Copyright © 2002, by John Lankford, Fort Smith, Arkansas

      When data from the New Testament is assembled concerning the gospel and the apostolic preaching of it, there is a clear correspondence between its content and the practice of taking communion on the first day of the week.

      Jesus connected His death and resurrection and also the "third day" when he talked to his disciples (Matthew 16:15, 17:23, 20:19, 27:63; Mark 9:31, 10:34; Luke 9:22, 13:32,33, 18:33; John 2:19). This was also the message of the Law and Prophets (Luke 24:25-27, 44-46). Angels spoke of this connection (Luke 24:7). It is also something that stood out as a part of Jesus' teaching and was CLEARLY remembered by His disciples (Luke 24:19-24). The THIRD DAY is the first day of the week (Luke 24:1,13, 21). A pattern of teaching is evident from this data.

      Our justification and forgiveness is based on the death of Christ (Matthew 26:28) and is inseparably tied to the resurrection event (Romans 4:25, 5:10; 1 Corinthians 15:14). Note that His death and resurrection are remembered as a unit. This pattern of thought is also seen in the meaning of baptism (Romans 6: 3ff; 1 Peter 3:21). Peter in his discourse to Cornelius followed this pattern of instruction by connecting all items: death, resurrection, and third day (Acts 10:39,40). It is clear, therefore, that remembering one item makes one remember the other two.

      Therefore, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 summarized the gospel content as "... for I delivered unto you first (some versions say of first importance) of all that which also I received that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and that He was buried and that He hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures... ." Notice how these comprise a symbiotic unit of thought.

      Jesus gave instruction as to just how He wanted to be remembered. It is the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). And not only does this have us remember His death but also His resurrection (verse 26). Hence, the frequency of taking the Lord's Supper is determined by the essentials of the gospel (see above) because it is reflective of them. What is tied together in reality is logically tied together in memorial. The death of Christ is shown by the bread and cup and the resurrection by the first day of the week. The practice is a symbiotic unit as well as the doctrine. And such was the actual practice of the early church under Apostolic approval (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:20 + churches of Galatia, 1 Corinthians 16:1). Even after the Apostles, it remained to be an identifying practice of post-apostolic Christianity (Ferguson, Early Christians Speak, Sweet Publishing Company).

      When the facts of scripture and church history are examined, it should be clearly evident that the practice of taking the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week stands on solid ground. What other practice preserves the unity (death - resurrection - third day) of thought? What other practice can one affirm has "apostolic approval" but this one? If the gospel is central, then why not let our communion practice show it as was done in the early church and for centuries later?

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West-Ark Church of Christ