The Sacrament -- In the course of our study of the principles and ordinances of the Gospel, as specified in the fourth of the Articles of Faith, the subject of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper FN very properly claims attention, the observance of this ordinance being required of all who have become members of the Church of Christ through compliance with the requirements of faith, repentance, and baptism by water and of the Holy Ghost.
Institution of the Sacrament Among the Jews -- The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper dates from the night of the Passover feast FN immediately preceding the crucifixion of the Savior. On that solemn occasion Christ and the apostles were assembled in Jerusalem, keeping the feast in an upper room, which had been made ready by His express command. FN As a Jew Christ appears to have been loyal to the established usages of His people; and it must have been with extraordinary feelings that He entered upon this commemorative feast, the last of its kind bearing the significance of the type of a future sacrifice as well as a reminder of the Lord's blessings to Israel in the past. Knowing well the terrible experiences immediately awaiting Him, Jesus communed with the Twelve in anguish of soul at the paschal board, prophesying concerning His betrayal, which was soon to be accomplished by the agency of one who there ate with Him. Then He took bread, blessed it and gave it to the others, saying: "Take, eat; this is my body". FN "This do in remembrance of me." FN Afterward, taking the cup, He blessed its contents and administered it to them with the words: "Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." FN It is enlightening to note that the account of the sacrament and its purport as given by Paul FN resembles so closely as to be almost identical with the descriptions recorded by the evangelists. The designation of the sacrament as the Lord's Supper is used by no Biblical writer other than Paul.
Institution of the Sacrament Among the Nephites -- On the occasion of His visit to the Nephites, which occurred shortly after the ascension from Mount Olivet, Christ established the sacrament amongst this division of His flock. He directed the disciples whom He had chosen to bring bread and wine; then taking the bread, He brake it, blessed it, and gave it to them with the command that they should eat and afterward distribute to the multitude. Authority to administer this ordinance He promised to bestow. "And this shall ye always observe to do," He said, "even as I have done. * * * And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you." FN The wine was administered in the same order, first to the disciples then by them to the people. This also was to be part of the standing ordinance among the people: "And ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me." Then followed a reiteration of the significant promise: "And if ye do always remember me, ye shall have my Spirit to be with you." FN
Fit Partakers of the Sacrament -- The divine instructions concerning the sacredness of this ordinance are explicit; and the consequent need of scrupulous care being exercised lest it be engaged in unworthily is apparent. In addressing the Corinthian saints Paul gave solemn warnings against hasty or unworthy action in partaking of the sacrament, and declares that the penalties of sickness and even death are visited upon those who violate the sacred requirements: "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." FN
When instructing the Nephites, Jesus laid great stress upon the fitness of those who partook of the sacrament; and moreover He placed responsibility upon the officers of the Church whose duty it was to administer it, that they should permit none whom they knew to be unworthy to participate in the ordinance: "And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it; For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him." FN
The direct word of the Lord unto the saints in this dispensation instructs them to permit no one in transgression to partake of the sacrament until reconciliation has been made; nevertheless the saints are commanded to exercise abundant charity toward their erring fellows, not casting them out from the assemblies yet withholding the sacrament from them. FN In our system of Church organization the local ecclesiastical officers are charged with the responsibility of administering the sacrament, and the people are required to keep themselves worthy to partake of the sacred emblems.
There is an absence of scriptural sanction for giving the sacrament to any who are not members in full fellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ. Christ administered the ordinance on the eastern continent to the apostles; and we have record of their giving it to those only who had assumed the name of Christ. Amongst His western fold, Christ established the law that only the actual members of His Church should partake. In promising to ordain one among them with power to officiate in the sacrament, the Savior specified that the one so chosen should give it unto the people of His Church, unto all those who believed and were baptized in His name. FN Only those who had been so baptized were called the Church of Christ. FN Continuing His instructions to the disciples concerning the sacrament, the Savior said: "This shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name." FN
The same law is in force today. The members of the Church FN are admonished to meet together often for the observance of the sacrament; and the Church comprises none of mature years who have not been baptized by the authority of the Holy Priesthood. FN
Purpose of the Sacrament -- From the scriptural citations already made, it is plain that the sacrament is administered to commemorate the atonement of the Lord Jesus, as consummated in His agony and death; it is a testimony before God that we are mindful of His Son's sacrifice made in our behalf; and that we still profess the name of Christ and are determined to strive to keep His commandments, in the hope that we may ever have His Spirit to be with us. Partaking of the sacrament worthily may be regarded therefore as a means of renewing our avowals before the Lord, of acknowledgment of mutual fellowship among the members, and of solemnly witnessing our claim and profession of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ. The sacrament has not been established as a specific means of securing remission of sins; nor for any other special blessing aside from that of a continuing endowment of the Holy Spirit, which, however, comprises all needful blessings. Were the sacrament ordained specifically for the remission of sins, it would not be forbidden to those who are in greatest need of forgiveness; yet participation in the ordinance is restricted to those whose consciences are void of serious offense, those, therefore, who are acceptable before the Lord, those indeed who are in as little need of special forgiveness as mortals can be.
The Sacramental Emblems -- In instituting the sacrament among both the Jews and the Nephites, Christ used bread and wine as the emblems of His body and blood; FN and in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times, He has revealed His will that the saints meet together often to partake of bread and wine in this commemorative ordinance. FN But He has also shown that other forms of food and drink may be used in place of bread and wine. Soon after the Church had been organized in the present dispensation, the Prophet Joseph Smith was about to purchase wine for sacramental purposes, when a messenger from God met him and delivered the following instructions: "For, behold, I say unto you, that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory -- remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins. Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, that you shall not purchase wine neither strong drink of your enemies; Wherefore, you shall partake of none except it is made new among you; yea, in this my Father's kingdom which shall be built up on the earth." FN Upon this authority, the Latter-day Saints administer water in their sacramental service, in preference to wine.
Manner of Administering the Sacrament -- It is customary with the Latter-day Saints, in all wards or regularly organized branches of the Church, to hold sacramental meetings every Sabbath. The authority of the priest of the Aaronic order is requisite in consecrating the emblems; and, as a matter of course, any one who has been ordained to the higher order of Priesthood has authority to so officiate. The bread is first to be broken into small pieces, and placed in suitable receptacles on the sacramental table; and then, according to the Lord's direction, the elder or priest shall consecrate it, after this manner: "He shall kneel with the Church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer, saying.:
"O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen." FN
After the bread has been distributed to the congregation, in which service the teachers and deacons may take part under the direction of the officiating priest, the wine or water is consecrated in this manner.:
"O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine [or water] to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them,; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen." FN
The plainness of the Lord's instructions to the saints regarding this ordinance leaves no excuse for disputation concerning the proper procedure, for assuredly no one who officiates in these holy rites can feel that he is justified in changing the forms even by the alteration of a word. The records of the Nephites show that the manner of administering the sacrament in their day, FN was the same as that revealed for the guidance of the saints in the dispensation of the fulness of times.
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper
Instituted among the Jews by the Lord on the night of his betrayal -- Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19, 20.
Instituted among the Nephites by the resurrected Lord -- 3 Nephi 18:1-11. Administered among the Nephites a second time by the Savior -- 3 Nephi 20:3-5; and often thereafter -- 26:13.
Prefigurement of the sacrament -- John 6:52-56.
Designated by Paul the Lord's Supper -- 1 Cor. 11:20.
Jewish converts continued in the apostles' doctrine, and in the breaking of bread -- Acts 2:42; see verse 46.
Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them -- Acts 20:7.
Christ's institution of the sacrament revealed to Paul -- 1 Cor. 11:23-25.
Sin of partaking unworthily and its penalty -- 1 Cor. 11:26-34.
See that ye partake not of the sacrament of Christ unworthily -- Mormon 9:29.
The communion of the blood and body of Christ -- 1 Cor. 10:16; the cup of the Lord and the Lord's table -- verse 21.
He that thus eateth and drinketh doth eat and drink my body and blood to his soul -- 3 Nephi 20:8.
One to be ordained to administer the sacrament -- 3 Nephi 18:5.
Only members of the church to partake -- 3 Nephi 18:11.
Ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily -- 3 Nephi 18:28, 29.
The church met together often to partake -- Moroni 6:6.
Prescribed ritual for administering the emblems among the Nephites -- Moroni, chaps. 4 and 5; among the saints in the current dispensation -- D&C 20:75-79.
Emblems of the body and blood of Christ -- D&C 20:40.
Priests may administer the sacrament -- D&C 20:46; teachers and deacons have not authority to administer -- verse 58.
Newly baptized members, duly instructed, are to partake -- D&C 20:68.
Wine may be used -- D&C 89:5, 6; but is not essential -- 27:1-5.