The Assurance of Communion

Does communion bring you assurance or anxiety?

A lot depends on how communion is conducted by those leading it. Communion can be given in such a way as to baptize the souls of the congregation in assurance or in anxiety.

The Holy Spirit is speaking assurance to peoples’ souls.

He is assuring them of the communion they have with the Father in Jesus. If our celebration of communion speaks – by words and actions – of this same communion then we are in step with the Spirit and the souls of those who participate will be assured in their Father’s love for them.

There are ways of taking communion that can contradict the Spirit’s work of assurance.

The most common way that I have seen the Spirit contradicted in communion is by leaders who talk about our “responsibilities” with regard to communion. These speeches, as I have heard them, run the gamut from relatively short jabs to long diatribes. The themes range from lectures about “examining yourself” and being sure you are repentant to guilt trips about evangelism and saving people from hell. I understand where some pastors think they are getting this sort of thing (from 1 Cor. 11, for example) but the Bible was not written to contradict the person of Christ. If we find ourselves quoting the Bible and talking about ideas that contradict the absolute assurance of Jesus’ identity as the union of the Trinity and humanity then we are misusing the Bible.

The assurance of communion is really quite simple.

Communion is reassuring because it is all about who Jesus is and how he is totally for humanity, on our side, and sharing with us the communion of the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are communion. In Jesus, humanity has now been included in that communion. The fact that Jesus is human – he is flesh (bread) and blood (wine) – is our assurance that we are liked, love, and accepted into the life of the Trinity.

~ Jonathan Stepp

5 comments so far

  1. Paul Kurts on

    Wonderful, Jonathan! You always make it so “palatable” and easy to understand. Communion with Jesus through the taking of the bread and the wine or grape juice does signify the love of the Triune God for us all. One thing that strikes me about it is the fact that in taking these sympols Jesus is telling us each time that He is sharing His LIFE with us. He is in us and we are in Him–Jn.14:20.

    He loves us so much that He is perpetually giving us His life which is now our real life forever. Greater love has on man than to give His life for another–How great is that love of Jesus for EVERY man/woman.

    Paul Kurts


  2. Don Hussell on

    Yes, communion should be something that is saying, Jesus is welcoming you to his table prepared for you, you are accepted, loved, forgiven, but that would mean they were free but how do we who are not free tell anyone about freedom. And if we live in fear ourselves then we must have some means to control these people….Ha Ha…..It starts with the pastor. I have seen more change in people when they know that they are accepted and loved by God just as they are. They don’t have to pretend and they become real when they know they can come to Jesus with all there junk and live in a fellowship they accepts them with all there junk…..Thanks….Don

  3. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks, Paul and Don – I appreciate your encouraging and helpful comments!

  4. Aaron James on

    I’m curious how you would interpret 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 in which which Paul discusses the practice of examining yourself prior to partaking of communion?

  5. Pastor Jonathan on

    In that text Paul is addressing a specific problem in Corinth with the way they were taking communion: they weren’t eating together, some ate before the others. The result was that some ate and some went hungry, and some got drunk and others had nothing to drink (vv. 20-21.)

    Paul calls this behavior “not recognizing the body of the Lord.” (v. 29) So, the problem was that the Corinthians did not understand that we are all one humanity in the body of the Lord (e.g. Eph. 2:15, Rom. 5:18.) Since they do not understand this reality they are being abusive to one another, and not only abusive, but actually mistreating each other at the very ceremony – communion – which symbolizes how we are all brothers with each other in the body (flesh and blood) of our brother Jesus (Heb. 2:11-15.)

    So, if I as a pastor realize that the people in my congregation are abusing each other because they don’t understand their brotherhood in the body and blood of Jesus then I might use 1 Cor. 11 to help them see how wrong their thinking is. In other words, if, in my congregation as in Corinth, people are eating up all the bread and getting drunk on the wine at communion and not leaving enough for other people to eat then they need to examine themselves. And as their pastor I need to tell them to examine themselves.

    But I don’t think 1 Cor. 11 exists to give me permission as a pastor to try to manipulate peoples’ behavior by putting guilt trips on them and making them feel unaccepted by the Father in Jesus. Jesus’ humanity, symbolized in the bread and wine, is the basis of humanity’s acceptance by the Father and our adoption into his life as his children and therefore the eating of the bread and wine should never be an occasion to send the opposite message and try to tell people they aren’t acceptable unless they make themselves acceptable.

    Jesus has made us acceptable and that is what communion reveals to us.

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