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Doctrine of the Sacraments - Meanings of the Lord's Supper (partial recording)

June 11, 2023 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Topic: Of the Sacraments


Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12, Gal. 3.26-28

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 27, Article 1


We have been talking about the sacraments

  • the lord’s supper and baptism

We talked about that covenantal aspect.

That when we are baptized, speaking sacramentally:

  • in that we are baptized into Christ
  • in that there is a visible and an invisible baptism
  • in that we are in covenant with Christ by our baptism (outwardly speaking)
  • in that it is a pillar of church membership.

We talkeb about church membership is not signing on the dotted line

  • that a full and biblical understanding of church membership involves being united to Christ
  • being members of him

We looked at 1 Corinthians 12

  • we talked about being baptized into Christ.
  • we talked about being members of Him.

We looked at Gal 3.27-29 where the apostle says:

  • we are baptized into Christ
  • we have put on Christ
    • o where there is neither Jew nor Greek
    • o where there is neither male nor female
    • o where there is neither bond nor free
      • but you are all one in Christ Jesus

How is that done?

  • It is done by baptism

Remember that in the administration of the Passover in Exodus 12:

  • when it was first given, that if a man would come near with any servants
    • o let him and all his servants be sacrificed
  • but -> let him come near, not his servants, but let him come near.
    • o those who are circumcised can come near.

We presume at that point that we're excluding

  • women
  • those not circumcised
  • Jews, not Gentiles
  • no stranger shall come near to partake.

Notice, no stranger, no servant, and no woman.

  • But in Christ, in Gal 3,27-29, the apostle says
    • o ye are all one, through your baptism into Christ
    • o there is neither male nor female
      • neither Jew nor Greek
      • neither slave nor free.
    • o That in Christ, you're brought near
    • o The covenant ceremony unites us to Christ
  • It speaks of a baptism beyond water baptism
  • It speaks to the baptism of the Spirit of God, which is poured out upon the believers
    • o poured out upon the elect
    • o regenerating their hearts
      • so that they believe in Christ
      • so that they are united to Christ

So, we see that there is a visible and an invisible administration of that covenant.

  • This is what we looked at over the last several weeks

The Lord's Supper has those same visible and invisible sacramental qualities.

  • This is what we are going to discuss today

The Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10.1-4)

The apostle here, I believe, is using what we would today call redemptive-historical language

The apostle is also speaking sacramentally

The apostle is speaking of those two particular instances in Scripture where water flowed from a rock

  • he is also speaking of manna that came from heaven.

Four or five verses later, the apostle will talk about the bread which we break and the cup which we drink.

  • the bread is communion in the body of Christ
  • the blood or the cup is communion in the blood of Christ.

Remember we said our baptism unites us to Christ

  • that there is a sacramental element that is uniting us to Christ

The apostle is using the Old Testament saints as an example:

The apostle is saying they had a particular historical circumstance:

  • where they ate bread and drank water in a way that was spiritual.

In other words, it had an importance beyond simply putting something in their mouths

There was something spiritual that was going on in the Old Testament

  • when God caused manna to rain from heaven and water to flow from a rock

Remember when we spoke about what it meant to be excommunicated in those days?

What if someone misbehaved during the wilderness wandering when manna is coming down from heaven, and water is flowing from a rock, and they are put outside the assembly?

  • There's not much opportunity for food and drink.
  • As a matter of fact, we might say, there's nothing.
  • There's nothing else out there.

They're in the middle of a howling wilderness.

  • The Sinai Desert is a howling wilderness.
    • o It's stark
    • o it's dry
    • o it's dead

What did the people say to Moses?

  • you brought us out or to kill us with thirst.
  • they were right in that they could see no way to eat and to drink
    • o except that God should rain manna from heaven and cause water to flow from a rock

When someone was excommunicated from the land of Israel in that day, what was their hope?

  • Not much
Return to the spiritual import

It is in that sense that it was spiritual

  • o the water that they drank
  • o the food that they ate

It said something beyond just eating and drinking

  • It spoke about their very physical lives
  • It spoke about their very spiritual lives
  • It spoke about them as God's covenant people and His covenant responsibilities to feed them

He took this upon Himself when He said:

  • I'm going to take you out of the land of Egypt
  • I’m going to bring you to myself
  • I'm going to sustain you
  • I'm going to carry you in my bosom.

What did he mean by all of that?

  • that when you're in the howling wilderness
    • o He will feed you
    • o He will give you drink

Brothers and sisters, do you see the picture the Apostle Paul is giving us here?

He's going to go on and talk about the bread which we break and the cup which we drink:

  • are communion in the body and blood of Christ.

That apart from Him we are in the howling wilderness about to die.

That in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper

  • He binds us to Himself/ carries us in His bosom

It is a covenant ceremony

  • where the Lord fulfills those covenant obligations
  • where the Lord stretches forth His hands assuring us of His covenant promises

This is how the Lord’s Supper relates to church membership.

  • It is those who are in covenant with Christ

So, you see baptism and the Lord's Supper are the pillars of that membership.

  • It's not signing on the dotted line.
  • How silly and foolish and profane

We see the true importance of church membership.

  • refusing membership is refusing Christ Himself

We see that the visible administration points away from itself to an invisible reality

  • that the Lord Himself carries us in his bosom
  • that the Lord Himself feeds us
    • o upon the provision of the Lord Jesus Christ

We see what it means to be in covenant with him

  • refusing to gather in the worshipping assembly
    • o is the refusing of Christ Himself
    • o is the refusing of His promise to sustain

verse 6-11

He tells the Corinthian church

  • that although God carried them
  • that although God fed them
  • that although God gave them drink

Yet, he was not well pleased with some of them

  • they murmured
  • they committed idolatry
  • they committed adultery
  • they committed spiritual whoredome
  • they cursed him
  • they desired to go back to their former master

Although God's covenant faithfulness is unquestioned and unchallenged in the passage

  • the covenant fidelity of the people who received of God's covenant faithfulness comes under scrutiny.

It comes under scrutiny for our sake, so that when we look at them

  • we will not commit the same kind of sins that they committed

What sins did they commit?

  • they were carried in God's bosom
    • o yet they slapped him in the face

Brothers and sisters, let us not come to the table of the Lord, to be carried in his bosom

  • and then leaving that table slap him in the face by ignoring Him.

That is what the apostle is saying here.

  • That God is indeed truly reaching forth
  • That to all of those Israelites that repented and kept faith with him
    • o He was a father to them
    • o He carried them
    • o He nourished them.
  • But to the others
    • o the ground swallowed them up.
    • o their brass sensors became a part of the altar.
    • o the Levites had to go through their remains to pick out those sensors
  • Because they doubted the Lord's provision
  • because they were unsatisfied with their portion
  • because the covenant of the Lord to them was not enough.

verse 12

Notice what the Apostle Paul says, After talking about all of their shortcomings.

Covenantally speaking, the Lord's Table is a sign of our covenant union with Christ

  • that we are indeed invited to His table to feed upon His provision
  • that we have been invited to sit at the table of the King and be fed by him.

The Lord’s Supper is a covenantal ceremony

  • our church membership is indeed that kind of covenant membership.

When we say, “Are you a member of such and such a church”, we ought to speak along these lines:

  • Are you in covenant with Christ at such and such church?

There is a visible administration of that covenant

  • that is played out before our eyes in the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper.

This is why when someone is baptized

  • o they are considered a member of the church

We don't baptize them to make them members

  • they are members by virtue of being born into a covenant-keeping household.

We formally receive them into covenant with Christ

  • and thereby separating them from the rest of the children upon the face of the earth
    • o who are not in covenant with Christ

The same is true of the Lord's Supper.

  • As long as one has made that profession of faith and been received to the table of the Lord
    • o they partake of that table as often as it is administered in their church
    • o they partake as a testimony to being in covenant with Christ.

And if they prove themselves to be covenant breakers

  • they are cut off
  • they are put out into that howling spiritual wilderness
    • o where it's raining fire and brimstone
    • o where there are fiery serpents and other dangerous things

This is how we ought to consider baptism and the Lord's Supper.

This is why we understand that church membership is not just signing on a dotted line

When we sit at the Lord's table, or when we are baptized:

  • we are showing forth and telling the world that we belong to Jesus Christ

Remember, it says about the Israelites that they were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea

  • that together they were completely identified with Moses
  • they were known that day as the people of Moses and nobody else's people.
  • it was to Moses that they were bound up to as they went through that Red Sea.

verse 20-21

Notice the exclusivity of this covenantal arrangement

  • You cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and the table of devils
  • to do so is to provoke the Lord to jealousy
    • o which is the last thing we want in the world

It is not only exclusive:

  • it straightens us out to one particular path
  • it draws us into one particular path when we partake of the Lord's Supper

Not only is the Lord saying these are my people:

  • but we are saying we are the Lord's
  • but we are saying we will not answer the call
    • o of any other god]
    • o of any other establishment
    • o of any other sacrament

This is what it means to be a member of Christ.

  • that you repudiate all other memberships.
  • that you belong to Christ
  • that you cannot eat at the table of the Lord and the table of devils.

Membership is other societies at odds with Christ

This is also why are many of our reformed forefathers have spoken against membership in societies requiring oaths as would compromise our loyalty to Christ.

  • It's not unlawful to take an oath
    • o for instance -> military service
  • But any oath that would compromise your loyalty to Christ in His covenant

That would be like partaking of the table of the Lord and the table of devils.

  • and that is forbidden to us.
  • because we are in covenant with him.

John 6.27

Remember what happened here:

  • Jesus fed the 5000.
  • then He walked on the water to the other side of the sea, with the disciples.
  • the multitudes found out that he was gone and heard he was somewhere else, they followed him
  • And he said, I know why you're after me. You're after me because you got a free meal. And you're thinking that if I'm the Messiah, and I'm giving out free food, that we can just kind of park here forever, right?

Jesus says in verse 27:

  • Labor not for the meat, which perishes, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life which the Son of man shall give unto you, for him have God the Father sealed?
  • They said unto him, What shall we do?
  • Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God that you believe on him whom he sent.
  • They said, therefore unto him,
  • Show us signs that we may see and believe.
    • o Our fathers ate manna in the desert as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven

Now, notice the context that we're in here:

  • We're in the context of eating spiritual bread.

Notice what Jesus says in verses 32-36:

  • Jesus goes on there to talk about election,
  • He goes on to say
    • o All that the Father has given me, shall come to me, and I will not lose any of them, I'll raise them up at the last day, and so on.
  • Jesus is saying that not all that are outwardly in covenant with me are mine
  • but he who the father has given to me, they are the ones who are mine.

Jesus gives us the distinction of being separated from the world and being in outward covenant with Him

  • beyond that, the inward/ spiritual eating and drinking that we need.

He goes on to use some very straightforward language as we move on down to verses 49-58

Notice that Jesus is doing the same thing the Apostle Paul did

  • in that he takes the manna in the wilderness and applies it to Christ (that is, Himself).
  • In other words, He says:
    • o Why are you so concerned about bread?
  • They want living bread, the kind of bread they can eat, and in eating that bread will live forever.

Jesus begins this discussion in John 6 and finishes it at the table of the Lord

  • he institutes it later when He says, this bread, which I break, is my body, and this cup is the New Testament, in my blood.

In comparing these two passages 1 Cor 10 & John 6:

  • an understanding of what happened during the wilderness wandering
    • o that the manna that came from heaven had a sacramental import
      • but it also had a typological import - it pointed forward to the body of Christ.
    • o that the water that flowed from the rock pointed forward to the drink
      • that is the blood of Christ.

Christ brings all of this together in the administration of the Lord's Supper when he institutes it.

  • He says that this cup is the new testament in My blood and this bread is my body

We see here that when we partake of the Lord's Supper:

  • that we do the same thing that we do in baptism but in a different way
    • o we profess our union wiith Christ
    • o we profess we are in covenant with him.

These are pillars and badges of church membership and are covenant ceremonies

  • because to be in membership in the church is to be in covenant with Christ.

Conclusion (Deuteronomy 8.1)

Moses understood the sacramental and typological import of the manna which came from heaven

Why did the Lord's hand provide manna?

  • to keep his people alive

The other thing that Moses tells us and Paul and Christ echo is that man does not live by bread alone, but by the word of God.

  • they were to confess in eating the manna that they were God's people
  • they needed the Word of God for their souls.

You see, these are covenant realities.


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