the weblog of Alan Knox

Assembling Together 7 and 8 – Praise and The Breaking of Bread

Posted by on Mar 17, 2007 in books, discipleship, ordinances/sacraments | 17 comments

The seventh and eighth chapters of Watchman Nee’s book Assembling Together (chapters 20 and 21 of the Basic Lessons series) are called “Praise” and “The Breaking of Bread” respectively. I’ve decided to review these two chapters together.

Praise
I agree with almost everything that Nee says in this chapter. He says that praise is sacrifice [114] and the way to victory [115]. He also examines the benefit of praise in the midst of spiritual warfare [119]. I really appreciate this paragraph:

Concerning the matter of glorifying God, I have a thought to share. Today we see in a mirror darkly; though we see a little, yet we cannot understand the full meaning for it has been distorted. We feel great pain for the things we have suffered, not recognizing the difference between inward hurt and circumstantial difficulty. Since we do not understand, we find it hard to praise. I believe the abundance of praise in heaven is due to our perfect knowledge there. The more perfect the knowledge, the greater the praise. One day when we all come to the presence of the Lord, everything will be crystal clear. What is a puzzle to us now will be solved then. On that day we shall be able to see His hand in every step of the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Had the Holy Spirit’s discipline been lacking, to what depths would we have fallen! If He had not restrained our steps, where would we have been? If we realize this, we will bow our heads in praise saying, “Lord, You are never wrong.” [128]

Nee recommends learning to praise God during good times, so that we will praise him during the difficult times. This is great advice that also works for prayer, thanksgiving, and even spending time with other believers.

He makes a few dogmatic statements that seem to apply his conviction to everyone. For example, he says:

As soon as one becomes a Christian, he ought to learn to praise God daily. I will give him a rule: he must praise God at least seven times a day. [115]

I’m not sure that this is given as a “rule” in Scripture, although it would certainly be a worthy endeavor. Let’s continue to offer the sacrifice of praise to our worthy God!

The Breaking of Bread
Similarly, I agree with much of what Nee says about breaking bread. For example, he says that the word “supper” denotes “a family meal” [133] (as opposed to an individual meal) and excludes the thought of work [134]. He also suggests that the Lord’s Supper is a time to remember the Lord and to proclaim his death – both biblical concepts. Importantly, Nee says that when the supper causes us to “remember the Lord”, it dispels division among brothers and sisters in Christ:

Remembering the Lord has another spiritual value: it makes strife and contention and division impossible among God’s children. When you are reminded of how you have been saved by grace and you find another person with you who is likewise reminded, you are both one before the Lord. When you contemplate how the Lord Jesus forgave the myriad of your sins and you see another brother coming to the supper who has also been bought and redeemed by the precious blood, how can you bring in anything to separate you from him? How can you divide God’s children? For the past nearly two thousand years, many controversies among God’s children have been settled at the Lord’s supper. Many unforgiven things, even things unforgivable, and many lifelong hatreds have disappeared at the Lord’s table, for it is impossible not to forgive when, in remembering the Lord, you are reminded of how you have been saved and forgiven. [136]

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see people brought back to unity over the table? Perhaps we do not see this as often because we are not truly “remembering the Lord”. Unfortunately, we often see people disagree over the supper more than we see people united over the supper.

Nee also recognizes that the supper symbolizes both our communion with the Lord and our unity with one another. Based on this two-way communion Nee makes the following statement:

How, then, do we receive people to the table of the Lord? Remember, we are not the hosts; we are at best but ushers. This is the Lord’s supper, the Lord’s table, not ours. We have no authority whatsoever over the Lord’s table. We are priveleged to eat the bread the drink the cup, but we cannot withhold it from others. We cannot forbid any of the blood-redeemed ones from coming to the Lord’s table. We have no authority to refuse anyone. We cannot refuse those whom the Lord has received, nor can we reject those who belong to the Lord. We can only refuse those whom the Lord refuses or those who do not belong to Him. The Lord only refuses those who do not belong to Him or those who yet remain in sin. Since their communion with the Lord is already interrupted, we, too, do not have fellowship with them. But let us take not that we are the Lord’s and have no authority to exercise other than that which the Lord exercises. [144]

I know that this is a touchy subject. I’ve heard many arguments why certain believers should be refused a place at the Lord’s table. Nee says that only reason to refuse someone is because they are not children of God. I have not seen a scriptural defense for refusing anyone else. (By the way, I believe that when the church separates from someone through the process of discipline, the church is stating that the person is not living as a child of God and is depriving himself and the church from priveleges and benefits of the family of God.)

How can we partake of the Lord’s supper in a worthy manner when we refuse to partake with others whom we recognizes as brothers and sisters in Christ?

Review of Watchman Nee’s Assembling Together Series:
1: Chapter 1 – Joining the Church
2: Chapter 2 – Laying on of Hands
3: Chapter 3 – Assembling Together
4: Chapter 4 – Various Meetings
5: Chapters 5 & 6 – The Lord’s Day and Hymn Singing
6: Chapters 7 & 8 – Praise and The Breaking of Bread


17 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-17-2007

    Alan,

    I’d like to discuss briefly some of your concerns regarding “The Breaking of Bread.” I believe Nee is correct that the Lord’s table should be open to every child of God, and that as believers, we are in no position to refuse anyone who professes Christ as Lord and Savior.

    I agree with you that when someone is disfellowshipped, or separated because of church discipline, then the local congregation is openly saying such a person is not living as a child of God, and is thus depriving himself and others of the privileges and benefits of being a member of the family of God.

    I agree with you that we really cannot partake of the Lord’s table in a worthy manner when we do not receive those whom Christ has received. We really need to receive each other, as we are exhorted to do, in 1 Cor. 12.

    Blessings,
    Jonathan

  2. 3-17-2007

    Alan,

    It looks like you, Jonathan, Nee and me are all in agreement on this one.

    The wonders of blogging!

  3. 3-17-2007

    Count me in. This is good stuff. And I like the fact that Nee makes some practical suggestions like praising seven times a day. Sure, it isn’t something you would find in the letter of the bible, but it is just a practical application that one can practice until it becomes a part of one’s life, regular and unpracticed. I think we often throw out all things that look religious or ritualistic much too quickly. If they are just motions, they are meaningless, yes, but perhaps as we add to our faith a few motions we increase it. 2 Peter 1.

  4. 3-17-2007

    Four of us all agreeing? Wow… there must be some kind of weird alignments of the planets or something.

    Bryan,

    I certainly don’t have a problem with praising 7 times a day. I only have a problem with presenting it as a “rule”, which Nee does.

    -Alan

  5. 3-17-2007

    Alan,
    I am enjoying this series of posts, but I didn’t have time until today to read through and engage with the comments.

    A few questions that I have about how our understanding of the sacrament of communion relates to breaking bread together.

    First, at what point does our sharing a table together become the Lord’s supper? When we “remember the Lord and proclaim his death”?

    Also, interestingly Jesus shared in breaking bread with Judas in spite of His knowledge of Judas’ sin (betrayal). He also spent a lot of time sharing “His Table” with sinners to the point of being accused of being a drunkard and glutton Himself. Does this say anything to us about welcoming unbelievers to the table also?

    I’m just wondering what your thoughts are about this.

    The 3 Nee books that I have are Spriritual Authority, Let Us Pray, and Spiritual Knowledge (and I didn’t think much of these). I appreciate your ability to read through his teaching and discern the truths from the things that are off.

  6. 3-17-2007

    My mind has been buzzing with thoughts of Holy Communion ever since I read Michael Spenser’s blog on it last week- sorry too lazy to look up the link just now.
    I hate the idea of closed communion with a great hate. I love Nee’s acknowledgment that it is the ‘Lord’s table’ and not ours.
    Great post all around. I am trying to work with our national team to incorporate the Lord’s Supper into our work. We planted a church last year and they do not do communion very often- pretty much when we go down and do it with them. When I expressed my frustration with this a coworker said, ‘Of course, they will never do it often.’ I asked why and he said, because we never model it in our lives. So, now the challenge is to adjust our lives so that the Lord’s Supper can be used as it was intended to ‘Proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.’

  7. 3-17-2007

    Grace,

    I believe that we (as the church) should “eat with” unbelievers and not “eat with” those who call themselves believers but refuse to repent from sin (end of 1 Cor 5, but I don’t have the particular verses now).

    I’ve written about the connection between the elements of the Lord’s Supper (bread and cup) and the meal itself in a post called “The Lord’s Supper as a Meal?” I do believe the Lord’s Supper was shared as a meal, and I’m not sure what role the elements play in that meal.

    Strider,

    Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately, I think the Lord’s Supper is used to divide as often, if not more often, than it is used to unite believers.

    -Alan

  8. 3-18-2007

    Alan,
    I’ve enjoyed this post with your review of Watchman Nee’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and your previous post on the Lord’s Supper as a meal. In fact, I posted a blog on my own page to that effect.
    In regard to the Lord’s Supper as a meal, I’ve found that to be more meaningful that the thimble of juice and a dry bit of matzoh at the end of a worship service. We did a bread & water meal at Living Hope one time, emphasizing Christ as our Bread of Life and Living Water.
    Your comments on the unity of believers in the Lord’s Supper were good, too. We tend to look down the row at others who might be out of fellowship, but how many times have I been “dis-unified” when I came to the table? Maybe the question I need to ask myself is the one the disciples asked Jesus who would betray Him, “Lord, is it I?”
    Thank you for some good posts.
    Kat
    http://where-we-live.blogspot.com/

  9. 3-18-2007

    Alan,
    I’ve enjoyed this post with your review of Watchman Nee’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and your previous post on the Lord’s Supper as a meal. In fact, I posted a blog on my own page to that effect.
    In regard to the Lord’s Supper as a meal, I’ve found that to be more meaningful that the thimble of juice and a dry bit of matzoh at the end of a worship service. We did a bread & water meal at Living Hope one time, emphasizing Christ as our Bread of Life and Living Water.
    Your comments on the unity of believers in the Lord’s Supper were good, too. We tend to look down the row at others who might be out of fellowship, but how many times have I been “dis-unified” when I came to the table? Maybe the question I need to ask myself is the one the disciples asked Jesus who would betray Him, “Lord, is it I?”
    Thank you for some good posts.
    Kat
    http://where-we-live.blogspot.com/

  10. 3-18-2007

    Alan,
    I’ve enjoyed this post with your review of Watchman Nee’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and your previous post on the Lord’s Supper as a meal. In fact, I posted a blog on my own page to that effect.
    In regard to the Lord’s Supper as a meal, I’ve found that to be more meaningful that the thimble of juice and a dry bit of matzoh at the end of a worship service. We did a bread & water meal at Living Hope one time, emphasizing Christ as our Bread of Life and Living Water.
    Your comments on the unity of believers in the Lord’s Supper were good, too. We tend to look down the row at others who might be out of fellowship, but how many times have I been “dis-unified” when I came to the table? Maybe the question I need to ask myself is the one the disciples asked Jesus who would betray Him, “Lord, is it I?”
    Thank you for some good posts.
    Kat
    http://where-we-live.blogspot.com/

  11. 3-18-2007

    Alan,
    I’ve enjoyed this post with your review of Watchman Nee’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and your previous post on the Lord’s Supper as a meal. In fact, I posted a blog on my own page to that effect.
    In regard to the Lord’s Supper as a meal, I’ve found that to be more meaningful that the thimble of juice and a dry bit of matzoh at the end of a worship service. We did a bread & water meal at Living Hope one time, emphasizing Christ as our Bread of Life and Living Water.
    Your comments on the unity of believers in the Lord’s Supper were good, too. We tend to look down the row at others who might be out of fellowship, but how many times have I been “dis-unified” when I came to the table? Maybe the question I need to ask myself is the one the disciples asked Jesus who would betray Him, “Lord, is it I?”
    Thank you for some good posts.
    Kat
    http://where-we-live.blogspot.com/

  12. 3-18-2007

    Alan,
    I’ve enjoyed this post with your review of Watchman Nee’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and your previous post on the Lord’s Supper as a meal. In fact, I posted a blog on my own page to that effect.
    In regard to the Lord’s Supper as a meal, I’ve found that to be more meaningful that the thimble of juice and a dry bit of matzoh at the end of a worship service. We did a bread & water meal at Living Hope one time, emphasizing Christ as our Bread of Life and Living Water.
    Your comments on the unity of believers in the Lord’s Supper were good, too. We tend to look down the row at others who might be out of fellowship, but how many times have I been “dis-unified” when I came to the table? Maybe the question I need to ask myself is the one the disciples asked Jesus who would betray Him, “Lord, is it I?”
    Thank you for some good posts.
    Kat
    http://where-we-live.blogspot.com/

  13. 3-18-2007

    Alan,
    I’ve enjoyed this post with your review of Watchman Nee’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and your previous post on the Lord’s Supper as a meal. In fact, I posted a blog on my own page to that effect.
    In regard to the Lord’s Supper as a meal, I’ve found that to be more meaningful that the thimble of juice and a dry bit of matzoh at the end of a worship service. We did a bread & water meal at Living Hope one time, emphasizing Christ as our Bread of Life and Living Water.
    Your comments on the unity of believers in the Lord’s Supper were good, too. We tend to look down the row at others who might be out of fellowship, but how many times have I been “dis-unified” when I came to the table? Maybe the question I need to ask myself is the one the disciples asked Jesus who would betray Him, “Lord, is it I?”
    Thank you for some good posts.
    Kat
    http://where-we-live.blogspot.com/

  14. 3-18-2007

    Alan,
    I’ve enjoyed this post with your review of Watchman Nee’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and your previous post on the Lord’s Supper as a meal. In fact, I posted a blog on my own page to that effect.
    In regard to the Lord’s Supper as a meal, I’ve found that to be more meaningful that the thimble of juice and a dry bit of matzoh at the end of a worship service. We did a bread & water meal at Living Hope one time, emphasizing Christ as our Bread of Life and Living Water.
    Your comments on the unity of believers in the Lord’s Supper were good, too. We tend to look down the row at others who might be out of fellowship, but how many times have I been “dis-unified” when I came to the table? Maybe the question I need to ask myself is the one the disciples asked Jesus who would betray Him, “Lord, is it I?”
    Thank you for some good posts.
    Kat
    http://where-we-live.blogspot.com/

  15. 3-18-2007

    Alan,
    I’ve enjoyed this post with your review of Watchman Nee’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and your previous post on the Lord’s Supper as a meal. In fact, I posted a blog on my own page to that effect.
    In regard to the Lord’s Supper as a meal, I’ve found that to be more meaningful that the thimble of juice and a dry bit of matzoh at the end of a worship service. We did a bread & water meal at Living Hope one time, emphasizing Christ as our Bread of Life and Living Water.
    Your comments on the unity of believers in the Lord’s Supper were good, too. We tend to look down the row at others who might be out of fellowship, but how many times have I been “dis-unified” when I came to the table? Maybe the question I need to ask myself is the one the disciples asked Jesus who would betray Him, “Lord, is it I?”
    Thank you for some good posts.
    Kat
    http://where-we-live.blogspot.com/

  16. 3-18-2007

    Alan,
    I’ve enjoyed this post with your review of Watchman Nee’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper and your previous post on the Lord’s Supper as a meal. In fact, I posted a blog on my own page to that effect.
    In regard to the Lord’s Supper as a meal, I’ve found that to be more meaningful that the thimble of juice and a dry bit of matzoh at the end of a worship service. We did a bread & water meal at Living Hope one time, emphasizing Christ as our Bread of Life and Living Water.
    Your comments on the unity of believers in the Lord’s Supper were good, too. We tend to look down the row at others who might be out of fellowship, but how many times have I been “dis-unified” when I came to the table? Maybe the question I need to ask myself is the one the disciples asked Jesus who would betray Him, “Lord, is it I?”
    Thank you for some good posts.
    Kat
    http://where-we-live.blogspot.com/

  17. 3-18-2007

    Elder’s Wife,

    Thank you for the comments. I have not read your post yet, but I will read it this afternoon.

    -Alan