Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Partaking of the Lord's Supper in a Worthy Manner

Question 97: What is required for the worthy receiving of the Lord's Supper?
Answer: 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; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves. (WCF)
In this supper, Jesus holds out his hand to us. He testifies to his death, his promise, and our blessings and obligations as his people. But in this supper we also reach out and take his hand. We take and eat and drink. By receiving the bread and wine, we claim Christ's redemptive death on our behalf, expressing our faith in him. By partaking, we testify and renew our thankfulness, our engagement to God, and our mutual love and fellowship with each other, as members of the same body.

It is important to approach the Supper with this intent. To do otherwise is to partake in an unworthy manner, bringing judgment upon oneself (1 Cor. 11:27-31). We must not treat holy things with contempt. We must not, as it were, cross our fingers behind our back while shaking hands with God. Instead, we should examine ourselves and consider the meaning of the Supper as we approach it. The Lord’s Supper is for those who are resting upon Christ for salvation, repenting of their sins, and seeking after godliness. Examine, therefore, your knowledge of Christ, faith in him, repentance, love, and new obedience. Then receive the bread and wine with this knowledge and faith, remembering Christ’s death, feeding upon him by faith, giving thanks for his grace, and renewing your covenant with God and love for the saints.

In addition, not only do we have a responsibility to partake in a worthy manner, but the church also has a duty to guard the holy things (1 Cor. 5, Matt. 7:6, 16:19, 18:15-18). Thus, the Lord’s Supper is given to those who have been baptized, have publicly professed faith in Christ, and are members in good standing of a faithful Christian church.

At the same time, all of this does not mean we must wait until we feel worthy of Jesus, as if we must be free from sin to partake. He came to save sinners and in this sacrament promises remission of sins to those who believe in him. This sacrament is meant to increase the assurance, faith, and spiritual vitality of believers. It reminds us that Jesus is our strength, apart from him we can do nothing, and it is through him that we have peace with God. “So come to Jesus and find rest, refreshing, and nourishment for your weak and weary soul” (OPC BCO). 

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