Eating the Lord’s supper on a weekly basis has been a distinctive feature of congregations dedicated to restoring New Testament practices to the church. While Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have consistently observed weekly communion, the Lord’s Supper was relegated to a quarterly or even bi-annual observance in America’s Protestant denominations. In fact, the first issue to force the Stones and Campbells out of their Presbyterian congregations was the accusation of “open communion.”
The early restorers rejected any and all denominational labels. They were, “Christians only” and believed the bread and fruit of the vine should be offered to all who professed to be Christians. Disciples of Christ historian William Moore says this, “celebration of the Lord’s Supper on every Lord’s Day became a fundamental feature in the practice of the Disciples. It was believed…the failure to observe the Lord’s Supper weekly was one of the cardinal mistakes of Christendom. It was felt that in the Primitive Churches this Supper held the chief place at the Lord’s Day service;1”
However, just because something is a tradition within a group of churches, does not make a practice right before God. Reverence for God and a desire to please him must always be at the root of any practice in the church (Ecclesiastes 12:13). We do not observe the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week because of tradition. We partake of the table of the Lord because it is the will of God. We know the truth of the matter because it is revealed by command, example, and inference in God’s word.
Command: The simplest way to please our heavenly Father is to obey what we are told to do or not to do in the Bible. Jesus says, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”-I Corinthians 11:24. He repeats the phrase, “do this” in the next verse referring to the cup. So it is right to say we are commanded to take the Lord’s supper. It is not right to say we are commanded to take it every first day of the week. But it does raise the question, “What pleases the Lord?”
Example: The Holy Spirit led the apostles, “into all the truth”-John 16:13. When they made disciples and organized churches, they instructed them by the very Spirit of God how to, “worship in spirit and truth.”-John 4:24. Was their worship pleasing to God? Yes. Is their example binding on Christians today (II Thessalonians 2:15)? Yes! So what did they do?
The apostles observed, “a participation in the body (and blood) of Christ.”-I Corinthians 10:16, on every first day of the week. Paul chastised Christians for taking the Lord’s supper incorrectly in I Corinthians 11:17-34. But he noted the day and time was to be, “when you come together as a church,”-v18. When do Christians come together to worship? “On the first day of every week,”-I Corinthians 16:2. Acts 20:7 reads, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread.” There is no doubt among historians, Christians took the Lord’s supper every Sunday. Highly respected Presbyterian minister Matthew Henry says in his commentary on Acts 20:7, “In the early times it was the custom to receive the Lord’s supper every Lord’s day.” It is an undeniable truth the apostles taught and practiced weekly communion.
Inference: So what are Christians to infer from this study? Jesus commands us to break bread and drink the cup. The Christians of the New Testament took the Lord’s supper every first day of the week. If those two facts are beyond doubt, what should I do to please my God when it comes to remembering the body and blood of his Son? It is beyond doubt, we must partake of the Lord’s supper on the first day of every week.