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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper - Commentary

... administers grace to them.

The Breaking Of Bread

This is the first designation of the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament. It is used in Luke 24:35; Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. The early Christians were continually celebrating the Lord’s Supper in the manner which their Lord did. As Christ took bread and broke it, so the Christians called this ordinance the breaking of bread, which reminded them of Christ’s body given for them. Notice that in Acts 20:7, the purpose of the church gathering on the Lord’s Day, is to break bread. They were gathered on the Christian Sabbath, as a church, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

Eucharist

Eucharist means thanksgiving and refers to the words of Christ in Luke 22:19 before breaking and distributing the bread to His disciples. The Greek verb for giving thanks is εὐχαριστήσας (Eucharistēsas). There is no doubt that thanksgiving should play a fundamental part as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, thinking of the work of Christ and receiving the benefits thereof anew in a spiritual and close communion with our Savior. But unfortunately, this name is closely associated with the abominable sacrifice of the Mass, therefore, it is not used by Protestants.

Significance

There are several things that are signified by the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is not a dead ritual, but a sign and a token, which signifies and grants grace to those who already believe (see Means of Grace below). Here are the things which the Lord’s Supper signifies.

The Lord’s Death

The most obvious thing that the Lord’s Supper signifies is the Lord’s sacrificial death on behalf of His people. His body was broken and His blood was shed for His people so as to redeemed them from sin. The Lord’s Supper reminds the Christian of the pivotal event of history when our Lord died on that cross to take away our sin and bear in Himself the punishment thereof. Therefore, whenever we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of the work of Christ on behalf of His people in His vicarious death on the cross. As we are reminded of that work we are also receiving new graces and appreciation of that glorious work of redemption. This is especially true when the Lord’s Supper is preceded by a confession of sin. As we think of Christ’s atonement, we are reminded that all our sins have been washed away and we have been given the perfect righteousness of Christ instead of our filthy rags. In this ordinance, we have signified for us that Christ shed His blood and His body was broken for our sake, so as to forgive us of every sin. Both the ones we did before our regeneration and after our regeneration, even the ones which we confessed before participating in the Lord’s Supper.

Communion With Christ

In rejection of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran understanding of Christ’s presence in the Supper, the Reformed understand Christ’s presence to be spiritual. Roman Catholics are fond of expressing Christ’s presence in words like “real” and “literal.” In contrast, we affirm that there is a real spiritual presence of Christ. The bread and wine, remain as they are, and there’s not a single change in them. But these elements symbolize Christ’s body and blood. The presence of Christ is not in the bread and wine but in the faith of believers. Christ is especially present among His gathered people in the Lord’s Supper. He ministers to us graces anew and reminds us of His accomplished work on our behalf. In that way, we are communing deeply ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

...ur souls. Therefore it is delivered [Greek word] to us that we should meet together on this day; and it is ordered [Greek word] that we should do those things announced in this psalm [92].”[121]

Personally, I am more interested in the biblical testimony to the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day, but it is quite interesting that what is taught in Scripture is also confirmed in history. Matthew Henry noted on Revelation 1:10 that:

it was the Lord’s day, the day which Christ had separated and set apart for himself, as the Eucharist is called the Lord’s supper. Surely this can be no other than the Christian sabbath, the first day of the week, to be observed in remembrance of the resurrection of Christ. Let us who call him our Lord honour him on his own day, the day which the Lord hath made and in which we ought to rejoice.[14]

We end our discussion with a word from Thomas Watson about the appropriateness for the change of the day:

The grand reason for changing the Jewish Sabbath to the Lord’s-day is that it puts us in mind of the ‘Mystery of our redemption by Christ.’ The reason why God instituted the old Sabbath was to be a memorial of the creation; but he has now brought the first day of the week in its room in memory of a more glorious work than creation, which is redemption. Great was the work of creation, but greater was the work of redemption. As it was said, ‘The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former.’ Hag 2: 9. So the glory of the redemption was greater than the glory of the creation. Great wisdom was seen in making us, but more miraculous wisdom in saving us. Great power was seen in bringing us out of nothing, but greater power in helping us when we were worse than nothing. It cost more to redeem than to create us. In creation it was but speaking a word (Psa 148: 5); in redeeming there was shedding of blood. 1 Pet 1: 19. Creation was the work of God’s fingers, Psa 8: 3, redemption was the work of his arm. Luke 1: 51. In creation, God gave us ourselves; in the redemption, he gave us himself. By creation, we have life in Adam; by redemption, we have life in Christ. Col 3: 3. By creation, we had a right to an earthly paradise: by redemption, we have a title to a heavenly kingdom. Christ might well change the seventh day of the week into the first, as it puts us in mind of our redemption, which is a more glorious work than creation.[122]

There Remains A Sabbath-Keeping (Hebrews 3-4)

Finally, we come to the last passage which has relevance to the doctrine of the Christian Sabbath. I agree with Pink when he says that “this change [of the day] is explicitly taught in Heb. 4.”[40] But now let us see how this is indeed the case. This is a crucial and important passage for the Christian Sabbath. It is a friend and not an enemy of the Sabbath. Some use it to argue for the fulfillment of the Sabbath principle in Christ, but scarcely people use it to argue for the abrogation of the Sabbath and that there is no Sabbath in the New Covenant. Rather, those who argue that it is fulfilled, say that the Sabbath is fulfilled when we rest from our works for salvation, in Christ by faith. Therefore, according to them, the Sabbath is fulfilled when we believe in Christ and rest in Him. But we believe that this passage teaches an ongoing observation of a Sabbath day for the New Covenant people of God.

The section on the subject of rest and the Sabbath begins in Hebrews 3:17 and goes through 4:13. Let us take a look a...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

..., (3) were added to the church at Jerusalem, (4) were devoted the means of grace including celebrating the Lord’s Supper. We will leave you here with Hercules Collins’ strong criticism of this paedobaptist inconsistency:

Why are Children denyed the Lords supper if fit for baptism? what, are Children believers, and kept from the Lord’s Table? do we ever read it was denied to a true Believer? what, are Children New Creatures, Regenerated, Born again, and deny them the Elements of Bread and Wine: Oh! hard Father of Infants Men as wise as your self gave Infants the Eucharist for several hundred years, from some of your own Topicks, and will you deny it them? all your long harangue about Infants being capable of one Ordinance, and not of another, is but wind; will you say in the Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, there must be inherent Grace, and also Grace exercised; but a state of Grace, tho not exercised, say you, is sufficient for Baptism; But how doth this Gentleman know Infants are in a state of Grace to qualifie them for Baptism? The word doth not help him here, and if he conclude so from Charity, then there is the same reason to have the same Charity for Children of Unbelievers, and more too some times, because the Believers Child often falls from a pretended Covenant, State, Faith, Inherent Holiness, New Birth, Regeneration, when the Unbelievers, Child abides in all Truly...I do Assert what ever is Sealed to a Believer in one Ordinance, is Scaled to him in another; nay, there is more particular words of Incouragement added unto Baptism, than to the other: ‘Tis true, ‘tis all comprehended in this, This is my Body broken for you, and my Blood shed for the Remission of your Sins, but for Baptism in Acts 2. you have the promise of Remission of Sins and gift of the Holy Ghost: in Acts 22. ‘tis said to Wash away Sins Symbolically, Mark 16. Salvation is annexed unto Faith and Baptism; the Lord’s Supper, was never so Dignified as Baptism by the Procession of the Holy Ghost; and it is a Symbol of Regeneration and Justification, Rom. 6. Do I see my Sins Pardoned, my Person Justified, God Reconciled, my Person Sanctified, Heaven assured at the Lord’s Supper? I behold the same in Baptism, there I see my Sins Buried in his Grave, as in the other Nailed to his Cross; here I behold my Soul Washed in his Blood, Justified by his Righteousness, Saved by his Death; and is not this a Marriage Feast? And ought I not to have the Wedding Garment now as at the Table of the Lord?[70]

God’s Initiative and Parental Vows

I’ve attended Reformed infant baptisms while I went to church with my now-wife. Reformed churches here in the Netherlands read the form for infant baptism wherein all the arguments which we tried to refute above are presented with the regular texts. In this ceremony, infant baptism is presented as something which comes from God and which displays God’s initiative for saving man. For example, the Form for the Administration of Baptism says:

And although our young children do not understand these things, we may not therefore exclude them from baptism, for as they are without their knowledge, partakers of the condemnation in Adam, so are they again received unto grace in Christ; as God speaks unto Abraham, the father of all the faithful, and therefore unto us and our children (Gen. 17:7), saying, “I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant; to be a God ...