Pastor Terry Enns writes a helpful post to help us prepare for the Lord’s Supper, specifically in regard to examining ourselves before we come to the Table. I really like the questions he mentions at the end in this piece entitled “Preparing for communion.”
Paul exhorts the Corinthian believers (1 Cor. 11:23-34) to examine themselves before taking the elements so that they do not take them in an unworthy manner and in so doing, invite the judgment of God on themselves.
So self-examination before communion is an essential act of preparation.
There are two particular kinds of self-examination to do. First, one needs to examine whether he is even in the faith (e.g., 2 Cor. 13:5). If Christ has not taken our sins on Himself and if Christ has not imputed His righteousness to us, then we have nothing to remember in the act of communion. If we are not believers in Christ and He has not redeemed us from our sin, b taking communion we are lying about our relationship with Him and He will condemn us for all our sin if we do not repent.
Perhaps we take the first test and determine, “Yes, I am in the faith. I am trusting Christ as my Savior; I love Him.” Then there is a second test to take: am I in fellowship with Him, or is there some sin that I am engaging in that is inhibiting my fellowship? The first question has to do with our judicial relationship with God — has Christ absorbed God’s wrath on our behalf? — while the second question has to do with our familial relationship with Christ — am I living like the adopted son of God that I am? The answer to both questions must be affirmed for one to rightly take the elements of communion.
To help address the status of our familial relationship with the Lord, Kris Lundgaard has proposed several questions that examine the nature of our fellowship with the Lord:
- Have I slipped at all from fervent love for Christ and faithfulness to Him? Am I drifting or going nowhere with God? Am I spiritually weak?
- Do I still have peace and joy?
- Do I see outward signs of decay in my spiritual life? (“Often we don’t need to mine deep within our souls to find spiritual rot. It’s lying right on the surface where anyone can see it, like paint peeling off the walls of a house. Arrogance, selfishness, worldliness, extravagant clothing or entertainment, excessive attention to leisure, vulgar or loose talk, being consumed by work or ambition — isn’t it obvious that these are the ways of the world?”)
- Am I tired of God? Have I lost my taste for worship, either public or private?
- Does the glory of God shine through me? How’s my spiritual appetite? Is Christ the first and best thought of my life? Do I go out of my way for Christ and His people?
Read Full Post »
Our church is planning on observing the Lord’s Supper this Sunday morning. To help prepare my own heart for this I read this week a short devotional from John Flavel in which he shares six advantages of participating in this ordinance. Here are three of them:
[T]he believing and affectionate remembrance of Christ [in the Lord’s Supper] is of singular advantage at all times to the people of God. For it is the immediate end of one of the greatest ordinances that ever Christ appointed to the church.
To have frequent recognitions of Christ, will appear to be singularly efficacious [productive] and useful to believers, if you consider,
1. If at any time the heart be dead and hard, this is the likeliest means in the world to dissolve, melt, and quicken it. Look hither, hard heart; hard indeed if this hammer will not break it. Behold the blood of Jesus.
2. Art thou easily overcome by temptations to sin? This is the most powerful restraint in the world from sin: Romans 6:2, ‘How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ We are crucified with Christ, what have we to do with sin? Have such a thought as this, when thy heart is yielding to temptation. How can I do this, and crucify the Son of God afresh! Hath He not suffered enough already on earth; shall I yet make Him groan as it were for me in heaven! Look, as David poured the water brought from the well of Bethlehem, on the ground, though he was athirst, for he said, it is the blood of the men. That is, they eminently hazarded their lives to fetch it; much more should a Christian pour out upon the ground, yea, despise and trample under foot, the greatest profit or pleasure of sin; saying, Nay, I will have nothing to do with it, I will on no terms touch it, for it is the blood of Christ: it cost blood, infinite, precious blood to expiate it. If there were a knife in your house that had been thrust to the heart of your father, you would not take pleasure to see that knife, much less to use it.
3. Are you afraid your sins are not pardoned, but still stand upon account before the Lord? What more relieving, what more satisfying, than to see the cup of the New Testament in the blood of Christ, which is ‘shed for many for the remission of sins’? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is ‘Christ that died’.
Flavel, 1:269–70 from Feasting with Christ: Meditations on the Lord’s Supper. 2012 (J. R. Beeke & P. M. Smalley, Ed.) (24–27). Darlington, England: Evangelical Press.
Read Full Post »
At GHBC we observe the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper the first Sunday of each month normally. I seek to remind our people each month of the significance of this time as a church family. With that in mind, I came across these quote from Ryle’s Practical Religion. a month or so ago and I pass it on. Think on it the next time you prepare for the Supper.
Let us settle it firmly in our minds — that the Lord’s Supper was not given to be a means either of justification or of conversion. It was never meant to give grace — where there is no grace already; or to provide pardon — when pardon is not already enjoyed. It cannot possibly provide what is lacking, with the absence of repentance to God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an ordinance for the penitent, not for the impenitent; for the believing, not for the unbelieving; for the converted, not for the unconverted.
The simplest statement of the benefit which a truehearted communicant may expect to receive from the Lord’s Supper, is the strengthening and refreshing of our souls — clearer views of Christ and His atonement, clearer views of all the offices which Christ fills, as our Mediator and Advocate, clearer views of the complete redemption Christ has obtained for us by His substituted death on the cross, clearer views of our full and perfect acceptance in Christ before God, fresh reasons for deep repentance for sin, fresh reasons for lively faith — these are among the leading returns which a believer may confidently expect to get from his attendance at the Lord’s Table. He who eats the bread and drinks the wine in a right spirit — will find himself drawn into closer communion with Christ, and will feel to know Him more, and understand Him better.
J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion
Read Full Post »
We don’t just want holiness. We want the Holy One in whom we have been counted holy and are now being made holy. To run hard after holiness is another way of running hard after God. Just as a once-for-all, objective justification leads to a slow-growth, subjective sanctification, so our unchanging union with Christ leads to an ever-increasing communion with Christ….
Union with Christ is the irrevecable work of the Spirit. Once united, nothing can separate us from Christ. Nothing can make us a little more or a little less united. Union with Christ is unalterable. Communion with Christ, on the other hand, can be affected by sin and unresponsiveness to God’s grace.
~Kevin DeYoung~,The Hole in Our Holiness (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2012) p. 123
Read Full Post »
I lay my sins on Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God;
He bears them all, and frees us from the accursèd load;
I bring my guilt to Jesus, to wash my crimson stains
White in His blood most precious, till not a stain remains.
I lay my wants on Jesus; all fullness dwells in Him;
He heals all my diseases, He doth my soul redeem:
I lay my griefs on Jesus, my burdens and my cares;
He from them all releases, He all my sorrows shares.
I rest my soul on Jesus, this weary soul of mine;
His right hand me embraces, I on His breast recline.
I love the name of Jesus, Immanuel, Christ, the Lord;
Like fragrance on the breezes His name abroad is poured.
I long to be like Jesus, strong, loving, lowly, mild;
I long to be like Jesus, the Father’s holy child:
I long to be with Jesus, amid the heavenly throng,
To sing with saints His praises, to learn the angels’ song.
– Horatius Bonar, 1843. HT: Here I Blog
Read Full Post »
A quote from Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs:
“We come as children to our Father’s table and to sit there with Jesus Christ, our elder brother. Now a father does not love to have his child sitting in a sullen and dogged way at his table or to be crying, but would rather have the child sitting in comfort with a holy cheerfulness, with a holy freedom of spirit, not in a sullen way, but as a child in the presence of his father, and not as a servant with the master.”
Gospel Worship (Ligonier, 1990), page 330 (HT: Ray Ortlund)
Read Full Post »