Directives for special gatherings for worship mandated by the Word of God
As we take up this subject of the special gatherings for worship, the materials will fall under two major headings :
1 – Those special gatherings mandated by the Word of God
2 – Those special gatherings mandated by social, societal, or ecclesiastical customs, not directly mandated nor forbidden by the Scriptures.
1. The Lord’s Supper or the Supper of Remembrance
In addressing this subject, I will do so under two major headings.
Second, I will set forth some miscellaneous counsels concerning the Supper of Remembrance.
Since it is clear from 1 Cor. 10:16-17 and 1 Cor. 11:17-34 that the supper of remembrance is to be an activity of the gathered church, and therefore must be regulated in its details, those responsible for the oversight and government of the church should feel a keen sense of responsibility in ordering this service properly.
The three crucial questions are:
a. How frequently should the Supper of Remembrance be held?
1 Cor. 11:26 (Rev. 11:6)
It should be held often enough to derive regularly its intended benefits without leaving it unnecessarily vulnerable to its becoming commonplace on one hand, or superstitiously venerated on the other.
1 Cor. 11:17ff
1 Cor. 11:20, 1 Cor. 11:33-34
Lk. 22:19; Heb. 10:3 (Noun)
Mk. 14:72; Heb. 10:32 (Verb)
1 Cor. 10:16-17
(a) Any ministry preceding our coming to the table should in some degree lead to and underscore this activity of “appropriating remembrance.”
(b) Any remarks at the table should encourage and promote this “appropriating remembrance.”
(c) All of the hymns and prayers ought to reflect our commitment to engage in this spiritual activity of “appropriating remembrance.
2) The secondary purposes of the Supper ought to regulate some facets of the service.
Acts 4:2; Acts 13:38
d. Practical guidelines, warnings, and exhortations
2) Beware of a legalistic mentality which will rend the body of Christ over circumstantial details pertaining to the ordering of the Supper of Remembrance.
3) Use the occasion of the Supper of Remembrance to demonstrate the parity of the eldership and to combat sacerdotalism and clericalism.
4) Study carefully the issue of open or closed or restricted communion.
5) Spare no pains to secure an orderly, undistracting, dignified plan for distributing the elements.
For material consult:
Owen, John. The Works of John Owen, vol. 9, pp. 521-622
Dagg, J. L. Manual of Theology, pp. 203-225
Warfield, B. B.. Faith and Life, pp. 222-230
Cunningham, William. The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, pp. 212-219