Why Communion?

October 4, 2012

From Joe Thorn:

As we head into worship this weekend and take the Lord’s Supper together consider these words from Bishop J.C. Ryle as he explains the benefits of the sacrament.

Let us settle it firmly in our minds that the Lord’s Supper was not given to be a means either of justification or of conversion. It was never meant to give grace where there is no grace already, or to provide pardon when pardon is not already enjoyed. It cannot possibly provide what is lacking with the absence of repentance to God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an ordinance for the penitent, not for the impenitent, for the believing, not for the unbelieving, for the converted, not for the unconverted. The unconverted man, who fancies that be can find a “shortcut” to heaven by taking the Lord’s Supper, without treading the well-worn steps of repentance and faith, will find to his cost one day, that he is totally deceived. The Lord’s Supper was meant to increase and help the grace that a man has, but not to impart the grace that he does not have. It was certainly never intended to make our peace with God, to justify, or to convert.

The simplest statement of the benefit which a truehearted communicant may expect to receive from the Lord’s Supper, is the strengthening and refreshing of our souls–clearer views of Christ and His atonement, clearer views of all the offices which Christ, fills as our Mediator and Advocate, clearer views of the complete redemption Christ has obtained for us by His substituted death on the cross, clearer views of our full and perfect acceptance in Christ before God, fresh reasons for deep repentance for sin, fresh reasons for lively faith–these are among the leading returns which a believer may confidently expect to get from his attendance at the Lord’s Table. He that eats the bread and drinks the wine in a right spirit, will find himself drawn into closer communion with Christ, and will feel to know Him more, and understand Him better.

J.C. Ryle, The Lord’s Supper

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5 Responses to “Why Communion?”

  1. ancientcures Says:

    Thank you so much for this. It is a clear and truthful representation of the Ordinance of the Communion table and elements that we all need to understand better. thanks again.

  2. Terri J Says:

    This is something I would like to understand better. Somewhere in my early Christian training, I had picked up the idea that I should abstain from participating in the Lord’s Supper if my heart “wasn’t right.” The truth is, my heart is never truly “right” with God–especially when I’m pretty sure it is! If I only partake when I feel worthy…what does that say?

    I’ve heard more than one pastor apply Matt. 5:23,24 when suggesting reasons that believers should pass up the Communion table and I have you to thank for pointing out that we don’t offer the Lord anything at His table; rather, we are only there to receive.

  3. Mark Says:

    The issue in the 1Co 11 is the manner in which we come; not whether we are worthy. Your are right. We are never worthy. More specifically, the unworthy manner involves not recognizing the “body,” v29. In the context of the passage I take this to be the church. The issue then is whether or not I have tended my relationships within the church. It is a very specific situation that Paul is addressing in 1Co 11. However, I think the application would relate to my coming to the Table in a way that recognizes the value of every person in the body. That recognition obviously should impact one’s life. Also, I think the point of the passage would be to fix the problem as opposed to skipping Communion. In my view, the problem in 1Co 11 is akin to blaspheming the Holy Spirit. It is a very specific problem. I don’t think the passage is typically handled well. Preachers see an opportunity to preach law instead of grace.

    • Terri J Says:

      Using the Matt 5 text seems to have things turned around, as though we are bringing something to the table, so to speak–rather than coming empty and ready to receive from the Lord the strengthening and refreshment highlighted in the last paragraph of the Ryles quote.

  4. Mark Says:

    I don’t think the Mt 5 passage is to be taken literally. I understand it like the gouge out your eye passage. I think he’s saying that tending relationships is very important, more important than sacrifice.


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