lastly, I can be wrong if the Scripture simply does not accurately tell us what is right or wrong, but rather we know better now then the writers of the Bible did. This can be taken to nefarious extremes such as those who argue fornication or homosexuality are not sins, but it can also be done innocently, as I think it is done in this situation. “Well, God can’t really be against wearing gold, I wear gold and I know I love God. I don’t think I should take this passage seriously.”
I ask you, my dear reader, is this a compelling theological reason to disregard what the Scripture says? Shouldn’t we follow what the Scripture says strictly unless there are obvious moral ramifications which would require us to re-evaluate doing it “by the book?”
Honestly, so many problems that confront the church and that have been tearing it apart, such as issues of sexuality and gender, would be nipped in the bud if we only took a simple and consistent approach to Scripture. It’s is not legalism, rather, it is real-world obedience.
We are antinomians, as we understand that the Law does not brings us justification, rather though we have sinned against a holy God we are made righteous by having faith in the One by whose works the Law has been fulfilled, Jesus Christ! We are Christians because we are compelled to walk as Jesus did and act upon His words in the Holy Scripture. Hence, we are compelled to be antinomian Christians.