The holy communion: Essence of the sacrament and application
• It Is Tragic To Hear Some Pastors Or Prophets Advertising Holy Communion On Radio/Television For Healing And Miracle.
This Is Not Only A Misuse Of God’s Grace, But It Should Be Regarded As Heresy
• Anyone Who Commercialises Holy Communion Under The Canopy Of Evangelism Is Not Sinning Against Man, But God
The Holy Communion, which is the Lord’s Supper, was instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. It is observed all over the world by Christians and a recipient must be in the state of grace to be able to partake of it. Some churches even go as far as mandating members to become born again before being permitted to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Today, however, this is being done differently. For instance, some churches now administer Holy Communion to the sick, as a means of healing. But, is this really proper? Are the giver and partaker in such case not doing more harm than good? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.
Nothing Wrong, If People’s Faith Urges Them To Take Holy Communion For Healing’
(Archbishop Joseph Ojo, Presiding Bishop of Calvary Kingdom Church, Lagos-Badagry Expressway)
THE command for believers to observe the Holy Communion was for them to remember that He (Jesus) died for them (Luke 22:19 and 1Cor. 11:20-21) “do this in remembrance of me.”
I believe the essence of something is more important than the process. Methods may differ and can change with time, but the essence and reason remain the same forever. Do this as often as you can, and whenever you do it, it is “my remembrance service.” So long the motive and intentions are right, other things become insignificant. “The just shall live by faith.” This statement appears four times in the Bible (Hab. 2:4, Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11. And Heb.10: 38). If someone’s faith tells him to take Holy Communion for healing, so be it. There is nothing wrong with it. It should not be considered a sacrilege by the perfectionists and holier-than-thou. Romans 14 says, “Let every one be fully persuaded…” It is a matter of persuasion and conviction. If you are sick and you are persuaded to pray, go ahead and do so. If you are persuaded to seek medical advice, go ahead. If you are persuaded to take Holy Communion, please don’t hesitate. Be a man or woman of conviction.
‘The Faithful Are Encouraged To Go To Confession And Be Purified Before They Receive It’
(Most Rev. (Dr.) Emmanuel A. Badejo, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo)
HOLY Communion, also called the Eucharist, is one of the seven sacraments in the Catholic Church. It is also the central Christian sacrament. A sacrament is an external celebration of inward, divine gifts or grace, which sanctify particular important moments of a Christian’s life and person. In the Catholic Church, Holy Communion is normally received within the celebration of Mass at which a validly ordained priest consecrates the bread and wine. With the prayer of consecration at Mass, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, food for the souls of the faithful. Because it is the sign of Jesus’ self-giving love to unite with mankind, Catholics, who are prepared, receive communion at every Mass, practically every day. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, He said: “do this in memory of me” (Lk. 22 14-20, 1Cor. 11:23-26). Holy Communion in the Catholic Church is the real body and blood of Christ, which has the power to heal the faithful, both in body and soul. It also has the power to sanctify and save. Jesus said: “For this reason, no one should receive it unworthily. Saint Paul warned about that in his letter to the Corinthians. (1Cor. 11:27-29). The faithful are, therefore, encouraged to go to confession and be purified before receiving Jesus Christ. That is why all the faithful, including the priest pray the prayer of confession of sins to Almighty God at every Mass, while also asking their fellowmen and women for forgiveness for their sins.
For the same reasons of healing and forgiveness of sins, Holy Communion has always been brought to the sick in the Catholic Church to strengthen and heal them and bring them to eternal life. Jesus said this emphatically in His encounter with the Jews, that He is the bread of life and that anyone who would eat Him would live forever (John 6:48-58). In the early-persecuted Church, even lay Christians at great risk to their own lives did this. Most Catholic parishes still do the same today. When Holy Communion is brought to the sick, it is Communion of the Sick. When it is brought to people, who are in danger of leaving this life, it is called “Viaticum,” something like “with the passing.” It can be received several times, if found necessary. Catholics, who receive communion, are generally persuaded to be humbler, more charitable, forgiving and holy in all they do. The Catholic Church can validly do all these because it believes the word of Christ that He is truly and fully present in the Holy Communion.
It Should Not Be Primarily Used For Only Healing Purposes’
(Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Isaac Ayo Olawuyi, Bishop, Diocese of Lagos Mainland Methodist Church Nigeria)
HOLY Communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper, was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ as a follow up of the rite of Passover, which was instituted by Moses for the final release of the children of Israel from the house of bondage in Egypt. During the rite of Passover, as found in Exodus chapter 12, each family of the people of Israel will take a year-old lamb to slaughter and its blood is applied to the entrance of the house, so that when the angel of destruction is in operation, he will pass them over. It was the Passover rite that finally brought about the release of the people of Israel from their oppressors.
In this vein, Jesus re-enacted the rite of Passover, but introduced a new dimension to it. This was significantly done to mark the beginning of the New Testament, a new covenant for the release of God’s people from the bondage of sin, devil, sickness and eternal destruction. The difference between the two, that is, the Passover of Moses and that of Jesus is that, while the people of Israel used the flesh and blood of the lamb, the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ was used for the salvation of the world. This is what Apostle Paul expressed in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner, He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This, do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” Let us accept the fact that the method of administering the Holy Communion may differ from denomination to denomination. But this does not really matter, as what is important is the essence and right use of the sacrament. Holy Communion is not meant to be administered to the unbeliever. If anyone has not accepted Jesus as the Lord and Saviour, such should not be allowed to partake of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The unsaved are not part of it.
In the Methodist Church, before you are allowed to partake, you must have been a church member with the evidence that you have been baptised, denounced evil and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. Thereafter, you will be made to pass through Christian teaching and especially the doctrine of the church and receive the laying of hands by the Bishop, during the confirmation service. Further more, church accepts the Holy Communion as a sacrament and means of grace, to be in fellowship with Christ and other believers. In Holy Communion, enormous grace and power is believed to be present, because it is all about the essence of Christianity, as it brings renewal of faith in the passion, suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone, whose faith is strong for healing and miracle, is, therefore, blessed during the Holy Communion service. But it should not be primarily used or administered for only healing purposes. Jesus did not institute Holy Communion for the healing of the sick alone, but for the purpose of bringing His death to remembrance. “As often as you drink it, you do it in remembrance of Me.” It is tragic to hear some pastors or prophets advertising Holy Communion on radio or television for healing and miracle. This is not only a misuse of God’s grace, but it should be regarded as heresy that must be totally condemned in a strong term. Anyone, who commercialises Holy Communion under canopy of evangelism, is not sinning against man, but God.
‘Primary Purpose Of Administering Holy Communion Is Not For The Sick To Receive Healing’
(Rev. Francis Ejiroghene Waive, General Overseer, Fresh Anointing Missionary Ministries Inc./Senior Pastor, Church of the Anointing, Warri, Delta State)
OUR Lord Jesus instituted the Holy Communion and partook of it with His disciples. He enjoined us to continue to observe this: “do this in remembrance of me.” And as the Apostle Paul would say: ‘for as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till He comes.’ Thus, we find that the number one benefit of the Holy Communion is fellowship with our Lord Jesus and one another. We share of His body and blood, as it were. Hence, those who are not members of His body are not to partake. “For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself.” One of the results of such unworthy persons partaking in Holy Communion is clearly stated as sickness. “For this cause, many are weak and sick among you and many sleep.” Thus, it has been standard practice for Communicants to be persons who have a relationship with the Lord Jesus and endeavour to please Him with their daily lives. It has been argued that since the abuse of the Holy Communion can result in ill-health, its proper observance can bring healing. The shadows and types of the Old Testament that pre-date this solemn and sacred Christian practice seem to support this view. The Passover meal that the Israelites partook of just before leaving Egypt is a valid example. The Scriptures teach that ‘there was not one feeble person among them’ that night, when they came out of bondage. The Holy Communion meal had a healing impact. But this does not mean the primary purpose of administering the Holy Communion would be for a sick person to receive healing. Healing is a derivative and not the main blessing.
‘ Those Who Administer Communion To The Sick Should Recognise The Importance Of Confession’
(His Grace, Most Revd. Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, Primate of the African Church/President, Christian Council of Nigeria)
THIS term has two different, but related meanings. First, it refers to the meal Jesus shared with His disciples a few hours before His arrest, trial, and death. Second, it also refers to the ceremony in which Christians eat bread and drink wine in memory of His death and resurrection. At that final meal, which was connected to the Passover feast, Jesus compared the bread to His body and the wine to His blood, both of which He was about to offer in a sacrifice for sinners. The Eucharist is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and in His words, He said: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:57).
Another possibility is that the meal in the upper room was not strictly a Passover meal, but, rather, a fellowship meal that took place at the Passover season. Here is the point of difference noted on how Christians observed them differently. A third possibility is that Jesus, for His own reasons, deliberately chose to celebrate the Passover before the normal time. The Eucharist is a remedy for the sick person in several ways. It is a remedy for the anguish of suffering, bestowing Christ’s healing grace and more fully uniting the suffering Christian with the suffering Christ. “…. He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with His stripes we are healed.” “The suffering Servant of the Lord making himself an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53: 5, 10). It is a means of connecting the sick person to the celebration of the Eucharist and to the Mystical Body of Christ. Finally, receiving Holy Communion is remedy for sin and that is the reason it is necessary for whosoever that will participate to repent of his/her sin and be born again. Christ gives us in the Eucharist the blood He “shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). For this reason, the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins.” For the sick that are nourished with the Eucharist, healing from illness can be accompanied by healing from sin. Receiving the Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is a sacred and privileged event, for which we must prepare the sick and lead him/her to Christ. We should heed St. Paul’s warning to the Corinthians: “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, 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 upon himself” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). It is also important that all those who administer Holy Communion to the sick recognise the importance of the sacrament of confession.
‘It Is Not Meant For Any Other Purpose, Only The Way Christ Ordained It’
(Dr. El-Miram Dupe Akinwande, Spiritual Mother of Ebenezer Praying Band Church, C&S/CAN Chairman in Mosan Okunola, Alimosho, Lagos)
IN our church, we do it according to how it was prescribed by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who instituted for the church this last supper; that He would not partake of it again until ‘we meet in my Father’s Kingdom.’ So, we observe all the biblical injunctions and Bible readings that talk of communion. All these we observe, when celebrating it. Only communicants can receive this Holy Communion, it is not for everybody or for other purposes. If you have not gone through the baptismal and confirmation classes, then you are not qualified to receive it. You must be baptised by immersion. If you are a stranger, we ask if you have been baptised and if you are a communicant, we will know by the way you present your hand. This method has been there for years. We don’t give our communion anyhow. It has to be done according to the way Christ ordained it, and it is not meant for healing or any other purpose. It can heal you, when you take it in the right spiritual condition, but it is definitely not that you tell people to come and take Holy Communion for healing, it is wrong. We have to follow the rules, as laid down by the scriptures, which is why we organise classes for our members and so, they know the rules and what to do when receiving Holy Communion, when to kneel down or stretch out their hands and things like that. You don’t just stretch out your hands that you want to receive Communion. We observe this once a month. Those who do not take this Holy Communion according to how it is laid done by Christ, or those who take it in sin will become sick. So, it has to be taken properly and if you are not sure of yourself, don’t try it. If you take it anyhow, you are going against the rules of Christ. Sacrament must not be taken anyhow, and it is not for advertisement either. It is to be observed in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ. You have to repent of your sins, observe it in holiness and if we do the right thing, we will partake of it again with Him in His Father’s Kingdom.
‘Mishandling The Communion Could Result In Sickness And Death’
(Pastor Mike Onyeka, Senior Pastor/Vision Bearer of Victorious People Assembly Intl Inc. (House of Praise), Aba, Abia State)
THE Holy Communion is a very fundamental and powerful spiritual ordinance of the Church. Our Lord Jesus Himself established it. In fact, Jesus did not refer to the bread and wine as representing His body and blood. He declared categorically, “this is my body” and “this is my blood” (Mathew 26: 26, 28). Apostle Paul, in his treatise on the Holy Communion to the Corinthian Church, stated clearly that mishandling the Communion or eating it wrongfully could result in damnation, sickness and death (1 Corinthians 11:27-30). Jesus gave the Communion to His disciples only. Paul’s admonition was to the Christians in the church in Corinth. It is clear, therefore, that the Communion is not meant for unbelievers. Every pastor administering the Holy Communion has an obligation to ensure that he does so to believers. It is in the interest of even the unbeliever. To eat the Communion without believing in Jesus is one of the meanings of eating without “discerning the body,” which Paul warned about. It results in damnation.
Administering the Communion to the sick, as an instrument of healing is not only right and proper, but also shows the depth of spiritual understanding. If there is healing in the blood of Jesus and the Communion wine is His blood, then there is healing in the Communion wine. Again, we are healed by His stripes and He took the stripes on His body. If the Communion bread is His body, which He said with His mouth was broken for our sake, then there is healing in the Communion bread. Eating the Communion in faith will result in the healing of the body. In our church, we have had testimonies of the Communion healing menstrual conditions, bone conditions, skin diseases and other forms of ailments. The power of the Communion is in proper understanding and proper celebration.
‘It Is Not Appropriate To Administer The Lord’s Supper Indiscriminately’
(The Most Rev Emmanuel A.S. Egbunu, Bishop of Lokoja Diocese/Archbishop of Lokoja Province, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
THE Holy Communion is the highest service of the Church that has always been observed with much reverence, since the Lord Jesus instituted it. He meant it to be a new covenant between Him and His disciples, binding them together in a sacred relationship. He then commanded that it should be done often in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19; also 1 Corinthians 11:24). For one who died to redeem us, this memorial rite is to be done, meditating on the love that made God to give up His Son to pay such a high price for us. Anyone, who understands what it cost Jesus to redeem us, can never take this lightly. For this reason, the Early Church at the time of the apostles celebrated the Lord’s Supper as a regular part of their fellowship. It was a reminder of their union with the Lord Jesus and their commitment to love one another, as He commanded. Apostle Paul, while seeking to put some things right about this Holy observance, gave some specific instructions to the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, when he writes, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” Further in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, in the face of abuses, he says very strongly, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup…”To prevent the unworthy observance of this sacred service, some churches have deemed it fit to ensure that people attain a spiritual understanding of the meaning of this sacrament. Simply put, a sacrament is a religious practice involving outward signs and symbols that point to deeper spiritual blessings, as commanded by the Lord Jesus. In the Anglican Church, a period of preparation for Confirmation precedes admission to the Lord’s Supper. Some churches have other arrangements. But it must never be an all-comers affair at will.
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