by Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
“Just now we have to do with [those], who are not far from the kingdom, but have come right up to the wicket gate which stands at the head of the way of life. One would think that they would hasten to enter, for a free and open invitation is placed over the entrance, the porter waits to welcome them, and there is but this one way to eternal life. He that is most loaded seems the most likely to pass in and begin the heavenward journey; but what ails the other men? This is what I want to find out. Poor fellows! they have come a long way already to get where they are; and the King’s highway, which they seek, is right before them: why do they not take to the Pilgrim Road at once?…Only the Lord Himself can …lead them to take the great decisive step. Yet the Lord works by means; and I have prepared this little book in the earnest hope that He may work by it to the blessed end of leading seekers to an immediate, simple trust in the Lord Jesus.” —from the Preface, Charles Spurgeon
Item code: atwg.
CHAPTER 30-THE LORD’S SUPPER #Mt 26:26-30 Mr 14:22-26 Lu 22:14-20 #1Co 10:16,17,20,21 11:17-34
The Old Covenant religion was characterized by ceremonies and the priest was the important person. He offered sacrifices for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. These ceremonies were typical and found their fulfillment in Christ. This made them temporary. They passed away with the coming of Christ and the one sacrifice He made.
In the New Covenant religion there are but two ceremonies or ordinances: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptism symbolizes the work of Christ in death and resurrection; and also our legal union with Him in death and resurrection. In Him we are dead to sin and alive unto God. The Lord’s Supper symbolizes our participation of the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Baptism says that the believer is in Christ; the Lord’s Supper says that Christ is in the believer. These two ordinances gave us a full picture to the eye of the whole gospel. Do not save but give us a picture of what saves.
We will try to answer some pertinent questions concerning the Lord’s Supper.
1. What is it?
2. Why observe it?
3. How should we observe it?
1. WHAT IS THE LORD’S SUPPER?
1. It is a memorial supper. It is to be done in memory of Christ.
2. It is a church ordinance, a church act. The church must act in concert. Christ is one bread or loaf and the church is one body. At Corinth it was observed individually or in groups or parties. One group would come and bring their basket and eat, then another group, and so on. The rich would have a big meal and get drunk; the poor would have nothing and go away hungry. Paul says tarry one for another. Thinking of it as a church ordinance, we might ask, Who is to come to the table? What are the steps to take to get to the table?
2a) Salvation- one must be a believer.
2b) Baptism-all Christians say that baptism must precede the Lord’s Supper.
2c) Church membership.
2d) Self examination.
2. WHY OBSERVE IT?
1. Because Christ commanded it. “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me” (#1Co 11:24).
2. It is to help us remember His blood shed for us. “And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many” (#Mr 14:24).
3. HOW SHOULD WE OBSERVE IT?
1. It is to be done worthily. That is, in a worthy manner. Not a question of personal worthiness. It is not to honor ourselves as if we were worthy. He is to be honored as the one altogether worthy.
2. What is the worthy manner of observing it? Answer: There must be the exercise of three faculties: memory, faith, and hope.
2a) Our memory must work. Memory looks back. We are to remember Christ, not father or mother or wife, or any other human being. And we are to remember Christ on the cross dying for our sins. Christ said: “This do in remembrance of me”. We are not to remember Jesus lying in the cradle or Jesus going about doing good. We are to remember Him as He hung on the cross.
2b) Faith must be exercised. What does faith do? It discerns his body. In partaking of the emblems of the body and blood of Christ we are symbolizing our faith. Just as eating is appropriating food for the body; so faith is appropriating the benefits of His shed blood.
2c) Our hope is exercised. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (#1Co 11:26). In observing the Lord’s Supper we should look back at the cross and look forward to the future when we will have all the benefits of the cross in glorification.
Communion is a misunderstood word. We talk about communing with one another at the Lord’s table. It is not communing with one another but with Christ. We commune with one another only in the sense that we are physically together, but we all participate together as a unit of His blood by means of the symbol. We participate symbolically occasionally while we participate by faith continually.
The Corinthians perverted the Lord’s Supper:
1. By mixing with heathen ceremonies, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (#1Co 10:21).
2. By making it a common meal to satisfy hunger. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (#1Co 11:31).
3. By failure to discern the Lord’s body. “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (#1Co 11:27).
4. The order and meaning of the Lord’s table. “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come” (#1Co 11:23-34).
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3
MY DEAR SON TOM, —
I am very sorry that you are feeling so weak, and as your dear Mother thinks a voyage would do you good I cannot but yield to the wish. I am rather afraid that it will be too severe a remedy, but I shall not demur to its being tried. If it ends in your going in for the college course and coming into the ministry I shall not regret it; indeed, I shall rejoice if you went round the world seven times if it ended so.
You will preach, I am sure, but without good training you cannot take the position which I want you to occupy. Theology is not to be learned in its amplitude and accuracy by one destined to be a public instructor without going thoroughly into it, and mastering its terms and details. Perhaps a voyage may give tone to your system and prepare you for two years of steady application. Only may the Lord make you a great soul-winner, and I shall be more than content.
We meet some awful donkeys when travelling, but a lady at San Remo is beyond all others. She said that she regretted that our Lord Jesus was a Jew. When asked if she would have preferred his being an Englishman she replied, “No, but you see it is such a pity that he was a Jew’ it would have been far better if he had been a Christian like ourselves!!”
Your loving father,
C. H. SPURGEON.
There are those who say that Jesus was an enlightened teacher, but not God. Well, of course, He was a brilliant teacher. Just think of His influence compared to that of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. They taught for a total of 130 years, but Jesus taught for only 3. Yet those 3 years turned the world upside down and impacted more people than did Plato and the boys put together.
But, Jesus was more than an excellent teacher; He was God manifest in the flesh. This means that He was the greatest teacher ever. And, in addition to teaching, He did things worthy of Deity. For example, He gave the gift of eternal life. Which of the other praiseworthy teachers of the past gave the gift of eternal life? Not Plato, not Socrates, not Aristotle—none of them.
And while we are considering this, let’s ask, just who exactly is qualified to give eternal life? Even someone who has not read the Bible knows the answer to that one. The only one who can give eternal life is someone who has it to give. I can neither give eternal life to you nor can you give it to me….we are somewhat deficient in the eternal life department. But God is the possessor of eternal life, and if ever we are to be given it, we must be given it by God. That’s why we are informed in Romans 6:23 that, whereas the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life. No one else but God can give eternal life. Moses for all his thundering could not give it, Isaiah for all his holy living couldn’t give it, Jeremiah in spite of his immense compassion couldn’t give it, none of the Prophets, Priests or Kings of Israel could give it, for it wasn’t theirs to give.
Then along came Jesus. This man refused to be put into the category of merely a good teacher. One day, as He sat talking to His disciples about sheep and shepherding, he fixed His gaze on them and announced,
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28.
Did you hear that? “I give unto my sheep eternal life and they shall never perish!” So what’s He saying here … He’s saying, “I’m God.”A man who is merely a good teacher, in spite of other abilities, cannot give eternal life to anyone. Only God can give eternal life, for the gift of God is eternal life—–so if Jesus is telling the truth, then He is God. I like what John Gill has to say on this subject,
“Christ gives eternal life to his sheep ———- he gives them himself, who is the true God and eternal life, and whoever has him has life; he gives them the knowledge of himself, which is life eternal; and he gives them his righteousness, which is their justification of life, or what entitles them to eternal life; — this is a pure gift, it is of grace, and not of works; and it is in the gift of Christ as Mediator, who has power to give it to as many as the Father has given him.”
John Gill: Exposition of the Bible.
When Jesus claimed the ability to give eternal life to His sheep, He was declaring his infinite Deity. He was putting Himself on an equal footing with God! And this was a legitimate exercise on which to embark since He was the eternal God walking around in human form. However, if Christ were not the eternal God manifest in the flesh we, once more, must denounce Him as a madman or an evil worker. If He’s not God, He’s a fraud! Making those outlandish claims, yet having no power to back them up, qualifies him as one of the greatest kooks of all time! But if He is God, trust Him with your soul, follow Him and worship Him.
Come All Harmonious Tongues
Your noblest music bring;
“Tis Christ the everlasting God,
And Christ the man we sing.
And that’s the Gospel Truth!
SECTION VIII. – TRUTH.
GOD IS A BEING OF INVIOLABLE TRUTH.
The truth of God includes veracity and faithfulness: –veracity in his declaration of things as they are, and faithfulness in the exact fulfilment of his promises and threatenings. Men often err in their testimony from mistake of facts, and fail through inability to fulfil promises which they have made with honest intentions. The omniscience of God renders mistake with him impossible; and his omnipotence and unchangeableness render the fulfilment of his intentions certain. Truth, as a moral attribute, is the agreement of what is spoken with the mind of the speaker. We never charge men with want of veracity, when they err in their testimony through mere mistake; or with want of faithfulness, when they fail to fulfil their promises entirely from inability. God’s testimony is true, because it agrees perfectly with his view of things, and that this view agrees with the actual state of things, results, not from his truth, but his omniscience. His promises are true because they agree precisely with his intentions; and that these intentions are exactly fulfilled, results from other attributes, as has been explained. Truth is understood for the most part to refer to something spoken or written; but the truth of God may be understood, in a wider sense, to denote the agreement of all the revelations or manifestations which he has made of himself, with his mind and character.
Because God’s manifestations of himself are true, it does not follow that they are complete and perfect. He showed his glory to Moses; but it was only a part of his glory that he exhibited, because Moses was unable to bear the full display. All manifestations to his creatures are necessarily limited; and they are made as seems good in his sight. Our knowledge of God, which is necessarily imperfect because of our weakness, is often erroneous, through our misuse of the manifestations which he has made. So the heathen world, when they knew God, glorified him not as God, but changed the truth of God into a lie.
When men abuse the knowledge of God which they possess, and the means of knowledge which he has afforded them, it is not inconsistent with his character to give them up, in righteous judgment, to their own hearts’ lusts. Because they receive not the love of the truth, God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie. So Ahab desired a false prophecy, and his prophets desired to gratify him, and God gave him up to be deceived. This is expressed, in the prophetic imagery of Scripture, by his sending a lying spirit into the prophets. Ahab was deceived; but it was in spite of the true word of God, by the prophet whom he rejected. Jeremiah complains that God had deceived him; but this, in the most unfavorable construction that can be put on his language, amounts to nothing more than an impatient exclamation of the prophet, under a severe trial.
We can have no knowledge of God, except by the manifestations he has made of himself. When we receive these, however made, as expressing to us the mind and character of God, we exercise faith in God. But when we close our understandings and hearts against these manifestations, or, through disrelish of them, misinterpret them in any manner, we are guilty of the great sin of unbelief, which rejects the testimony of God, and makes him a liar.
 Deut. xxxii. 4; Ps. cxix. 142; John viii. 26; Rom. iii. 4; Tit. i. 2; Heb. vi. 18; Rev. iii. 7.
 2 Thess. ii. 11.
 1 Kings xxii.
John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology
God’s Word then is made up of words, and each one in it is selected by Divine wisdom and positioned with unerring precision. It therefore behooves us to spare no pains in seeking to ascertain the exact meaning of each of its terms and most diligently to scrutinize the exact order in which they are placed, for the right understanding of a passage turns first upon our obtaining a correct understanding of its language. That should be so obvious as to require no argument, yet it is surprising how often that elementary principle is ignored and contravened.
Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures
It is somewhat remarkable-at least it may seem so to persons who are not accustomed to think upon the subject-that the apostle, in order to excite Timothy to boldness, to keep him constant in the faith, reminds him of the great doctrine that the grace of God reigns in the salvation of men. He gives in this verse-this parenthetical verse as some call it, but which seems to me to be fully in the current of the passage- he gives in this verse a brief summary of the gospel, showing the great prominence which it gives to the grace of God, with the design of maintaining Timothy in the boldness of his testimony for Christ. I do not doubt but that a far greater power for usefulness lies concealed within the doctrines of grace than some men have ever dreamed of. It has been usual to look upon doctrinal truth as being nothing more than unpractical theory, and many have spoken of the precepts of God’s Word as being more practical and more useful; the day may yet come when in clearer light we shall perceive that sound doctrine is the very root and vital energy of practical holiness, and that to teach the people the truth which God has revealed is the readiest and surest way of leading them to obedience and persevering holiness.
May the Holy Spirit assist us while we shall, first, consider the doctrine taught by the apostle in this text; and, secondly, the uses of that doctrine.
Charles H. Spurgeon- Salvation Altogether by Grace (2 Timothy 1:9)- Delivered on Sunday Morning July 29th, 1866