The practice of observing the Lord’s Supper in pursuance of holiness holds a special place in the hearts of Nigerian Baptists. This time-honoured practice serves as a symbolic representation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and provides an opportunity for believers to renew their commitment to Him. The observance is more than a mere ritual; it is a solemn occasion that allows Nigerian Baptists to pursue holiness as members of the Body of Christ through obedience to this ordinance.

The breaking of bread and the drinking of wine (symbolic elements of Christ’s body and blood)serve as a reminder of Christ’ssacrifice and provide an opportunity for believers to reflect on their lives and renew their faithful commitment to Him. In this article, the writer examines the Baptist practice of observing the Lord’s Supper and its connection to the pursuit of holiness. The need to observe the Lord’s Supper in pursuit of holiness is emphasised in these values:

Self-examination: The pursuit of holiness is a vital aspect of the Baptist practice of observing the Lord’s Supper, as noted by various Nigerian Baptists and scriptures. Believers are encouraged to engage in self-examination before partaking in the Lord’s Supper, as Rev Dr DejiOkegbilehighlights in his book, The Baptist Heritage and Administration.

This practice allows believers to reflect on their lives and prepare their hearts for the solemn occasion.In|Corinthians 11:23-26, Apostle Paul recounts the institution of the Lord’sSupper by Jesus Christ Himself. He instructs the Corinthian Church to”examine themselves” before partaking in the Lord’s Supper, emphasising the importance of pursuing holiness before partaking in this sacred practice.

Community: The observance of the Lord’s Supper as a community of believers reinforces the pursuit of holiness. As noted by Rev Dr Joshua Ojoin in his book, The Baptist Identity and the Church in Nigeria, the breaking of bread and drinking of wine provides believers with a time of fellowship and an opportunity to renew their commitment to one another. Observing the Lord’s Supper promotes unity in the Body of Christ while reminding believers of their individual and collective responsibility to live godly lives.

Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us, we are to”consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.”By partaking in the Lord’s Supper together as a community of believers, we are reminded of our shared responsibility to pursue holiness and encourage one another in the faith.

Repentance: The observance of the Lord’s Supper by Baptists particularly and other denominations emphasises the importance of repentance before partaking in this sacred practice. In |Corinthians I1:27-29, Paul warns that those who partake in an “unworthy manner” will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of Christ. As such, repentance is essential to pursuing holiness before partaking in the Lord’supper. Given the biblical emphasis on penance, it’s clear that this practice olds fundamental significance for the pursuit of holiness among believers. Assume Nigerian Baptist authors harvested, that it is a holiness factor that remotes repentance in the body of Christ while reminding believers to live worldly lives.

Both the Scripture and some table Nigerian Baptist authors such as Late Rev Dr S. Ola. Akande have all highlighted the importance of self-examination, confession of sin, and repentance before partaking in the Lord’s Supper. This practice allows Nigerian Baptists to reflect on their lives and prepare their hearts for the solemn occasion. Observing the Lord’s Supper is a holiness factor for Nigerian Baptists, promoting righteousness in the body of Christ and reminding believers of their individual and collective responsibility to live godly lives.

In light of these observations, the writer recommends that Nigerian Baptist Churches continue to prioritise the practice of observing the Lord’s Supper as a means of pursuing holiness. It behoves that pastors and leaders within the Baptist community continue to teach the significance of the Lord’s Supper and encourage believers to engage in self-examination, self-reflection and repentance before partaking in it. Observance of the Lord’s Supper in pursuit of holiness must be prioritized by the church leaders for fellowship and community building thereby expanding the frontiers of God’s kingdom. This time-honoured practice not only serves as a symbolic representation of Christ’s sacrifice but also allows believers to renew their commitment to one another and promote unity within the Body of Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, before His crucifixion, had appointed some outward rites that His followers, by extension, the church, were to be administered as a visible sign of the Gospel. These outward rites, also called the Ordinances, are two as the New Testament prescribes. They areBaptism and the Lord’s Supper. The Baptism, which is only observed once by a person who has encountered the saving faith in Jesus Christ, is a public proclamation of an eternal journey in Christ Jesus. Our focus here is on the Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper continues what Baptism began in the believer, and it has its root traced to the Passover meal initiated in Exodus(Ex. 12:18; 24:9-11; Dt. 14:23,26). The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus Christ (Mt. 26:26-29; Mk.14:22-24; Lk. 22:19-20). It speaks of our relationship and communion with Jesus Christ. It is to be observed regularly as a memorial of the sufferings and death of JesusChrist (ICor.11:25). It is also called other names-The Lord’s Table, the Blood and Body of Christ, the Holy Communion, the Breaking of Bread, Eucharist.

The Baptists believe that an invitation to the Lord’s Table indicates Christ’s unending love for the Christian and encourages members of the church who have been regenerated always to participate. Also, all the blessings the Lord promises are accrued for the redeemed. The Lord’s Supper is seen as a means of grace that we receive through the spiritual presence of Christ Jesus in the heart of the believer.

The Elements to be used in theLord’s Supper

Whatever we do as believers must bring glory and honour to the Lord. The bread and wine are to be used. For the Baptist, it should be bread without yeast. When bread without yeast is unavailable, biscuits or water may be used. The bread represents the Body of Christ, and the breaking suggests the breaking of Christ’s Body for our redemption. The wine symbolises His blood. It should be an on-alcoholic beverage with a red colour. The cups must not be shared; each participant must be given a cup. Where the cups are insufficient, sister churches may be approached to collect from, and after that, the cups should be returned to the church clean. We should avoid unworthy substitutes, all in the name of engaging in varieties.

The Administrator of the Lord’s Supper

The Bible is silent on who should administer or preside when the Lord’s Supper is observed. Nevertheless, Apostle Paul’s writing insisted that the church carry it out. Some scholars argued that any Christian with the right spiritual qualifications can preside over the Communion. However, the Baptist view is that only ordained Baptist Ministers should administer the Lord’s Supper. In the absence of an ordained minister, the church should invite an ordained Baptist Minister.

The Appropriate Recipients of the Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is meant only for those who possess the following: Those who have earnestly repented of their sins, who trust that they have been cleansed and covered by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ and desirous of growing in their faith, conformity to the image of Christ, and true holiness.

In addition to the above, they must have been baptised by immersion. When administering it, the Minister must disallow those who have not accepted Christ and those who have not been baptised by immersion. Baptism by sprinkling is not allowed in the Baptist church. Children who have not reached the age of Baptism are not allowed to participate. Some true believers in the church may decide not to participate for reasons best known to them. Their attitude toward fellow believers or a conscious relation to God may disqualify them

Frequency of Organising theLord’s Supper

The Bible is silent on the number of times the church should administer it. In the early church, they took it every time they met for worship.TheBaptist suggests that it be done quarterly

Our Conduct at the Table

The participant must remember his/her encounter with Jesus Christ and what Christ did for him/her on the Cross of Calvary. Participants should thoroughly examine themselves because of the second coming of Jesus Christ. We are warned not to take communion unworthily; taking the Lord’s Supper in an ungodly manner will result in sinning against Christ, sickness, and untimely death.

Spiritual Benefits to the Participants

It is a means of spiritual growth for the participants. It is a renewal of our vow to the Lord. True fellowship is established among participants as communion unites the church. Many scholars believe participating in the Supper helps the participants obtain forgiveness of post-baptismal sins because participants “come back into communion with the blood of Jesus Christ.”Many participants testified to spiritual healing when they took the Holy Communion.

Finally, the Supper is a reminder of what Christ did for the world, for man’s salvation and the path to eternal life. Furthermore, we must still see that the bread and wine are indeed bread and wine. The substances have not changed.