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What's Wrong With the Lord's Evening Meal?
Once a year, on the Jewish equivalent of Nisan 14th, Jehovah's Witnesses and their potential converts hold the "Lord's Evening Meal", remembering Christ's death. They pass the bread and wine, but very seldom does someone partake of the elements. This is the evening they actually acknowledge that Christ died for their sins, provided they are obedient to the partakers, the anointed remnant of the 144,000. This year's event was held on April 16th, after sundown.
I well remember how we ordinary Jehovah's Witnesses were denied communion at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. I remember sitting there hearing the talk during the "Lord's evening meal" (notice they don't call it sharing, or communion, because that was denied us ordinary JW's with the "earthly" hope). We were sternly told why we could NOT partake--we weren't in fellowship with Jesus, that was limited to the remnant of the 144,000 heavenly class! The whole gist of the talk from the platform was to discourage partaking of the coming elements of the bread and wine!
The Watchtower magazine of February 15, 2003 spends several pages (20-22) discouraging its members from even thinking that they can partake! First it brings up the point that by the 1930's the number 144,000 was complete, so only occasional vacancies caused by unfaithfulness on the part of the "anointed" could cause one to believe they could fill that position, and partake. This was supposedly extremely rare.
Then they suggest that perhaps one is partaking when one should not be partaking, so they should stop. This is because the number partaking should be decreasing as the "anointed remnant" are dying off, if their doctrine is true. However, to their embarrassment, this is not happening. Numbers keep rising. They are desperately trying to stop the partaking!
Next they suggest that perhaps someone has been wrongly encouraged to partake, "even hearing voices with messages to that effect." The point is that the Watchtower takes precedence over voices from heaven! Even if you think God is speaking to you, don't partake!
Next they present soul-searching questions each one is to ask himself, like "Do I want to be prominent? Am I ambitious for authority now or as a future joint heir with Christ?" Participants are encouraged to be humble and not partake.
Next they point out that perhaps the member previously believed they were going to heaven, by the Church they attended. They therefore need to adjust their thinking to the earthly hope, and forget about sharing in the body and blood of Christ.
Jehovah's Witnesses are often on medication for nerves. I personally remember the many who were on valium throughout the sixties, particularly taken before going out in service to calm their nerves. There are more modern drugs now. It is probably for this reason the Watchtower magazine tells them to ask themselves, "Do I use medications that affect my emotions? Am I inclined to have deep emotions that I could misjudge?" Obviously emotions should play no part in the partaking of the Watchtower wine and bread.
Also the smarter ones with more knowledge are warned that their superior intellect is no reason to partake. We personally knew a couple of "anointed" ones who were not the sharpest tacks in the box! Still all others had to hold them in reverence, and defer to them, even if they were wrong.
Finally the Watchtower points out that only the anointed partakers have the "new birth" in Jesus Christ, only they can be a "new creature in Christ", and only they can have the "heavenly hope" The rest attending the memorial celebration are there only to support the anointed, themselves being devoid of the spirit which the others have. It's a truly humbling experience, being constantly reminded of how unworthy one is, and to what a low class one belongs, existing only to serve the anointed, and carry out their orders.
I often wondered why they filled the glass so full, making it hard to pass when no one was going to drink any anyways! We were usually invited to the get-together held afterwards at the elder's home, where we polished off the bottle of wine since it no longer had significance in our eyes. A sad story. Denying Christ and drinking socially afterwards!
I remember one time someone had brought a hard of hearing old Anglican man who helped himself to the elements. The gasp could be heard all over the Kingdom Hall. Whispered speculation ran rampant that he might be a visiting member of the dying class of the remnant, and how blessed we were that he was near our Kingdom Hall during his travels.Most of those attending had never personally met anyone of the remnant...but, alas, he was only an old, misinformed Anglican! We were all so disappointed. Now I know he knew more than we did! He at least knew he could partake of the elements and belong to Christ!
I also remember, as a new Jehovah's Witness learning that I could never be part of the group that was close to Christ--that door was closed. Even then, I longed for fellowship with Christ and wished earnestly that I had been born sooner so I could spend eternity with Him.
Later on, it was made plain by this elite group that Christ was not even our mediator for those of us with the earthly hope. Christ was the head, the elite group came next, and we fell in line way down in the pecking order, dependent on the "remnant" to secure salvation for us. We believed the Watchtower articles that encouraged us to "work hard for the reward of eternal life".
I'm sure there are former Mormons as well reading this, who were offered nothing but white bread and water for communion. That is because the Mormon Christ supposedly secured their salvation, not by his shed blood on Calvary, but by his drops of sweat as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. How sad for the Mormons.
Each of the various cult groups seeks to insert itself between the believer and Christ. Direct communion is therefore broken down, and persons get their eyes and hearts off of Jesus and onto these earthly leaders. We were also lied to about who Jesus really is, effectively blocking us from reaching Him under the influence of the cult.
The Watchtower organization boldly proclaimed in its magazine to "Come to Jehovah's Organization for salvation". What blasphemy! It is Jesus alone who provides salvation and is our mediator. I invite all readers to lay aside their preconceived ideas and turn to the Bible alone for instruction.
Let's consider 1 Timothy 2:5, 6:
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time".
We need to ask ourselves, Is there anything between us and God, that might be standing in the way of communication with our Savior? Could that obstacle be our view of Jesus Christ, Himself? We may have come out of a cult group that misrepresented Christ, and we're still struggling to rid our minds of cult doctrine and twisted scriptures, colored by our former cult views.
Without going into a theology lesson let me say this:
We are not to be sharing the communion cup with an Archangel named Michael,
We're not to be sharing the communion cup with a really good man,
We're not to be sharing the communion cup with just a prophet,
We're not to be sharing the communion cup with any created being,
We are to share communion with "Emmanuel", "The God with us". This fulfills the promise made in Matthew 1:23
"BEHOLD THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL" which translated means "God with us".
Jehovah's Witnesses need to realize that the Greek word used here for "God" is "Ho Theos", which they say is limited to Jehovah, and for once they are right! Jesus is Jehovah with us. So, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and the Word was God.
Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man, and we believe the words in Colossians 2:8,9.
"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form".
Let's set aside all the philosophies inflicted upon us by the cult groups and let's believe the word of God, that All the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ, even while He walked the face of the earth.
Acts 20:28 gives this counsel to all who would be elders in the congregations of true believers:
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood".
God purchased the Church with His own blood. We take communion to thank Him for doing just that. and to show that we are willing to be members of His body, by partaking of the wine, symbolizing His shed blood. We recognize Him as God and Savior.
How, then, do we become part of this arrangement , where we are recognized as belonging to God and showing that by partaking, or sharing in the body and blood of Christ?
We become Christ's by being "born from above", or being "born again". True communion with Christ begins with the new birth.
In the following article we will discuss how we can be "born from above", and be eligible to partake of the communion elements in the true biblical sense, and what this communion truly means.
In our last article we dealt with "What wrong with the Lord's Evening Meal" where we pointed out that Jehovah's Witnesses deny communion with Christ to all but a select few. We pointed out how wrong this view is. Now we want to know how we can become believers who can truly partake of the bread and the wine, with a clear conscience and firm biblical reasons for doing so.
We become Christ's by being "born from above", or being "born again". True communion with Christ begins with the new birth. How important is this "new birth"? Let's consider John 3:1 - 7:
"Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Him by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him. "Jesus answered and said to him , "Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God". That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again".
Bear in mind that Nicodemus was a powerful man, a ruler of the Jews. He was also well versed in scripture, being a Pharisee. His knowledge of scripture could not save him, something else was needed. His good works could not save him, something else was needed!
Verse 3 says unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom.
Verse 5 says unless one is born again he cannot "enter into" the kingdom of God.
Verse 7 says "Do not marvel that I said to you, "You MUST be born again".
How then, are we born again? This is done by receiving Jesus Christ (the right one!) as our Lord and Savior. Notice that the Bible does not set the number being "born again" at 144,000 as the JW's do, but opens the invitation to all who would receive Christ. Consider John 1:12, 13:
"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become Children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God".
We all have one physical birth, and we all need one spiritual birth--born of God, born from above, born again. Romans 8:16 puts it this way:
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God".
What a wonderful promise--no organizations between us and our God! Communion means an outward display that God's spirit has borne witness with our spirit, and we know , that we know , that we know, we are His. If this has never happened to you, right now would be a wonderful time to receive the true Jesus Christ as your Savior, inviting Him into your heart, and entering into the New Covenant. Why not say "Yes!" to Him right now and later partake of Communion joyfully, perhaps for the first time understanding what it really means!
Salvation is wonderful but it doesn't stop there--we need to grow in grace. Some have fallen into error by not heeding the warning in 2 Peter 3:17, 18
"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in grace, and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity".
At the moment of conversion we become a member of the body of Christ, and can legally be partakers of the communion elements, but ours is a partnership, a marriage--we are the bride and Christ is the groom. We don't want to be like the foolish virgins of Matthew 25 who missed the coming of the Bridegroom. We want to be like the wise virgins who were ready to meet the Bridegroom! What a beautiful, intimate description, is the marriage feast, of the relationship we can all have with our Savior
What kind of a marriage arrangement would it be, if we never grew into a deeper relationship with our beloved? Married folks need to be compatible, growing ever closer to each other ,until the two are truly one over the years. We all need to grow up, not just physically, but spiritually.
When a young bride is first joined to her husband, it is a time of extreme closeness as the two become one flesh. But it's only the beginning, we need to keep getting closer to our marriage mate and to Christ. It's wonderful if both things go on at the same time! Both growing closer to God and to each other.
But even if earthly circumstances, in marriage or out of marriage are not so great, it does not prevent each of us from having a beautiful marriage with our bridegroom, Jesus Christ. He embraces each of us individually as His beloved Bride. Nothing can touch that relationship.
So, we each need to ask ourselves how close are we to Christ today? Do we feel like a bride eager to be in intimate fellowship with her husband? We should, for Christ is very interested in a close communion, a close communication, with his bride. That's what partaking of the elements is all about, an outward expression of our closeness with Christ, our belonging to Him.
Ephesians 5:25-27 says,
"Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and blameless".
Verse 30 says "We are members of His body".
So, how are we cleansed? How often to we wash? Once a week on Sunday during the brief sermon? There are about 112 hours a week that we are awake . Simple math will tell you that an hour on Sunday is not enough time to establish a good relationship with our Savior. That's not a sufficient time to establish intimacy with our bridegroom. We all need a good washing with God's word. As the word of God comes in, it flushes out uncleanness and false doctrine.
Just as we would not be comfortable embracing an unwashed mate, we should have enough respect for our groom to be well washed when we come to him in the intimacy of communion. That means having spent quality time with Him in His word, the Bible, and in Prayer and meditation, filling our lives with the things of God. Not an easy task in our busy, activity-filled world we live in! Certainly not easy for Jehovah's Witnesses, who are kept so busy with the things of the organization, they cannot help but neglect a relationship with Christ, which is discouraged anyway! Jehovah's Witnesses need to turn from the Organization directly to Jesus Christ and spend their time wisely with Christ, getting to know and appreciate Him.
We all might feel that we are not worthy to partake of the bread and wine, we are not good enough, --and we would be right! We all are not worthy to partake, but Christ, in His great love for us, allows us to share in His worthiness.
Worthy the Lamb that was slain! Worthy the Lamb who bore our sins in his own body on the tree! Worthy the Lamb who is ready to forgive us, even as we repent.
Remember the earnest prayer of the Lord's servant David, who had sinned? He prayed, this way in Psalms 51:10-12
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit."
This is a wonderful prayer to pray at the time of communion, our time of intimacy with Jesus Christ. If our marriage arrangement with our Lord has gotten a little complacent, let's remedy that ! If we haven't been allowed a relationship with Christ, let's remedy that by becoming "born again" as He invites us to.
Partaking of the emblems, the bread and the wine, is an act of intimacy, not just an empty ritual tacked on to the end of a service. It is also not a once-a-year "supper" where no one can partake! Everyone leaves hungry from that arrangement! Remember, Jesus held the first communion service with his disciples. It's recorded in Matthew 26:26-28:
"And while they were eating Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and give it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body". And He took a cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is to be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins".
When the elements are being passed around it is a good time to reflect on what the shed blood of Christ has done for us. We can ask forgiveness for our failures and the covering of the shed blood. Perhaps we can remember David's prayer.
As members of Christ's body, we can all appreciate 1 Cor. 10:16, 17:
"Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many, are one body; for we all partake of the one bread".
Jehovah's Witnesses, please do not believe the lie that you cannot have a close relationship with Jesus Christ, becoming members of His body, and partaking of the elements of the bread and wine. This is a false view. Jesus Christ welcomes you to be partakers of His divine grace and love, and really belong to Him. Why not forsake the cold tyrant, the Watchtower Organization, repent, and join the loving family of God, and become the true bride of Christ. Please contact us if we can help you.