In Old Testament times righteousness by faith was illustrated through the sacrificial system. In the New Testament it is illustrated through the communion service.
- In the sacrificial system of ancient Israel, what two elements had special significance?
Ex. 24:6-8; Lev. 3:16, 17 [Ans: Blood and fat. The Further-study verses are Eze. 44:7, 15]
- What spiritual reality did the blood represent?
Rom. 3:23-26 [Ans: It pointed forward to Jesus' blood, which was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. Forgiveness is also called justification. Lev. 17:10-14]
- What special meaning was associated with the fat?
1 Sam. 15:22 [Note: As the blood pointed forward to Christ's blood and represented forgiveness, so the fat represented Christ's body, and obedience, or sanctification. King Saul sacrificed the fat of animals, but he had not obeyed the Lord, therefore his offering was unacceptable. Gen. 4:4. Compare Lev. 17:6 and Num. 18:17 with Eph. 5:1, 2 and 1 Peter 1:22.]
- What two symbols did Christ include in the new-covenant communion service?
Luke 22:19, 20 [1 Cor. 10:16-18]
- What did the wine, or grape juice, represent?
Matt. 26:26-29; 1 Peter 1:18-20 [Ans: As the blood of the animal sacrifice pointed to Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, so the wine represented Jesus' blood that was shed for "the remission of sins." The "fruit of the vine" Jesus used was "new" and untainted. Yeast, which causes fermentation, was a symbol of sin, hence its use was prohibited at the Passover feast. Rom. 3:24-26; Rev. 13:8; Ex. 34:7]
- As the fat of the sacrifices anciently represented Jesus' body, so the bread in the communion service is a symbol of Christ's body. What was accomplished by the death of Christ on the cross for us?
Heb. 10:10 [Note: As the blood and fat of the Old Testament sacrifices were symbols of justification and sanctification, so the grape juice and bread of the new covenant may be viewed as symbols of this two-fold work of grace. Justification and sanctification must always go together, for Jesus died not merely to forgive sin, and thus account us righteous, but to free us from the dominion of sin, and thus make us righteous. 1 Peter 1:2; 2:24; Matt. 1:21; 1 John 2:1-6; 1 John 3:3-6]
- What great gift do we receive through partaking of the "bread of life"?
John 6:47, 48, 51 [John 6:33-35]
- What did Christ mean when He said we should eat of His flesh?
John 6:51, 63 [Note: When we read the Bible with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, our lives are changed. Jesus' life, as manifested in the Bible, becomes our life. We should partake of this spiritual food just as regularly as we partake of physical food. When we partake of the bread of the communion service, we pledge to partake of His Word. John 1:1, 14, 18; 17:14, 17]
- In the new-covenant service, what order is followed in partaking of the grape juice and the bread?
1 Cor. 11:23-26 [Note: Sanctification begins simultaneously with justification when we surrender ourselves totally to Christ. As soon as we surrender, Christ offers us free and complete forgiveness. But while sanctification begins at the time of justification, it must continue as long as we live. Both justification and sanctification are the work of grace. 1 Cor. 6:11; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 10:14]
- What warning does Paul give to us about partaking of the new-covenant service "in an unworthy manner," without discerning its sacred character?
1 Cor. 11:27-30 [2 Cor. 13:5; Heb. 10:29]
- In order to prepare the disciples' hearts for the communion ceremony, what service did Jesus perform for them?
John 13:3-5 [Mark 10:43-45]
- How important was it for Jesus to wash the disciples' feet?
John 13:6-8 [1 Cor. 6:11]
- After Jesus had washed their feet, were the disciples spiritually clean?
John 13:9, 10 [Note: The disciples had already been washed in baptism, hence did not need a rebaptism. They had not apostatized. But they had harbored jealousy and unbelief, and needed to be cleansed from these sins. Eph. 5:26, 27]
- After washing their feet, what did Jesus say to His disciples? How do we know that He was establishing a ceremony that He wants us to follow today?
John 13:12-15 [Matt. 20:27, 28]
- Some, like Peter, hesitate to have their feet washed, or to wash another's feet. But what promise is given to those who follow Jesus' example?
John 13:15-17 [Matt. 23:11, 12; John 15:11]
- While the communion service reminds us of Christ's death, toward what future event does it point?
Matt. 26:29 [1 Cor. 11:26]
Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53).
Will you pledge to partake of Christ's body, both in the communion service and through the study of His Word, so that you may become more like Jesus?
As you drink the grape juice, will you accept Christ's forgiveness, give thanks for His atoning blood, and determine to be among those who shall be with Jesus when He drinks the fruit of the vine in heaven?
And will you follow Jesus' example in the footwashing ceremony, giving thanks that through Jesus your sins are washed away?