1. Should non-Christians who attend Church service be allowed to eat of the bread and drink of the wine served during observance of the Lord’s Supper? Any scripture to draw inference?
2. What is the message of John 6: 35 – 69? Some like Gordon Ferguson in his “Prepared to Answer” said it is not talking about communion, others like Douglas Jacoby was quoted as saying it is talking about the Communion bread and wine and still some use it to support the doctrine of Real presence, trasubstatiation and consubtantiation.
1. Whether or not those who are not yet disicples of Jesus should take the bread and wine is a matter of opinion–a grey area, as the scriptures do not definitely address this issue. We know from many early church documents that by the end of the first century and proceeding from there, the early church excluded the unbaptized from the Communion service. We do not have direct evidence of this from the first few decades of the church. However, one can speculate that this was the policy of the apostles. This is not a wild speculation because John lived until probably AD 97, at which point we already have evidence that some or perhaps all churches were already using this practice. So, the example of the early church leans toward exclusion of the unbaptized. However, the argument on the other side–ie. that the unbaptized can take part in the bread and wine is fairly strong. We can make a good argument that the extreme persecution and the danger of immanent arrest might have caused the early church to be cautious about who was admitted to the most intimate worship of the church. Such a situation is not in place today for most churches. If we accept the biblical teaching that the Lord’s Supper is a remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, it is hard to think of a theological or scriptural reason to exclude those who believe in Jesus, but who have not yet reached the point of discipleship and baptism. The example of the very early church is not completely clear, but even if it was, first century practices which are not mentioned in scripture are not binding on us today unless a biblical basis for the tradition of the church can be found. It is worth bearing in mind that the religious setting today is quite different from that of the first century. In the first two centuries there was literally only one group of Christians, under one bishop/eldership in any one city or town, even if the disciples met in house churches. Today we have literally hundreds of religious groups. Who is a Christian? Who is qualified to take the communion? This is no longer so clear as it was in the first century. For this reason, it is nearly impossible to decide who should take the Lord’s Supper at a given worship assembly without a careful examination of each individual person in attendance. This is obviously not practical. Therefore, if a church wants to practice exclusion of unworthy people or of unqualified people, it could only be based on some sort of local membership roles. This in and of itself is problematic. My thought on this is that one can justify the claim that the Lord’s Supper is for the baptized disciple of Jesus only, but that such an argument in inconclusive at best. The practical reality of "Christianity" today is such that in order to exclude the non-Christian is impractical and to exclude the non-member is going to create a feeling of exclusion which would harm the influence of our worship services to impact the unsaved. It would require a member-only worship service which, in my opinion, is counter-productive. This is a grey area, but you can see what my opinion is. 2. I believe that Jesus is not discussing the Lord’s Supper in John 6:43-59. I am well aware that the Roman church uses this passage to justify the doctrine of transubstantiation. This use and the resulting doctrine are not biblically justified. It is certainly understandable that some see the passage as related to the Lord’s Supper. The language certainly might lead one to this conclusion. However, I believe that Jesus is saying that unless we partake in him we will not be saved. He is talking about a relation with the Father through a relationship with Jesus. I believe that John 15 and his discussion of our need to abide in him is a good parallel to John 6:43-59. If we do not abide in Jesus we will not bear fruit and we will be "thrown into the fire and burned." Abiding in Jesus, eating the "bread of life" and drinking his blood are all very strong imagery of the same thing–our need of a relationship with the Son in order to know the Father. Jesus is not directly discussing the Lord’s Supper in either passage. In any case, whether the "real presence" teaching is biblical is perhaps debatable. There certainly is some language in the New Testament which can support this as at least as a spiritual reality, but it is not proved either way by John 6:43-59 in my opinion. Of course, transubstantiation is not taught anywhere in scripture. This is a rather clear false teaching. John Oakes