Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Irresponsibility of the "Evangelical" Supper.

It was the view of the Reformed churches that the Lutheran churches were indeed true churches (in contrast to Rome and the Anabaptist fanatics), but seriously erred on the issue of the Lord's Supper, and therefore believers ought to join Reformed churches, and leave the Lutheran ones. Because of their erroneous view (such that they would not say that Christ's physical body was not present), they ended up teaching the false doctrine of "the ubiquity of Christ's human nature". This was contrary to Scripture, and since a human body by definition cannot be ubiquitously present, when this error developed, it became a form of a denial of the reality of Christ's human nature.

The Reformed churches had a simple and easily understandable answer to this Lutheran view (and indeed the Roman view): the ascension of Christ. It could not be denied that Christ had ascended bodily into heaven, and therefore His resurrected and glorified human body is in heaven, not earth, and therefore not physically present in the Lord's Supper. Instead, they explained, Christ is really spiritually present, and we truly partake of Him only by faith. Except for the actual presence of Christ, the reality of the communion of Christ which is taught in Scripture (I Cor. 10:15-22), and the terrible judgments upon those who eat and drink unworthily (I Cor. 11:17-34), could not be maintained. In contrast Zwingli denied Christ's presence altogether, and as such Luther refused to even shake his hand (a refusal which I believe is too often criticised too harshly).

Today, many "Evangelical" churches are like Zwingli, teaching that Christ is not present at all at the Lord's Supper, and that it is merely an empty remembrance. Consistent with this, they do not guard the table with the oversight of godly elders, to keep away those who live in impenitence in life or doctrine. It is as if "anything goes" is the motto, since permission is given to the individuals themselves to decide whether or not they may partake, regardless of whether they live openly as hypocrites, or promote heresies, or are unbelieving heathen - the table is opened even to atheists. As if there was no communion of Christ whatsoever, and as if God can be mocked. No wonder then that such churches are becoming weaker and weaker in their doctrine, and becoming overwhelmed by ignorance and all manner of heresies - especially Arminianism.

The Lord's Supper is explicitly covenantal - it is a part of our living in fellowship with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit. Therefore we know that Christ is spiritually present in fellowship with us at His table - and so the ungodly may not join in this holy fellowship, and all who do so will receive cursing, not blessing. When Christ took the cup, He said, "This cup is the new testament [lit. covenant] in my blood, which is shed for you." When we take this cup and this bread, we are professing that we, together with all those who eat and drink with us, are partakers of this new covenant together under His headship as His body, and that Christ's blood has been shed for all who partake.

Therefore those who partake are set apart (sanctified) from the condemned world of wickedness as the body of Christ, the church for whom Christ poured out His blood (Eph. 5:25-27). And therefore when an ungodly hypocrite takes this cup and bread, they are counting the blood of Christ as a worthless common thing - a thing that is powerless and that fails to truly cleanse from sin. In effect they slander and blaspheme the Son of God, trampling Him underfoot, as if He is not able to truly and effectually save His beloved people from sin, even though He poured out His precious blood for us on the cross to pay for all our debt of sin. And this is what is referred to in this passage - listen and tremble to the threatenings of God against those profane His name in such a manner, and the serious exhortations to persevere in the faith, especially by assembling together!
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." - Heb. 10:25-31.
 And when those who demonstrate themselves to be living ungodly lives or professing damnable heresies are welcomed by the overseers of the flock (the elders) to this holy table and holy sacrament are guilty of permitting and promoting this blasphemy!

The blood of Christ is not a common thing. The sacrifice which Christ made on the cross confirms the new covenant in His blood. It is sealed. We, His elect people, are reconciled to God - and the evidence is plain before us, in that we have the Spirit, and know the forgiveness of our sins in our own consciences. This covenant cannot be undone by the rebellious will of man, because the will of man is not more powerful than the oath of the immutably faithful God sealed in the blood of His Son. The sinful will of man is broken and defeated by such omnipotent faithfulness, love, mercy and grace. Once Christ has made atonement for us before God, and clothed us in His perfect righteousness, it is impossible for the Holy Spirit not to come and change us powerfully from the inside out - no matter how stubborn and rebellious we are towards God. While we were yet His enemies, Christ died for us. Being therefore justified by His blood, how shall we not also be saved from wrath through Him (Rom. 5:1-12)?

If there are any who demonstrate by their life or doctrine to be unsaved, then they demonstrate that there are not members of this invisible true church, and that not one drop of Christ's blood was shed for them, and it would be a horrible evil for the elders in a church to knowingly allow such people to dare to partake of the bread and wine which are signs and seals of the covenant made in His blood and by His body broken for us. They may be saved people, for the Lord may bring them to repentance, but until He does so, they would add to their impenitence this grievous blasphemy by participating in the Lord's Supper. By doing so in such an unworthy manner, they say that Christ died in vain, as a hopeless, powerless sacrifice. But the prophet Isaiah tells us: 
"Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." - Isa. 53:10-11.
No wonder then that Paul teaches that those who eat or drink unworthily bring condemnation and judgments upon themselves - for God not only punishes the wicked for this, but He also chastises His people to bring them to repentance. Therefore if it is the Lord's will, may the "Evangelical" churches be delivered from this horrible blasphemy and denial of the efficacy of the cross of Christ by such gracious yet painful chastisement. But if He will not bring them to repent of this, may they know that judgment will come upon them, especially upon the irresponsible and ungodly elders who allow this, and may they know why such judgment is coming from the good hand of our holy and righteous God who will not be mocked.

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