Before we begin to think about worship in the local church, it’s important for us to make sure we have a vision for the local church. Not just ‘church’ in some abstract way – your local church, the place you go to every Sunday, the bunch of people you meet with, that bunch of weird folks who make up your church. Think about them, picture them in your mind – that’s God’s plan for changing the world! Frightening, isn’t it?

Now, if you were planning to gather together a group of people to change the world, or at least the area in which you live – would you have chosen that group of people? Would you have chosen yourself? Possibly not! Yet God’s ways are different from ours!

When we receive communion (the Lord’s Supper) there is more to it than just bread and wine/grape juice.*

There are those within the broader scope of Christendom who believe in transubstantiation (the bread and the wine turn into the actual body and blood of Jesus). It is obvious that this cannot be supported from a scientific perspective. Clearly, if you examine the elements once they have been consecrated by the officiant, they are still bread and wine. The nature of the elements has not changed. An honest scientific analysis would demonstrate that they are still bread and grape liquid. However, Paul’s dissertation in 1 Corinthians 11 makes it just as apparent that we are somehow getting more—in a spiritual sense—than just bread and grape liquid.

In verses 23-25 of that chapter Paul retells the story of Jesus instituting communion for the first time. Then, in verses 27-30, he shares about the ramifications of receiving the Lord’s Supper wrongly:

Not long ago, in a public setting, someone asked me what I thought about the regulative principle of worship. Because there are those who claim to be rigidly loyal to this principle, and since the majority of Christians have never even heard of this principle, I thought it might be helpful to define the term and analyze the pros and cons of adherence.

In large measure, the regulative principle of worship came about centuries ago as a reaction to the perceived idolatry of Roman Catholicism. In essence, this principle states that only those elements that are commanded or depicted in the Bible are acceptable in worship. Some refer to this as an exclusive view or practice of worship because it excludes anything that is not directly instructed or at least shown in the pages of Scripture.

© G. Baltes / T. Schröder

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