When Should I Not Take The Lord’s Supper?

October 27, 2015  |  John Kronwald

Each week when our church gathers together we observe the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper, also referred to as communion, is one of two ordinances instituted by Jesus.  This sacrament is given to the church to be practiced regularly as a sign of our ongoing fellowship with Him.   It’s a way of remembering the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and celebrating in its implications for us as believers.  So here at Redemption Church we intentionally observe the Lord’s Supper each and every week when we assemble together.

Nonetheless, there are occasions when it is NOT appropriate to participate in this ordinance. Let’s take a look at what those conditions are, and if they apply to you.

The first, and more obvious, requirement for taking the Lord’s Supper is saving faith in Christ. Communion is for Christians.  By participating, we are remembering and proclaiming Christ’s death and the new covenant we share with Him (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).

A second, and less commonly enforced, requirement is baptism. Some churches historically have required baptism to be a prerequisite to taking the Lord’s Supper.  The thinking is that if baptism, the first of the two ordinances given to the church, symbolizes the one-time initiation into the Christian life, and communion symbolizes the ongoing remembrance of that new life in Christ, then it would only make sense that an individual would be baptized prior to taking the Lord’s Supper.  However, here at Redemption we would never deny a follower of Jesus, someone who is a part of the body of Christ, from taking communion for this reason.  Instead, we would encourage them to be baptized as soon as possible.

A third requirement for participating in the Lord’s Supper, according to the Apostle Paul, is self-examination. He says in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” Throughout this passage Paul is rebuking the Corinthian believers for their selfish and divisive arrogance.  Paul’s caution for them (and for us today) is to examine our hearts before participating in the Lord’s Supper, so as to not take it in an unworthy manner.  Are there ways in which you are harboring bitterness, pride, self-centeredness, or unforgiveness toward others?  If so, you are not truly believing in the very gospel that you’re proclaiming through the Lord’s Supper.  Our hearts are wicked and deceitful (Jer. 17:9) and therefore you and I need to regularly examine ourselves, repent, and seek forgiveness before participating in Communion.

The Lord’s Supper isn’t merely a religious ritual we practice, but rather a reminder of the gospel and a call to selfless love. The Lord’s Supper –when observed in a worthy manner- proclaims the gospel, reminds us of Christ’s sacrificial love, allows us to rest in the new covenant promises, empowers us to love others, and unites the church. I pray that we will take the opportunity to examine ourselves this week before the Lord’s Supper, and remember all of the things this sacred ordinance symbolizes and it’s implications for us today.