The Duty To Judge Myself in the Lord’s Supper
For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11:30-31NKJV
This morning we look at Westminster Larger Catechism Question 175, which asks, “What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s supper?” It gives the answer, “The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfill their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterward with more care and diligence.”
With yet another Catechism Question emphasizing the duty of sober reflection and thoughtfulness in order to rightly partake of the bread and of the cup of the Lord’s Supper, we are once again reminded of how foreign the concept of paedocommunion is to the minds of the Westminster Divines! Infants and young children should never be yoked with a responsibility and obligation that they simply are not mentally and spiritually equipped to fulfill. Deliberately partaking of that which Jesus calls His flesh and His blood must be with done sober reflection and reverent fear. And as today’s question explains, our duties do not end with the Supper for there are several requirements placed upon us after we have communed.
First, as with any commandment of the Lord, we should consider how we performed. Jesus commands us “Take and eat… drink from this cup… do this in remembrance of Me.” So after obeying by taking, eating, drinking, and remembering, how did we do? Was I focused on the Lord in a reverent and sober manner or was I thinking about the football game I would be watching a little later? Was I successful in that I really did consider Christ’s suffering and death for me as I ate and as I drank? If so, I now need to thank God for His grace in allowing me to stir up my heart to whatever degree of faithfulness I achieved. I should pray that God would continue to give me such obedience and to increase it for His glory and for my spiritual and eternal good.
Likewise, I should consider any spiritual blessings I received by partaking. Is my faith in Him increased? Have I found assurance of the historical reality of His sacrificial death? Am I more certain that His blood really did atone for my sins? That His righteousness really does avail for me? In other words, do I find I actually have the table fellowship with the Lord that I profess to have by my willful participation in His Supper? Wherever I see that I come short in any of these areas, it is my duty to confess it to Him and ask Him to forgive me, pleading His blood alone for the remission of my sins. Likewise, for any success I find I should thank God and give Him all the glory, honor, and praise. I should look forward to the fruits of obedience that God will surely give me in His time, since He who grants us obedience also rewards that same obedience with good fruit.
Finally, our question also instructs us to review our preparation before the Supper. Did I take time beforehand to consider the sacrament and the benefits that Christ holds out to me in it? Do I have a good conscience that I came as a humble sinner seeking grace, worthily partaking by His mercy in that I counted myself unworthy by my works? And in all of these examinations, thanksgivings, and confessions, resolving to be more diligent in the future, so that I would continue to grow in godliness, more and more putting off my old sinful self and more and more striving to put on the new man that God is surely growing within me. May God grant that we would ever more faithfully discharge all of our duties before, during, and after our partaking of the Lord’s Supper!