July 29 – LD 30, Day 7: Those Who By Their Confession and Life Declare Themselves to be Unbelieving and Ungodly Must be Kept From the Table of the Lord
Thursday the 29th of July
in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations
Read: Isaiah 1: 11 - 20
The above quoted words of the Heidelberg Catechism are strong words. There are churches that boast of tolerating everyone no matter what they believe or how they live. They maintain that such tolerance shows the love and friendliness of the church. If however, error and ungodly living is tolerated and there is no admonition and no discipline in the church, the end result will be that the name of Christ will be dishonored in the church and it will be impossible to properly observe the Lord’s Supper in a God-glorifying way. The concern of the church must rise higher then merely pleasing certain individuals who are her members, or fear of offending them.
So serious is this matter of keeping ungodly men from the table of the Lord that the catechism states that if such sinful tolerance is permitted in the church, the covenant of God will be profaned and the wrath of God kindled against the whole church. The Lord’s Supper celebrates the covenant of God. The highest purpose for which the church celebrates the Lord’s Supper is the worship of God and glorifying Him.
The apostle Paul had to admonish the church of Corinth because divisions and heresies were tolerated in her midst. Paul says emphatically that he did not praise the church for this. He points out in I Cor 11 that the wrath of God came upon the whole church so that many were sick and many fell asleep (died). Therefore, the church of Corinth was called to repentance. The implication, as can be gathered from the rest of Paul’s letter to the churchof Corinth, was that the elders had to rectify this matter. Only when heresy and ungodliness was removed from the church did she again experience the blessing of the Lord upon her.
One of the famous actions of the great Reformer, John Calvin, recorded by church historians that loved the truth of the Reformation, was an incident that took place in Geneva where Calvin was the pastor at the time. He was convinced that certain evil men called the libertarians should not be allowed to come to the table of the Lord. When these men insisted on coming to the table regardless of what they were told, Calvin placed himself bodily in front of the communion table and refused to allow them to come to the table of the Lord.
It takes great courage and strength to stand for the truth in our day. It takes great zeal and love for the honor and glory of the Lord to insist on maintaining the truth and opposing error and wickedness that can, and does at times even come into the church. There is little of this kind of zeal in our day in many churches. Tolerance for all sorts of evils and for false teachers in the church has caused the church to be over run by heretics, and corrupted by the false teaching of ungodly men. When this happens, the name of God is blasphemed. That is how serious this is. May God give us men of courage who stand for the truth. And may we, as members of the church, know and love the truth, instruct one another and build one another up in the truth. May we also be an example and encouragement to our fellow saints to maintain true godliness not only for our own personal lives, but also in the midst of His church. When faithful elders maintain the truth, and peace and unity prevails in the church, she will be greatly blessed of God in her celebration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and His glory will shine in her midst.