14 The Lord's Supper: For Whom Intended-What It Is
The Lord's Supper: For Whom Intended-What It Is
Jesus gave to His disciples so much during the years He walked with them: Much of His love and forbearance and a training for the great work He had called them to. He gave them the Word of eternal life.
At the last meeting, the night He was betrayed, He gave blessings to them in a new manner: He gave Himself to them through bread and wine.
The simple meal He then prepared for His people, Paul calls the Lord's Supper. 1 Cor.11:20.
It was Jesus who gave us the Supper; therefore it is called His Supper. Therefore it also is so important.
FOR WHOM IS THE LORD'S SUPPER INTENDED?
It is right to ask about this. Not the least in our days with the big increase in the number of unconcerned communicants, who partake of this sacrament in our churches. .
What we have seen and heard during many years of travel among our people coincides with what Pastor S. H. Njaa writes in "Northwood-Emissaeren'' when he says:
"It has appeared in various places that the more spiritually dead the congregations are, the greater number of people attend the Lord's Supper. This proves two facts. First, that the invitation has been given out in such a way that the people felt they could go to communion without any serious self-examination. Second, that the conscience of the people has become so dull and careless that they could go to the holy table without any feeling of condemnation over themselves.''
The more spiritually dead, the more people to communion!
Where this is the case, there the devil is leading in a cunning manner to deceive souls until they are lost forever.
To give an invitation to worldly people in an uncertain and untrue manner is to deceive the conscience that does not feel any judgment over itself.
When the pastor, then, in addition lays his hand upon the heads of these unconverted people and makes use of such strong expressions as these, that he on behalf of God and his holy office declares to the people the gracious forgiveness of all their sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit --can really the self-deception and the leading astray from the truth be made any worse?
For whom is the Lord's Supper really intended, then?
In his Explanation, "Truth unto Godliness,'' Dr. Erik Pontoppidan says;
Q. 722. For whom is the Lord's Supper instituted?
For true Christians, who are of the age and understanding, that they can examine themselves, but not for insane people or young children.
Q. 723. Are then all who have reason and understanding fit to partake of the Holy Supper?
Indeed not. According to Christ's institution no one should eat of this bread and drink of this cup but His own disciples, namely His penitent and believing followers; but not at all those who live as the enemies of His cross.--1 Cor. 10:21 "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils. Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and of the table of devils."
Q. 724. Has then an ungodly person no right to the Sacrament of the Altar, or any benefit there from?
None whatever, so long as he continues in his impenitence, without a change of heart, for as one that is physically dead cannot eat ordinary food, thus one who is spiritually dead, that means, unrepentant, which is to be dead, though living. Such a one cannot receive any benefit from spiritual food, which requires spiritual life, that is to be strengthened by such food.
Q. 725. But will unconverted people not be awakened and become better when they receive the Sacrament, and should therefore be allowed to come?
No, indeed, for the Sacrament of the Altar is to seal the faith and strengthen it, therefore must these people first get heartily converted, otherwise they will be in a worse condition than before--not better. For the Means of Grace do not benefit because they are used; they only benefit when they are rightly used and in the right order.
I Cor. 11:17: You come together, not for the better, but for the worse.
And verse 30: For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
The Supper is for true Christians, for Christ's repentant and believing followers.
Pontoppidan's ''Children's Instruction'' concerning the Lord's Supper is built upon the solid foundation of God's Book.
Down upon your knees before the Bible, you men, who shall proclaim to the people all the council of God unto salvation! Return to a true respect for our Lutheran "Children's instruction", you preachers, teachers and leaders! The carnal mind wants to settle down in peace just in an external worship. The human heart is sufficiently false and deceitful without being strengthened in its false imagination by an unbiblical and unchristian communion practice.
Let the dividing lines be made clear!
WHAT IS THE LORD'S SUPPER?
1. It is food for our faith.
There is something mystical about the Holy Supper--a holy mysticism, that we do not understand.
In fact, how much do we understand, when it comes to the deep things in the life we have in God?
But we walk in faith also, as regards this gift. Jesus gave the "Supper" first to His disciples. And it was so important that the Lord later on revealed and explained it more in detail to Paul, and he delivered it on to the Living Church of God. 1 Cor.11:23.
2. It is food to foster obedience.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said: Take, eat; this is my body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: Drink ye all of it. Matt. 26:26-27. And this was in the night in which He Himself was obedient unto death.
He is our Savior, and we also call Him our Lord. Then it is most befitting that we bring into captivity our own thoughts and feelings, and obey Him also, when it comes to gather around the Lord's Table.
3. The Lord's Supper is a memorial meal.
This do in remembrance of Me, said Jesus. Luke 22:19.
The heart of Jesus surely rejoices, when His friends set their thoughts on Him--remember Him. But it is not for His sake it is needed the most, but for our sake. We certainly need to remember Him.
And when He did give His Supper as a special memorial of Himself, then He also gave with it the outward token of His great sacrifice for us: The broken bread points to His body, which was broken for us. And the wine speaks of His precious blood wherewith He redeemed us unto God--the blood that cleansers us from all sin.
"For this is my blood of the New Testament,which is shed for many for the remission of sins."Jesus said.
The new Throne of Grace is erected through His blood. There our sins are hidden from the face of God. This is what the Holy Supper is a memorial of.
"Dear dying lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its pow'r,
Till all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved, to sin no more."
4. The Lord's Supper is the fellowship-meal of God's people.
When Christian people are sighing under a burden, off and on, and complain about the great wrong in Communion, en masse, then they mostly are given the very thin comfort, that they shall have nothing with other communicants to do: If they are unconverted, they should have nothing with believers to do at the Supper table, for the believer shall be alone with Jesus at that place, they say.
Nothing is more fundamentally wrong than this.
For if there ever is a place the Christian shall not be alone, it is just exactly at the Communion table.
Otherwise a Christian must often be alone with His Savior, especially in his secret chamber. But in the Lord's Supper it was not secret privacy Jesus gave unto us, but it was the fellowship-meal of the saints He gave us in His own Supper.
However, He gives Himself to the individual even there--and good it is. Otherwise many Christians would never receive any blessing in Communion. For the sense of fellowship has been robbed from them by an un-Christian custom and false explanations, just on the very point where it should be a refreshing fountain of strength.
The Lord's Supper is the meal of fellowship for the saints. This we need to discover anew. At the Communion table the spirit of brotherly love and intimate fellowship with the other saints should prevail.
Take this and divide it among yourselves, Jesus said.
Then you know of no contempt, but in a humble spirit, you tie with the brethren the knot of sweet fellowship.
We need to make use of every means that will keep the brotherly spirit warm and strengthen the union of saints. And just on this point the Communion is given us as one of the fountains of strength.
Let us use the Holy supper just as Jesus has given it to us.
5. In Communion Jesus gives Himself.
"Take eat! This is my body. Drink ye all of it! For this is my Blood."
All three evangelists, Matthew, Mark and Luke have these words written: This is, this is. Paul has it written the same way.
The Lord gives Himself through these visible means--to His own. It was at the Communion table Jesus said: "I am the vine, ye are the branches." The same life that is pulsating in the grapevine is sent out to every branch and every little twig and every bud on the tree.
He did not only give His body and blood for us unto the forgiveness of sins.
But He also gives Himself into our lives for victory over sin, and He wants to live His hidden life, His love and His power in us and through us.
"I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."
6. The Lord's Supper is a meal of proclamation.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew (proclaim and publish) the Lord's death till He come. I Cor.11:26.
His death is our life. In His voluntary sacrifice upon the Cross the fountains of salvation are springing up to us. This is the anchor-ground of faith. It is the foundation of peace and joy. Let us proclaim and publish it abroad-also in this manner, that we find our place among the Lord's Friends at His Communion Table.
7. Communion is the meal for the pilgrims.
It is given to strengthen the hope. "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come," Jesus said.
From the Communion Table Jesus could see all the way into the Kingdom above. We need to get a vision of our home. We are pilgrims and strangers on the earth.
It gives courage to hold out.
Proclaim the Lord's death until He come, Paul said. Until He come! Yes, He is coming! For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Then the pilgrim will be permitted to follow Him home.
Home to rest after the toil and struggles of the day. Go home to them who went before us, and whom we have missed so much, home to all God's friends--and home to our Savior to be with Him forever.
I'll soon be at home over there,
For the end of my Journey I see;
Many dear to my heart over there,
Are watching and waiting for me.
8. What makes us fitted for the Communion?
The Gospel is for the one who hungers and thirsts after righteousness.
And so is the Lord's Supper.
The eleven disciples were rather in a poor spiritual shape when they discussed just before the Communion who should be the greatest, and after that they went to sleep, when Jesus asked them to watch; one of them took to the sword, they all forsook Him and fled, and one of them denied his Savior at "the fire"--all this in the same night.
But these poor, helpless ones Jesus took with Him to His Supper.
For deep down in their heart there was an upright and willing spirit. They wanted above all to live for Him.
Lord Jesus, Thou seest I patiently wait,
Come now, and within me a new heart create;
To those who have sought Thee, Thou never saidst "No,"
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
God does not give His saving grace to the sinner in such a way that he needs some extra piety and godliness beside it, to be a worthy communicant.
Not at all.
But the same grace of God that has saved you. It is the same grace that also makes you fitted for the Lord's Table. Nothing else.
The vision of this truth ought to make a Christian happy, when he approaches the Communion Table.
Therefore, let him who feels he needs help let him come. Let also him who feels perplexed and discouraged and sighs after comfort--let him come. The weak brother who seeks God for strength--Let them all come and exchange their infirmity and downheartedness with Jesus Himself, who is sufficient for all their needs.
"All what you need upon earth and up in heaven-
It's all hid in His precious promise."
9. The Lord's Supper is a meal of rejoicing.
About the eleven disciples who received the first Communion from the hand of Jesus, and the first Christians--about these it is written: "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." Acts 2:46.
The breaking of the bread was for them a meal of rejoicing.
The Lord's Supper is not a festival of sorrow and sighing for sin. If there is any place a Christian has a right to forget about His sin, then it is at the Communion Table. For there the soul in a special way is invited to look up to Him who has nailed the hand-writing of guilt to the Cross and given us sonship with God and fellowship with His family in heaven and upon the earth.
This vision of Jesus creates joy in the soul.
There ought not to be a formulated confession of sin, which is read up to us from a book, and to which a Christian is expected to say "Amen."
No true Christian can feel at ease with that kind of a second-hand confession of sins.
But for unconverted communicants, who so often are satisfied with an outward and external worship, it feels soothing that someone else even arranges with their confession of sins in their stead, so all they have to do is to say "Amen" to the confession read by the pastor.
And when a person then is permitted just to say this ''Amen'' in unison with many other communicants so it just drowns in the large chorus of other "Amens"--yes, then it would be hard to invent any easier way to confess sin. And a more untrue and unbiblical way. It is a confession of sin which brings false hope and comfort to an unrepentant soul and an unconverted heart.
But this is a comfort which religious, unconverted people do not want to give up. Therefore it can be often noted how such people will put up a strong fight to keep the absolution in connection with the Lord's Supper, while earnest Christians suffer distress in their conscience over such practice.
Ah!--how long will Christian pastors tolerate and keep this mock-play with holy things to go on the way it does? And how long will Christian church members support the same by taking part in it.
The Communion is a meal of rejoicing.
It is the spirit of joy and thankfulness that shall be uppermost. The joy over that we have a share in Christ and in the fellowship of the saints.
Hear what the Apostle says of this sharing:
"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread." 1 Cor.10:16, 17.
Fellowship and communion with Christ--one body together with His people! This is the finest unity and oneness here upon earth and in heaven.
"There is no earthly relationship, not even the strong ties of blood, which so binds heart to heart, so unites spirit to spirit, as to have in common one faith and one precious Savior--to be children of the same father and born to the same mother."
What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
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