Organic Christianity: Devoted to the Breaking Bread

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I. Introduction

A. Today we come to our second lesson in our series titled “Organic Christianity.” Our goal in this series is to examine the first century church and to see what Christianity looks like without manmade additives and changes, with the goal hopefully, to follow in their steps. Being “organic” – whether this is in reference to being Christians or a local church as God designed them to be, I believe, must be what we aim for if we have devoted ourselves to the Apostles doctrine as we talked about in our last lesson. Our goal; our aim as Christians, is to be pleasing to God, and we know that the Christians in the book of Acts, as they followed the direction given to them by the Apostles of the Lord Jesus, were pleasing to God

B. We have been spending time talking about the things that the early church devoted themselves to; what they continued steadfastly in. The passage we have been focusing on has been

1. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” ( ESV).

2. Our goal for today, Lord willing, will be to talk about the third thing that Paul references in v42 that the disciples devoted themselves to: the breaking of bread.

II. Body

A. Question: IS the “breaking of bread” in v42 talking about “common” meals that the disciples partook in together or is it talking about the Lord’s Supper?

1. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this point, but I do believe it is a reference to the Lord’s Supper and not to meals they would get together day by day to eat together

a) I do believe they devoted as individual disciples to doing both of these together, so this point really is not that big of a deal. With this said. I believe the sharing food with one another in meals was one of the main ways they showed their devotion to the fellowship, and it would seem that if this point is talking about their common meals that Luke would be telling us here that the disciples devoted themselves to the fellowship twice in the verse. It seems more likely to me that Luke is referring to something different; to something else that was central to the life of the early church, and since the terminology of “breaking bread” or something like it is often used in the New Testament in regards to the Lord’s Supper, it makes sense to me that this would be what Luke is speaking of here in .

2. With this said, the Lord’s Supper was a special meal that the Lord gave to his people. It was a central part of what God’s people did together... We see this in , a passage which talks about what our early brethren did on the Lord’s Day. Luke says, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” Yes, this passage talks about Paul teaching the word of God to them (for a long period of time!) … but it also tells us that they came together/assembled for the reason of breaking bread together.

3. The Lord’s Supper was the rallying cry for God’s people. They assembled mainly for this reason. The question we need to ask is, Why? Why was this so important: The main reason why I believe the Lord’s Supper took the main stage was because the church viewed it as their motivation for everything else that they did. The things that they were reminded of as they partook motivated them to devote themselves to everything else we have and will talk about in this series. So what are these things they were reminded of? They were reminded:

a) Why they received mercy and freedom

b) What they had committed themselves to

c) Who they have a relationship with

4. Let’s spend a few moments discussing each of these...

B. A Memorial Meal “…do this in remembrance of Me" ().

1. Usually one of the first things that we think of when we think of the Lord’s Supper is Jesus’ instructions to partake of it in remembrance of Him.

2. The concept of a memorial feast/meal is not new in the New Testament. This idea is all throughout the Old Testament. The Feasts of the Old Testament system had the purpose of reminding those under the covenant of the great works that God has done for His people:

a) The Passover. Probably the feast we are most familiar with is the Passover, where the Jews remembered how God delivered His people from Egypt.

(1) God says in Exodus that He wanted this feast to be a day of memorial:
(a) - 'Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.

b) Feast of Tabernacles – God’s care for them in the wilderness.

c) Day of Atonement – God providing yearly atonement through the scapegoat and the blood of the goat which was taken into the Holiest Place.

d) Feast of Firstfruits – God’s providing them with their yearly crops.

3. Jesus and His Supper, I believe, is the culmination of all of the Old Testament memorial feasts. Usually we think of the Lord’s Supper as only a fulfillment of the Passover Feast because of when Jesus inaugurated it and because Jesus is called our Passover. We miss at times that Jesus is also called our firstfruits and our Atonement sacrifice also, or that we are told that he dwells with us and provides for us during our “wilderness wanderings” as pilgrims in this life. I believe the Lord’s Supper is the fulfillment of all these memorial feasts.

4. The Lord’s Supper is a weekly reminder of these things, but ultimately, it is a reminder to us of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We need to make sure that as we partake we remember what He has done for us and still does for us, especially the deliverance from the bondage of sin that He has provided.

a) This reminder motivates God’s people to in return give their lives to the Lord, to renew their commitment to Jesus, and even would motivate them to be willing to suffer for Jesus as He did for them.

C. A Covenantal Meal “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” ().
1. In Old Testament times, when covenants were made, those who the covenant was between would have some kind of meal together. This is not common today so we may not think of this as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. These meals were external acts of ratifying the covenants.
2. One of the coolest examples in the Old Testament of a covenantal feast in in . Sacrifices were made and everything associated with the covenant was sprinkled with blood, then 74 men (Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the 70 elders) went onto the mountain and had a meal with the Lord.

a) “Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!" So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11 But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.”

b) This meal ratified the covenant and showed that:

· All parties associated agreed to the terms of the covenant
· All parties were going to be committed to the terms of the covenant
· They were understanding the consequences not only for obedience to the covenant, but also for disobedience; the blessings and the curses.
3. Jesus used the same language as Moses does in this Exodus text wen inaugurating the Lord’s Supper. He reminds them that His blood is the blood of the covenant, a covenant that we devote ourselves to as His people. When we partake of our covenant meal, the Lord’s Supper, we are showing these same things. We are showing our agreement to the terms of the covenant; along with placing ourselves under the blessings and the curses of the covenant…

a) This reminder is a motivation for God’s people to be resolved to faithfulness to the covenant we are under

D. A Communal Meal

1. Communion is not merely one of the many descriptions given in scripture of the Lord’s Supper. It is a description of what is happening between the Lord and His body as they come together to partake of this feast. This feast brings the body of Christ together and shows our joint participation in the blessings of Christ which comes through His death.

a) “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. 18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” ().

(1) Paul in this text is trying to show the dangers of eating meats sacrificed to idols. He shows them that we have fellowship with the one in whose table we sit. If they were to eat meats sacrificed to idols in the idols’ temples, they were communing with Satan. Whenever Christians come together to partake of the body and blood of Christ, they are having communion, not only with their brothers and sisters in Christ here and the world-over on the first day of the week, but with Jesus Christ.

b) If there is a part of the Lord’s Supper that God’s people have forgotten, it is this one. We tend to focus on this as more of an individual event; something between the Lord and me. But this sure does not seem to be the case in the early church. This was a meal that they shared together as they remembered they sat at Christ’s table with their brothers and sisters in Christ everywhere.

III. Conclusion

These are just a few of the reasons why the Lord’s supper was such a central event to the early church, and why it motivated them. We need to remember these things as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial meal. We must be focusing on the sacrifice of our Lord as we partake. It is a covenantal meal in that we need to be remembering what it is we signed up for when we become disciples of Christ. We need to be examining ourselves and our commitment to the Apostles’ teaching. It is a communal meal in that we have fellowship with Christ and His people all over the world, including our brethren here as we partake.

If the reminders that we receive while we partake do not motivate us or stir us up to love and good works, then we need to check our hearts.

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