2268. A Question For Communicants

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No. 2268-38:373. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, June 1, 1890, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, August 7, 1892.

What do you mean by this service? {Ex 12:26}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1988, “Blood of Sprinkling and the Children, The” 1989}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2268, “Question for Communicants, A” 2269}
   Exposition on Ex 12:1-27 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3013, “Warning and Encouragement” 3014 @@ "Exposition"}

1. In a spiritual religion, everything must be understood. What is not spiritual, but ritualistic, satisfies itself with the outward form. Under the Jewish economy, there was a very strong tendency in that direction; but it was kept to some extent in check. Under the Christian faith, this tendency must not be tolerated at all. We must know the meaning of what we do; otherwise we are not profited. We do not believe in the faith of the man who was asked what he believed, and who replied that he believed what the church believed. “But what does the church believe?” “The church believes what I believe.” “Well, but what do you and the church believe?” “Both of us believe the same thing.” He could not be made to explain himself any further. We look upon such expressions as the talk of ignorance, and not the language of faith. Faith knows what she believes, and can give a reason for the hope that is in her with meekness and fear.

2. Concerning the Passover, the young people among the Jews were encouraged to ask their parents this question, “What do you mean by this service?” Children should be encouraged now to ask such gracious questions. I am afraid they are not prompted to do so as they used to be in Puritan times. After the sermon always came the catechizing of the children when they were at home; and every father was bound to be attentive, because he had to ask the boys and girls in the evening what they had heard; and they were more attentive then than now, because they had to be prepared to answer, and to ask any questions of their parents in return. Cultivate in your children a desire to understand everything connected with our holy faith.

3. In this chapter, from which I had culled my text, the parents are taught how to answer their children. If the parent is ignorant, a question from his child is inconvenient. He finds his ignorance exposed, and he perhaps is vexed with the child who has been the innocent means of unveiling him to himself. Be ready to tell your children what the ordinances of the gospel mean. Explain baptism to them, explain the Lord’s supper to them; and above all, explain the gospel; and let them know as far as words can make it plain, what is that great mystery by which we are saved, how sin is forgiven, and we are made the children of God.

4. I thought it would be profitable, if God gave me strength for the exercise, very briefly to answer the question supposed to be asked by an intelligent youth, “What do you mean by this service?” — this service that is called by some people “Holy Communion”; which is sometimes called the “Eucharist”; and among us is called “the Lord’s supper,” or “the breaking of bread.” What does it mean?

5. It means many things; but chiefly five, of which I will now speak.

6. I. This supper is, first of all, A MEMORIAL.

7. If you want to keep something in mind from generation to generation, you may attempt it in many ways. You may erect a bronze column, or you may inscribe a record of it upon a bronze plaque in the church. The column will get sold for old bronze, and someone will steal the bronze plaque from the church; and the memorial will disappear. You may write it upon marble if you please; but in our climate, at any rate, the inscription is very apt to be obliterated; and the old stones, though they last long, may after a time be as dumb as the treasures of Nineveh and Egypt were for centuries. These monuments did preserve the records, but they were hidden under the sand, or buried beneath the ruins of cities; and though they have a tongue now, and are speaking forcibly, yet whatever had been entrusted to them would have been forgotten while they were lying under the sand of the desert, or in the débris of the palaces of Kouyunjik. {a} There are other ways of preserving memorials, such as writing in books; but books can be lost. Many valuable works of the ancients have entirely ceased, and no copies of them can be found. Some of the books mentioned in the Old Testament, which were not inspired books, but still were books which we should greatly value now, have quite passed out of existence.

8. It is found that, on the whole, one of the best ways of remembering a fact is to have some ceremony connected with it, which shall be frequently performed, so as to keep the fact in memory. I suppose that Absalom will never be forgotten. He built for himself a pillar in the king’s dale; he knew his own infamous history, and he thought it might be forgotten. No one would care to remember it, so he built himself a monument; and there it stands, or what is reputed to be that monument, to this day, and every Arab who passes by the place throws a stone at it. Absalom will better be remembered by the ceremony of throwing stones at his tomb than by any record in marble.

9. To turn your thoughts to something infinitely higher, I cannot conceive of a more certain and better method of keeping the death of Christ in mind than that of meeting together, as we shall do tonight, for the breaking of bread, and the pouring out of the juice of the vine in memory of his death. Other facts may be forgotten; this one never can be. Tonight, and every first day of the week, in ten thousand places of worship, believers meet together for the breaking of bread in memory of Christ’s cross and passion, his precious death and burial. Those great facts can never pass out of mind. Jesus said to his disciples, “Do this in memory of me.” In obeying his command you are doing what is most effective in keeping your Lord in memory. As I preach tonight, having no kind of reliance on my own words, I want you to practise them as I go along; then you will be like the woman who said that, when she heard a sermon about light weights and short measures, though she forgot what the preacher said, when she got home, she remembered to burn her bushel, which was too short. So, if you can just practise the sermon as you hear it, it will be good.

10. Remember, then, that you come to this table tonight to remember an absent Friend. Jesus has gone away. He who loved us better than anyone else ever loved us, has left us for a while. We sometimes take little parting gifts from friends, and they say to us —

   When this you see,
   Remember me.

11. Probably, almost everyone here has, at some time or other, had certain tokens of remembrance by which they might be reminded of some dear one who is far away across the seas; out of sight, but not out of mind. You come to the communion table, then, to remember your absent Friend.

12. You come, also, chiefly to remember his great deed of love. This supper is a memorial of what Jesus did for you when he was on the earth. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends.” He laid down his life for you; remember that tonight. “He loved me, and gave himself for me”; dwell on that fact. Let these words wake the echoes in your hearts, “Gethsemane!” “Gabbatha!” “Golgotha!” Can you forget all that Jesus suffered there on your behalf? If you have let these things slip in any degree from your heart’s affections, come and write them down again. Come to the table, and there celebrate the memorial of his love, and wounds, and agonies, and death for you.

   In memory of the Saviour’s love,
      We keep the sacred feast,
   Where every humble contrite heart
      Is made a welcome guest.
   By faith we take the bread of life,
      With which our souls are fed;
   And cup, in token of his blood
      That was for sinners shed.

13. You are also called upon to remember a dear Friend who, although he has gone away, has gone about your business. It was expedient for you that he should go away. He is doing you more good where he has gone than he could have done if he stayed here. He is pressing on your suit tonight. Your business would miscarry if it were not for him; but within the veil that hides him from you, he is pleading for you. His power, his dignity, his merit, are all freely being employed for you. He is pleading the causes of your soul. Can you, will you, forget him? Will you not now forget everything else, and indulge the sweet memory of your faithful Lover, your dear Husband, who is married to you in ties of everlasting wedlock? Please come and keep the memorial of this dear Friend.

14. And you have to remember a Friend who will return very soon. He only tells you to do this until he comes. He is coming back to us. His own words are, “Behold, I come quickly!” That is not quite the meaning of what he said; it was, “Behold, I am coming quickly!” He is on his way, his chariot is hurrying towards us, the axles of the wheels are hot with speed. He is coming as fast as he can. The longsuffering of God delays him, until sinners are brought in, until the full number of his elect shall be accomplished; but he is not delaying; he is not lingering; he is not slack, as some men count slackness; he is coming quickly. Will you not remember him? Soon his hand will be on the door; soon for you, at any rate, he may cry, “Arise, my love, my dove, my fair one, and come away”; and soon he may be here among us, and then we shall reign with him for ever and ever.

15. I charge my own heart to remember my dear Lord tonight; and please, brothers and sisters, do not let the feebleness of my reminder deprive you now of the happiness of thinking much of Christ your Lord. Sit still, and let all other thoughts be gone, and think only of him who loved you and died for you. Let your thoughts go back to Calvary, as you sing, in mournful accents, —

   Oh sacred head, once wounded,
      With grief and pain weigh’d down,
   How scornfully surrounded
      With thorns, thine only crown!
   How pale art thou with anguish,
      With sore abuse and scorn!
   How does that visage languish,
      Which once was bright as morn!

Oh, eyes once full of tears! Oh, shoulders once beaten with the gory lash! Oh, hands once nailed to the cruel tree! Oh, feet once fastened to the bitter cross! Soon we shall behold the Christ who loved us, and died for us. Therefore let us observe this sacred feast in memory of him.

16. II. But I must be briefer on my second point. The second meaning of the Lord’s supper is that it is AN EXHIBITION. “As often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you show the Lord’s death until he comes.” We are helped to remember it by the type, the emblem, the metaphor which is supplied to us by this supper. How is that? Is there any likeness to the death of Christ in this supper? I answer, there is a great likeness.

17. There is his broken body, represented by the bread which is broken, and intended for use. His dear body was broken, marred, sadly marred, given over to the hands of death, laid in the sepulchre, wrapped up with fine linen, left there, as his enemies thought, never to rise again. In that broken bread, broken so that even believing children may eat their morsel, you see Christ’s body given up for his people’s sake.

18. But there stands a cup. It is full of the red juice of the grape. What does it mean? He himself shall explain it: “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Now, the shedding of blood is the great sign of death. One would not long talk about killing without speaking of bloodshedding; in fact, bloodshed usually means dying by a violent death; and he died like that. They pierced his hands and his feet; the soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. That stream of blood was the sign that he really was dead. He has poured out from his veins his precious life to purchase his redeemed. The broken bread, the cluster pressed into the cup, and leaving nothing but its blood-red juice, these two things symbolize Christ’s death.

19. But, most of all, this is an exhibition of the two separate things, the bread and the cup. We have heard of some mixing the bread with the wine; that is not the Lord’s supper. We have heard of others partaking of the wafer, as they call it, and leaving the cup; this is not taking the Lord’s supper. They must be both there; the bread here, the wine cup there; because the separation of the blood from the flesh is the best sign of death. “The blood is its life”; and if the blood is drained away, there is death. Therefore the blood is represented by the cup, and the flesh is represented by the bread; these two separated are the great token and emblem of Christ’s death.

20. We show, display, exhibit, symbolize, the death of our Lord at this table in this way; we partake of both symbols, eating of the bread, drinking of the cup, the whole thing ministering to the support of our life. At this table we say to all of you who do not know Christ, Christ’s death is our life, and the memory of Christ’s death is the food of our life. If any of you are spectators of the ordinance, this is the meaning of our little acted sermon, Christ has died. Christ’s death is the support of our faith, the food of our souls; in token of which we take this bread and this cup, and eat and drink. So this supper illustrates Christ’s death. How many here can say that Christ’s death is their life? How many of you can say that you feed upon him? Dear friends, you must not come to the table unless you can say it; but if you can, come and welcome; and if you cannot, oh! may the Lord teach you the lesson that is so necessary, the lesson that is so blessed, when it is once learned, that Christ on the cross is the one hope of eternal glory.

21. So you have had two meanings of the Lord’s supper; first, it is a memorial; and next, an exhibition.

22. III. The Lord’s supper is, next, A COMMUNION.

23. We must have this brought out prominently, or we shall miss a great deal. We are at the Lord’s table; we eat of his bread, we drink out of his cup. This betokens friendship. When, in the East, a man has eaten of an Arab’s salt, he is henceforth under his protecting care; and he who has spiritually eaten of Christ’s bread, has come under Christ’s protection; Christ will take care of him. All feuds are ended; an eternal peace is established between the two. It was a tender parable in which Nathan spoke of a man who had one little ewe lamb, which ate from his own food, and drank from his own cup, and lay in his bosom. This is your privilege, to lie in Christ’s bosom, to drink out of his cup, and to eat of his bread. This is a very sweet fellowship; enjoy it tonight to the full.

24. We go further than that, for we not only eat of his bread, but symbolically we feast upon him. His flesh is food indeed; and his blood is drink indeed. Can I really feed upon Christ? Really, yes. Carnally, no. There is no such thing as the carnal eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood; that would be a horrible thing; that would be to make a man a cannibal; but the spiritual feeding upon the Incarnate God, this is what we mean. He gives us his flesh to eat, and so we enter into a fellowship of the most intense and mysterious kind; not merely eating with him, but eating him; not merely receiving from him, but receiving him himself to be the life of our hearts. May you get to that point tonight! I believe in the real presence of Christ; I do not believe in the carnal presence of the Romanist. I believe in the real presence to the believer; but that reality is none the less real because it is spiritual; and only spiritual men can discern it.

25. Now, beloved, if we really come in the right spirit to this table, when we have eaten the bread, it becomes part of us; when the wine is sipped, the juice of the grape enters into our constitution; we cannot separate it from ourselves. Such is our fellowship with Christ. He is one with us, and we are one with him.Quis separabit?” “Who shall separate us from the love of God?” We are one with Christ; partners with him; all that he has is ours; all that we have is his. He gives himself to us; we yield ourselves to him. It is Christ and Co., only the little “Co.” drops its name to be swallowed up in him who is all in all. There is the meaning of the bread and the cup. We take Christ into ourselves, as he has taken us up into his greater self.

26. But communion also means that we are one with each other. I wish that you would catch that thought. I am afraid there are some members of the church here, who have never experienced their union with all the rest of the members. “We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of each other.” One is our Master, even Christ, and all we are brethren. There should be an intimate feeling of fellowship, a readiness to help and love each other. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

27. I cannot shake off from myself the idea that this makes up a large part of the meaning of the Lord’s supper, the communion of saints with each other as well as the communion of the saints with Christ. May we enjoy it tonight! For my part, I like to feel, when I come to the table, that I am going to have communion, not only with this church, large as it is, not merely with the members of one denomination (I wish there were no denominations), not merely with the company of one body of Christians — oh that there were only one body of Christians throughout the world! — but freely inviting all who belong to any part of the visible church; I delight to think that at this table tonight I shall have fellowship with the brethren on the Congo, with the brethren in India, with the brethren in the Unites States, of all names, and kinds, and ages, and ranks. There cannot be two churches of Christ. There is only one Church, one Head, and one body. Though there are some very naughty children in the Lord’s family, they must not be kept without their supper; there is some other way of chastening them; and as long as there is true living communion between one Christian and another, where God has given the thing signified, I dare not keep back the sign. If he gives them to have fellowship with Christ, who am I that shall say, “You shall have no fellowship with me?” I dare not say it.

28. The meaning of this supper, then, is communion.

29. IV. But a fourth meaning of the Lord’s supper is A COVENANTING. Our Lord said to his disciples, “This cup is the new testament, or covenant, in my blood.” We do well to sing, —

   Thy body, broken for my sake,
      My bread from heaven shall be;
   Thy testamental cup I take,
      And thus remember thee.

30. When we come to the Lord’s table, we must be careful that there we take Christ to be our God in covenant. We take the one living God to be our God for ever and ever. He gives himself to us, and we take him, and we declare, “This God is our God for ever and ever; he shall be our Guide even to death.” Do you understand that covenant relationship, every one of you? Do you know what you are doing when you take the piece of bread, and eat it, and take the cup and drink it? If you are truly a believer in Christ, God is in covenant with you through the body and the blood of Christ, and you recognise that blessed truth, and take him to be your God.

31. Now, the covenant runs like this, “They shall be my people, and I will be their God.” When, therefore, we come to this covenanting table, we agree that we will be the Lord’s people; henceforth, not the devil’s, not the world’s, not our own; but the Lord’s. When the Lord’s people are chastened, we expect to be chastened with them. When the Lord’s people are persecuted, we expect to be persecuted with them. We must take them for better or worse, to have and to hold, and death itself must not part us from the Lord’s people. That is the meaning of coming to this table, recognising that, between you and God there is an agreement made that must not be broken, a covenant ordered in all things and sure, by which God becomes yours and you become his, so that you are for ever to be one of those who belong entirely to him.

32. Here, at the communion table, God, the covenant God, seals his love to us. “Come here, my child,” says the Lord, “I love you, and I gave myself for you, in token of which put this bread into your mouth, to remind you of how I gave myself for you. I love you, so that you are mine. I have called you by my name, in token of which I remind you that I bought you with my precious blood. Therefore, let that sip of the juice of the vine go into your body, to remind you that by my precious blood, which was shed for many, I have redeemed you from going down into the pit.” There are seals at that table, new seals of the covenant, new tokens, new love-gifts from the Lord, to remind you of what he has done for you.

33. And you are to come here tonight to testify anew your love for God. Here you say, “My Master, let me eat with you! My Lord, stay with me! Let me sit at the table with you.” If any of you have lost your first love, and have grown spiritually cold, the Saviour stands at the door, and knocks, and he says, “Open to me,” and he also says that if we open to him, he will come in, and sup with us, and we with him. He said that to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans, the church which was neither cold nor hot, which he threatened to spew out of his mouth. If you are only fit to make Christ sick, yet if you will open the door to him, he will come and feast with you tonight, and all shall be well with you. He testifies his love to you. Come and testify yours to him tonight. That is the meaning of this bread and this cup. Your covenant with death is broken, your agreement with hell is disannulled; and now you are in covenant with God, and he is in covenant with you, even in an everlasting covenant, which shall never be broken.

34. V. Lastly, and very briefly, this supper means A THANKSGIVING.

35. It is often called, by friends who love hard words, the “Eucharist.” We have some friends who always carry a gold pencil, on purpose to put down every word that no one understands, so that they may use it next Sunday in their sermon. Such people call the Lord’s supper the “Eucharist,” which means “the giving of thanks.” This is the thanksgiving service of the Church of God. It ought to be celebrated every Lord’s day. Every Sabbath should be a thanksgiving Sunday, for Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, and we ought to give thanks every time we celebrate his resurrection. Certainly we should do so when we celebrate his death. What are we going to do tonight by way of thanksgiving?

36. Well, we are coming to a festival, not a funeral. The choice festival of the Jewish faith was the Passover. The Lord’s supper takes its place with higher joys; we come to this feast to testify to our joy in Christ. There is bread, but there is also wine upon the table. This is to show that it is a festival for joy and delight, and you cannot praise Christ better, and give thanks to him better than by rejoicing in him. Praise him by your grateful joy. I think that we should always come to the Lord’s table with a feeling of deep reverence; but that reverence should never tend to bondage. We do not want you to come here quivering and shaking, as if you were slaves who came to eat a morsel of your master’s bread, under fear of the lash. No, no; come, you children; come, you beloved ones of the Lord! Come, you table-companions of Christ, and sit at the festival he has prepared, and let your joy be full of thanksgiving!

37. We come to the table, next, actually to praise the Lord for giving Christ to us. When our Lord broke the bread, he gave thanks; when he passed the cup, he gave thanks. Again and again he gave thanks; so shall we do tonight. Come, beloved, thankfully to praise the Father for the gift of Christ; and as you take the bread into your mouth, say in your heart, “Bless the Lord!” and as you drink of the cup, say in your spirit, “Blessed be his holy name! Blessed be the Father, for his eternal love for us; blessed be Jesus, for his love which has saved us from death; and blessed be the Holy Spirit, who has taught us to know all these precious things!”

38. One way in which we show our thanks to Christ is that we receive with gratitude the emblems of his death. Each one who communes with us will receive of the bread, and eat it, and take of the cup, and drink it. We do not hold it up, and look at it; we do not kneel down, and pay it homage; we receive it. We have done so now for these many years. How long is it since we began this holy feast? Well, with some of us, it is over forty years since our first communion, and we do not want any better food. We desire to keep in memory the same Christ, to feed upon the same doctrine of the incarnation and atoning sacrifice; and if we should be spared, beloved, another forty years, which is far from likely, we shall have a sweeter tooth for Christ even than we have now. He will be more dear to us, more precious, more delightful, even than he is tonight. So we come to the table to show our gratitude by receiving and receiving again.

39. Let me whisper in your ear, when this communion is over, and you shall leave this table, “Pray, beloved, that you may go away in the same spirit as your Lord and Master did, when after rising from supper, he went out to the garden, not there to have a sweet hour of lonely communion with God, but there to sweat, as it were, great drops of blood falling to the ground. He went there to be arrested, to be hurried off to the judgment bar of Annas, and Caiaphas, and Pilate, and Herod, and the rest of them. He went there, in fact to die; but he went away singing.” So I want you to go away from this communion, singing praises to God. As my dear brother said in prayer, you must have your Gethsemanes, your Golgothas; but I want you to go away from this table singing. Whatever comes, high or low, bright or dark, heaven or another age in this dark wilderness, brethren, let us sing. We often say, “Let us pray”; but tonight, at the table, I say, “Let us sing.” Let us sing to the Lord because of his great gift to us, which we remember tonight, and proclaim, and commune with, and covenant with. Let us sing to the Lord as long as we live; for we can never sufficiently praise him for all that he has done for us.

   We’ll praise our risen Lord,
      While at his feet we sit,
   His griefs a hallow’d theme afford
      For sweetest music fit.

40. So I have explained all about the Lord’s supper; do you know anything about it? Some of you are going away. You are going away! Yes, and the day shall come when you will not have anywhere to go to! When the great marriage supper is spread, and the feast of the gracious shall be held, and the whole universe shall be gathered, oh! where will you go? You will not be allowed to linger at the door, neither will you go home to wait until others shall return from the festival. You must be driven from God’s presence if you do not come by faith in Christ to that great feast. The fiery swords of the angel-guards shall be unsheathed, and they shall pursue you through the blackness of eternal darkness, down to infinite despair! May the Lord have mercy upon you tonight, so that he may have mercy upon you in that day, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

{a} Kouyunjik: Ancient Nineveh’s mound-ruins of Kouyunjik and Nabī Yūnus are located on a level part of the plain near the junction of the Tigris and the Khosr Rivers within an area of 1900 acres circumscribed by a 7.5 mile brick rampart. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineveh"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Mt 26:26-30 1Co 11:20-34}

We will read, first, Matthew’s account of the institution of the Lord’s supper.

26. And as they were eating,

In the middle of the Paschal Feast our Lord instituted the sacred festival which was always afterwards to be known as “the Lord’s supper.” The one ordinance was made to melt gradually into the other: “as they were eating.”

26. Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take eat; this is my body.”

“This represents my body.” He could not possibly have meant that the bread was his body; for there was his body sitting at the table, whole and entire. They would have been astonished beyond measure if they had understood him literally; but they did not do so, any more than when Christ said, “I am the door,” or “I am the Good Shepherd.”

27. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink all of it;

“Every one of you.” Was this the Lord’s supper? Yes. What do the Romanists say about it? Why, that the people may not drink from the cup! Yet our Saviour says to his disciples, “Drink all of it.”

28. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

They had had sin brought to their minds; they had had a personal reminder of their own liability to sin; now they were to have a perpetual pledge of the pardon of sin, in the cup, which was the emblem of Christ’s blood, “shed for many for the remission of sins.”

29. But I say to you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Jesus took the Nazarite vow to drink no more, to partake no more of the fruit of the vine, until he should meet us again in his Father’s kingdom. He has pledged us once and for all in that cup, and now he abstains until he meets us again. So he looks forward to a glorious meeting; but he tells us to take the cup, and so remember him until he comes.

30. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

To his last great battle the Champion goes singing, attended by feeble followers, who could not protect him; but who could sing with him. I think he must have led the tune; his disciples were too sorrowful to sing until his clear voice started the Hallelujah Psalms; but they joined him in the holy exercise, for “they” as well as their Lord sang the hymn. When you are about to face a trial, offer a prayer; but, if you can, also sing a hymn. It will show great faith if, before you enter into the burning fiery furnace, you can sing psalms to the Lord who redeems his people.

Now let us read Paul’s version of this same matter.

20, 21. When you come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating everyone takes before others his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunk.

These Corinthians had fallen into a very strange state. I do not think that any Baptist Church that I have ever known of has acted in this way; but when churches have no ministers, when there is an open ministry where everyone talks and no one listens, they fall into a strange condition, especially into divisions and heart-breaking strifes. It was so in the case of this church at Corinth. Here everyone brought his own provision, and some ate to the full, and others did not have enough; and they thought that they were observing “the Lord’s supper.”

22. What? do you not have houses to eat and to drink in?

There is your proper place if you have a meal. Go home, and eat and drink; do not come to the sanctuary for such a purpose: “Do you not have houses to eat and to drink in?”

22, 23. Or despise the church of God, and shame those who do not have anything? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. For I have received from the Lord what I also delivered to you,

He had received it by a special revelation. Poor Paul was brought in late, and he was like one born out of due time. He had not been present in the upper room with Christ at the first famous breaking of bread; so the Lord came and gave him a special revelation concerning this sacred feast, so that, whenever he spoke or wrote to any of the churches about the Lord’s supper, he could say, “I have received from the Lord what I also delivered to you.”

23, 24. That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: do this in memory of me.”

The Lord’s supper is a simple service of remembrance. Nothing is said about an altar, or a priest, or a sacrifice. Our Lord took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you: do this in memory of me.” Mark that “do this”; it will not be right to do something else instead of this; and we must not do this for any other purpose than the one he mentions, “Do this in memory of me.” This command raises a previous question, “Do we know him?” We cannot remember Christ if we do not know him.

25, 26. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood: do this, as often as you drink it, in memory of me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you show the Lord’s death until he comes.”

   By Christ redeemed, in Christ restored,
   We keep the memory adored,
   And show the death of our dear Lord,
         Until he come!
   And thus that dark betrayal-night,
   With the last advent we unite;
   By one blest chain of loving rite
         Until he come!

27. Therefore whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.

If such a man has treated “this bread” and “this cup” with contempt, he has treated “the body and blood of the Lord” with contempt; so it shall be applicable to him. Many have been troubled by this verse. They have said, “We are unworthy.” You are, this is quite true; but the text does not say anything about your being unworthy. Paul uses an adverb, not an adjective. His words are, “Whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily,” that is, in an unfit way, to gain something by it, as men used to take what they called “the sacrament” to get into certain offices, or as some come to the communion table for the sake of the charitable gifts that are for the poor of the church; this is to eat and drink “unworthily.” To come carelessly, to come contemptuously, to say, “I do not care whether I am a Christian, or not; but I shall come to the communion,” this is to eat and drink “unworthily.” Notice the ly; we are all unworthy of this sacred feast, and if unworthiness could exclude us, who would dare to be here?

28. But let a man examine himself,

Let a man look himself up and down, as a lawyer cross-examines witness, as a man examines money to see whether it has the true ring of gold about it; or not: “Let a man examine himself.”

28. And so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

Let him come as a true believer, as sincere; if not perfect, yet true; if not all he ought to be, yet in Christ; if not all he wants to be, yet still on the way to it, by being in Christ, who is “the way, the truth and the life.”

29. For he who eats, and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

He does not see the meaning of the emblems of Christ’s death. He degrades the symbol by making it take the place of the thing signified. He sees the bread, but not the body; and he damns himself, condemns himself, by such eating. He is a loser rather than a gainer by eating and drinking unworthily.

30. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

People coming to the Lord’s table in an improper spirit are very apt to come under God’s discipline; some will become ill; and some will die. This discipline is being carried on in every true church of God. God’s providence will work in this way if many treat the table of the Lord as the Corinthians did, acting as if it were a common place for eating and drinking. Many of them were weak and sickly, and many died.

31. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

If we are God’s people, we shall be judged by him here for our wrong-doing. We shall not be like the world that is left to the day of judgment; but we shall be judged now. God will visit with temporal judgments those of his children who sin against him.

32. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, so that we should not be condemned with the world.

You know that a man will see a great deal that is wrong in children in the street, and say nothing about it; but if it is his own boy who is up to mischief, he will give him a sweet taste of the rod. So, if you belong to God, you cannot sin deeply without having a present judgment, a present discipline; and you ought to be thankful for it, painful though it may seem to be for the time, for “when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, so that we should not be condemned with the world.”

33. Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for each other.

How gently Paul talks to these Corinthians! They deserve to be scolded; but he is very tender with them. He says, “If you must come together in this way, at least have the good manners to wait for each other; and if you do come to the communion of the Lord, treat it with that respect and reverence which it deserves.”

34. And if any man is hungry, let him eat at home; so that you do not come together to condemnation. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

May we tonight keep this feast in due order under the power of the Holy Spirit, and may we find a blessing in it to God’s praise! Amen.

{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Church, Ordinances, The Lord’s Supper — Jesus’ Love” 938}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Church, Ordinances, The Lord’s Supper — Feeding In Green Pastures” 947}

Church, Ordinances, The Lord’s Supper
938 — Jesus’ Love
1 Gracious Redeemer, how divine,
      How wondrous is thy love,
   The subject of thewy’ eternal songs,
      Of blood-wash’d hosts above.
2 Join all your sacred harmony,
      Ye saints on earth below,
   To praise Immanuel, from whose name
      All fragrant odours flow.
3 He left his crown, he left his throne,
      By his great Father’s side,
   He wore the thorn, he bore the cross,
      Was scourged and crucified.
4 Behold how every wound of his
      A precious balm distils,
   Which heals the scars that sin had made,
      And cures all mortal ills.
5 Those wounds are mouths that preach his grace;
      The ensigns of his love;
   The seals of our expected bliss
      In paradise above.
6 We see thee at thy table, Lord,
      By faith with great delight:
   Oh how refined those joys will be
      When faith is turn’d to sight!
                     Joseph Stennett, 1709, a.

Church, Ordinances, The Lord’s Supper
947 — Feeding In Green Pastures
1 Thou whom my soul admires above
   All earthly joy and earthly love,
   Tell me, dear Shepherd, let me know,
   Where doth thy choicest pasture grow?
2 Where is the shadow of that rock
   That from the sun defends thy flock?
   Fain would I feed among thy sheep,
   Among them rest, among them sleep.
3 The footsteps of thy flock I see;
   Thy sweetest pastures here thy be:
   A wondrous feast of love appears,
   Bought with thy wounds and groans and tears.
4 His dearest flesh he makes my bread,
   For wine his richest blood is shed:
   Here to these hills my soul will come,
   Till my Beloved lead me home.
                     Isaac Watts, 1709, a.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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