Thursday, April 25, 2019
This Lord’s day evening our congregation comes not only to hear the Word of God audibly proclaimed, but also to publicly and visibly participate in one of the greatest privileges of Christian church membership, the Lord’s Supper.
The Bible tells us that on the night our Lord Jesus was betrayed He took bread and wine and set them apart for a special and particular use (Matthew 26:26-30). We call this special use a “sacramental” use, that is for a sacred purpose. Our church’s Westminster Shorter Catechism instructs us that, “A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ, wherein by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers” (WSC Q92).
In the Supper of Christ, the sensible signs are bread and wine. These elements of bread and wine are to remind us what Jesus has done for us. The bread is a sacred symbol and seal of Jesus’ body, which was given for us. The cup is a sacred symbol and seal of the new covenant in Jesus blood (Luke 22:19-21). In receiving the supper, we are saying to ourselves and to others that while Jesus’ death should have been ours, we also participate in the resurrection life of Christ by faith (Galatians 2:20 ; 2 Cor. 5:21).
Furthermore, we acknowledge that just as truly as the physical bread and wine are present in our eating, that Jesus is spiritually present to nourish and strengthen us by faith in His promise. This is communion with Christ in His body and blood (1 Corinthians 10:16) and is received only by faith. This pattern is to be followed in the church until Jesus returns and receives His followers at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). What a glorious day for us!
But as we are still waiting for that great day, here are a few words of counsel to the church and her honored guests.
- God in His Word forbids the church to invite unbelievers, the spiritually careless, or those under church discipline to partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 5:1-11 & 11:27-29; Matthew 18:16).
- Who is invited to dine with Christ? The Bible invites (yes, commands) the followers of Christ who are baptized and communicant members of a true branch of the visible church to dine at the Table of Christ (Luke 22:19).
- How do we at SRPC carry out obedience to this Biblical teaching? In terms of our local practice communicant members of the RPCNA and those known to the session may commune at the Supper. Visitors among the congregation who desire to participate in the Supper are asked to share their profession of faith in Christ prior to a communion service. If it is not possible for elders to conveniently meet with visitors before the service, we welcome all in attendance to remain, but to refrain from partaking of the elements until a meeting can be scheduled. At heart, we truly wish to honor and obey the King of kings and His wishes at the Table.
Communion is a time for spiritual accounting and preparation (1 Cor 11:28). Think of it in this way, we spend 18 to 24 years of our lives preparing to live as accountable, responsible, mature adults, so spending a few minutes this week to prepare to take the Supper which has temporal and eternal benefits is in our best interest. Our spiritual fathers have asked us to consider this matter in question 171 of the Westminster Larger Catechism,
WLC 171 How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?
- They that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves(1) of their being in Christ,(2) of their sins and wants;(3) of the truth and measure of their knowledge,(4) faith,(5) repentance;(6) love to God and the brethren,(7) charity to all men,(8) forgiving those that have done them wrong;(9) of their desires after Christ,(10) and of their new obedience,(11) and by renewing the exercise of these graces,(12) by serious meditation,(13) and fervent prayer.(14)(1) 1 Cor. 11:28 ; (2) 2 Cor. 13:5 ; (3) 1 Cor. 5:7 compared with Exod. 12:15 ; (4) 1 Cor. 11:29; (5) 1 Cor. 13:5; Matt. 26:28 ; (6) Zech. 12:10; 1 Cor. 11:31; (7) 1 Cor. 10:16,17; Acts 2:46,47 ; (8) 1 Cor. 5:8; 1 Cor. 11:18,20 ; (9) Matt. 5:23,24 ; (10) Isa. 55:1; John 7:37; (11) 1 Cor. 5:7,8 ; (12) 1 Cor. 11:25,26,28; Heb. 10:21,22,24; Ps. 26:6 ; (13) 1 Cor. 11:24,25 ; (14) 2 Chron. 30:18, 19; Matt. 26:26
By seeking Christ in this way, we can all look forward to sitting at the Lord’s Table with a people prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ – like heaven.