Category Archives: The Lord’s Supper

“One marvelous exception” by Charles Spurgeon

“Christ Jesus is also joined unto His people in a mystical union. Borrowing once more from the story of Ruth, we remark that Boaz, although one with Ruth by kinship, did not rest until he had entered into a nearer union still, namely, that of marriage.

And in the same manner there is, super added to the natural union of Christ with His people, a mystical union by which He assumes the position of Husband, while the Church is owned as His bride.

In love He espoused her to Himself, as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection, He toiled like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid.

And, now, having sought her by His Spirit, and brought her to know and love Him, He awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb.

Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented His betrothed perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven, not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as His wife and queen.

She is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar, but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to His heart, precious in His sight, written on His hands, and united with His person.

On earth He exercises towards her all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her wants, pays all her debts, allows her to assume His name, and to share in all His wealth.

Nor will He ever act otherwise to her. The word divorce He will never mention, for ‘He hateth putting away.’ Death must sever the conjugal tie between the most loving mortals, but it cannot divide the links of this immortal marriage.

In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God, yet there is this one marvelous exception to the rule, for in heaven Christ and His Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials.

And this affinity as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock. Let the love of husband be never so pure and fervent, it is but a faint picture of the flame that burns in the heart of Jesus.

Passing all human union is that mystical cleaving unto the Church, for which Christ did leave His Father, and become one flesh with her. If this be the union which subsists between our souls and the person of our Lord, how deep and broad is the channel of our communion.

This is no narrow pipe through which a thread-like stream may wind its way, it is a channel of amazing depth and breadth, along whose breadth and length a ponderous volume of living water may roll its strength.

Behold He hath set before us an open door, let us not be slow to enter. This city of communion hath many pearly gates, every several gate is of one pearl, and each gate is thrown open to the uttermost that we may enter, assured of welcome.

If there were but one small loophole through which to talk with Jesus, it would be a high privilege to thrust a word of fellowship through the narrow door. How much we are blessed in having so large an entrance!

Had the Lord Jesus been far away from us, with many a stormy sea between, we should have longed to send a messenger to Him to carry Him our loves, and bring us tidings from His Father’s house.

But see His kindness, He has built His house next door to ours, nay, more, He takes lodging with us, and tabernacles in poor humble hearts, that so He may have perpetual intercourse with us.

O how foolish must we be, if we do not live in habitual communion with Him! When the road is long, and dangerous, and difficult, we need not wonder that friends seldom meet each other, but when they live together shall Jonathan forget his David?

A wife may when her husband is upon a journey, abide many days without holding converse with him, but she could never endure to be separated from him if she knew him to be in one of the chambers of her own house.

Seek thy Lord, for He is near; embrace Him, for He is thy Brother. Hold Him fast, for He is thine Husband; and press Him to thine heart, for He is of thine own flesh.”

–Charles Spurgeon, “Bands of Love; or Union With Christ” in Till He Come: Communion Meditations and Addresses (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim, 1865/1978), 188-191.

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“The delight of the Lord’s Supper” by John Calvin

“Pious souls can derive great confidence and delight from this sacrament, as being a testimony that they form one body with Christ, so that everything which is His they may call their own.

Hence it follows that we can confidently assure ourselves that eternal life, of which He Himself is the heir, is ours, and that the kingdom of heaven, into which He has entered, can no more be taken from us than from Him; on the other hand, that we cannot be condemned for our sins, from the guilt of which He absolves us, seeing He has been pleased that these should be imputed to Himself as if they were His own.

This is the wondrous exchange made by His boundless goodness. Having become with us the Son of Man, He has made us with Himself sons of God. By His own descent to the earth He has prepared our ascent to heaven. Having received our mortality, He has bestowed on us His immortality.

Having undertaken our weakness, He has made us strong in His strength. Having submitted to our poverty, He has transferred to us His riches. Having taken upon Himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, He has clothed us with His righteousness.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 4.17.2.

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“The bond of love” by John Calvin

“We shall benefit very much from the Lord’s Supper if this thought is impressed and engraved upon our minds: that none of the brethren can be injured, despised, rejected, abused, or in any way offended by us, without at the same time, injuring, despising, and abusing Christ by the wrongs we do; that we cannot disagree with our brethren without at the same time disagreeing with Christ; that we cannot love Christ without loving Him in the brethren; that we ought to take the same care of our brethren’s bodies as we take of our own; for they are member’s of our body; and that, as no part of our body is touched by any feeling of pain which is not spread among all the rest, so we ought not to allow a brother to be affected by any evil, without being touched with compassion for him. Accordingly, Augustine with good reason frequently calls this Sacrament ‘the bond of love.'”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John T. McNeill, ed, Ford Lewis Battles, trans, Library of Christian Classics (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960 [1559]), IV.xvii.38.

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“The Lord’s Supper is a visible sermon” by Keith Mathison

“The Lord’s Supper is a visible sermon in which Christ’s death is vividly proclaimed. This is only possible because of the union and communion with Christ that the Supper entails. We were crucifiece with Christ (Rom. 6:6), and we died with Him (Rom. 6:8; 2 Tim. 2:11). Nowhere is this truth set forth more clearly than in the Lord’s Supper. We participate in His death so that we may participate in His life (cf. Rom. 6:5, 8, 11).

This sacramental participation is to continue ’till He comes’ (1 Cor. 11:26). The word ‘rememberance’ points back to Christ’s death. The words ’till He comes’ point forward to the consummation. We do not look only backwards at the Lord’s Supper. There is also an element of forward-looking anticipation. When Christ does come again, the Lord’s Supper will be consummated at the wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9).”

–Keith A. Mathison, Given For You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2002), 233.

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“We are communing with the whole Christ” by R.C. Sproul

The Heidelberg Catechism states, in the answer to Question 47, ‘Christ is true man and true God. With respect to His human nature He is no longer on earth, but with respect to His divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit He is never absent from us.’ This statement tried to do justice to Jesus’ own teaching before He left this planet. On the one hand, Jesus said, ‘I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me’ (John 7:33).

On the other hand, He said, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ (Matt. 28:20b). Jesus announced a real departure and also a real abiding. Therefore, historic Reformed theology says Jesus has departed in His human nature. His human nature is at the right hand of God in heaven, and we won’t see that human nature again until He returns or until we go there. But in respect to His divine nature, Christ is still present with us.

We have a tendency to think that heaven is up there and earth is down here, and the human nature of Jesus is in heaven while the divine nature of Jesus is here on earth. However, that view results in the union of the Incarnation being fractured. Calvin said the body and blood are up there because they are part of Jesus’ human nature, which is localized. But the human nature up there is perfectly united with the divine nature, which is not limited to any one locale. So the presence of Jesus Christ spans all of creation through the divine nature.

Calvin looked at it this way: When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper here on earth, we are communing with Christ in His divine nature. Calvin said that in this act of mystical communion with the divine presence of Christ, the human nature of Christ is made present to us. In other words, when we meet at the Lord’s Table with Christ through His divine nature, that nature is still in perfect union with the human nature. Therefore, we are communing with the whole Christ.

It is not because His body and blood are brought to earth or our bodies and blood are carried to heaven. It is simply that in this intimate meeting at the Lord’s Table, we commune with the perfectly united person of Christ, not just with His divine nature. So even though we are apart from the human nature of Jesus, we really commune with Him in His human nature. This view keeps the human nature human and the divine nature divine, and strongly emphasizes that we truly are communing with the real presence of Jesus Christ at the Lord’s Supper.”

–R.C. Sproul, A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity, (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust, 2006), 121-122. Available online here.

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“On the day called Sunday” by Justin Martyr (A.D. 110-165)

“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the overseer verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.

Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the overseer in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.

And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the overseer, who provides for the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.

But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.”

–Justin Martyr, 1 Apol. LXVII in Ante-Nicene Fathers: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Vol. 1, Ed. A. Cleveland Coxe (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 186.

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Lord’s Day Hymn – “Meet at My table and record the love of your departed Lord”

“Twas on that dark, that doleful night”
By Isaac Watts, 1748

Twas on that dark, that doleful night
When powers of earth and hell arose
Against the Son of God’s delight,
And friends betrayed Him to His foes.

Before the mournful scene began
He took the bread, and blessed, and broke:
What love through all His actions ran!
What wondrous words of grace He spoke!

“This is My body broke for sin,
“Receive and eat the living food:”
Then took the cup, and blessed the wine;
“‘Tis the new covenant in My blood.”

For us His flesh with nails was torn,
He bore the scourge, He felt the thorn;
And justice pour’d upon His head
Its heavy vengeance in our stead.

For us His vital blood was spilt,
To buy the pardon of our guilt,
When for black crimes of biggest size
He gave His soul a sacrifice.

“Do this,” He cried till time shall end,
“In memory of your dying Friend.
Meet at My table, and record
The love of your departed Lord.”

Jesus, Thy feast we celebrate,
We show Thy death, we sing Thy Name,
Till Thou return, and we shall eat
The marriage-supper of the Lamb.

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