Verse of the Day

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Seventh Sunday after Trinity

On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  Most are from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has a few great ones to share.  So, on to the On Point quotes –

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg.

We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
CS Lewis
~Mere Christianity

I tremble for my country when I hear of confidence expressed in me. I know too well my weakness, that our only hope is in God.

We have fought this fight as long, and as well as we know how. We have been defeated. For us as a Christian people, there is now but one course to pursue. We must return home and cultivate our virtues.

Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.
Robert E. Lee

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.
 John Adams

If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.
Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.
Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
Winston Churchill

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.
G. Gordon Liddy

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
P. J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
Frederic Bastiat
French economist (1801-1850)

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
Will Rogers

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.
Thomas Jefferson

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.

The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work, because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation!

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. . .
St. Matthew 7:15-16

It is a contradiction to say that a man is like God, or is a partaker of his nature, who does not love what God loves, and avoid what he hates.
Rev. Dr. Charles Hodge
19th  century American theologian and author

Death is... a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell. The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great; but it is not so. We are not far from home— a moment will bring us there... When the eyes close on earth they open in heaven.
Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon
19th century English pastor and author
(Morning and Evening, p. 222)

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.
John Adams
Founding Father and 2nd  president of the United States

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banners openly. But the traitor moves among those within the gate freely, his sly whispers... heard in the very hall of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor— he speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and wears their face and their garment, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation— he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city—he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
1st century BC Roman statesman.

The contest is not over, the strife is not ended. It has entered upon a new and enlarged arena; there the champions of constitutional liberty must fight until government of the United States is brought back to its constitutional limits.
Jefferson Davis
President of the Confederate States of America, statesman and war hero
(The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Vol. II, p. 294)

When the state has the capability to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well.
Mark Steyn
20th and 21st  century Canadian author and commentator

A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.
Robert A. Heinlein
20th  century American science fiction author

The Propers for today are found on Page 198-199, with the Collect first:

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

ORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dru Arnold read the Epistle, which was came from the Sixth Chapter of Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans beginning at the Nineteenth Verse. Paul reminds us when we strive above all else for the things of this world, we gain nothing we can take with us to the next.  “For, when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.”  Conversely, if we will be servants of God (righteousness) we can be free from the devil sin).  “… the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  If we will follow God, we will live, not only forever in the next world, but better in this world.  We must put aside what we did and do what He would have us do.  Actions are the key to everything.  Talk is nice.  Action is what counts.

 SPEAK after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rev Deacon Jack Arnold read today’s Holy Gospel which was written in the Eighth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint Mark beginning at the First Verse. Jesus had been in the wilderness teaching a multitude, some four thousand in number.  In those pre-restaurant on every corner days, the people had been without food and were hungry.  Jesus was concerned and inventoried their supplies, seven loaves and a few small fishes.  He gave thanks to God, and commanded the food to be set out before the people.  When they had eaten their fill, the scraps gathered up from the seven loaves filled seven baskets.

Many speculated over the years as to just how He did it.  The answer is simple, He did it.  He did not talk about feeding the multitude and sit down to His own meal.  He acted and they were fed.  Does this story recall the words from the Last Supper used in Holy Communion at the Consecration? “he took Bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me.”  Those few words produced The Word, which has satisfied so many over millenniums. 

N those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

Sermon – Reverend Deacon Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Today’s sermon tied the Epistle and Gospel together talked as is oft the case of the need for action, not simply diction, the general content is in forewords above.

Consider the words from the Collect,  … author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same (that is to say keep us in goodness)…

To get anywhere, we must acknowledge in our hearts that all good is of and comes from God.  Once we acknowledge that, we are in a position to ask God to put in to our hearts love of Him and all that is His.  This will help us to appreciate and act in goodness.  Without His love our efforts will ultimately be of no avail. We cannot do anything with out His help, and with it, it will be easier. There will be times where we fail, but if we turn back to Him,  then we shall succeed. I find personally when I turn to Him nowadays for help with stuff, that I do far better than if I do not.

So, pretty clearly we need to be of God.  Thus, when Paul wrote to the people of Rome, he was writing to all of us; for there truly is nothing new in the world.  Before we are of God, we are of this world.  Our life is here, our end is here.  Once we are of God, then we are merely sojourners here; our life is not really here and certainly does not end here.  The only way to be of God is through God, that is His Son, our Lord.

If we will follow God, we will live, not only forever in the next world, but better in this world.  We must put aside what we did and do what He would have us do.  Actions are the key to everything.  Talk is nice.  Action is what counts. We have to act upon our beliefs, which can be very hard sometimes but must be done. I struggle with this myself, but I find that returning to God helps with this, and He cleans the slate, so I can try again a new.

Saint Mark tells us of action. Jesus had been in the wilderness teaching a multitude, some four thousand in number.  In those pre-restaurant on every corner days, the people had been without food and were hungry.  Jesus was concerned and inventoried their supplies, seven loaves and a few small fishes.  He gave thanks to God, and commanded the food to be set out before the people.  When they had eaten their fill, the scraps gathered up from the seven loaves filled seven baskets.

Many speculated over the years as to just how He did it.  The answer is simple, He did it.  He did not talk about feeding the multitude and then sit down to His own meal.  He acted and they were fed.  The clear moral of this story is that He acted, not just talked, but he actually acted and fed the people. Does this story recall the words from the Last Supper used in Holy Communion at the Consecration? “he took Bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me.”  Those few words produced The Word, which has satisfied so many over millenniums. 

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Today’s sermon starts off with the collect, and like always, it will give you a lot to consider in your heart.

Sermon Notes
Seventh Sunday after Trinity
Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church
14 July 2013, Anno Domini

The Seventh Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

ORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:12-27)

            We all have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of us are locked in a relationship of belligerence and war with Christ. Some are in a very casual and ineffectual relationship. But these kinds of relationships do not gain for us the favor and grace of God. Our relationship with Christ must be that of a friend, a brother of sister, a servant, and a soldier under His High Command.

            What relationship do you enjoy with Christ? Is it effectual and worthy of His favor and love? This is the most important questions of life. Do we not just know of Christ, but do we know Him as a friend, brother, Lord, and Savior?

            In the 12th Chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew, we see Jesus preaching and teaching the multitudes when His mother, brothers and sisters came and stood without the gate to speak with Christ. 46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. (Matthew 12:46-47) There is some suggestion in this incident to shed light on the spiritual relationship that the immediately family, including His mother, had with Jesus. Yes, He was their brother and her Son in a corporeal sense, but not necessarily a spiritual affinity to all that Christ taught. We do not see His mother, Mary, following hard after the disciples to hear the preaching of her Son. She was more concerned, as a mother, for His physical welfare than the seemingly troublesome Gospel He was preaching.

 The next actions of Christ reveal a great deal about the proper spiritual relationship we should have with Him: 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.  (Matt 12:48-50) The close relationships of Christ are those who hear and do the will of the Father – PERIOD. By implication, the immediate corporeal family of Jesus did not fit into this scenario. It may have been after the crucifixion and resurrection before His mother, Mary, came to know the full magnitude of who her Son truly was. The appearing of the Great Angel Gabriel seemed almost like a dream of ages past to poor Mary.

Now we come to the occasion of the text for today.  We are given three factors of the work of God that are relevant to the text – The conditions of Relationship in Christ, The Comfort to be enjoyed even under the World’s Persecution, and the Work of the Holy ghost and of the Apostles.

I.                   The Condition that must be met:
Jesus lays out the one condition that establishes our Election in Christ and sustains that Election: it is the simple four-letter word – LOVE! It bears such a heavy weight as His royal Commandment that it is the one Commandment upon which all others have their foundation. It is, in brief, a Circle of Love: God loved us before we loved Him. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) We owe God a DEBT of Love. Now, to qualify that love that we have reciprocated to the Father, we must love those others who likewise love the Lord. It is the very BANNER of Love under which the people of God march, and there must be a mutual love of all who march under that BANNER. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

We use the term love a bit too casually in our day. We claim to love chocolate ice cream, dogs, horses, roses, etc.; but that is not love. Who would die for an ice cream (though I am tempted)? Or a dog? Or a rose? Love is an overruling sentiment that dictates all else of our being. We certainly WILL die for that which we love. Christ did, and so should we if the circumstances warrant. If we say we love our fellow Christians, do we? Do we love them as we are commanded to do by Jesus? And how does Jesus say we should love each other? Just as He has loved us and gave His life for us. That is not a casual love, is it? He tells us of that great love in verse 13 - Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is the standard of love required. Do you have it?

II.                The Comfort to be had even in the Persecution of the World: The athlete who survives a particularly bruising game of football, or the ballerina who suffers a ruined performance that deprived her of the crown, may take a particular pride in duty well performed as God has given them the Light to do so. Persecution of the world takes an even more somber aspect of injustice. Though we may have conducted our lives with greater righteousness than can be humanly expected, yet we suffer an injustice of being punished for doing good. Such an injustice can be overwhelming to those of little faith; but to those whose faith is grounded on the solid Rock, there is an immense consolation in being unjustly tortured and beaten. The satisfaction comes from the sure knowledge that we have, indeed, taken up our cross and followed Christ – all of the way! Christ’s counsel rings loud and clear: 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

            It is interesting to note the reciprocity of sentiment expressed by Christ in His discourse. God loved us first; therefore, we are able to love Him. On the other hand, the world hated Christ first; therefore the world hates us as well. There is unity of both camps. The hate of the world is united against Christ and His people while the Kingdom of God is united under that banner of love discussed earlier. All of the work of a servant is truly the work of his master. It is the will of the master that is operative in the labors of the many servants of the household. If the master is well loved among the community, the servants will be identified with that love as well. If the master is treacherous, his servants will be treated as treacherous. Whatever praise or ridicule belongs to the master will be visited on the servant. But one wayward servant does not cast dispersions on the master. Christ is our Master. It is His Person represented by every member of His household. But the estate is called by His name and not ours.

            The enemy on the battlefield neither knows, nor desires to know, the name of the common soldier of the line; but you can be assured that they desire to know, and DO know, the name of their Field Commander against whose mind they plan their assaults. Christ is the Captain of our Soul. Wherever He is hated, you will be hated too. If they show no mercy to our Leader, do you suppose they will be more respectful of his followers? To be hated by the world without a cause may bring no comfort at all; however, when we are persecuted for Christ’s sake, we can know that He is aware and loves us the more.

III.             The work of the Holy Spirit, and of the Apostles: The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, is sent to open our eyes to the Beauty of the Lord. He reveals truth to us that we may know in our heads, but NOT in our hearts. You will note that the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to “testify” of Christ. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26) The Lord has given us a reading assignment that will be our food for learning by way of the Holy Ghost. We note that the Holy Ghost is sent by the Father in the name of Christ. We further note that the Holy Ghost will teach us all things of which we may have read in Scripture, but not understood. We also note that the Holy Ghost will “bring all things to our REMEMBRANCE.” How can we be reminded of something in Holy Scripture if we have not even taken the trouble to have read or studied it in the first place? We have a somber duty here to perform. As good soldiers, we must take our training, bear our weapons, and don our armor. Dare any of us to go into the heat of battle bearing no arms or wearing no armor of defense?

             We must reconsider our relationship to Christ. Are we His friend as He is our friend? Do we love Him as He first loved us? Are we the ones who hear and obey the Commandments of the Christ? “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Have we done?  Without grace, we could not have chosen Christ, for it was He who chose us long before we even knew Him. If we are the children of God, and God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, are we not likewise brothers and sisters of Jesus? “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Now, once more, please ask yourself the question: What is MY relationship to Jesus Christ?

Note from Hap – I am reminded of a quote from then General Eisenhower the night before the invasion at Normandy when asked by a reporter if God was on our side.  The answer, “It is not that God is on our side, but rather that we are on God’s side.”

Rev Rick Reid of Saint Peter’s Sunday Sermon
We are happy to have a sermon from Reverend Rick Reid, minister of Saint Peter’s, whose congregation is right at the Worldwide Headquarters of the Anglican Orthodox Church.  Rev Rick has all the resources and challenges right at hand.  I think you will enjoy this sermon.

Feeding the Four Thousand (Mark 8:1-10) Trinity VII

During His earthly ministry, Jesus ministered mostly to the Jews as He also commanded the Apostles when he first sent them out in St. Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew 10:5-6
5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: e“Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of fthe Samaritans. 6  gBut go rather to the hlost sheep of the house of Israel.

And as He explained to the Syro-Phoenician woman also in Matthew’s gospel 15:24:

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  Even so, there were occasions when Gentiles benefited from His physical presence. The Syro-Phoenician woman's daughter was healed and there were also healings in the area of Decapolis, including the deaf mute.

In this morning’s gospel we hear of Jesus’ feeding of the four thousand.

We find a great multitude, who had been with Jesus three days in a wilderness region, without food, and were far from their homes.

Jesus had compassion for the multitude and using only seven loaves and a few small fish Jesus proceeds to perform this miracle.

First He commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them.

And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.

So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left… seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.

Like the feeding of the 5,000 Matthew describes in the previous chapter, the feeding of the 4,000 has implications of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.
 Jesus took the bread; and after giving thanks he broke the bread and gave it to the disciples.

Many students of the Bible have been intrigued by the numerical symbolism of the feeding miracles; in the first miracle Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and ended up with 12 baskets of leftovers; in today’s Gospel miracle, Jesus fed 4,000 people with seven loaves and finished with seven baskets of leftovers.

Some scholars believe that the feeding of the 5,000 symbolizes the Eucharist of the Jews …with the 12 baskets of leftovers corresponding to the 12 tribes of Israel.

And that the feeding of the 4,000 symbolizes the more inclusive Eucharist of the Gentiles ….with the 7 baskets of leftovers corresponding to a number that throughout the Hebrew Scriptures is associated with perfection and completeness.

In John’s Gospel (chapter 6), as the multitudes continued to follow Him in order to receive more food, He revealed to them the true purpose for the miracle.

He declared, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you…I am the bread of life; he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.”

This was an answer that many of the Jews who had been following Christ up to this point did not find rational at all.

In fact, on three separate occasions the people objected that His words made no sense, and each time they did so, Christ replied with even bolder statements.

He declared, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

As the people were appalled by  this statement, Christ then made what must have seemed the most outrageous claim of all saying, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day”.

Many of the thousands of people who had been following Jesus up until this moment suddenly turned away and left Him over those words, they simply would not accept what He had said.

Today there are many Christians today who will not accept Christ’s words, but rather than abruptly leave Him, they simply reinterpret, that is to say, give their own meaning to what would otherwise be a clear meaning they do not like, what He said to derive a meaning much more in accord with what they want, then term it rational thought.

The early church understood the plain meaning of the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 pointed directly to the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.

Just as the loaves of bread were multiplied at the hands of His disciples to feed everyone present with basketsful left over, so even today loaves of bread are multiplied at the hands of His ministers in churches across the world to feed millions ….with the Body and Blood of Christ.

In the world today, many Christians have set a very poor example of respect for this holy sacrament. A large percentage do not prepare properly, if at all,  to take communion. Many do not even think about the prayers we pray before Holy Communion.

Is it any wonder then that so many of  churches lack spiritual vitality, and  that so many of our young people leave the faith at their first opportunity, and that Orthodox Christianity  seems to have so little an impact on American culture and religion?

We must do our part to overcome Satan by approaching this sacrament with the fear of God, and with faith  charity, and with love for our neighbors. Only then will we be able to receive all the benefits that Christ promised us.

Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.

Seventh Sunday after Trinity

Today we celebrate the sixth anniversary of St. John’s Church as an organized Anglican Orthodox body. Along the way, we have experienced many joys, as well as our share of heartaches. Nevertheless, the guiding hand of our good and gracious God has sustained us through the intercessory work of his most blessed Spirit. There is an old Baptist hymn entitled Count Your Blessings which is apropos as it calls on Christians to look at the things they have and to give God the credit for them. Too often we will focus on those things we do not have. That is human nature. But God has called us out of the bondage of our natural state into a new and more fulfilling life through his only begotten Son. And so today we celebrate this anniversary of our church’s founding, giving God the glory for all the good that is found therein.

The scriptures are replete with examples of God’s provision for his own. Consider our gospel lesson for today (St. Mark 8:1-9) wherein our Lord exercised his creative powers to feed his hearers both physically and spiritually. They had come into a desolate region to hear him teach and our Lord had compassion on them for their apparent lack of sustenance. God does not lead his people into the wilderness to die. In Psalm 37 we find the following: The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread (vv.23-25).

Consider also Genesis 1:1 as it speaks of God’s sovereign power in calling forth ex nihilo the whole of the Creation. I once heard a fellow Christian refer to it as “In-Your-Face Theology” because it gives the reader no recourse but to either accept or reject God based upon that solemn pronouncement. It also sets the tone for the rest of Scripture as it reveals the unimaginable and sovereign ability of the Godhead to act within our frame of reference. God has created for a purpose, and he will sustain his creation to complete that purpose. As long as we remain within God’s purposeful will, we will be preserved and empowered in our service.

Returning to our gospel lesson, we read where our Lord exercised that same capacity when he took five barley loaves and two fish and fed a multitude with food to spare. Examine the text of the 23rd Psalm: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley and the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

God’s supply is more than sufficient. It is more than adequate. It is more than mere subsistence. To use the psalmist’s words: it runneth over. All creation is his, from the cattle on a thousand hills to the myriads of edible sea creatures, to all the elements, both mineral and metal which are found within the earth itself. And so it follows that regardless of whether it is bread and fish, or the gift of grace, we should understand that everything we have came from God. Therefore, we ought to give him thanks and praise, not only for what we are and what we have; but for what we will yet receive through the atoning work of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. God the Father sent his only begotten Son to bring us more than the mere bread of physical sustenance. He came to make us whole spiritually that we might be redeemed: cleansed from all unrighteousness and made fit members of his body and joint heirs with him in God’s heavenly kingdom.

The church was established to provide for the spiritual, and at times, the material, well-being of its members. And the Godhead continues to sustain all who are true believers by means of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Think for a moment about the witness of St. Paul. He had been sent on an evangelical mission to physically establish and spiritually feed the various flocks of our Lord within the Roman Empire under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Generally, though not always, he came, he set in order, he followed up as an overseer of the faith and he appointed just men to serve in like capacity prior to his departure for another locale. And those churches which he established were not left spiritually impoverished when the apostle moved on because they were nourished and enriched by the teaching and instruction of those whom the Lord had called into his service.

God sustains. God strengthens. God increases. It is all due to his efforts, his will, his choosing. We are but his servants whom he has called out of darkness into the glorious light of his gospel. We are to work within this church to materially assist any member of the body of Christ whom God has brought to our attention for such ministration. It is the church’s duty to look after its own— not the state, and certainly not the unregenerate of this world. Consider the words of the apostle James from his epistle who wrote, What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed, and filled: notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (2:14-17).

And let no able-bodied man think that he can lay back and become a burden on others for it is written ... this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat (II Thessalonians 3:10). There is no room in Christ’s church for the slothful and the lazy, neither is there room for the willfully unrepentant. If that seems harsh, those were not my words but those of the Holy Ghost who inspired the apostle Paul to command of his listeners that, ... if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed (II Thessalonians 3:14).
In closing, we learned from the Scriptures that the Godhead is our Creator, our Sustainer as well as our Redeemer. He will not lead us into a permanent state of privation and want, but into provision and abundance. And though at times we might experience hardship and tribulation; nevertheless we trust that our gracious and loving God will see us through the days of darkness, and will lead us to green pastures and still waters. He will turn our hunger into satisfaction and our lack into more than what we could ask or imagine, and all because he loves us.

But we cannot know the fullness of his grace, or the height and depth of his love without being obedient to his word. That is why churches like this one are so important to the born-again Christian because we teach what the Bible commands, and we encourage our members to properly recognize who God is, and what our relationship should be with him. If you have not been made right with God for whatever reason, ask him to turn your heart and mind unto him today in the name of his only begotten Son. Confess your sins and trespasses to him, for he is ready to forgive and to forget them. If you will do so, you will experience that peace which only he can give; that love which is beyond all else; and that joy which comes with the blessed assurance of your salvation unto eternal life. Make that your prayer today, and may God bless this church and the whole Anglican Orthodox Communion and keep it faithful unto the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Let us pray,

 Almighty and everlasting God, who has blessed us with this church which bears the name of thy servant, St. John the Revelator; we mostly humbly thank thee for its preservation and continuation as a body of faithful Christians: where thy pure word is taught, preached and lived; that through our obedience to thy word written, we might be received as citizens of thine everlasting kingdom; and this we ask in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

What about Baptism?
First, let us review the applicable article:

XVII. Of Baptism
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the for- giveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by vir- tue of prayer unto God.

The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.

Regeneration And Baptism
Church Association Tract 193

John Charles Ryle
Bishop Of Liverpool

1. What is Baptism?

It is a holy ordinance or sacrament appointed by Christ, for the continual admission of new members into His Church. Every Christian begins his Church membership by being solemnly baptized with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Baptism, also, is a sign of regeneration or new birth, and has a most wholesome effect, as the Twenty-fifth Article says, in those who receive it worthily. Moreover, St. Paul says, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. iii. 27.)

2. Do all baptized persons receive inward spiritual benefit from the outward ordinance of baptism with water?

Most certainly not, to all appearance.  Myriads are outwardly baptized every year, who, from the font to the coffin, and from their births to their deaths, never give the slightest evidence that they have grace in their hearts, or have received any inward spiritual benefit at their baptism. They live and die apparently without knowledge, faith, repentance, obedience to God, or meetness for heaven. In fact, notwithstanding their baptism, they exhibit no more Christianity in their lives and haracters than many heathens.

Judas Iscariot, Simon Magus, Ananias and Sapphira, and others mentioned in Scripture, were baptized but certainly not regenerate.

3. What is regeneration?

It is that complete change of heart and character which the Holy Spirit works in a person when he becomes a real Christian. The Church Catechism calls it "a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness." It is the same thing as being "born again," or "born of God," or "born of the Spirit."

"Except a man be born again" means "except a man be regenerate." "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature;" that is, he is "born again, or regenerate." (John iii. 3; 2 Cor. v. 17.)

4. What are the marks and evidences of regeneration?

They are laid down for us so clearly and plainly in the First Epistle of St. John, that he who runs may read them. It is written there, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin," "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God," —"Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him," —"Every one that loveth is born of God," —"Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world," —"He that is begotten of God keepeth himself." (1 John iii. 9; 1 John v. 1; 1 John ii. 29; 1 John iv. 7; 1 John v. 4; 1 John v. 18.) If plain English words have any meaning, these texts mean that he who has these marks is "born again" or "regenerate," and he who has them not is not regenerate.

5. Have all regenerate persons these marks of regeneration in the same degree of depth, strength, clearness, and distinctness?

Most certainly not. There is a wide difference between the highest and lowest measure of grace possessed by those who are "born again." There are real and true Christians who are only "babes" in spiritual attainments, and there are others who are "strong," and vigorous, and able to do great things for Christ. (1 John ii. 12-14.) The Scripture speaks of little faith and great faith, of little strength and great strength. One thing only is certain, —every regenerate person has more or less the marks of regeneration, and he who has none of them is not born again. (Matt. xiv. 31, xv. 28; Rev. iii. 8; Rom. xv. 1.)

6. But are not all baptized persons regenerate, and does not regeneration always accompany baptism?

Certainly not. Myriads of baptized persons have not a single scriptural mark of regeneration about them, and never had in their lives. They know nothing whatever of "a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness." On the contrary, they too often live in sin, and are enemies of all righteousness. To say that such persons are "regenerate" on account of their baptism, is to say that which seems flatly contrary to the First Epistle of St. John. The Church Catechism says that baptism contains two parts, —the outward and visible sign, and the inward and spiritual grace. But the Catechism nowhere says that the sign and the grace always go together.

7. But does not the Baptismal Service of the Church Prayer Book say of every baptized child, "this child is regenerate," and does it not tell us to thank God that it hath "pleased Him to regenerate the infant?" What can this mean? How can it be explained?

The Baptismal Service uses these expressions in the charitable supposition that those who use the service, and bring their children to be baptized, are really what they profess to be. As Bishop Carleton says, "All this is the charity of the Church; and what more can you make of it?"—As Bishop Downame says, "We are to distinguish between the judgment of charity and the judgment of certainty."

8. But is this explanation of the language of the Baptismal Service honest, natural, and just? Is it the real meaning which ought to be put on the words?

It is the only meaning which is consistent with the whole spirit of the Prayer Book. From first to last the Prayer Book charitably assumes that all who use it are real, thorough Christians. This is the only sense in which the Burial Service can be interpreted, or the Service for Adult Baptism, or for the Churching of Women. This is the only sense in which we can teach children the Church Catechism. We bid them say, "The Holy Ghost sanctifieth me and all the elect people of God." Yet no man in his senses would say that all children who say the Catechism are really "sanctified" or really "elect," because they use these words. On the contrary, large numbers of children never show the slightest evidence of sanctification or election.

9. But ought we not to believe that all who use Christ's ordinances receive a blessing as a matter of course?

Certainly not. The benefit of Christ's ordinances depends entirely on the spirit and manner in which they are used. The Scripture expressly says that a man may receive the Lord's Supper, "unworthily," and eat and drink "to his own condemnation." The Articles of the Church of England declare that in such only as receive sacraments "rightly, worthily, and with faith," they have a wholesome effect and operation. The famous Hooker teaches that "all receive not the grace of God which receive the sacraments of His grace." To maintain that every child who is baptized with water is at once regenerated and born again, appears to turn the sacrament of baptism into a mere form, and to contradict both Scripture and Articles.

10. But do not all infants receive baptism worthily, since they offer no obstacle to the grace of baptism? and are they not consequently all regenerated, as a matter of course, the moment they are baptized?

Certainly not. No infant is of itself worthy to receive grace, because, as the Catechism says, it is "born in sin and a child of wrath." It can only be received into the Church and baptized on the faith and profession of its parents or sponsors. No true missionary thinks of baptizing heathen children without friends or sponsors. The Church Catechism asks the question, "Why are Infants baptized?" But it does not give as an answer, "Because they offer no obstacle to grace," —but "because they promise repentance and faith by their sureties." Let us always remember that an infant has no title to baptism but the profession of its sureties. Surely when these sureties know nothing of repentance or faith, or of what they are promising, common sense points out that the infant is not likely to get much inward benefit from the sacrament. In plain words, if parents or sponsors bring an infant to baptism in utter ignorance, without faith or prayer or knowledge, it is monstrous to suppose that this infant must, nevertheless, receive regeneration. At this rate it would matter nothing in what way sacraments are used, whether with ignorance or with knowledge, and it would signify nothing whether those who use them were godly or ungodly. The children of believing and of unbelieving parents would receive precisely the same benefit from baptism. Such a conclusion seems unreasonable and absurd.

11. But does not St. Paul say in his Epistles that Christians are "buried with Christ in baptism;" and that baptized persons have "put on Christ"? (Gal. iii. 27; Col. ii. 12.)

No doubt St. Paul says so. But the persons of whom he said this, in all human probability, were not baptized in infancy, but when they were grown up, and in days too when faith and baptism were so closely connected that the moment a man believed he confessed his faith publicly by baptism. But there is not a single passage in the New Testament which describes at length the effect of baptism on an infant, nor a single text which says that all infants are born again, or regenerated, or buried with Christ in baptism. As Canon Mozley says, "Scripture nowhere asserts, either explicitly or implicitly, the regeneration of infants in baptism." (Mozley's Baptismal Controversy, p. 34.) Beside this, we are expressly told that Simon the sorcerer, after his baptism, had "no part" in Christ, and his "heart was not right in the sight of God." Simon, therefore, could not have been regenerated, or born again in baptism. (Acts viii. 21.)

12. But does not St. Peter say, "Baptism doth also save us?" and if it saves us, must it not also regenerate us? (1 Pet. iii. 21.)

No doubt St. Peter says so. But those who quote this text should not stop at the words "save us," but read carefully on to the end of the sentence. They will then see that St. Peter distinctly fences and guards his statement by saying that the baptism which "saves" is not the mere outward application of water to the body, but the baptism which is accompanied by the "answer of a good conscience toward God." Moreover, it is a curious fact that St. Peter, who uses the expression "baptism saves," is the very same apostle who told Simon after baptism that he was "in the bond of iniquity," and his "heart was not right in the sight of God." (Acts viii. 21.)

13. But does not our Lord Jesus say to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God"? (John iii. 5.) Does not that prove that all who are baptized with water are regenerate?

Certainly not. It proves nothing of the kind. The utmost that can be made of this famous and often quoted text is, that it shows the necessity of being "born of water and the Spirit" if we would be saved. But it does not say that all who are baptized, or "born of water," are at the same time "born of the Spirit." It may prove that there is a connection sometimes between baptism and regeneration, but it does not supply the slightest proof that an invariable connection always exists.

14. But may it not be true that all baptized persons receive the grace of regeneration in baptism, and that it remains within them like a dormant seed, alive, though at present bearing no fruit?

Certainly not. The Apostle St. John expressly forbids us to suppose that there can be such a thing as dormant, or sleeping grace. He says, "Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin, for His seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God." (1 John iii. 9.) This witness is true. When there can be light which cannot be seen, and fire without heat, then, and not till then, there may be grace that is dormant and inactive. The well-known words, "Stir up the gift of God that is in thee" (2 Tim. i. 6), are far too often addressed to the baptized, as if they referred to some gift received in baptism.

Yet common sense will tell any one who refers to his Bible that these words were not used at all about baptism, but about ordination. (1 Tim. iv. 14.)

15. But does not this view of regeneration, according to which many baptized persons are not regenerate at all, and receive no benefit whatever from their baptism, do great dishonour to one of Christ's sacraments, and tend to bring it into contempt?

Not at all. The truth is exactly the other way. To say that infant baptism confers grace mechanically, as a chemical solution produces an effect on a photographic plate, and that if water and certain words are used by a thoughtless, careless clergyman over the child of thoughtless, ignorant parents, the child is at once born again, —to say, furthermore, that an immense spiritual effect is produced by baptism when no effect whatever can be seen, all this, to many thinking persons, seems calculated to degrade baptism. It tends to make observers suppose that baptism is useless, or that regeneration means nothing at all.

He that would do honour to baptism should maintain that it is a high and holy ordinance, which, like every ordinance appointed by Christ, ought not to be used without solemn reverence; and that no blessing can be expected unless it is used with heart, and knowledge, and faith, and prayer, and followed by godly training of the child baptized. Above all, he should maintain that when baptism does good, the good will be seen in the life and ways of the baptized. Those who do not feel satisfied about this matter will do well to study attentively the strong language which God uses about His own ordinances, when used formally and carelessly, in the prophet Isaiah. (Isa. i. 11, 12.) What did the prophet mean when he wrote these words: "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord. I delight not in the blood of bullocks or of lambs." He evidently meant that God's own ordinances may be made perfectly useless by man's misuse of them.

16. But may we not believe that regeneration means nothing more than a change of state, and does not mean a moral and spiritual change at all? May we not believe that it is a mere ecclesiastical word, signifying nothing more than admission to a state of Church privilege? And may we not then say that every person baptized is regenerated in baptism.

Of course we may say and believe anything we please in a free country like England, and this idea of an ecclesiastical regeneration cuts the knot of some difficulties, and has always satisfied some minds. But it is an insuperable difficulty that the word "regeneration" is never once used in this sense in the New Testament. Moreover, the parallel expression "born of God," in St. John's First Epistle, most certainly means a great deal more than being admitted into a state of ecclesiastical privilege! To say, for instance, "Whosoever is baptized doth not commit sin, —and overcometh the world," would be ridiculous, because untrue. Moreover, the Church Catechism distinctly teaches that the inward and spiritual grace in baptism is not a mere ecclesiastical change, but "a, death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness." Moreover, the Homily for Whitsunday expressly describes regeneration as an inward and spiritual change. One thing is very certain, no plain reader of the Bible ever seems to understand how a person can be "regenerate" and yet not saved.

The poor and simple-minded cannot take in the idea of ecclesiastical regeneration.

Tell me about Holy Communion and the AOC – From Bishop Jerry Ogles
Dear Friends: there has been a continuing interest in the nature of the Lord's Supper - its nature, how it represents a Communion of the Body of Christ with the Lord, how it must be individually prepared for, and precisely what blessings ensue therefrom. Bishop JC Ryle was a courageous defender of the faith and has many published works on the Holy Communion - one of which I include below. I include the below in view of some serious questions regarding this matter that have increasingly arising of late.  

First, let us review the applicable articles:

XVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.

XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper.
The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.

Any postulation that exceeds the clear definition of Scripture and the Thirty-Nine Articles is to be discounted. This will represent the position of the AOC on the Lord's Supper.

Here is the paper by Bishop Ryle:

The Lord’s Supper
by JC Ryle

“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” 1 Corinthians 11:28.

The words which form the tittle of this paper refer to the subject of vast importance. That subject is the Lord’s Supper.
Perhaps no part of the Christian religion is so thoroughly misunderstood as the Lord’s Supper. On no point have there been so many disputes, strifes, and controversies for almost 1800 years. On no point have mistakes done so much harm. The very ordinance which was meant for our peace and profit has become the cause of discord and the occasion of sin. These things ought not to be!
I make no excuse for including the Lord’s Supper among the leading points of “practical” Christianity. I firmly believe that ignorant views or false doctrine about this ordinance lie at the root of some of the present divisions of professing Christians. Some neglect it altogether; some completely misunderstand it; some exalt it to a position it was never meant to occupy, and turn it into an idol. If I can throw a little light on it, and clear up the doubts in some minds, I will feel very thankful. It is hopeless, I fear, to expect that the controversy about the Lord’s Supper will ever be finally closed until the Lord comes. But it is not too much to hope that the fog and mystery and obscurity with which it is surrounded in some minds, may be cleared away by plain Bible truth.
In examining the Lord’s Supper I will be content with asking four practical questions, and offering answers to them.
I. Why was the Lord’s Supper ordained?
II. Who ought to go to the Table and be communicants?
III. What may communicants expect from the Lord’s Supper?
IV. Why do many so-called Christians never go to the Lord’s Table?
I think it will be impossible to handle these four questions fairly, honestly, and impartially, without seeing the subject of this paper more clearly, and getting some distinct and practical ideas about some leading errors of our day. I say “practical” emphatically. My chief aim in this volume is to promote practical Christianity.
I. In the first place, “why was the Lord’s Supper ordained?” It was ordained for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we thereby receive. The bread which in the Lord’s Supper is broken, given, and eaten, is meant to remind us of Christ’s body given on the cross for our sins. The wine which is poured out and received, is meant to remind us of Christ’s blood shed on the cross for our sins. He who eats that bread and drinks that wine is reminded, in the most striking and forcible manner—of the benefits Christ has obtained for his soul, and of the death of Christ as the hinge and turning point on which all those benefits depend.
Now, is the view here stated the doctrine of the New Testament? If it is not, forever let it be rejected, cast aside, and refused by men. If it is, let us never be ashamed to hold it close, profess our belief in it, pin our faith on it, and steadfastly refuse to hold any other view, no matter who teaches it.
In subjects like this we must call no man master. It matters little what great theologians and learned preachers have thought fit to put forth about the Lord’s Supper. If they teach more than the Word of God contains—they are not to be believed. I take up my Bible and turn to the New Testament. There I find no less than four separate accounts of the first appointment of the Lord’s Supper. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul, all four describe it: all four agree in telling us what our Lord did on this memorable occasion. Only two tell us the reason why our Lord commanded that His disciples were to eat the bread and drink the cup. Paul and Luke both record the remarkable words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Paul adds his own inspired comment: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:25-26). When Scripture speaks so clearly, why can’t men be content with it? Why should we mystify and confuse a subject which in the New Testament is so simple?
The “continual remembrance of Christ’s death” was the one grand object for which the Lord’s Supper was ordained. He who goes further than this is adding to God’s Word, and does so to the great peril of his soul.
Now, is it reasonable to suppose that our Lord would appoint an ordinance for so simple a purpose as “remembering His death?” It most certainly is! Of all the facts in His earthly ministry none are equal in importance to that of His death. It was the great settlement for man’s sin, which had been appointed in God’s promise from the foundation of the world. It was the great redemption of almighty power, to which every sacrifice of animals, from the fall of man, continually pointed. It was the grand end and purpose for which the Messiah came into the world. It was the cornerstone and foundation of all man’s hopes of pardon and peace with God. In short, Christ would have lived, and taught, and preached, and prophesied, and performed miracles in vain, if He had not crowned it all by dying for our sins as our Substitute on the Cross! His death was our life. His death was the payment of our sin-debt to God. Without His death we would have been the most miserable of all creatures!
No wonder that an ordinance was specially appointed to remind us of our Savior’s death. It is the one thing which poor, weak, sinful man needs to be continually reminded. Does the New Testament authorize men to say that the Lord’s Supper was ordained to be a sacrifice, and that in it Christ’s literal body and blood are present under the forms of bread and wine? Most certainly not! When the Lord Jesus said to the disciples, “This is my Body,” and “this is my Blood,” He clearly meant, “This bread in my hand is an symbol of my Body, and this cup of wine in my hand contains a symbol of my Blood.” The disciples were accustomed to hear Him use such language. They remembered His saying, “The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one” (Matthew 13:38). It never entered into their minds that He meant to say He was holding His own body and His own blood in His hands, and literally giving them His literal body and blood to eat and drink! Not one of the writers of the New Testament ever speaks of the Lord’s Supper as a sacrifice, or calls the Lord’s Table an altar, or even hints that a Christian minister is a sacrificing priest. The universal doctrine of the New Testament is that after the one offering of Christ on the cross, there remains no more need of sacrifice.
If anyone believes that Paul’s words to the Hebrews, “We have an altar” (Hebrews 13:10), are a proof that the Lord’s table is an altar, I remind him “Christians have an altar where they partake. That altar is Christ our Lord—who is Altar, Priest, and Sacrifice, all in One.” Throughout the Communion Service the one idea of the ordinance continually pressed on our attention is that of a “remembrance” of Christ’s death. As to any presence of Christ’s natural body and blood under the forms of bread and wine, the clear answer is that “the natural body and blood of Christ are in heaven, and not here.” Those Roman Catholics who delight in talking of the “altar,” the “sacrifice,” the “priest,” and the “real presence” in the Lord’s Supper—would do well to remember that they are using language which is entirely non-Biblical.
The point before us is one of vast importance. Let us lay hold upon it firmly, and never let it go. It is the very point on which our Reformers had their sharpest controversy with the Roman Catholics, and went to the stake, rather than give way. Sooner than admit that the Lord’s Supper was a sacrifice, they cheerfully laid down their lives. To bring back the doctrine of the “real presence,” and to turn the communion into the Roman Catholic “mass,” is to pour contempt on our Martyrs, and to upset the first principles of the Protestant Reformation. No, rather, it is to ignore the plain teaching of God’s Word, and do dishonor to the priestly office of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Bible teaches expressly that the Lord’s Supper was ordained to be “a remembrance of Christ’s body and blood,” and not a sacrificial offering. The Bible teaches that Christ’s substituted death on the cross was the perfect sacrifice for sin, which never needs to be repeated. Let us stand firm in these two great principles of the Christian faith. A clear understanding of the intention of the Lord’s Supper is one of the soul’s best safeguards against the delusions of false doctrine.
II. In the second place, let me try to show “WHO ought to receive the Lord’s Supper?” What kind of people were meant to go to the Table and receive the Lord’s Supper?
I will first show, who ought NOT to be partakers of this ordinance. The ignorance which prevails on this, as well as on every part of the subject, is vast, lamentable, and appalling. If I can contribute anything that may throw light upon it, I will feel very thankful. The principal giants whom John Bunyan describes, in “Pilgrim’s Progress,” as dangerous to Christian pilgrims, were two, Pope and Pagan. If the good old Puritan had foreseen the times we live in, he would have said something about the giant Ignorance!
(a) It is not right to urge all professing Christians to go to the Lord’s Table. There is such a thing as fitness and preparedness for the ordinance. It does not work like a medicine, independently of the state of mind of those who receive it. The teaching of those who urge all their congregation to come to the Lord’s Table, as if the coming must necessarily do everyone good—is entirely without warrant of Scripture. No, rather, it is a teaching which is calculated to do immense harm to men’s souls, and to turn the reception of the Lord’s Supper into a mere religious form. Ignorance can never be the mother of acceptable worship, and an ignorant communicant who comes to the Lord’s Table without knowing why he comes—is altogether in the wrong place!
“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” “Recognizing the body of the Lord,”—that is to understand what the elements of bread and wine represent, and why they are appointed, and what is the particular use of remembering Christ’s death—is an essential qualification of a true communicant. God commands all people everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel (Acts 17:30), but He does not in the same way, or in the same manner, command everybody to come to the Lord’s Table. No! this thing is not to be taken lightly, or carelessly! It is a solemn ordinance, and solemnly it ought to be used!
(b) But this is not all. Sinners living in open sin, and determined not to give it up, ought never to come to the Lord’s Table. To do so is a positive insult to Christ, and to pour contempt on His Gospel. It is nonsense to profess we desire to remember Christ’s death, while we cling to sin—the accursed thing which made it needful for Christ to die! The mere fact that a man is continuing in sin is clear evidence that he does not care for Christ, and feels no gratitude for the offer of redemption. The ignorant Roman Catholic who goes to the priest’s confessional and receives absolution, may think he is fit to go to the Roman Catholic mass—and after mass may return to his sins. He never reads the Bible—and knows no better! But the professing Christian who habitually breaks any of God’s commandments, and yet goes to the Lord’s Table, as if it would do him good and wipe away his sins—is very guilty indeed. So long as he chooses to continue his wicked habits—he cannot receive the slightest benefit from the Lord’s Table—and is only adding sin to sin! To carry unrepented sin to the Lord’s Table, and there receive the bread and wine, knowing in our own hearts that we and wickedness are yet friends—is one of the worst things man can do, and one of the most hardening to the conscience. If a man must have his sins, and can’t give them up, let him by all means stay away from the Lord’s Supper! There is such a thing as “eating and drinking in an unworthy manner” and to our own “judgment.” To no one do these words apply so thoroughly, as to an unrepentant sinner.
(c) Self-righteous people who think that they will be saved by their own works, have no business to come to the Lord’s Table. Strange as it may sound at first, these people are the least qualified of all to receive the Lord’s table. They may be outwardly correct, moral and respectable in their lives, but so long as they trust in their own goodness for salvation they are entirely in the wrong place at the Lord’s Supper. For what do we declare at the Lord’s Supper? We publicly profess that we have no goodness, righteousness, or worthiness of our own, and that all our hope is in Christ. We publicly profess that we are guilty, sinful, corrupt—and naturally deserve God’s wrath and condemnation. We publicly profess that Christ’s merit and not ours; Christ’s righteousness and not ours—is the only cause why we look for acceptance with God. Now what has a self-righteous man to do with an ordinance like this? Clearly nothing at all.
One thing at any rate, is very clear: a self-righteous man has no business to receive the Lord’s Supper. The Communion Service of the Church bids all communicants declare that “they do not presume to come to the Table trusting in their own righteousness, but in God’s numerous and great mercies.” It tells them to say, “We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under Your table,” “the memory of our sins is grievous to us; the burden of them is intolerable.” How many self-righteous professing Christians can ever go to the Lord’s Table, and take these words into his mouth—is beyond my understanding! It only shows that many professing Christians use the “forms” of worship without taking the trouble to consider what they mean.
The plain truth is that the Lord’s Supper was not meant for dead souls, but for living ones. The careless, the ignorant, the willfully wicked, the self-righteous, are no more fit to come to the Lord’s Table than a dead corpse is fit to sit down at a king’s feast! To enjoy a spiritual feast we must have a spiritual heart, and taste, and appetite. To suppose that the Lord’s Table can do any good to an unspiritual man—is as foolish as to put bread and wine into the mouth of a dead person! The careless, the ignorant, and the willfully wicked, so long as they continue in that state, are utterly unfit to come to the Lord’s Supper. To urge them to partake is not to do them good, but harm.
The Lord’s Supper is not a converting or justifying ordinance. If a man goes to the Table unconverted or unforgiven, he will be no better when he comes away (actually worse due to the associated judgments for coming unworthily).
But, after all, the ground having been cleared of error, the question still remains to be answered, Who are the sort of people who ought to receive the Lord’s Supper? I answer that by saying, people who have “examined themselves to see whether they have truly repented of their former sins, steadfastly purposing to lead a new life—have a true faith in God’s mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of His death—they are in love with all men.”
In a word, I find that a worthy communicant is one who possesses three simple marks and qualifications—repentance, faith, and love. Does a man truly repent of sin and hate it? Does a man put his trust in Jesus Christ as his only hope of salvation? Does a man live in love towards others? He who can truly answer each of these questions, “I do,” he is a man that is Scripturally qualified for the Lord’s Supper. Let him come boldly. Let no barrier be put in his way. He comes up to the Bible standard of communicants. He may draw near with confidence, and feel assured that the great Master of the banquet is not displeased.
Such a man’s repentance may be very much imperfect. Never mind! Is it real? Is he truly repentant? His faith in Christ may be very weak. Never mind! Is it real? A penny is as much true currency as is a one hundred dollar bill. His love may be very defective in quantity and degree. Never mind! Is it genuine? The grand test of a man’s Christianity is not the quantity of holiness he has, but whether he has any true holiness all. The first twelve communicants, when Christ Himself gave the bread and wine, were weak indeed—weak in knowledge, weak in faith, weak in courage, weak in patience, weak in love! But eleven of them had something about them which outweighed all defects—they were real, genuine, sincere, and true!
Forever let this great principle be rooted in our minds—that the only worthy communicant is the man who has demonstrated repentance toward God, faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and practical love toward others. Are you that man? Then you may draw near to the table, and take the ordinance to your comfort. Anything less than this I dare not change in my standard of a communicant. I will never encourage someone to receive the Lord’s Supper—who is careless, ignorant, and self-righteous! I will never tell anyone to keep away until he is perfect, and to wait until his heart is as holy as an angel’s. I will not do so, because I believe that neither my Master nor His Apostles would have done so. Show me a man that really feels his sins, really leans on Christ, really struggles to be holy—and I will welcome him in My Master’s name. He may feel weak, erring, empty, feeble, doubting, wretched, and poor. But what does that matter? Paul, I believe, would have received him as a right communicant, and I will do likewise.

III. In the third place, let us consider “what BENEFIT communicants may expect to get by receiving the Lord’s Supper.” This is a point of grave importance, and one on which many mistakes abound. On no point, perhaps, connected with this ordinance are the views of Christians so vague and indistinct and undefined. One common idea among men is that “receiving the Lord’s Supper must do them some good.” Why, they can’t explain. What good, they can’t exactly say. But they have a loose general notion that it is the right thing to be a communicant, and that somehow or other it is of value to their souls! This is of course nothing better than ignorance. It is unreasonable to suppose that such communicants can please Christ, or receive any real benefit from what they do.
If there is any principle clearly laid down in the Bible about any act of religious worship, it is this that it must be with understanding. The worshiper must at least understand something about what he is doing. Mere bodily worship, unaccompanied by mind or heart—is utterly worthless. The man who eats the bread and drinks the wine, as a mere matter of form, because it is the “right” thing to do, without any clear idea of what it all means, derives no benefit. He might just as well stay at home!
Another common idea among men is that, “taking the Lord’s Supper will help them get to heaven, and take away their sins.” To this false idea you may trace up the habit in some churches of going to the Lord’s Table once a year, in order, as an old farmer once said, “to wipe off the year’s sins.” To this idea again, you may trace the too common practice of sending for a minister in time of sickness, in order to receive the ordinance before death. Yes, how many take comfort about their relatives, after they have lived a most ungodly life, for no better reason than this, that they took the Lord’s Supper when they were dying! Whether they repented and believed and had new hearts—they neither seem to know or care. All they know is that “they took the Lord’s Supper before they died.”
My heart sinks within me when I hear people resting on such evidence as this. Ideas like these are sad proofs of the ignorance which fills the minds of men about the Lord’s Supper. They are ideas for which there is not the slightest warrant in Scripture. The sooner they are cast aside and given up—the better for the Church and the world. Let us settle it firmly in our minds—that the Lord’s Supper was not given to be a means either of justification or of conversion. It was never meant to give grace—where there is no grace already; or to provide pardon—when pardon is not already enjoyed. It cannot possibly provide what is lacking, with the absence of repentance to God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an ordinance for the penitent, not for the impenitent; for the believing, not for the unbelieving; for the converted, not for the unconverted.
The unconverted man, who fancies that he can find a “shortcut” to heaven by taking the Lord’s Supper, without treading the well-worn steps of repentance and faith—will find to his cost one day, that he is totally deceived! The Lord’s Supper was meant to increase and help the grace that a man has—but not to impart the grace that he does not have. It was certainly never intended to make our peace with God, to justify, or to convert. The simplest statement of the benefit which a truehearted communicant may expect to receive from the Lord’s Supper, is the strengthening and refreshing of our souls—clearer views of Christ and His atonement, clearer views of all the offices which Christ fills, as our Mediator and Advocate, clearer views of the complete redemption Christ has obtained for us by His substituted death on the cross, clearer views of our full and perfect acceptance in Christ before God, fresh reasons for deep repentance for sin, fresh reasons for lively faith—these are among the leading returns which a believer may confidently expect to get from his attendance at the Lord’s Table. He who eats the bread and drinks the wine in a right spirit—will find himself drawn into closer communion with Christ, and will feel to know Him more, and understand Him better.
(a) Right reception of the Lord’s Supper has a “humbling” effect on the soul. The sight of the bread and wine as emblems of Christ’s body and blood, reminds us how sinful sin must be, if nothing less than the death of God’s own Son could make satisfaction for it, or redeem us from its guilt. Never should we be so “clothed with humility,” as when we receive the Lord’s Supper.
(b) Right reception of the Lord’s Supper has a “cheering” effect on the soul. The sight of the bread broken, and the wine poured out, reminds us how full, perfect, and complete is our salvation! Those vivid emblems remind us what an enormous price has been paid for our redemption. They press on us the mighty truth—that believing on Christ, we have nothing to fear, because a sufficient payment has been made for our debt. The “precious blood of Christ” answers every charge that can be brought against us. God can be “just and the one who justifies, those who have faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).
(c) Right reception of the Lord’s Supper has a “sanctifying” effect on the soul. The bread and wine remind us how great is our debt of gratitude to our Lord, and how thoroughly we are bound to live for Him who died for our sins. They seem to say to us, “Remember what Christ has done for you—and ask yourself whether there is anything too great to do for Him!”
(d) Right reception of the Lord’s Supper into hearts, has a “restraining” effect on the soul. Every time a believer receives the bread and the wine, he is reminded what a serious thing it is to be a Christian, and what an obligation is laid on him to lead a consistent life. Bought with such a price as that which the bread and wine call to his recollection, ought he not to glorify Christ in body and spirit, which are His? The man that goes regularly and intelligently to the Lord’s Table finds it increasingly hard to yield to sin and conform to the world.
Such is a brief account of the benefits which a right-hearted communicant may expect to receive from the Lord’s Supper. In eating that bread and drinking that cup, such a man will have his repentance deepened, his faith increased, his knowledge enlarged, his habit of holy living strengthened. He will realize more of the “real presence” of Christ in his heart. Eating, that bread by faith, he will feel closer communion with the body of Christ. Drinking that wine by faith, he will feel closer communion with the blood of Christ. He will see more clearly what Christ is to him, and what he is to Christ. He will understand more thoroughly what it is to be “one with Christ, and Christ one with him.” He will feel the roots of his soul’s spiritual life watered, and the work of grace in his heart established, built up, and carried forward.
All these things may seem and sound like foolishness to a natural man, but to a true Christian these things are light, and health, and life, and peace. No wonder that a true Christian finds the Lord’s Supper a source of blessing! Remember, I do not pretend to say that all Christians experience the full blessing of the Lord’s Supper, which I have just attempted to describe. Nor do I say that the same believer will always find his soul in the same spiritual frame, and always receive the same amount of benefit from the ordinance. But I boldly say this: you will rarely find a true believer who will not say that he believes the Lord’s Supper is one of his best helps and highest privileges. He will tell you that if he were deprived of the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis he would find the loss of it a great detriment to his soul. There are some things of which we never know the value of, until they are taken from us. So I believe it is with the Lord’s Supper. The weakest and humblest of God’s children gets a blessing from this ordinance, to an extent of which he is not aware.
IV. In the last place, I have to consider “why it is that so many so-called Christians never come to the Lord’s Supper.” It is a simple matter of fact, that myriads of people who call themselves Christians never come to the Table of the Lord. They would not endure to be told that they deny the faith, and are not in communion with Christ. When they worship, they attend a place of Christian worship; when they hear religious teaching, it is the teaching of Christianity; when they are married, they use a Christian service. Yet all this time they never come to the Lord’s Supper! They often live on in this state of mind for many years, and to all appearance are not ashamed. They often die in this condition without ever having received the ordinance, and yet profess to feel hope at the last, and their friends express a hope about them. And yet they live and die in open disobedience to a plain command of Christ! These are simple facts. Let anyone look around him, and deny them if he can.
Now why is this? What explanation can we give? Our Lord Jesus Christ’s last injunctions to His disciples are clear, plain, and unmistakable. He says to all, “Eat, drink: do this in remembrance of Me.” Did He leave it to our discretion whether we would obey His injunction or not? Did He mean that it was not significant whether His disciples did or did not keep up the ordinance He had just established? Certainly not! The very idea is absurd, and one certainly never dreamed of in apostolic times. Paul evidently takes it for granted that every Christian would go to the Lord’s Table when it was available. A class of Christian worshipers who never came to the Table, was a class whose existence was unknown to him.
What, then, are we to say of that number which fail to receive the Lord’s Supper, unabashed, unhumbled, not afraid, not the least ashamed? Why is it? How is it? What does it all mean? Let us look these questions fairly in the face, and endeavor to give an answer to them.
(1) For one thing, many fail to go to the Table because they are utterly careless and thoughtless about true religion, and ignorant of very first principles of Christianity. They go to church, as a matter of form—but they neither know, nor care anything about what is done at church! Christianity has no place either in their hearts, or heads, or consciences, or wills, or understandings. It is a mere affair of “words and names,” about which they know little—and have little concern. There were very few such false Christians in Paul’s times, if indeed there were any. There are far too many in these last days of the world. They are the dead-weights of the Churches, and the scandal of Christianity. What such people need is light, knowledge, grace, a renewed conscience, a changed heart. In their present state they have no part of Christ; and dying in this state they are thrown into hell. Do I wish them to come to the Lord’s Supper? Certainly not, till they are converted. No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
(2) For another thing, many professing Christians do not receive the Lord’s Supper because they know they are living in the habitual practice of some sin, or in the neglect of some Christian duty. Their conscience tells them so long as they live in this state, and do not turn away from their sins, they are unfit to come to the Table of the Lord. Well, they are so far quite right! I wish no man to be a communicant if he cannot give up his sins. But I warn these people not to forget that if they are unfit for the Lord’s Supper in that condition, they will be lost eternally. The same sins which disqualify them for the ordinance, most certainly disqualify them for heaven. Do I want them to come to the Lord’s Supper as they are? Certainly not! But I do want them to repent and be converted, to cease to do evil, and to break off from their sins. Forever let it be remembered, that the man who is unfit for the Lord’s Supper—is unfit to die!
(3) For another thing, some are not communicant because they imagine that it will add to their responsibility. They are not, as many, ignorant and careless about religion. They even attend church regularly and listen to the preaching of the gospel. But they say they dread coming to the Lord’s Table and making a confession and a profession. They fear that they might afterwards fall away, and bring scandal on the cause of Christianity. They think it wisest to be on the safe side, and not commit themselves at all. Such people would do well to remember, that if they avoid responsibility of one kind by not coming to the Lord’s Table, they incur responsibility of another kind, quite as grave, and quite as injurious to the soul. They are responsible for open disobedience to a command from of Christ. They are shrinking from doing that which their Master continually commands His disciples—confessing Him before men.
No doubt it is a serious step to come to the Lord’s Table and receive the bread and the wine. It is a step that none should take lightly and without self-examination. But it is “no less a serious step to walk away and refuse the ordinance,” when we remember Who invites us to receive it, and for what purpose it was appointed! I warn the people I am now dealing with—to be careful what they are doing. Let them not flatter themselves that it can ever be a wise, a prudent, a safe line of conduct to neglect a plain command of Christ! They may find at length, to their cost, that they have only increased their guilt and forsaken their mercies!
(4) For another thing, some false Christians stay away from the Lord’s Supper because they believe they are not yet worthy. They wait and stand still, under the mistaken notion that no one is qualified for the Lord’s Supper unless he feels within him, something like perfection. They pitch their idea of a communicant so high that they despair of attaining to it. Waiting for inward perfection they live, and waiting for it they die. Now such people would do well to understand that they are completely mistaken in their estimate of what “worthiness” really is.
They are forgetting that the Lord’s Supper was not intended for unsinning angels, but for men and women subject to weakness, living in a world full of temptations, and needing mercy and grace every day they live! A sense of our own utter unworthiness is the best worthiness that we can bring to the Lord’s Table. A deep feeling of our own entire indebtedness to Christ for all we have and hope for, is the best feeling we can bring with us. The people I now have in view, ought to consider seriously whether the ground they have taken up is defensible. If they are waiting until they feel in themselves perfect hearts, perfect motives, perfect feelings, perfect repentance, perfect love, perfect faith—they will wait forever. There never were such communicants in any age—certainly not in the days of our Lord and of the Apostles—there never will be as long as the world stands. No, rather, the very thought that we feel literally worthy, is a symptom of secret self-righteousness, and proves us unfit for the Lord’s Table in God’s sight. Sinners we are, when we first are saved—sinners we will be—until we die! Converted, changed, renewed, sanctified—but sinners still (though not like before—sin is not the pattern of a believer’s new life). In short, no man is really worthy to receive the Lord’s Supper who does not deeply feel that he is a “miserable sinner.”
(5) In the last place, some object going to the Lord’s Table because they see others partaking who are not worthy, and not in a right state of mind. Because others eat and drink unworthily, they refuse to eat and drink at all. Of all the reasons taken up by those refusing to come to the Lord’s Supper to justify their own neglect of Christ’s ordinance, I must plainly say—I know none which seems to me so foolish, so weak, so unreasonable, and so unscriptural as this. It is as good as saying that we will never receive the Lord’s Supper at all! When will we ever find a body of communicants on earth, of which all the members are converted and living perfect lives? It is setting up ourselves in the most unhealthy attitude of judging others. “Who are you, that you judge another person?” “What is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22). It is depriving ourselves of a great privilege, because others profane it and make a bad use of it. It is pretending to be wiser than our Master Himself. It is taking up ground for which there is no warrant in Scripture.
Paul rebukes the Corinthians sharply, for the irreverent behavior of some of the communicants; but I cannot find him giving a single hint that when some came to the Table unworthily, others ought to draw back or stay away. Let me advise the non-communicants I have now in view, to beware of being wise above that which was written. Let them study the parable of the Wheat and Tares, and mark how both were to “grow together until the harvest” (Matthew 13:30). Perfect Churches, perfect congregations, perfect bodies of communicants, are all unattainable in this world of confusion and sin. Let us covet the best gifts, and do all we can to check sin in others; but let us not starve our own selves, because others are ignorant sinners, and turn their food into poison. If others are foolish enough to eat and drink unworthily, let us not turn our backs on Christ’s ordinance, and refuse to eat and drink at all.
Such are the five common excuses why myriads in the present day, though professing themselves Christians, never come to the Lord’s Supper. One common remark may be made about them—there is not a single reason among the five, which deserves to be called “good,” and which does not condemn the man who gives it. I challenge anyone to deny this. I have said repeatedly that I want no one to come to the Lord’s Table who is not properly qualified. But I ask those who stay away never to forget that the very reasons they assign for their conduct, are their condemnation. I tell them that they stand convicted before God of either being very ignorant of what a communicant is, and what the Lord’s Supper is; or else of being people who are not living right—and are unfit to die.
In short, to say, I am a noncommunicant, is as good as saying one of three things—
I am living in sin—and cannot come;
I know Christ commands me—but I will not obey Him;
I am an ignorant man—and do not understand what the Lord’s Supper means.
I know not in what state of mind this book may find the reader of this paper, or what his opinions may be about the Lord’s Supper. But I will conclude the whole subject by offering to all some WARNINGS, which I venture to think are highly required by the times.
(1) In the first place, “do not neglect” the Lord’s Supper. The man who coolly and deliberately refuses to use an ordinance which the Lord Jesus Christ appointed for his profit—may be very sure that his soul is in a very wrong state. There is a judgment to come; there is an account to be rendered of all our conduct on earth. How anyone can look forward to that judgment day, and expect to meet Christ with comfort and in peace, if he has refused all his life to commune with Christ at His Table, is a thing that I cannot understand. Does this hit home to you? Be careful what you are doing!
(2) In the second place, do not receive the Lord’s Supper “carelessly, irreverently, and as a matter of form.” The man who goes to the Lord’s Table, and eats the bread and drinks the wine, while his heart is far away—is committing a great sin, and robbing himself of a great blessing. In receiving the Lord’s Table, as in every other means of grace, everything depends on the state of mind and heart, in which the ordinance is used. He who draws near without repentance, faith, and love—and with a heart full of sin and the world—will certainly be nothing better, but rather worse! Does this hit home to you? Be careful what you are doing!
(3) In the third place, “do not make an idol” of the Lord’s Supper. The man who tells you that it is the first, foremost, chief, and principal precept in Christianity, is telling you that which he will find it hard to prove. In the great majority of the books of the New Testament the Lord’s Supper is not even named. In the letter to Timothy and Titus, about a minister’s duties, the subject is not even mentioned. To repent and be converted, to believe and be holy, to be born again and have grace in our hearts—all these things are of far more importance than to be a communicant. Without them we cannot be saved. Without the Lord’s Supper we can be saved. Are you tempted to make the Lord’s Supper override and overshadow everything in Christianity, and place it above prayer and preaching? Be careful. Pay attention what you are doing!
(4) In the fourth place, “do not use the Lord’s Supper irregularly.” Never be absent when the Lord’s Supper is administered. Make every effort to be in attendance. Regular habits are essential to the maintenance of the health of our bodies. Regular use of the Lord’s Supper is essential to the well-being of our souls. The man who finds it a burden to attend on every occasion when the Lord’s Table is spread, may well doubt whether all is right within him, and whether he is ready for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. If Thomas had not been absent when the Lord appeared the first time to the assembled disciples, he would not have said the foolish things he did. Absence made him miss a blessing. Does this hit home to you? Be careful what you are doing!
(5) In the fifth place, “do not do anything to bring discredit” on your profession as a communicant. The man who after attending the Lord’s Table runs into sin—does more harm perhaps than any unsaved sinner. He is a walking sermon on behalf of the devil! He gives opportunity to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. He helps to keep people away from Christ. Lying, drinking, immoral, dishonest, selfish communicants—are the helpers of the devil, and the worst enemies of the Gospel. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age!” Titus 2:11-12. Does this hit home to you? Be careful what you are doing!
(6) In the last place, “do not despair” and be cast down, if with all your desires you do not feel that you get a lot of good from the Lord’s Supper. Very likely you are expecting too much. Very likely you are a poor judge of your own state. Your soul’s roots may be strengthening and growing—while you think that you are not growing. Very likely you are forgetting that earth is not heaven, and that here we walk by faith and not by sight, and must expect nothing perfect. Lay these things to heart. Do not think harsh things about yourself without cause.
To every reader into whose hands this paper may fall, I commend the whole subject of it as deserving of serious and solemn consideration. I am nothing better than a poor or fallible man myself. But if I have made up my mind on any point it is this—that there is no truth which demands such plain speaking, as truth about the Lord’s Supper!

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