- As Christians, one main way that we serve is by meeting together.
- The reason that our meetings are a service is because we minister Christ to God and to man from what we have experienced and enjoyed of Christ.
- The Lord’s table is the main meeting of the church; we serve in the Lord’s table meeting by focusing on the Lord and remembering Him by breaking the bread, eating the bread, and drinking the cup.
- We need to be trained to worship in spirit and to bring the surplus of Christ corporately so that God can be fed and satisfied through our worship.
To Meet Together being to Worship God, to Serve Him,
and to Minister Christ to Others
In the New Testament the Greek word for service really means ministry. To minister is to serve people with something. If I serve you without ministering something to you, that is wrong. In the New Testament, the service, or the ministry, is the stewardship (1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25). A steward is always serving people with something. A waiter in a restaurant is a good illustration of one who serves people with something. To serve is not just to come to clean the meeting hall. Service is ministry.
The first thing we need to receive help in concerning service is how to meet. Meeting is a ministry. Meeting is a service. The first time you attended the church meeting was the beginning of your service. This is because in the meetings we render our worship to God, and this is the service. We worship God and we serve God in our meetings, and in our meetings we offer our praises and our thanks to God.
The crucial thing in the meetings is that we offer Christ to God. At our conversion God gave us His Son as a gift. When we were saved, we became the sons of God. Now we have to serve God, to come to the meetings to offer Christ to God as the unique gift that God the Father has given to us. Our ministry toward God is to minister Christ to God.
In ancient times all the Israelites came together three times a year to worship God (Deut. 16:16). The first thing they did was to bring all the rich surplus of the produce of the good land and offer this surplus to God for God’s satisfaction. That was the top service they rendered to God. That type has to be fulfilled today in the New Testament with us. Our salvation was our passover. Now that we have received God’s salvation with Christ as our Passover, we must offer Christ to God. Offering Christ to God is our service. The more that we stress this, the better.
Every believer should have something of Christ. Thus, when we come to the meeting, we come to share Christ with others, to minister Christ to others, either by our prayer, by our testimony, or by our speaking. We always have to get ourselves prepared to minister Christ in the meeting. God charged His people not to come to the meeting empty-handed (Deut. 16:16). When you come to the meeting, you must have something to offer. Without anything to offer to God, we can never enter into the tabernacle, so this is a must. If we do not offer something to God, and we try to enter into the presence of God, this is a great deficiency.
The Lord’s Table Meeting
Acts 2 tells us that the early believers had the Lord’s table, the breaking of bread, every day in their homes (vv. 42, 46). Later, in Acts 20:6b-7a we can see that the saints had a habit of having the Lord’s table on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week. Verse 6b says that the apostle Paul and his co-workers stayed in Troas for seven days. Then the next verse says that on the first day of the week they had the Lord’s table. This strongly indicates that by that time the Lord’s table was conducted mainly on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, the day of resurrection.
To Partake of the Lord’s Table
The Lord’s table is a feast. First Corinthians 10:21b uses the term the Lord’s table. The table here means the feast. We come to the Lord’s table to enjoy a feast.
To Eat the Lord’s Supper
First Corinthians 11:20 refers to our eating the Lord’s supper. This is not a breakfast or a lunch but a supper, a dinner. When the Lord established the table, He did it in the evening of the passover, so it was a supper.
Here we must stress that the Lord’s table is not only a feast but also a supper. A feast is mainly a kind of enjoyment, and a supper is a kind of restful eating. After a day’s work, after a day’s labor, people restfully eat their supper. Thus, we come to the Lord’s table not only to enjoy it as a feast but also to take it restfully. After we eat breakfast, we labor, but the Lord’s table is a supper for us to rest because the work is over, and now is the time for rest.
To Remember the Lord
The Lord told us to do this in remembrance of Him. We remember the person, the Lord Himself. This is the central point of the Lord’s table meeting. Any hymns, testimonies, or messages that distract people from the Lord, the person, are not appropriate. In the Lord’s table meeting, someone may call a hymn on fighting the battle, or in the midst of the Lord’s table, someone may give a testimony of how he was rescued from his suffering. That might be good in another kind of meeting, but it is not fitting at the Lord’s table meeting. The Lord’s table meeting is concentrated on the person of the Lord, so all the hymns, all the praises, and all the speaking should be concentrated on the Lord Himself.
To Enjoy the Lord as Our Life Supply
In John 6:35a the Lord told us that He is the bread of life, so to eat the bread is to enjoy the Lord as our life supply. Breaking the bread does not imply any enjoyment, but eating the bread surely does.
To Testify That We Live by the Lord
We also eat the bread to testify that we live by the Lord. In John 6:57b the Lord said, “He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.” By eating the bread we indicate that we enjoy the Lord, and we testify that this is our way to live. This is the real remembrance of the Lord.
To Have Fellowship in Christ’s Mystical Body
The next crucial point concerning our remembrance of the Lord is our eating the bread to enjoy the fellowship in Christ’s mystical Body. The breaking of the bread mainly implies the Lord’s physical body broken for us on the cross. Eating the bread, which is to take in the bread, mainly implies the fellowship in the mystical Body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16b-17). The same bread, the same loaf on the table, signifies the physical body of Christ and the mystical Body of Christ. The Lord’s physical body was broken on the cross for our redemption, and the Lord’s mystical Body, the Body of Christ, is for our fellowship. Regarding the Lord’s physical body, we break the bread, and regarding His mystical Body, we eat the bread. Eating together means communion, fellowship. A part of the same bread gets into you, a part gets into me, and a part gets into each one of us. This is the oneness in the Body in the fellowship of the Body.
To Worship the Father
After all this, the Lord will lead us to worship the Father. This is based upon Matthew 26:30, which says that after the Lord finished His supper with His disciples, He and the disciples sang a hymn. That hymn was sung by the Lord with His disciples to the Father. In the Lord’s table the Lord takes the lead to praise the Father, to worship the Father. At the end of the Lord’s table meeting, we need to worship the Father with the Lord. The Lord as the firstborn Son takes the lead to worship the Father (Heb. 2:12), and we as His many brothers follow Him.
Being Trained to Worship and Serve in Spirit
We all need to be trained to partake of the Lord’s table in a proper way. In the past we may have had the Lord’s table in an untrained way. But now we are receiving help to have the Lord’s table in a civilized way, in a cultured way, in a trained way. In the past we ate wildly, without “table manners.” The table manners at the Lord’s table are not formal things. To have proper table manners at His table means that we exercise our spirit and release our praise to Him in the right way. This is a great thing. The Lord’s table is the best meeting, but it is the most difficult meeting for us to have. No other meeting exposes where we are as much as the Lord’s table meeting does.
How much content the meeting has and how high the meeting is altogether depend upon how much we have experienced Christ. We must come to the meeting not with the objective, doctrinal Christ but with the subjective, experiential Christ. Day by day we should have some experience of Christ. Then something will be accumulated in our being, and we will have something of Christ to minister and impart to others. To get into the name of the Lord, to exercise our spirit, and to offer the Christ whom we have experienced are the basic ways that we should come together.
- Why do we consider our meeting together as our service?
- Why do we concentrate on the Lord Himself when we function in the Lord’s table meeting?
- What is the significance of a “table” and what is the significance of a “supper”? What is the respective emphasis of each?
- What does our breaking and eating of the bread signify?
- Why is it helpful to receive some training in the matter of how we meet? How can we receive this training in a way of life and not as formalities or legalities towards ourselves and others?
Excerpts taken from Basic Lessons on Service, chs. 1-3