“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26).
Our church adheres to the Westminster Standards in having only two sacraments in the practices of the church, namely, Water Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. What is a Sacrament?
“A Sacrament is a 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#92).
A sacrament is not something to be taken lightly. It is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ. Through the sacraments, we derive the spiritual benefits of the new covenant.
Water Baptism is performed by the washing with water and in the name of God the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. It signifies and seals our ingrafting into Christ and as a partaker of the benefits of the covenant of grace and with the Lord. Those who have been baptized are welcomed to partake in the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is performed by giving and receiving bread and wine (fruit of the vine), showing forth the death of Christ with the receivers being partakers of His body and blood in a spiritual manner, for their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.
The instructions concerning the Lord’s Supper are written for us in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. The Corinthians seemed to have forgotten the significance of the Lord’s Supper. Instead, they partook in the Lord’s Supper with the wrong approach and attitude. In those days, the Lord’s Supper was held with a big feast. Those wealthy Corinthians seemed to have taken liberty at the Lord’s table, like the heathens who drank plentifully at their feasts upon their sacrifices. They would spread their feast, ate and drank their fill, despising the poor by not sharing their food. Thus, the rich had turned the Lord’s Supper into a contemptuous and disorderly scandal. How should one approach the Lord’s Supper? Allow me to list three practical aspects for your consideration as you come before the Lord to partake in the Lord’s Supper.
REMEMBERING THE SAVIOUR
First, one of the chief reasons why we have the Lord’s Supper is to remember the Saviour. Jesus said, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:24) and again, “This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:25). When we partake in the Lord’s Supper, we are called to remember the Saviour. We are reminded of the perfect sacrifice our Lord Jesus had offered upon the cross – His own body for our sins. The Lord’s Supper is a time for us to meditate upon our Saviour. Remember that He is the Son of God, who has condescended in the form of a lowly servant. Remember that He lived so that He might die, and He died so that we may live. Remember, also that He has shed his blood for you – a reminder of the severity of our sins, which had nailed Him on the cross. Thus, as long as we partake in the Lord’s Supper, we are actually bearing testimony of the Lord’s death.
The apostle Paul declared, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26). We ought to look upwardly unto Christ.
EXAMINING YOUR SELF
Second, in order to partake of the Lord’s Supper, the apostle Paul also gave us this grave warning: “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1Cor. 11:28). Here, we are called to examine ourselves before partaking in the Lord’s Supper. Those who partake of the Lord’s Supper unworthily would bring forth damnation upon themselves (1 Cor. 11:29). Thus, it is a serious matter for us to approach the Lord’s Supper in the right manner. If there are any unconfessed sins, bare them before the Lord. Be specific in your examination, and whatever sins that come to your mind, confess them unto the Lord, with repentance; and seek the Lord for forgiveness and cleansing. Also, take this opportunity to acknowledge even your secret faults, and sins that you have committed unknowingly. The psalmist cried, “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:12-14). Look inwardly in self-examination.
Also, ensure that you are reconciled with one another before you approach the Lord’s Supper. Paul strongly rebuked the Corinthians because they were profaning the Lord’s Supper – there was a great schism (division) among them, and yet they professed to be “one” in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Examine your own heart – have you been reconciled with one who has wronged you? If not, how can you take the Lord’s Supper testifying of the unity of the body of Christ but in reality, there is a great division? Therefore, we ought to reconcile with one another even as we are reconciled with God. Profane not the Lord’s Supper. God is not mocked. Heap not damnation upon your own self. Heed the warning of the apostle Paul. Turn not the blessings of the Lord’s Supper into our own sorrow and grief.
DEDICATION UNTO GOD
Third, we must rededicate our lives unto God, in renewed obedience and faith, as part of self-examination.
“It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith, to feed upon him, of their repentance, love and new obedience; lets, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves” (WSC#97).
After having remembered the Saviour’s sacrifice for you, what can you offer to the Lord as the fruit of your repentance? Are you living a life with faith and new obedience unto God? Are you negligent in your service unto the Lord? Spend the time partaking in the Lord’s Supper to dedicate yourself to the Lord. Find new commitment to live to extend the kingdom of God on earth and to glorify the name of our Lord. Look forwardly to living a life worthy of God’s calling.
May this short article help you find the right approach to the Lord’s Supper. Look upward to remember the Saviour. Look inward to examine yourself. And finally, look forward to dedicating yourself to the service of the Lord. The Lord’s Supper is not just a remembrance feast but it also comes with spiritual blessings and grace. May you be blessed as you partake in the Lord’s Supper worthily.