IV. THE DISCERNING OF THE ONE BODY
Scripture Reading: 1 Cor. 11:29-30; 10:17; Eph. 4:4
My fourth burden in this chapter is the discerning of the one Body. First Corinthians 11:29 says that we need to discern the Body. Moreover, it says that if we do not discern the Body, we will suffer some kind of discipline by the Lord.
The first item we need to discern is the bread on the Lord’s table. The bread on the Lord’s table should be a symbol not only of the Lord’s physical body, but also of the Lord’s mystical Body, which is universally one (Eph. 4:4). Although we may take the Lord’s table in many different cities around the globe, we all are taking just one bread, because the bread we partake of is a symbol of Christ’s mystical Body, which is universally one. Thus, 1 Corinthians 10:17 says, "We who are many are one bread, one Body; for we all partake of the one bread."
Any bread on the Lord’s table that does not signify the Lord’s one universal Body but the body of a certain sect is divisive. The denomination in which I grew up in mainland China had their "communion" at regular intervals of time. Each time they made a strong announcement that whoever was not a member of that denomination had to leave the premises. The bread that they partook of was not a symbol of the Body of Christ; it was a symbol of the sect of that denomination. We should not partake of that kind of bread, that kind of "communion," or that kind of table. We should not have any share in it; it is a sign of a sect.
If we partake of such a divisive table without discernment, we participate in a division, which is condemned by the apostle (1 Cor. 11:29-30). Some who have recently left us to form divisions are taking the Lord’s table. They have told people that they are simply a group meeting that is having the Lord’s table. Should these group meetings be considered as proper and genuine meetings of the local churches? If a proper, genuine group meeting has the Lord’s table, that table will be the table of a local church, with the bread as a symbol of the entire Body of Christ. That is a practice that keeps the oneness of the Body. Suppose, however, that we have a group of believers who originally were meeting with the church, but because of certain reasons, they left the church and keep themselves separate from the church, without having any fellowship with the church. Suppose, further, that these believers have what they call the Lord’s table. Such a table immediately becomes a symbol of division, a symbol of a sect. Hence, 1 Corinthians 11:29 charges us to discern. When we partake of any bread on a table that is called the Lord’s table, we must discern carefully whether that bread signifies the universal Body of Christ, without division, or not. If it does not, we should not partake of it. If we do not discern, and partake of such a thing, this is condemned by the apostle, that is, by the Lord.
Some of the new believers among us may wonder what the difference is between the Lord’s recovery and Christianity. In this book with the supplementary word we have seen, first of all, that we are here for the recovery, and second, that we are here for the oneness of the Body. We are here in the recovery of the Triune God, Christ, the Spirit, life, the believers, the church, the church ground, and the practice of the local churches. In total, we are in the recovery of the oneness of the Body of Christ. Thus, we need to conduct ourselves properly, and we also need to exercise our discernment because of the confusion that is around us. As long as there are divisions, there will be confusion. So we must be careful and look to the Lord that we may be able to discern the situation among us.
(Elders' Training, Book 10: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (2), Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)