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Looking Forward, Looking Back, Looking Around – The Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is a meal with a unique vantage point.
Christians look at three realities and are spiritually nourished in each.
From Guy Prentiss Waters:

The Lord’s Supper, therefore, always and simultaneously points in two directions, backward and forward. It points backward to the finished work of Christ on the cross. The Supper, in particular, underscores this finished work as the fulfillment of the words and works of God in redemptive history leading up to the cross. It also points forward to the certain hope of the glorious return of Christ at the end of the age. It reminds God’s people of the certainty of this hope—that the great, promised messianic banquet awaits us. If God was faithful to bring his promised Son into the world the first time to live, die, and rise again for our salvation, we can surely trust his promise that Jesus will return at the end of the age to consummate the application of his saving work in our lives.

source.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 28

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 28

75.
Q. How are you reminded and assured in the Holy Supper that you participate in the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross and in all his benefits?
A. In this way: Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread, and to drink of this cup in remembrance of him. He has thereby promised that his body was offered and broken on the cross for me, and his blood was shed for me, as surely as I see with my eyes that the bread of the Lord is broken for me, and that the cup is shared with me. Also, he has promised that he himself as certainly feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life with his crucified body and shed blood as I receive from the hand of the minister and actually taste the bread and the cup of the Lord which are given to me as sure signs of the body and blood of Christ.

76.
Q. What does it mean to eat the crucified body of Christ and to drink his shed blood?
A. It is not only to embrace with a trusting heart the whole passion and death of Christ, and by it to receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. In addition, it is to be so united more and more to his blessed body by the Holy Spirit dwelling both in Christ and in us that blessed body by the Holy Spirit dwelling both in Christ and in us that, although he is in heaven and we are on earth, we are nevertheless flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, always living and being governed by one Spirit, as the members of our bodies are governed by one soul.

77.
Q. Where has Christ promised that he will feed and nourish believers with his body and blood just as surely as they eat of this broken bread and drink of this cup?
A. In the institution of the holy Supper which reads: The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “this is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
This promise is also repeated by the apostle Paul: When we bless “the cup of blessing,” is it not a means of sharing in the blood of Christ” When we break the bread, is it not a means of sharing the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, many as we are, are one body, for it is one loaf of which we all partake.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 44

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 44

Chapter 27 – Of the Sacraments
I. Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits, and to confirm our interest in him: as also to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word.
II. There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.
III. The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments, rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it, but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorising the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.
IV. There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the gospels, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord: neither or which may be dispensed by any but a minister of the Word, lawfully ordained.
V. The sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the New.



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John Knox, Self-Examination, And Partaking In The Lord’s Supper

The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper are distinct means of grace; the number of times we receive them, the grace we receive through them, and the time in our life and spiritual development that we receive them worthily differ.
To suggest otherwise confuses their purpose, detracting from them and the blessing they give.
Donald Maclean posts at Meet The Puritans on John Knox’s view regarding those who are qualified to share in the Lord’s Supper.

If the Lord’s Supper is a great blessing, then who should partake of it? In this sacrament, ordained of God, who should come to the table of the Lord? Knox was abundantly clear: “But the Supper of the Lord, we confess to appertain to such only as be of the household of faith, [and who] can try and examine themselves as well in their faith as in their duty towards their neighbours” (Scots Confession in Reformed Confessions, 2:204). It is only those who are “in Christ” and of age to examine themselves who should partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Self-Examination
Knox focused often on the need for self-examination. He held that the Lord’s Supper should be partaken of “with all reverence, examining ourselves diligently before” (Scots Confession in Dennison, Reformed Confessions, 2:202.) Knox believed this should be done “because we are assured by the mouth of the apostle that such as eat of the bread and drink of that cup unworthily are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus” (Scots Confession in Reformed Confessions, 2:202). Paul, Knox noted, exhorted “all persons diligently to try and examine themselves before they presume to eat of that bread and drink of that cup” because “the danger [is] great if we receive the same unworthily, for then we be guilty of the body and blood of Christ our Saviour, we eat and drink our own damnation, not considering the Lord’s body” (Works, 4:192).

Read the whole post.


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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 42

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 42

Q & A 168
Q What is the Lord’s Supper?
A The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body.

Q & A 169
Q How has Christ appointed bread and wine to be given and received in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper?
A Christ has appointed the ministers of his Word, in the administration of this sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, to set apart the bread and wine from common use, by the word of institution, thanksgiving, and prayer; to take and break the bread, and to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants: who are, by the same appointment, to take and eat the bread, and to drink the wine, in thankful remembrance that the body of Christ was broken and given, and his blood shed, for them.

Q & A 170
Q How do they that worthily communicate in the Lord’s Supper feed upon the body and blood of Christ therein?
A As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses; so they that worthily communicate in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal and carnal, but in a spiritual manner; yet truly and really, while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death.


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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 41

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 41

Q & A 165
Q What is Baptism?
A Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ has ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptised are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord’s.

Q & A 166
Q Unto whom is Baptism to be administered?
A Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptised.

Q & A 167
Q How is our Baptism to be improved by us?
A The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.


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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 40

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 40

Q & A 161
Q How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
A The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not by any power in themselves, or any virtue derived from the piety or intention of him by whom they are administered, but only by the working of the Holy Spirit, and the blessing of Christ, by whom they are instituted.

Q & A 162
Q What is a sacrament?
A A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the covenant of grace, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.

Q & A 163
Q What are the parts of a sacrament?
A The parts of a sacrament are two; the one an outward and sensible sign, used according to Christ’s own appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby signified.

Q & A 164
Q How many sacraments has Christ instituted in his church under the New Testament?
A Under the New Testament Christ has instituted in his church only two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Q & A 176
Q Wherein do the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper agree?
A The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper agree, in that the author of both is God; the spiritual part of both is Christ and his benefits; both are seals of the same covenant, are to be dispensed by ministers of the gospel, and by none other; and to be continued in the church of Christ until his second coming.

Q & A 177
Q Wherein do the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ?
A The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ, in that Baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ, and that even to infants; whereas the Lord’s Supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul, and to confirm our continuance and growth in him, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.