The Common Cup, a Command

We live in a world of constant change. Should this change enter our Church? Paul says in 2Th 2:15 “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” Paul wrote these words, in part, because there were those who wanted to change the way things were done in the Church, even in Paul’s day. This will always be the case so long as we are here on earth. Our duty as a Church of Christ is to keep those biblical traditions handed down to us throughout the ages, and not waver from them no matter how unpopular they might seem.

The Lord’s Supper is one area where change has taken place. Not only has the sacrament itself gone through many changes, but the way in which we administer the elements has also changed. In many Reformed Churches, people no longer come forward to a table. Instead, the elements of wine and bread are passed out row by row. Because of this new idea of people sitting in the pew, and having the elements come to them (instead of going forward to a table), one cup has been replaced by many individual cups (an American fundamentalist invention[1]). Even 50 years ago, the practice of individual cups was never found in our Churches. However, more and more congregations are switching to personal cups and leaving off the use of common cup.

Some will say, “So what? Is this really a big deal? Does it matter to the Lord if we have many cups instead of one common cup?” This short paper will attempt to answer this question, “Yes, the Lord does care.”2

The Common Cup in Scripture

The first thing we should take notice of is the fact that at the institution of The Lord’s Supper, Christ did not give each of the disciples their own cup. These are the words we find in Luke 22:17, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come” .

When Christ instituted the sacramental meal of the New Covenant, it came at the end of the supper of the Passover. (Mark 14:18; 1 Corinthians 11:25). Yet our Lord did not give the disciples their own cups as He instituted Holy Supper for the first time, but took one cup and blessed it. Now some would say that Christ would not have used individual cups because the Passover meal had a common cup [3]. Exactly. There is a continuum in the institution of Holy Supper with that of the Passover [4], though it superseded it. On the basis of the old Passover, and the new Lord’s Supper, the disciples then each drank from the single cup and passed it to the next disciple until everyone had partaken.

In fact, every time the Lord’s Supper is mentioned in the New Testament, the single cup is also mentioned.

Notice,

“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it” (Matthew 26:27).

“And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it” (Mark 14:23).

“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come” (Luke 22:17).

“Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20).

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” (1 Cor. 10:16)?

“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (1Cor 10:21).

“After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:25).

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26).

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27).

“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).

By quoting these texts, we find that in every case the singular article is used when referencing the cup. The same is found in the original Greek. Never do we find the Greek using the plural noun or the plural article in reference to the wine of the Lord’s Supper. By doing this, the Holy Spirit has made it very clear as to how He expects the element of wine to be distributed. The emphasis is on one cup (singular), not personal cups (plural). In fact, there is far more biblical data to prove a common cup than there is to prove a common table or sprinkling in baptism. All three doctrines however, are biblical.

The command given by Christ is simple, and its conclusion, unavoidable. “Take this, and divide it among yourselves” is the command of Luke 22:17. Further, our Lord says in Matthew 26:27 “Drink ye all of it“. In both instances the Lord’s emphasis is on the single word “it”. We are to divine “it” (one cup), among the many, and drink, everyone, from “it” (one cup.) Let us remind ourselves of Paul’s words in Col 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Individual cups are not found anywhere in scripture, or the confessions, and has crept in by “the rudiments” (the thoughts), of this world.

“What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deut. 12:32).

One In Christ

The common cup represents in its second place, the oneness all believers have in Christ. 1Cor 12:12 says, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.” Gal 3:28 says the same thing, “…for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

What message does the common cup signify, if not a unity in Christ and oneness in Him? The symbolism of this unity is completely lost in the use of individual cups by asserting the individual over the collective body. It is, by symbolism, both independent and baptistic [5] in nature and spoils the symmetry of the body by focusing on the parts. Listen to the apostle Paul once more in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “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?” The word “communion” in this text means, “joint fellowship, or community”. The common cup is a visible demonstration of oneness in Christ, and singularity of the body.

The Common Cup In History

Pro 22:28 says, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” Do our fathers have anything to say in this regard? Yes indeed.

We run the risk of doing great harm to our children by being the generation that removes the landmarks of our fathers. Often, the first generation to take liberty on a subject is followed by a generation which takes license. We must be very careful that we are not the generation known as the one who removed the landmark of the common cup. Briefly, let us examine our own confession of faith on the subject of the common cup.

First, let us examine closely the wording of the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 28,
question and answer 75:

Question 75. How art thou admonished and assured in the Lord’s Supper, that thou art a partaker of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross, and of all his benefits?

Answer: Thus: That Christ has commanded me and all believers, to eat of this broken bread, and to drink of this cup, in remembrance of him, adding these promises: (a) first, that his body was offered and broken on the cross for me, and his blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes, the bread of the Lord broken for me, and the cup communicated to me; and further, that he feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, with his crucified body and shed blood, as assuredly as I receive from the hands of the minister, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, as certain signs of the body and blood of Christ .

Our Instructor, in this answer, makes it abundantly clear that the single cup was used during the time of this writing. In fact, the Heidelberg Catechism goes so far as to affirm that the common cup is a command. The next question and answer (76), quotes many of the passages we spoke of earlier as proofs of the institution of the Supper as well as demonstrating its proper administration.

Hear Dr. Zacharias Ursinus in his book, Of The Lord’s Supper, And the True Doctrine and Pure Administration thereof; With a Refutation of both Transubstantiation & Consubstantiation.

“The rites which Christ has instituted are, that the Lord’s bread be broken, distributed, and received, and the Lord’s cup be given to all the communicants, in remembrance of his death”.

Second, our form for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper is also quite revealing. In it, when the minister takes up the element of wine to bless it it says, “The cup of blessing which we bless is the communion of the blood of Christ.” Notice the singular cup that is blessed? It is good at this point to remind ourselves that at the table of the Lord, only one cup is blessed. How could a minister say, “The cup of blessing which we bless” to 60 or 70 individual cups? That would require the minister to bless all the cups individually, or changing the form by saying “these cups” instead of “this cup” (It would also require changing 1 Cor. 10:16!). In most congregations that use individual cups, the wine was poured into them before the service began and thus, remain unblessed. It goes without saying then that the only cup blessed is the one prayed over during the Lord’s Supper. Do we then bless the pitcher instead of the cup? The problem still remains as the wine poured out during Holy Supper is only that of the minsters, not the congregation. Do we remove the problem by lifting the whole tray or stack of trays and blessing the individual cups that way? To remedy this obvious theological problem, we would need to institute a whole new series of man made inventions. The simple answer is the biblical one, we bless the same cup that all partake of just as Christ intended.

And finally, in our Church Order, Article 62, we read, “Every Church shall administer the Lord’s Supper in such a manner as it shall judge most conducive to edification; provided, however, that the outward ceremonies as prescribed in God’s Word be not changed and all superstition be avoided…” If what we have tried to establish previously is indeed the prescription of the Word of God, and if our fathers testify to this truth, it would be hard to argue for the use of individual cups and remain faithful to the Word of God and our Church Order.

The Dutch Reformed Fathers

In 1618, the Synod of Dordt commissioned a group of ministers to write an commentary on the whole Bible. These annotations remain one of the great contributions to the Reformed world by commenting on most passages of the Bible. Here is what our forefathers say regarding the common cup as found in Matthew 26:27, “And took the cup, and having given thanks, gave (it) to them; and they all drank of the same [cup]: [Namely, as Christ had commanded them, Matthew. 26.27].”

Wilhelmus à Brakel (2 January 1635, Leeuwarden – 30 October 1711, Rotterdam), one of the ablest of all Dutch Divines says on this subject,

Even if the world, as their enemy, hates, despises, persecutes, and oppresses them, there is yet no reason for concern; they can readily miss its love, for they have better company and they refresh themselves in a sweet manner in the exercise of mutual love. They confess this unity in the Lord’s Supper by eating of the same bread and by drinking of the same cup. “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Cor.10:17) (Wilhelmus a Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Bartel Elshout, trans., [Morgan, Pennsylvania: Soli Deo Gloria], 1992, 1995 [1700], 2:577).

Likewise, another well loved Dutch divine Herman Witsius (1636-1708) says, “The third action of the guests is, to drink the consecrated wine out of the cup. It is remarkable, that our Lord said concerning the cup, not only “take this, and divide it among yourselves,” Luke xxii. 17, but likewise added a mark of universality, “drink ye all of it” , Matt. xxvi. 27. And we are told how they complied with this command, Mark xiv. 24, “and they all drank of it” [i.e. they all drank from it- LFRC] (Herman Witsius, The Economy Of The Covenants Between God And Man, [Phillipsburg: Pennsylvania], 1990 [1693], 2:455, 456,).

For the sake of time, we have only given to you a small sampling of the record of our History. We could take several more pages and detail the absolute unity of the practice of the common cup from our fathers (Early Church Fathers, The Magisterial Reformers, Puritans, Westminster Divines, etc), but brevity prevents us. Suffice it to say that we are in great peril of removing the “ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set”, when it comes to the common cup, should individual cups be used.

Objections Answered

There can be no mistaking that the dawn of the individual cup came about for 2 reasons. The first is the individualism of our age, the “me” gospel of independentism. This, we hope has been answered as an objection, namely, that unity and oneness must take precedence over individuality. The second objection is more general, and it has to do with the concern of sanitation.

The Yuck Factor

Many who do not wish to use the common cup have only one objection- “the yuck factor”. It is believed that drinking from one cup will greatly increase the risk of contracting illness. This is a very real concern for many serious Christians.

Does this objection then remove the command to use a common cup? We think not. The reasons are :

1.The common cup has been used for over 2000 years. Are the dangers of illness any more pressing today than they were in Christ’s day? Do we have better or worse methods of sanitation today than ever before? The answer is obvious. The risk of contracting a disease has always been a factor in any public setting. Yet the Lord, who knew full well the potential of illness, still commanded a common cup.

2.Many diseases can also be contracted by handling the communion tray, or the communion loaf. The doorknobs of the Church building, a hand shake, a cough, a sneeze, a bathroom sink, are all more unsanitary than the sterilized cup used at Holy Supper. If illness is in view first and foremost, many would not attend Church at all.

3.It is more likely that one will contract illness through the neglect of hand washing and then making physical contact with a carrier (door, hand, etc). You are more likely to contract illness eating out of a communal vegetable dip at a fellowship meeting than you are from using the common cup.

4.Strong wine (even fortified wine 12% or higher) is often used as communion wine to to kill bacteria on the edge of the cup.

In understanding the potential of contracting illness with the common cup, we must bear in mind one thing, “the cup of blessing which we bless”, is just that, blessed. Many old ministers have given testimony that in all the years they have been administering the common cup, no one has been made sick by it. This is the general understanding and experience of most congregations.

The “yuck factor” is not new to the Church. It has always been with us. Should we then use it to erase all biblical doctrines on this subject and 2000 years of Church tradition? Are we wiser than our fathers? Are we wiser than God?

On this point we leave you with God’s words to Peter, who argued the uncleanness of what God had sent down from heaven, in Act 10:15, “And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”

A last objection often offered is one of pragmatism. If one cup is commanded, why is it that some congregations use two cups? For this we would remind the reader of article 62 of our Church Order, “Every Church shall administer the Lord’s Supper in such a manner as it shall judge most conducive to edification; provided, however, that the outward ceremonies as prescribed in God’s Word be not changed and all superstition be avoided…” The use of one cup at one table (to the left), and another table (to the right) still carries with it the symbolism of the one cup for many people. The emphasis is still on the sharing of a cup between believers as a demonstration of unity. In some congregations, multiple tables are needed for Holy Supper. It is for expediency that more than one cup is used. This accommodation, for time constraints, is not a sound reason however for each communicant to have their own cup, and act contrary to the Word and Church history. Two cups at the table does not remove the symbolism of unity as individual cups do, and is in keeping with article 62 of the Church Order. In light of the material here presented in this paper, this objection argues to little.

A Plea to Return to the Common Cup

Unless the Lord does a work of reformation in His Church, each generation will take a step to the left. History has borne this truth. We will, because of our corrupt human nature, have the natural tendency to leave off the things that should be done in order to make accommodation. Some have argued that this is a “tempest in a teapot” issue, that it is not all that important to the wellbeing of the Church. If so, then why change to individual cups at all? While we would admit that one’s salvation does not hang on whether or not a common cup is used, it is still important to God, and subsequently to His Church. As a Church, we are to take heed to ourselves and to our doctrine, not just in the main, but also in the detail.

Holy Supper is no small thing. It is a means of grace for every believer that takes part by faith. By faith we are fed by the true heavenly bread and drink, Jesus Christ. Do we then not wish to walk with Him in obedience to His revealed will concerning it? Is there any biblical reason to use individual cups? No. Are there biblical reasons to use a common cup? We hope we have demonstrated that there are indeed.

______________
1. See, Material History of American Religion Project The Individual Communion Cup at http://www.materialreligion.org/documents/may98doc.htm. This is a reprint of the 1906 article in the United Brethren periodical.
2. All bold words are the emphasis of the the author.
3. Alfred Edersheim .The Temple: Its Ministry and Services. Chapter 12, “The Paschal Feast and the Lord’s Supper.” In fact, each section of the Passover had a cup associated with it, four in fact. This does not detract however from the fact that the Lord used one cup for Holy Supper.
4. To this day, Orthodox Jews still use the symbolism of the common cup at Passover.
5. We note that several Reformed Baptists also use a common cup.

13 Responses

  1. thankyou for that admonition- I must admit that our family was actually being persuaded by the 'yuck factor' but not on a biblical basis.

  2. The link in footnote 1 should be:http://www.materialreligion.org/documents/may98doc.html

  3. The attendance at the supper of the Lord was 12 persons. One cup could suffice. How do you do this with 300 people attending? I believe it has been practice to use more than one cup for many centuries in the Reformed churches. How many cups does your church use, or do you keep refilling a single cup?

  4. The practice of the administration of the wine has always been by the use of a common cup up until the 20th Century. In larger congregations which have many tables filled per Lord's Supper would require a measured adaptation as circumstances require. I have seen the common cup used in a church of 800 where there were 11 tables (two on either side of the minister). In this case, each table has a common cup divided among them. While there is a plurality of cups here, they are not individual cups, but one cup among many. This holds the biblical idea of a common cup while adapting to the size of the congregation.

  5. I am not a Bible scholar but it seems to me that the Passover meal for the most part was celebrated in a family atmosphere. Since it was in a family setting it would seem appropriate for there to be a common cup since the family members would have shared exposure to the same bacteria. I realize that the disciples were not all related to each other but considering that length of time that they spent together as followers of Jesus they would have qualified as a family.We should not get hung up with the idea of a "common cup" as being somehow a matter of faith and life or as a belief that is necessary for salvation. The "common cup" ultimately refers to the blood of our saviour just as the bread refers to his body. The fact that we eat and drink together demonstrates the shared nature of the sacrament. If you really want to get technical then we really would be confined to using only one bottle of wine and one loaf of bread, thus limiting the size of any one congreagation to that element which can feed all out of its undivided form. Is this an absurd statement on my part? I think not. Afterall if it is acceptable to have more than "one common cup" than why shouldn't we just be done with it and be restricted to one common source? Personally I don't want to drink or eat behind anyone else. I don't even eat behind my own children once they start going to school because although I instruct them to not drink or eat out of the same container as someone else has, I cannot be sure that they will obey me in this.

  6. As I pointed out in my article, one's salvation does not hinge on the approbation of the common cup. This would be adding to the Word of God.The Bible is clear however, that the common cup is a directive to the Christian. I believe the exegesis proves this, and have not come across a single argument for individual cups beyond the pragmatism of the "yuck factor". I am open to correction however if it can be demonstrated from the Word of God. The fact that some larger congregations use more than one cup does not permit the termination of the symbolism demonstrate in the use of one cup, for many souls. To extrapolate from the plurality of the common cup, the use of individual cups is, so far as I see it, sophistry. There is a reason why, for 2000 years, the Church of Christ has used a common cup, namely, because the exegesis is sound, and the consequence, unavoidable. Paul's continued mention of "the cup" in his own writings, should remove your objection that the passover was a family setting. Further, those in Christ are members one of another and are truly family.

  7. JulianIt's normal in the smaller Presbyterian denominations here in Scotland. They would use a strong wine (port?) and I've never heard of a rush of colds or anything after a "communion season". Frankly on the one occasion in recent years when I experienced the other practice I found drinking an insipid unidentified substance from a tiny glass thimble unpleasant!

  8. Isn't anyone concerned that about the danger that in emphasizing the use of one cup in the Lord's Supper that we run the danger of making the mode of the Lord's Supper a crucial if not necessary ingredient to an effacacious participation in this sacrament and marginalizing the work of the Holy Spirit as He works faith in the heart of the partaker?Do we really want to divide the Church of God along the lines of how many cups are utilized in the administration of this sacrament? Also what about the principle of using "pragmatism" in the work of evangelism? Is the person and work of Christ really under assault here? I think not. What about becoming all things to all men that we might win over some to the gospel? How sad it would be to lose potential converts to the gospel because they refuse to participate in the use of a single cup. Also how would the use of a singel cup allow us to make reasonable accomodations for those who are recovering alcoholics and who must stay away from alcoholic beverages?Also would we not be in error of being Biblical literalist if we restrict the meaning of cup to being that of a physical object the purpose of which is to hold liquid that is meant for drinking?I believe that Matt. 20:23 uses the word cup not in reference to a drinking utensil but in reference to Christ's sacrifice. Likewise also Mark 16 where Jesus as the Father to "take this cup away from Me" Obviously there was no physical cup in view here either. Rather Christ spoke of the cup of God's wrath against sin which He was to bear on the cross.

  9. You said, “Isn't anyone concerned that about the danger that in emphasizing the use of one cup in the Lord's Supper that we run the danger of making the mode of the Lord's Supper a crucial if not necessary ingredient to an effacacious participation in this sacrament and marginalizing the work of the Holy Spirit as He works faith in the heart of the partaker?”Danger in observing the Lord's Supper in the same way Christ did, as the Apostle Paul did, as the Early Church did, as the Reformers did? I don't see any danger in such a practice. Mode is always important to God (see Numbers 3:4; 26:61; Deut. 4:2; Deut. 12:32; Deut. 13:18; Mat. 28:20), as well as the heart (see John 4:23). You said, “Do we really want to divide the Church of God along the lines of how many cups are utilized in the administration of this sacrament?” I agree completely. If you really feel this way, why change the practice from the established (Biblical and historical) common cup to the novel individual cups at all? Is this act not then the real division (changing the established exegetical practice for no good biblical reason)? The Church was united on this for 2000 years until some decided, in the las 100 years, that they wanted to do it another way. So who is really dividing the Church? You said, “Also what about the principle of using "pragmatism" in the work of evangelism? Is the person and work of Christ really under assault here? I think not. What about becoming all things to all men that we might win over some to the gospel? How sad it would be to lose potential converts to the gospel because they refuse to participate in the use of a single cup. Also how would the use of a singel cup allow us to make reasonable accommodations for those who are recovering alcoholics and who must stay away from alcoholic beverages?”The Lord's Supper is not a tool of evangelism but a sacrament of the Church. The Word converts, the sacraments do not, nor will they ever. Is the person and work of Christ under assault? If what I have tried to demonstrate in the common cup is biblical, then there is an assault on the Word as it pertains to the Lord's Supper (as uncomfortable as that might make some feel). Becoming all things to all men does not mean we then pare off the plain exegesis of the Word as it pertains to the worship of God (and the Lord's Supper is a part of public worship), so that we might accommodate. It is in the Word, the way it is, for a reason. So then, until there is Biblical proof that this practice is wrong, we are duty bound to obey God rather than the flighty feelings of society. Not a single soul will ever be lost because of the mode of Holy Supper. The Holy Spirit knew this when He inspired the authors of the NT to write what they did on this subject. The number of the elect is fixed in eternity passed, and a desire to be obedient to God and His Word will never change that number. So, no, we will never run the risk of losing converts to Christ by being obedient.In my last congregation (Vancouver), we did have a recovering alcoholic. After 6 years of the Common Cup, he is still “on the wagon” as they say, and only has one sip of wine 4 times a year at communion. I have heard this time and again for those who have been saved by grace (as alcoholics) and come to the table that serves wine. The cup is blessed of God, by Christ Himself by the work of the Holy Spirit. He will keep His own. MORE TO FOLLOW>>>

  10. You said, “Also would we not be in error of being Biblical literalist if we restrict the meaning of cup to being that of a physical object the purpose of which is to hold liquid that is meant for drinking?” Taking the Word literally is never an error. I hear the same kind of argument from those who believe in the gap theory or day age theory of evolution as it pertains to Genesis 1-3. They think science determines Scripture. To them, the word “day” cannot mean a literal 24hr solar day because science contradicts the age of the earth. I am a literalist in so far as the text demands it. Let me put it to you this way. Baptizing with water is biblical; sprinkling the water as opposed to dunking is more biblical (see Ezek 26:25; Heb. 9:10. Also see the Westminster Confession of Faith). Having the Lord's Supper with individual cups is not, not having Holy Supper. However, having the Lord's Supper with the common cup, is more biblical than individual cups (as I have exegetically tried to demonstrate). I notice that you have not really dealt with the exegesis of the passages at hand that DO deal directly with the mode. I would be interested in your interaction with them. You said, “I believe that Matt. 20:23 uses the word cup not in reference to a drinking utensil but in reference to Christ's sacrifice. Likewise also Mark 16 where Jesus as the Father to "take this cup away from Me" Obviously there was no physical cup in view here either. Rather Christ spoke of the cup of God's wrath against sin which He was to bear on the cross.”Correct on both accounts. This however does not say anything to “the cup” mentioned in the texts quoted above. In each and every case, “the cup” has a physical object in view in the Greek, whereas the texts you quoted do not. If you are saying that they are connected then you have a real hermeneutical problem on your hands because the contents of the cup are as much in view as the container. In other words, if we don't need an actual cup (Matthew 20), then we don't need actual wine either (or any liquid for that matter), but can simply take part in “the cup” that Christ speaks about in some non-corporeal, ethereal way. The point I think you are trying to make proves too much.

  11. First of all let me reiterate that we can be saved without having partaken of the Lord's Supper. Salvation requires of us that we believe in Christ as our only saviour and to confess our sins. In saying this I am not trying to say that the sacraments are not an important part of the Christian life. What I do want to say is that their observation is not essential to being saved (Acts 8:37). Belief must precede a spritually profitable participation in the sacraments.Matther 28:20 Christ is referring here to the dissolution of the Old Covenant with its sacrifices under the Covenant of Works and the coming of the Covenant of Grace. As for the other Old Testament passages I quote from Article 25 of the Confession of Faith: "We believe that the ceremonies and symbols of the law ceased at the coming of Christ". In other words these passages are not particulary helpful to use as a rule for application in this area. I would say that Luke 22:17 when it says that the disciples divided the contents of the cup amongst themselves that this division does not preclude the possibility that they poured the contents of the first cup into individual cups. For them to have done so would not have done any harm to what follows in v. 20 with reference to the cup which Jesus is once again holding in his hands. In my comments about being "all things to all men" 1 Cor. 9:18 I was not attempting to say that the Lord's Supper is a means of evangelism. What I was saying is that the use of one cup could be a stumbling block to a fellow believer whether or not he/she is newly converted or is a long time convert.That the number of beleivers is fixed is not something that I am attempting to deny either. What Paul is saying though is that we as believers are responsible for making sure that we examine our means of spreading the Word to make sure that "we" are not getting in the way of reaching those others whom God has elected. It is through the preaching of the Word that God has decided to call our His elect from every tribe and tongue. We don't evangelize because we believe that we change the number of the elect but because we are the means by which God has ordained to call His elect to Himself. There is not a single one of us who would not be in God's church if it hadn't been for someone else's preaching of the Word to us.In the end to me it seems that this matter belongs to the classification of those things which belong to the category "indifferent". There is nothing here that is worth having a controvesy over. The person and work of Christ is not at stake. Nor is the nature of God or for that matter any of those things that we as Calvinist hold dear. The acronym T.U.L.I.P. does not have any letter that stands for "one cup". Nor as far as I can recollect is this issue definitively addressed in any of our historical church creeds.As Christians who believe that the time of Christ's coming is drawing nigh we can and should spend our time more wisely in anticipation of His return.

  12. You said: "First of all let me reiterate that we can be saved without having partaken of the Lord's Supper. Salvation requires of us that we believe in Christ as our only saviour and to confess our sins. In saying this I am not trying to say that the sacraments are not an important part of the Christian life.What I do want to say is that their observation is not essential to being saved (Acts 8:37). Belief must precede a spritually profitable participation in the sacraments."Agreed. This was my point in my essay.You said: "Matther 28:20 Christ is referring here to the dissolution of the Old Covenant with its sacrifices under the Covenant of Works and the coming of the Covenant of Grace. As for the other Old Testament passages I quote from Article 25 of the Confession of Faith: "We believe that the ceremonies and symbols of the law ceased at the coming of Christ". In other words these passages are not particulary helpful to use as a rule for application in this area."One correction, the ceremonial law was not under the administration of the Covenant of Works, it was part of the Covenant of Grace, pointing to the Redeemer (The commandments contained in ordinances, Eph.2). The OT passages are helpful because the Reformed believe that the RPW begins in the directives of the Old Testament. We are not dispensationalists. The general equity of the Scriptures have a direct bearing on the whole of worship (Please note our Reformed Confessions). I take it you do not hold to the Regulative Principle of Worship?You said: "I would say that Luke 22:17 when it says that the disciples divided the contents of the cup amongst themselves that this division does not preclude the possibility that they poured the contents of the first cup into individual cups. For them to have done so would not have done any harm to what follows in v. 20 with reference to the cup which Jesus is once again holding in his hands."The perspicuity of Scripture must be maintained. If we are looking for "how" respecting the Lord's Supper, we are bound to observe "how" the scriptures define that administration. I think, dear brother, in this last paragraph, you are asserting where you should be arguing. To this point I see not biblical argument, only opinion. If opinion is what is in view only, I will take the opinion of the Reformed Churches throughout the ages over yours (no offence).MORE TO FOLLOW>>>

  13. You said: "That the number of beleivers is fixed is not something that I am attempting to deny either. What Paul is saying though is that we as believers are responsible for making sure that we examine our means of spreading the Word to make sure that "we" are not getting in the way of reaching those others whom God has elected."So we educate these dear souls on this subject, just like we would on baptism, the 5 points, and the law of God. The common cup has not caused people to stumble for 2000 years. I don't see what makes this generation so special.You said: "There is nothing here that is worth having a controvesy over. The person and work of Christ is not at stake. Nor is the nature of God or for that matter any of those things that we as Calvinist hold dear.The acronym T.U.L.I.P. does not have any letter that stands for "one cup".Nor as far as I can recollect is this issue definitively addressed in any ofour historical church creeds."This is debatable indeed! Thankfully, TULIP does not sum up the Reformed Confessions. Holding to TULIP makes one a Calvinist, not necessarily Reformed. We should note that TULIP also does not have a letter for baptism, the Law, the Second Coming, covenant theology, or any number of precious doctrines. TULIP is not the end, but the beginning.You said: "As Christians who believe that the time of Christ's coming is drawing nigh we can and should spend our time more wisely in anticipation of His return."This is my desire also. To preach repentance, faith, sanctification, and the hope of His return. In the mean time, Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda,' that is, 'the church reformed, always reforming'. Blessings brother.

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