If you enter the hall during this meeting, you will see us gathered around a table upon which is a loaf of bread and a container of wine. You will also quickly realize that there is no clergyman, elder, or other person in charge. If you were to ask someone what the program is, the reply would be that there is none.
However, you will also notice that any brother in fellowship with us may call a hymn to be sung by all, give thanks, or have the privilege of blessing the bread and wine. Our God-given knowledge and sound mind are used in Spirit-led prayer and singing in the assembly just as they should be in every aspect of our daily lives. “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” (I Corinthians 14:15)
If you were to ask if anyone will be preaching, the answer you would hear is that we have not come together to hear a sermon but to praise and worship the Lord Jesus and remember Him in His death. This was His request on the night of His betrayal: “this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:14-20; I Corinthians 11:23-29)
You may also wonder why the bread and wine are not passed to you. This is because the Bible teaches the following:
1. The breaking of the bread is not an isolated act. It involves fellowship with others. In I Corinthians 10:16, we read, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” Communion has the thought of fellowship, of sharing together. When you break bread with us, you are not only remembering the Lord with us but you are also expressing fellowship with us in the teaching and position of gathering out to the Lord alone, apart from man-made denominations and gatherings. It would not be right for you to express fellowship with us in the breaking of the bread unless you are convinced that the way we gather and what we teach is according to the Bible and you are willing to walk in that way.
2. Although the breaking of bread is the privilege of every Christian, it is very clear that this privilege can be forfeited by sin in a believer’s life or by association with anything contrary to the Word of God. The Christians gathered at Corinth were told to excommunicate a brother who was living in sin (I Corinthians 5:11-13). We are told in I Timothy 5:22 to “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partakers of other men’s sins.” The laying on of hands is an expression of fellowship. If we were to accept someone into fellowship with us whom we did not know very well, we could easily associate ourselves with sin (“Know ye not that a little leaven leaventh the whole lump?” I Corinthians 5:6). For fellowship to be genuine, you must be well known by the assembly and vice-versa.
3. In the local assembly, the brothers and sisters are responsible to care for each other (I Corinthians 12:25). If someone is habitually absent from the gathering or falls into sin, the Bible teaches that the assembly is to seek to restore such a one to the Lord (Galatians 6:1, II Corinthians 2:7-8). In order to restore someone to fellowship with the Lord and with the Lord’s people, the assembly is to take steps of correction depending on the individuals case (I Thessalonians 5:14, I Corinthians 5:11). It would be impossible to practice this truth of Godly care and discipline if a Christian breaks bread with us one Lord’s day and then goes to a denomination or some other group to break bread on another Lord’s day then, sometime later, come back to break bread with us.
4. It is the assembly which receives or excommunicates (Matthew 18:15-20). If you feel led by the Word of God to identify yourself with us in the breaking of the bread, then you should express your desire to someone in the assembly. A short time would then be allowed for any in the assembly to visit with you. Providing that there is nothing in your life and association that would prevent you from breaking bread with us, you would gladly be received to break bread with us each Lord’s day. Of course, you would also be received to break bread in any of the assemblies associated with us in various places by a letter of commendation (II Corinthians 3:1).