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

...s Supper, but there are also other names that are used for this ordinance.

The Lord’s Supper

This name comes from 1 Corinthians 11:20. There, the apostle calls this ordinance the Lord’s Supper. This indicates that this is a special supper, set aside from regular ones because the Lord Christ claims it as His own and as is usual in the ancient world, a supper with someone was not a parallel to eating something with a stranger at McDonald’s. But dining with someone included communion with that person, therefore, the Lord’s Supper is a supper of close communion with the Lord Who redeemed us and invites us to His table.

The Table Of The Lord

Instead of going to the pagan tables of the false gods and offering their sacrifices there, the Christians are invited to the Lord’s Table (1 Cor. 10:21). Eating at this table indicates close communion with Christ. Paul says, if you’re going to the table of false gods, you are participating and communing with demons. Therefore, when one goes to the table of the true and only Lord, they are communing and participating with the true God. This table is holy because the Lord claims it as His own for His communion with His people. In this connection, we may call the Lord’s Supper, Communion, because in partaking of it, the faithful have a real and spiritual communion with their Savior as He 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 glori...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...ation 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 unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.”[71]

This is the typical argument which we hear from our brethren and which we have tried to engage. After the citation above, Acts 2:39 and the example of Christ with the little children are also called upon. Paedobaptists often argue that infant baptism best shows God’s initiative to call man to Himself in that a child is helpless and cannot do anything, yet God calls them to Himself. In fact, as the Form says, without their knowledge they are “received unto grace in Christ” just like they were condemned without their knowledge in Adam. Therefore, infant baptism, supposedly, shows the initiative of God in calling man. The Form even speaks of these children being “received unto grace in Christ.” This kind of language is deeply covenantal and theological. Without reading the rest of what Reformed paedobaptists say we would have to conclude that they believe that children are regenerated in baptism. But Reformed paedobaptists do not believe that. Yet, this kind of language is miles off from “they share in the outward administration of the covenant” or “they share in the outward privileges of the church.” It takes New Testament language speaking of believers and applies them to non-believers. Are children born to Christian parents less depraved than others? The reason infant baptism began being practiced is because people started to believe that baptism forgave original and actual sin. But Reformed writers reject this heresy. What does it mean to speak of children being “received unto grace in Christ” without saying that they are under grace and no longer in the state of sin? What happens when these children grow up and die as unbelievers? Has the grace of God failed? It would seem so. But paedobaptists and the Form are quick to acknowledge that

Whereas in all covenants, there are contained two parts...