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Confession of Faith: Article XXXV (1)

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Confession of Faith: Article XXXV (1)

8 minuten leestijd

We have now come to the second sacrament. Previously we considered holy baptism, the sacrament which has come in the place of circumcision. There is a difference between the two sacraments. Baptism is administered but once and is the sacrament of birth, or incorporation into the church, into the body of Christ. The Lord's Supper is to be administered many times, because it is a sacrament of nourishment and preservation. We are all born but once, but we need continual nourishment of our body in order to exist and to continue to exist. Therefore the Lord's Supper also, as so beautifully explained in this article, is for the nourishment of spiritual life.

“The Lord's Supper” is just one of the names which has been given to this holy sacrament. Sometimes it is also called “the breaking of bread,” as in Acts 2:46: And they continued “daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house.” That was the Lord's Supper. Sometimes it has also been called “the cup of blessing” when we read, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” Also it is said to be “the communion of the body and blood of Christ” in 1 Corinthians 11:27, “Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” That speaks of the defiling of the Lord's Supper. It is also called “the table of the Lord.” In 1 Corinthians 10:21 we read, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and the table of devils.” This is again in reference to the Lord's Supper.

It is called a “supper” because it was instituted in the evening, before Christ was delivered up into the hands of others, the night before His last and heavy suffering on the cross.

The Lord's Supper is an institution of Christ Himself. We read that He instituted and distributed it. We see four steps: Christ took the bread, He blessed it and blessed the cup, He broke the bread, and He gave it. Here we see a beautiful picture of the mediatorial work of Christ and its fruits. Christ was qualified for His mediatorial work by taking upon Him the human nature and by being anointed with the Holy Spirit without measure. He took the bread, as He took upon Him the form of a servant, and He blessed it, that it might be qualified, as it were, to feed and to nourish the believers, for without His blessing nothing will profit. Then He broke it, which signifies that Christ has broken His body and shed His blood on the cross, that He gave Himself and His perfect self-sacrifice so that He may become the bread of life and the water of life to hungry and thirsty souls. Not only did He break it, but He also gave it, which signifies that He is also the One who distributes and by His Spirit applies His benefits to those who are partakers of Him and His benefits by faith. The work of God is always first: He took; He blessed; He broke; He gave; and they may receive it by grace.

In the Lord's Supper the Lord has given two signs, bread and wine. These signs signify the body and blood of Christ. These signs are very suitable to teach us, to signify, in the visible gospel, that Christ gave Himself into death for His church.

Bread is a suitable sign when we look at the origin of bread, which is in the earth. There the corn of wheat fell, there it died, and there it began to spring up. And so it is with the origin of the human nature of Christ. He assumed it not from heaven, but from the virgin Mary. He came on earth to assume His human nature. He also was the corn of wheat which would fall into the earth, die, and then bring forth much fruit.

Bread is also a very suitable sign when we compare the process which it takes for the corn of wheat to become bread upon the table. First the ear of corn is cut off, is collected, is harvested. Then there is a long process before the bread is ready as the final product. There is the process of grinding, of bruising, of baking. Christ is the Bread of Life. He is the One who has been bruised under the millstones of the wrath of God; He is the One who has been put into the fiery furnace of the indivisible wrath of God because of the sins of His people.

That sign of bread is also suitable when we consider that bread is a necessary food. It is essential to our well-being. Christ says in John 6:53, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” Outside of Christ there is no life, and there is a church which learns to know: “Give me Jesus, else I die.” They are not satisfied with knowing that there is bread, or with talking about the bread, but they must eat it and they must drink the blood; it must be part of them, and they must be partaker of it. How necessary is Christ for the soul! Outside of Him there is no life; and the life which the Lord has wrought cannot be preserved outside of Him.

Bread is also delicious; it tastes good to the hungry soul. We read in the Song of Solomon that the bride says about the Bridegroom, Christ, “I sat down under His shadow,” under the apple tree, “with great delight.” If it is well, then Christ is also an object of great delight when something may be tasted of His nearness and we may sit down under His shadow. How long ago was it that we sat under His shadow with great delight?

Bread is also the sign of something very precious. How many people have to do without it, and are doing without it! How precious would one loaf of bread be to them! We read of Christ in 1 Peter 2:7, “Unto you therefore which believe He is precious.”

Bread also strengthens. What do we read of the Lord Jesus? “He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake.”

We could say more about the bread, but these examples show how suitable this sign is.

Wine is also a visible sign of Christ, the sign of His blood. Wine is obtained and prepared by pressing in the winepress. We read of Christ that He was pressed in the press of God's wrath. He says in Luke 12:50, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with.” He was in great straits. He was under the pressure of the heavy hand of God. How He was pressed in Gethsemane, when His sweat became as great drops of blood; and on the cross, when He cried out in the darkness on Golgotha, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Wine quenches thirst. So Christ said of Himself, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.”

Wine also rejoices the heart. We read in Isaiah 61:10, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord.” Wine makes the dumb to speak. Often wine will cause one to speak foolishness, to speak too freely. But Christ makes us speak words of wisdom. We read, “How great is His goodness.” When He gives a taste of something of Himself, it makes the dumb to speak freely.

Wine also has a refreshing and healing power. We read of Christ in Malachi 4:2, “The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.”

When in the Lord's Supper the table is prepared and the bread is taken, it signifies how Christ has been set apart. As this bread has been set apart for this holy table, so Christ has been set apart from eternity for the church of God. When the minister blesses the bread or the cup, it signifies how Christ, being set apart by the Father, will be a blessing, the Fountain of all blessing, for all the nations, for all His children. When the bread is broken and the wine is poured out, it signifies again in what way He has merited these blessings.

The Lord's Supper is a precious sacrament which the Lord has given unto His church. The devil knows that this is something which may be refreshing for the church of God and to the honor and glory of God. Therefore it is understandable that there are not only errors regarding Holy Baptism, but there are also many errors regarding the Lord's Supper. We will discuss a few of them in a following article.

— to be continued —

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van vrijdag 1 januari 1999

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

Confession of Faith: Article XXXV (1)

Bekijk de hele uitgave van vrijdag 1 januari 1999

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

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