A Little Time With The 1689: Day 355

Day 355

Of the Lord’s Supper.

Chapter 30, Paragraph 5.

“The outward Elements in this Ordinance, duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ, have such relation to him crucified, as that truly, although in terms used figuratively, they are sometimes called by the name of the things they represent, to wit the body and Blood of Christ; albeit in substance, and nature, they still remain truly, and only Bread, and Wine, as they were before.”

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 11:27
1 Corinthians 11:26-28

Reflection

When observing the Lord’s Supper, Christians ought to take care that they do not elevate the elements to a higher importance than they actually have. Bowing down to a loaf of bread is not the purpose of the ordinance. Even if the bread is made from freshly milled organic wheat and the wine is the finest quality, there is nothing in them that makes them special.

In guarding against making too much of the Supper, however, we need to make sure that we do not trivialize it either. The bread and wine are simply bread and wine, that is true. But what they represent is of such importance that it is fitting to refer to them as the body and blood of Christ. Jesus Himself used these terms when speaking of the bread and wine at the Last Supper:

While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is My body.’ And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. –Mark 14:22,23 (NASB).

Speaking figuratively of the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ helps us to understand how our union with Christ imparts spiritual benefits to us. As saints we are united to each other and united with Him through His death and resurrection.

Questions to Consider

  • What does the bread and wine represent in the Lord’s Supper? Why is this important?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 354

Day 354

Of the Lord’s Supper.

Chapter 30, Paragraph 4.

“The denial of the Cup to the people, worshiping the Elements, the lifting them up, or carrying them about for adoration, and reserving them for any pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this Ordinance, and to the institution of Christ.”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 26:26-28,15:9

Exodus 20:4,5

Reflection

Strange traditions have arisen over the centuries regarding the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Sad to say, many of these traditions are still practiced today, most notably in the Roman Catholic church. Let’s have a look at them:

  • denial of the cup to the people: For most of the Roman Catholic church’s existence, the laity was unable to partake of the cup. It is only in the last fifty years or so that provisions have been made to allow partaking of the cup and the communion wafer. There is justification given for this, but it is a moot point, as such a practice has no Biblical warrant.
  • worshiping the elements: From the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration…” Worship is reserved for the living God alone, not to elements (Luke 4:8).
  • lifting up elements: the elevation of the bread, and subsequently the cup, held great superstitious belief in medieval times. It was supposed that looking upon them would preserve the looker from death that day. Nowadays, such elevation is supposed to increase devotion to Christ. Again, there is nothing in the Bible that instructs such a practice.
  • carrying them about for adoration and reserving them for religious use: a ciborium is a special container specifically meant to hold consecrated bread. It is kept in a golden box called a tabernacle in roman Catholic churches, and brought to give communion to those who are sick or dying. Such devotion to things does not honor God.

Now, is any of this Biblical? Of course not! In such examples we see the importance of the Regulative Principle of Worship. When various traditions are introduced into the worship of God that He has not commanded, the tendency is for those traditions to become elements of the service. Thus people are bound to practice them, despite what their conscience may say or what Scripture may prescribe. Modern churches would do well to guard the worship of God against such encroachments. The ordinances, especially, have been instituted by Jesus. Let us observe them with care.

Questions to Consider

  • How are these actions (denying the cup, etc.) contrary to the nature of the Lord’s Supper?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 353

Day 353

Of the Lord’s Supper.

Chapter 30, Paragraph 3.

“The Lord Jesus hath in this Ordinance, appointed his Ministers to Pray, and bless the Elements of Bread and Wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use, and to take and break the Bread; to take the Cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the Communicants.”

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 11:23-26, etc.

Reflection

Seeing many examples of observing the Lord’s Supper wrongly, it is fitting to ask: how is the Lord’s Supper properly observed?

There is a reverence that surrounds the Lord’s Supper. It is not a mysterious, mystical ritual; yet it is a memorial of profound significance for the Christian. We are remembering Christ’s death on our behalf, realizing what that death signifies for us today, and anticipating the future that death has secured for us. Because of the weight of such reality, the Lord’s Supper deserves respect.

When we gather together for the ordinance, the ministers pray and bless the bread and wine. They are not performing some magic over the elements; rather, they are petitioning the Lord to bless the food, that it may nourish us spiritually. In this way the bread and wine are set apart, distinct from their everyday use. The bread is broken, and the bread and wine are given to the congregation. The ministers and congregation partake together.

The Lord’s Supper is a simple service, but it is packed with so much importance. The basic feeding of bread and wine seems almost too ordinary, and we can be tempted to want to make it more novel or exciting. When we observe the Supper rightly, however, the simplicity it contains allows us to see past the ordinary elements to the extraordinary sacrifice of Jesus.

Questions to Consider

  • Why is it fitting that the Lord’s Supper be a simple service observed by the local church?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 352

Day 352

Of the Lord’s Supper.

Chapter 30, Paragraph 2.

“In this ordinance Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all, for remission of sin of the quick or dead; but only a memorial of that one offering up of himself, by himself, upon the cross, once for all; and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same; so that the Popish sacrifice of the Mass (as they call it) is most abominable, injurious to Christ’s own only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of the Elect.”

Scripture Lookup

Hebrews 9:25,26,28

1 Corinthians 11:24

Matthew 26:26,27

Reflection

Ringing of bells, and sometimes smells, occur in the mass. The sound of numerous kneelers hitting the ground is heard as people bend down to rest upon them. Up front, a man in a robe stands before an altar. He holds up a wafer over his head. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the bread and wine become the literal body and blood of Jesus. In the mass, Jesus is offered up as a sacrifice: “…in this very memorial, the Church, in particular that gathered here and now, offers the unblemished sacrificial Victim in the Holy Spirit to the Father.” (“Liturgy of the Eucharist“, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Such participation in the sacrifice of Christ may appeal to those desiring to feel closer to the benefits of His death. In a mystical way, they believe they are re-living that moment over and over again, feeding upon His body and blood. Yet a “memorial” that makes present the sacrifice of Christ fails to remember a vital part of that sacrifice:

It is finished!” (John 19:30)

Christian, there is no need to offer up Christ again. There is no need to magically join others at the moment of history when Christ was crucified. In the Lord’s Supper, we remember Christ’s offering of Himself: we do not “re-present” it. If you desire union with Christ, the Roman Catholic Church does not offer it. Only Christ can give such forgiveness. Partaking of the Lord’s Supper in the way He has prescribed will remind you that in Him you already have all spiritual blessings. Praise Him for that!

Questions to Consider

  • How does the Roman Catholic mass fit in with their understanding of salvation (by works)?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 351

Day 351

Of the Lord’s Supper.

Chapter 30, Paragraph 1.

“The Supper of the Lord Jesus, was instituted by him, the same night wherein he was betrayed, to be observed in his Churches unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and showing forth the sacrifice of himself in his death, confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him, their further engagement in, and to, all duties which they owe unto him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other.”

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 11:23-26
1 Corinthians 10:16,17,21

Reflection

The night Jesus was betrayed, He instituted the Lord’s Supper. In this way His sacrificial death is remembered and proclaimed throughout the ages. Yet the Supper is more than just a reenactment. Even in His command, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” He is blessing His people. Through the benefits of the Lord’s Supper, we receive confirmation of the benefits of His death, and strength to persevere in Him.

The Lord’s Supper emphasizes us that we cannot walk this Christian life alone. Not only is our union with Christ necessary, but our communion with the saints aids us in exhorting and encouraging one another to press onward in the faith. The strength we receive from the spiritual nourishment of Christ through the Supper enables us to love our fellow Christians, and the strength they also receive enables them to love us.

This ordinance, a simple eating together of bread and drinking in unison wine, is a means of grace for the believer. As such, we must not neglect it. Christian, come, be nourished by the Lord’s Supper in your local church.

Questions to Consider

  • Why is the Lord’s Supper so significant?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 350

Day 350

Of Baptism.

Chapter 29, Paragraph 4.

“Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 3:16

John 3:23

Reflection

As Christians, we are new creations (1 Corinthians 5:17). Our old life is left behind; we now walk in newness of life. No aspect of ourselves remains untouched by our union with Christ. How do we physically convey this in baptism?

The proper way for baptism to be administered is for the person being baptized to be immersed in water. The Bible demonstrates this in the use of the word baptize, which comes from the Greek word baptizo meaning to immerse. When John the Baptist baptized, he did so in a place where there would be lots of water, for he needed such in order to immerse. To baptize is to immerse, and because of that, immersion is the proper way to administer the ordinance of baptism.

Our union with Christ is not a partial union. We are united with Him through His life, death, and resurrection. We are renewed in the whole man through His mediatorial work. Baptism by immersion demonstrates this reality in a succinct, powerful way, plunging under and coming up out of the water. Neither drops of water, nor the pouring of it, emphasize such a complete union. When we remember our baptism, we are spurred to praise God for His full forgiveness and mercy.

Questions to Consider

  • How does immersion aid you in your understanding of salvation?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 349

Day 349

Of Baptism.

Chapter 29, Paragraph 3.

“The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party is to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 28:19, 20

Acts 8:38

Reflection

Baptism and water are inseparable. It is quite difficult to think of baptism without thinking of water. But it must be asked: is water necessary in order to be baptized? Why is there such an emphasis on the use of water?

When we are baptized, it is a sign of leaving our old life behind. The corrupt nature, our inclination to evil, our servitude to sin, have all been changed through the salvation God has granted to us. The mark of death sin left on us is washed away. What better element to use as a symbol of our purification than water? Water is essential in our daily washing; its use in baptism makes perfect sense.

Baptism is a sign of the Christian’s union with Christ. Yet our salvation is a product of all three persons of the Trinity. The Father elects a people, the Son dies for that people, and the Holy Spirit regenerates that people. Because of the triune nature of salvation, we are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is in line with Scripture: Jesus Himself directs baptism to be done in the name of all three persons of the Trinity.

Questions to Consider

  • Have you ever considered baptism not using water? Why is baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit important?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 348

Day 348

Of Baptism.

Chapter 29, Paragraph 2.

“Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.

Scripture Lookup

Mark 16:16

Acts 8:36,37, 2:41, 8:12, 18:8

Reflection

If baptism is a sign unto the party baptized of her unity with Christ, her identifying with His death and resurrection, and a sign of the newness of life to which she has been called, then who should receive this ordinance? The obvious choice is the person who meets those qualifications. In other words, a regenerated Christian.

Baptism is one of those pesky issues that people either love to debate or dismiss in an effort to have everyone all get along. While those who baptize infants may still be true Christians, the meaning of the ordinance cannot be shrugged aside. Our Baptist forefathers knew this, facing persecution for their understanding of baptism. Since baptism is a command of our Lord Jesus Christ, we should take care to understand what it is and how it should be administered.

All of worship is to be ordered according to the word of God. Baptism is an act of worship; we must look to the Bible to see who are the proper recipients of it. The clear passages of Scripture show that those believers who profess repentance and faith are the ones who ought to be baptized. Other passages that have been given in support of infant baptism are not clear, and assumptions must be made concerning the presence of infants in those households.

When baptism is performed differently, you can’t help but notice it. Compare a professing adult plunged into water to water sprinkled over the head of an infant. Does baptism mean the same thing to those two? Of course not. A baby cannot declare repentance and faith. While cute, they are not to receive this ordinance. Only those who profess to have repented and believed are to be baptized.

Questions to Consider

  • Can you give a defense from the Bible why professing believers should only be the ones baptized?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 347

Day 347

Of Baptism.

Chapter 29, Paragraph 1.

“… and of giving up unto God through Jesus Christ to live and walk in newness of life.”

Scripture Lookup

Romans 6:4

Reflection

Baptism is a sign to those being baptized of their union with Christ. It symbolizes their unity with Him in His death and in His resurrection. The remission of sins is signified by water. Baptism also is a sign of the Christian’s new life.

Choosing to be baptized should not be done out of peer pressure, a desire for attention, or to receive a cool t-shirt. Rather, one should enter the waters of baptism out of a humble obedience to Christ’s command. In baptism you are admitting to those present that you are a sinner, that you cannot save yourself. You are proclaiming that Jesus called you out of the world, that He regenerated you and is working sanctification in you by His Spirit. You are no longer unable to do good, but are now a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:19).

What does it say if you are baptized but live as if there were no change in you? Your baptism is a testimony to a changed life. No longer follow after the foolish and fleeting passions of this world. Walk in the newness of life your baptism points to.

Questions to Consider

  • How does the ordinance of baptism help you in your spiritual life?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 346

Day 346

Of Baptism.

Chapter 29, Paragraph 1.

“…of remission of sins;…”

Scripture Lookup

Mark 1:4

Acts 22:16

Reflection

“What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

For those being baptized, going under the water and coming up is a sign. It is a sign of their union with Christ, with His death and resurrection. It is also a sign that their sins are forgiven. In the Bible sin is not only described as a wrong action, but is likened to a stain, a mark that needs to be removed:

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me….Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:2-3,10)

‘Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight….Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
‘ (Isaiah 1:16,18)

As humans with a corrupted fallen nature, sin permeates our being. We need a purification in order to have communion with God. Through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, we are justified before God. Our sins are called to mind no more: “Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19) We are washed in the blood of the Lamb, and sin no longer has dominion over us: “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Water is the usual element used in washing, so it is fitting that it is used in baptism. We are reminded that Jesus has washed us by His blood, and that sin no longer has dominion over us: “…so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:26, 27) Remember your baptism, and the remission of sin it signifies.

“Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow.”

Questions to Consider

  • Why is it important that baptism be a sign of remission of sins?