Is the Lord's Supper for this dispensation or another?

IS THE SUPPER FOR THIS DISPENSATION?

Some teach that the Lord’s Supper is not for Christians now— of “this dispensation of the Mystery,” whatever that exactly means. Do you think there is any scriptural authority for this?

It is indeed a grievous thing that the Lord’s people should be disturbed with these unscriptural vagaries—part of the Dead-Sea fruit of Bullingerism,* which asserts that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are Jewish ordinances. In U.S.A., however, we understand that most of this cult, though still rejecting baptism, now teach that the Lord’s Supper is for Christians to-day. They are mostly “Universalists” out there, while the British section hold what is known as “Conditional Immortality” or “Annihilationism,” so the system is divided against itself on more points than one. One reason these teachers give against the Lord’s Supper is that the Lord instituted it directly after partaking of the Passover—a Jewish feast of age-long standing; but there is no reason at all why a new ordinance ostensibly appointed to suit the new dispensation about to dawn should be Jewish too.

The Lord’s death and resurrection are not limited in their application to Jews, because they occurred in close connection with His earthly ministry to Israel. The fact that the Apostle Paul was commissioned to lay down afresh the order of the Supper, in writing to a church of the Gentiles, was probably to guard against the very error combated here.

The words, “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come,” surely prove conclusively that the Supper was to be observed by Christians till then. The theory seems to be “begun, continued and ended” in a series of fallacies. First there is the fallacy that a new dispensation began in Acts z8, during Paul’s imprisonment at Rome; that it was inaugurated, not by a new Pentecost or something analogous, nor by signs and miracles, as we might expect, but by the Epistles—which Paul wrote while in prison, which they call “the Prison Epistles”—the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, and Philemon. All others they tell us are not for us.

There is also the unsound argument that only in prison-letters is revealed the mystery of Christ, that the Gentiles were to form one Body, etc., with believers from Israel (Ephesians 3:5). No one denies that the teaching of the Epistles is progressive, but it is also cumulative. Already in Romans 12:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 the “one body” is spoken of, and there is not a second, nor could there ever be. This is the “one body” of Ephesians 4:4. Is it not remarkable, if so much depended on those letters, that nothing is said of them in Acts 28: , and that millions have read them, without knowing or enquiring when they were written? Another fallacy on which this system rests is that Paul here told the Jews that henceforth he would turn to the Gentiles, as though that was the first time this had been announced. On the contrary, he uses almost the same words as in verse 28 to the Jews at Antioch (chap. 13. 46), and at Jerusalem (chap. 22. 21). The same truth was patent at Caesarea through Peter (chap. 10), and indeed by the commission of the Lord Himself to His apostles (chap. i. 8), not to speak of Romans 11:, where the setting aside of Israel nationally had been clearly taught.

Yet another fallacy is that Paul was the sole repository of the Mystery of Christ, and that in the prison- house at Rome. But Paul does not say so—but rather just the opposite, e.g., Ephesians 3:3-5, where he distinctly says it was “made known to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” There was then no great gulf between Paul and “the apostles that were before him,” though, as we all know, Paul was set apart specially as the apostle of the Gentiles, which would affect the manner of his ministry, while the essential truth which he and they preached was the same. Still one more fallacy is the teaching that only in the Prison Epistles is “the Mystery” made known, but it is not once mentioned in the Philippians, or Philemon, or 2 Timothy, whereas years before, Paul had written in Romans 16:25, of “my gospel. . . according to the revelation of the Mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but is now made manifest.”

We are firm believers in dispensational truth, but what we are combating here is not that, but rather dispensational fancies, that is, dispensational distinctions which are in sober fact non-existent. The church period began at Pentecost; believers were then baptised in the Spirit (Acts 1:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13) to form the church, the one and only Body of Christ, of which all believers in the present dispensation form part, and in which baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the two ordinances rdained by Christ—”till He come.”

* Thel ate Dr. Bullinger no doubt adopted these notion, from others, but he it was who popularised them, hence the term “Bullingerism.”

W.H.