A Little Time With The 1689: Day 359

Day 359

Of the State of Man after Death and of the Resurrection of the Dead.

Chapter 31, Paragraph 1.

“The Bodies of Men after Death return to dust, and see corruption; but their Souls (which neither die nor sleep) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them: the Souls of the Righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God, in light and glory; waiting for the full Redemption of their Bodies; and the souls of the wicked, are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; besides these two places for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.”

Scripture Lookup

Genesis 3:19

Acts 13:36

Ecclesiastes 12:7

Luke 23:43

2 Corinthians 5:1,6,8

Philippians 1:23

Hebrews 12:23

Jude 6, 7

1 Peter 3:19

Luke 16:23,24

Reflection

Immortality is sought after zealously by humanity. We want to leave a legacy; we think, by making a name for ourselves, “I’m gonna live forever.” The fact is, however, that all humans are already immortal. We die, yes: our bodies decay and break down into the ground, the dust from which God created Adam. But we do not consist of the body only. Our souls are a vital part of ourselves, and the soul never dies.

So where does the soul go after death? Does it stay around on earth? Sadly, there are professing Christians who believe that the spirits of their loved ones are still around, watching over them. Such a belief is false. The soul after death does not linger, but immediately returns to God. There are only two places for the soul to reside after death: heaven or hell. Those redeemed by Christ, freed from the remaining corruption of sin, reside with Him, awaiting the last day. Those outside of Christ, however, remain corrupted and sinful. There is no glorification for them. As a result, they are cast into hell, from where they also wait until the last day.

There are groups, claiming to be Christian, that teach other destinations for the soul. Some teach the soul ceases to be until the last day; others teach of a third waiting place for the soul, not as glorious as heaven, but not as horrible as hell. Both of these doctrines are wrong, having no place in the Bible. Our future will be constant from the moment of death, and it will be permanent. We will either enjoy communion with God, or experience His wrath.

Questions to Consider

  • Is it hard to accept only two destinations for the soul?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 358

Day 358

Of the Lord’s Supper.

Chapter 30, Paragraph 8.

“All ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ; so are they unworthy of the Lord’s Table; and cannot without great sin against him, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto: yea whosoever shall receive unworthily are guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.”

Scripture Lookup

2 Corinthians 6:14,15

1 Corinthians 11:29

Matthew 7:6

Reflection

Jesus invites everyone to come to Him: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). This invitation, however, does not extend to the Lord’s Supper. There is a pre-existing condition necessary for participation in this ordinance: union with Christ. Believers benefit from the Supper precisely because they are in Him. Richard Barcellos writes: “Since believers already have communion with Christ via faith (1 Cor. 1:9), the Lord’s Supper must be viewed as a means to nurture what is already possessed.”

If believers benefit from the Lord’s Supper, what about those who are not in Christ? We know not to treat the Lord’s Supper superstitiously; the bread and wine in themselves do not impart blessing or curse to those who eat and drink. However, the spiritual reality that nourishes the believer in the ordinance has an adverse effect on the unbeliever. They do not recognize and honor Jesus as their mediator. Inclined to the opposite of all good, the unbeliever condemns himself when he partakes of the Supper because of his unbelief. Churches do a kindness to those in their midst when they refuse to serve communion to the ignorant and ungodly. The exclusion of such in the Lord’s Supper is a call to repentance.

As believers, we ought to take care that we ourselves do not disrespect our Lord by treating His ordinance unworthily. The Lord’s Supper is a time of spiritual nourishment, where we feed upon Christ and reflect upon His mediatorial work on our behalf. More than just a mid-service snack, the Supper points our gaze to Christ, reminds us of the blessings we have because of our union with Him, and reveals the union we have with our fellow saints. May we treasure the times we participate in it.

Questions to Consider

  • What has been your attitude towards the Lord’s Supper? Does anything need changing in how you view the ordinance?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 357

Day 357

Of the Lord’s Supper.

Chapter 30, Paragraph 7.

“Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible Elements in this Ordinance, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally, and corporally, but spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified and all the benefits of his death; the Body and Blood of Christ, being then not corporally, or carnally, but spiritually present to the faith of Believers, in that Ordinance, as the Elements themselves are to their outward senses.”

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 10:16, 11:23-26

Reflection

The bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper are real. We see the bread being broken. We can smell it, chew it, and taste it. There is no denying their presence. As sure as we are about the physical presence of bread and wine, we may wonder if that is all there is to the Lord’s Supper. Is it only a time of remembering?

For those who receive the bread and wine in a worthy manner, they are not only fed physically but spiritually. The benefits of Christ’s sacrifice are given to His people spiritually through the Lord’s Supper. His righteousness, His satisfaction for sin, His purchase of us, and the glorious feast that await us in His kingdom are spiritually present. They are as real as the bread and wine we eat.

Do you question if you are worthy to receive the Supper? While no one is worthy of the gift of salvation Christ gives, He freely offers all to come and rest and Him. Believe that Christ lived a life of perfect obedience, died to satisfy the wrath of God, and that only by resting on Him alone can you gain eternal life. Humbly obey His commands, and partake of the Lord’s Supper in memory of Him. You will be nourished.

Questions to Consider

  • How does the Lord’s Supper nourish you?

 

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 356

Day 356

Of the Lord’s Supper.

Chapter 30, Paragraph 6.

“That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of Bread and Wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood (commonly called Transubstantiation) by consecration of a Priest, or by any other way, is repugnant not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason; overthroweth the nature of the ordinance, and hath been and is,the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross Idolatries.”

Scripture Lookup

Acts 3:21

Luke 24:6,39

1 Corinthians 11:24,25

Reflection

Transubstantiation: the teaching that the bread and wine consecrated by a priest really and truly become the substance of the body and blood of Jesus. Does it have any credibility in the life of a Christian? No. Such a doctrine fails to glorify God because it is not Biblical, reasonable, and is not in keeping with the nature of the Lord’s Supper.

A plain reading of Scripture demonstrates that Jesus was plainly using metaphorical language when He told His disciples that the bread and wine was His body and blood. After all, He was right before them as He said those words. When Jesus speaks of the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood in John 6, it is apparent that He is again speaking in spiritual terms. As we see in Luke 23, the thief on the cross did not literally eat Jesus’ flesh, yet he received eternal life. Bread and wine turning into the body and blood has no biblical warrant.

Transubstantiation not only has no ground to stand on biblically, it also defies reason. How can Christ be in heaven, yet His body and blood be present in bread and wine? Not only is this body and blood supposed to be present in the bread and wine in one church, but when we consider the number of masses performed every day around the world, the amount of flesh and blood that adds up to is staggering. Not only that, but reducing Jesus to merely His physical humanity is to deny Jesus Himself. If only His body and blood are present, then His divinity is removed. Christ cannot be split like that.

Believing the bread and wine are transformed overthrows the nature of the ordinance because it negates the work of faith. If the elements truly become the substance of Christ’s body and blood, there is no reason why anyone, believing or not, cannot receive the blessing those elements would supposedly impart. Simply feeding on the flesh of Christ, however, cannot do anyone any good. This is why the confession calls transubstantiation superstition and idolatry. Communion becomes a sort of rabbit’s foot – if I have it, it will protect me. Why else would it be so important for it to be given to the sick and dying?

The nature of the Lord’s Supper, however, is a spiritual one. John Gill wrote, “…the acts of eating and drinking do not give the right to eternal life, but the flesh, blood, and righteousness of Christ, which faith lays hold, and feeds upon; yet it is by faith the right is claimed; and between these acts of faith, and eternal life, there is an inseparable connection.” By remembering Christ’s mediatorial work, we are nourished spiritually. The Lord’s Supper aids in that nourishment, but not through transubstantiation.

Catholicism, with its emphasis on works to merit salvation, fails to recognize the all-sufficient work of Christ. Any benefit received by the believer in the Lord’s Supper is through Christ by faith. This faith is not of ourselves, it is a gift of God. The bread and wine do not have to literally become the body and blood of Christ for us to receive those benefits. Indeed, for them to become so negates the nature of the Lord’s Supper, and thus transubstantiation is no Lord’s Supper at all.

Questions to Consider

  • Have you ever used the Lord’s Supper in a superstitious way?

 

 

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?