Read: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
In the last few meditations on the truth of the Lord’s Supper, we shall focus on the question of who may come to the table of the Lord. The Lord’s Supper must be carefully observed. This follows from its holy meaning and significance. In this sacrament, we remember the amazing wonder of the suffering of our Savior in His death on the cross, and what this sacrifice accomplished for us. We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is spiritually present with His church when the Lord’s Supper is properly observed. We have communion and fellowship with Him, and through faith we partake of the blessings He has merited for us on the cross. This requires a certain sincere spiritual attitude and worship of Christ.
Lord’s Day 30 of the Heidelberg Catechism gives us a very significant instruction. This instruction can be divided into two parts. Question and answer 81 deals with the personal question of examining ourselves and impresses on us the importance of coming in humble repentance and faith to the Lord’s Supper. Question and answer 82 deals with the responsibility of the church, through her elders, to supervise the administration of the Supper so that no ungodly person is allowed to come to the Supper.
The passage I asked you to read from I Cor 11 gives us important instruction. This passage is part of the special revelation concerning the Lord’s Supper that Jesus personally gave to the apostle Paul while Paul was being prepared for his office and work as an apostle of the Lord. In the next few meditations, we will refer often to this passage.
In the Reformed Church, it is common that two important activities are practiced whenever the Lord’s Supper is administered. First, there is a week of spiritual preparation before the Lord’s Supper is celebrated. During this week, the members of the church who are going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together are admonished to examine themselves.
Self-examination is a personal and spiritual exercise.
Secondly, the Reformed church believes that the church must supervise those who come to the table of the Lord. Those who are members of the church are under the regular supervision of the elders of the church who are appointed by Christ, we believe, to take spiritual oversight over the lives of the members of the church. Members in good standing are exhorted to join the celebrations of the Lord’s Supper. Visitors from other denominations which have not been under the oversight of the elders are interviewed and questioned concerning their confession of the truth and their life as Christians. This practice is given various names in the church, such as ‘close communion’, ‘supervised communion’, or ‘restricted communion’. There are some differences regarding this practice among Reformed Churches. Some do not allow anyone who is not a member of the particular local church to join the communion table. Others allow visitors who express agreement in faith and testify of a sincere godly walk to join the table.
Those who do not understand this practice might be offended if they are questioned with regards to their faith and Christian living before they are allowed to come to the Lord’s Table. What everyone must understand, however, is that the holiness of the Lord’s Supper must be regarded. The glory of our Lord, and proper regard for the sacredness of His sacrifice for us on the cross, is most important.
- Date: 23-July
Rev. Arie denHartog (Wife: Sherry)
Ordained: October 1974
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1974; Foreign Missionary, Singapore - 1979; Randolph, WI - 1987; Redlands, CA - 1990; Minister-on-Loan, Singapore - 2001; Southwest, Grandville, MI - 2005; emeritus, Dec.31, 2016Website: www.southwestprc.org/
Address4895 Ivanrest Ave. SW
State or ProvinceMichigan
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