(Kersten, The Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2, Part 4)

The Proper Use of the Lord's Supper

Lord's Day 30

Psalter No. 141 st. 3 & 4
Read Hebrews 7:10-28
Psalter No. 423 st. 4 & 6
Psalter No. 200 st. 2
Psalter No. 384 st. 1 & 5


    The apostle Paul declares in Hebrews 7 that Christ has an
unchangeable priesthood, because He continues forever. The priesthood
of Aaron was indeed changeable; it only served in the day of shadows to
portray the priesthood of Christ. But Aaron died, and so did his sons
and successors. By reason of death they were not permitted to continue,
and their death typified the mutability of the whole priesthood.
Neither they nor their sacrifices were able to atone for the guilt of
the people or take away their sins, because the blood of bulls and
goats could not render satisfaction to the justice of God or purge the
conscience from dead works to serve the living God. The priesthood of
Aaron had value, only because Christ was foreshadowed in it, and Christ
made use of it to administer His own priesthood, so that by faith God's
people might cast an eye upon Him and embrace Him. Anyone who lacked
that faith and was content with the outward form, came short of what
was necessary for his salvation. Everything depended upon the
fulfilling of the shadows by Him, Who has an unchangeable priesthood.
Paul speaks of Him in the chapter that was read. The Lord Jesus
continues forever. He is the eternal Son of God, eternally begotten of
the Father; very God from eternity to eternity. Not only so, but also
as Mediator He continues eternally. He is anointed to a priesthood
which is unchangeable in which He will administer, until all His elect
have entered the perfect salvation that is prepared for them before the
foundation of the world. There, sin will be no more, but the redemptive
power of the only High Priest shall be enjoyed perfectly and without
any interruption. His sacrifice has an abiding efficacy, for He has
sacrificed Himself in order to present His church to the Father as a
chaste virgin, without spot or wrinkle. He is risen from the dead and
sits at the right hand of His Father, always to intercede for His
people. He does not transfer His priestly office to another, as Aaron
and his sons had to transfer theirs when they died. He does not have to
bring a sacrifice to atone for sins again, for by one offering He has
perfected forever them that are sanctified. Day and night He presents
His dearly-purchased church to His Father in the sacrifice once made.
In Him the Father looks upon her and she is pleasing to Him, the object
of His eternal love. If the priestly ministry of Him Who lives forever
would cease, God's church would be lost. But in the sanctuary which is
not made with hands, that is, in heaven, the High Priest after the
order of Melchizedek, administers His unchangeable priesthood. From
thence He maintains uninterrupted communion with His chosen church and
there in heaven He is worshipped by faith, through the operation of the
Holy Spirit in the hearts of His people. No offerings need be brought
on earth anymore for the atonement of sin. No sacrificing of Christ can
take place again, nor is it necessary. Communion with the sacrifice
once accomplished is a spiritual communion, even when it is exercised
sacramentally in the Lord's Supper.
    How greatly does the Romish church detract from the only sacrifice
of Christ, when it denies this sacrifice by the institution of the mass
and renders divine honour to a piece of bread. Not by the bodily mouth,
but by faith Christ is eaten and drunk, and the guests to the Supper
are those only in whose souls a true faith has been wrought. The
Heidelberg Catechism teaches us about this very clearly according to
the Word of God in the thirtieth Lord's Day, the explanation for which
I now request your attention.
Q. 80. What difference is there between the Lord's Supper and the
    popish mass?

A. The Lord's Supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all
    sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which He Himself has
    once accomplished on the cross; and, that we by the Holy Ghost are
    ingrafted into Christ, who, according to his human nature is now
    not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God His Father,
    and will there be worshipped by us: - but the mass teaches, that
    the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the
    sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them
    by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form
    of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so
    that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one
    sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed

Q. 81. For whom is the Lord's Supper instituted?

A. For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that
    these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their
    remaining infirmities are covered by His passion and death; and
    who also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more
    strengthened, and their lives more holy; but hypocrites, and such
    as turn not to God with sincere hearts, eat and drink judgment to

Q. 82. Are they also to be admitted to this Supper, who, by confession
    and life, declare themselves unbelieving and ungodly?

A. No; for by this, the covenant of God would be profaned, and His
    wrath kindled against the whole congregation; therefore it is the
    duty of the Christian church, according to the appointment of
    Christ and His apostles, to exclude such persons, by the keys of
    the kingdom of heaven, till they show amendment of life.

    In this Lord's Day the proper use of the Lord's Supper is
      I. In the difference between the Lord's Supper and the popish
     II. In the true participants;
    III. In the strong defense of the Lord's table.
    In the two preceding Lord's Days the instructor presented the
doctrine of the Lord's Supper and defended it especially against the
false doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. As a sign and a seal the
Lord's Supper admonishes the Lord's people that they are partakers of
the one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross, and of all His
benefits. This is not because bread and wine change into the body and
blood of Christ and are eaten and drunk by the bodily mouth, but
through union with Christ by a true faith which is strengthened by the
use of the Lord's Supper. In the Lord's Day we are now considering, the
Catechism presents the proper use of the Lord's Supper, at the same
time condemning, by the light of God's Word, a second error of Rome,
namely, the error of the Popish mass.
    The eightieth question, which deals with this abominable error, was
inserted in the second edition of the Catechism, so that more eyes
might be opened to see the terrible evil of Rome's denial of the one
sacrifice of Christ. In the Lord's Supper there is an eating and
drinking of Christ, but in the invention of the popish mass that does
not take place at all. According to Rome, the mass is a sacrifice. In
the mass Christ repeats the sacrifice of Himself again and again.
Therein lies the first difference. Though closely connected to the
sacrament of the Romish Lord's Supper, the mass has an entirely
different character. According to the dogma of transubstantiation, the
bread and wine are changed into the real Christ, because the Romish
priest has blessed these elements, and they are changed in such a
manner (and the Council of Trent has placed its anathema upon any that
deny it), that Jesus Christ is contained in each of the two elements
and in each separate part of the bread and wine. Hence in every piece
of the wafer and in every drop of the wine is the whole Christ
according to both His natures, as He is exalted at the right hand of
the Father. This transubstantiation once accomplished is never
nullified. In the communion the Roman Catholic eats Christ and the
priest drinks His blood, not by faith, but with his physical mouth. We
have already spoken of this unscriptural dogma and condemned it in
accordance to God's Word. Then follows the mass which Rome added to the
    The Christ, invented by Rome, then sacrifices Himself upon the
altar unto God the Father. Notice this carefully. In the mass the wafer
is not eaten nor the wine drunk, but as the Lord Jesus once offered
Himself to God on Golgotha, so daily He offers Himself again, but now
in a bloodless manner as the priest separates His body from His blood,
and mystically puts Him to death. This sacrifice is called the host and
has full virtue as a ransom for sin and a payment for guilt. Then
further the folly is added, that this "sacrifice" is brought not only
for the living but also for the dead, whose souls are waiting in
purgatory and are supported by the mass offered for them. Indeed, they
seek to obtain the intercession of the saints by offering the mass to
them. Furthermore, they render to the wafer and the wine the same
honour that men owe to God Himself. For is not Christ also according to
His Godhead present therein? According to Romish idea, there upon the
altar lies the eternal Son of God in our human nature in the form of
bread and wine, the essence of which is entirely changed. If God is
there, man is obliged to worship Him. Emphatically Rome demands, while
placing an anathema upon him who denies it, that the wafer and the wine
be given the worship that man owes to the only begotten Son of God. Men
uncover the head and bow the knee for the wafer. So emphatically do
they demand divine honour for the wafer, that it takes precedence above
the honour Rome bestows on its saints. The Catechism summarizes it all
by saying: "But the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the
pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also
daily offered for them by the priests; and further that Christ is
bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be
worshipped in them." Is then the conclusion of the instructor too
strong? "So that the mass at the root is nothing else than a denial of
the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed
    A denial of the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ! By experience our
fathers had personal acquaintance with the mass. Under Rome's dominion
they, too, had violated and denied the love of God in Christ when they
celebrated the mass, until God opened their eyes for this abomination.
Then it became impossible not to condemn the mass with all their power.
Their love for the honour of God which is exalted in the one offering
of Christ, made them willing to sacrifice their goods and their blood.
Would they then refrain from protesting against the God-dishonoring
evil of the mass? Could they keep silence while they saw thousands of
their fellow men go on upon the road to destruction? We can. We who are
the sons of the Reformation can keep silence so easily. We the
posterity of those whose blood was shed are too tolerant. Many made a
league with Rome, and said, "Only church walls separate us; in heaven
we will meet again", as though heaven is prepared also for those who
deny the sacrifice of Christ, and as though our reformers had
sacrificed their goods and their blood for church walls instead of for
the honour of God. All this is in the name of liberty. The Roman
Catholics have a delegate at the Pope's court. Soon they will have
their processions also in our streets and districts, so that they can
publicly deny the one sacrifice of Christ. Some ask, "What matters it
to us? They are to answer for what they are doing. It will be of no
advantage to them. But of what concern is it to us?" Such arguments as
these show that there is a lack of genuine seriousness, that the glow
of conviction is dimmed, that the fire of love to the honour of God is
no longer burning, and that men have forgotten that Rome drank the
blood of the martyrs. For what other reason would men be able to
tolerate the open denial of the sacrifice of Christ? For what other
reason would men be so unconcerned about Rome's demand to be allowed to
have processions or in other words, to practice openly in our streets
throughout the land the accursed idolatry that lies in the worshipping
of the wafer? Oh that alliance with Rome - what mischief has it
wrought! What weakening has it caused among our Calvinistic people! Let
them who understand the issues as our fathers did; in whose souls a
spark of love still glows for the honour of God - let them, before it
is too late, do battle against the church of Rome which is trying to
dominate us.
    At the bottom the mass is an accursed idolatry. Ignorant people do
not immediately realize this; they think it is not so serious. Though
Rome may exact all reverence from the laity and lay its curse upon
those who have no faith in its inventions, the idolatry which is
accursed of God underlies all that appearance of piety. The Catechism
speaks according to the Word of God.
    The supper which was instituted by the Lord for His church is
altogether different. This supper of the Lord testifies to us (with the
strength of the divine seal) (only the living, since the lot of the
dead is decided forever, and since there is no purgatory), that we (who
are His people) have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of
Jesus Christ, which He Himself has once accomplished on the cross. That
is the doctrine of Scripture. "For Christ is not entered into the holy
places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into
heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor yet
that He should offer Himself often, as the we (who are His people) have
a full pardon of all sin by the only high priest entereth into the holy
place every year with blood of others; for then must He often have
suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of
the world has He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."
(Heb 9:24-26) In this passage Paul emphasizes the word "once". He does
so also in verse 28: "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of
many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time
without sin unto salvation." Those who look unto Him for salvation have
enough in that one sacrifice of Christ. "For by one offering He has
perfected forever them that are sanctified." The church of Rome fails
to recognize the all-sufficiency of that only sacrifice that atones for
all the sins of the elect. There is no pardon of sins possible unless
mass is daily offered. The church of Rome undermines the firm
foundation of the church of God, and robs it of its only comfort both
in life and in death. Let us read on.
    The Lord's Supper testifies to us "that we by the Holy Ghost are
ingrafted into Christ who, according to His human nature is now not on
earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God His Father." Rome seeks
communion in the sign, and wants union by external things with a Christ
conjured by the hands of the priest. The Lord's Supper testifies that
we have communion with Christ only by the Holy Ghost as was explained
in Lord's Day 29; a spiritual, supernatural communion, that makes us
one with Christ, who according to His human nature is not on earth,
hence not in the bread and wine either, nor bodily in, with and under
these signs as the Lutheran doctrine of ubiquity teaches. Christ is in
heaven. Although, according to his Godhead He is omnipresent, He
remains in soul and body at the right hand of the Father until He
returns to judge the quick and the dead. The people of God obtain
through the Holy Ghost communion with that glorified Emmanuel. In the
Lord's Supper, God testifies that such an inexpressible blessedness is
the portion of His church. It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is
risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh
intercession for us.
    The mass is a denial of this since it seeks to repeat daily the
sacrifices of Christ already accomplished. The Lord's Supper, however
directs us to heaven where Christ will be worshipped by us. There is to
be no worshipping of Christ in the wafer, no worshipping of the product
of a baker's skill, but a worshipping of Him Who entered heaven to
appear in the presence of God for us. Such worshipping is the joy of
the soul. It will cause us to admire the glory of the Mediator in a
blessed humbling of our soul before Him. It is the foretaste of eternal
glory wherein God's children shall cast their crowns before the Lamb
and praise Him perfectly. It causes one to cry out, "He is altogether
lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend." By Him therefore
let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the
fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name. "By one offering He has
perfected forever them that are sanctified."
    Thus the instructor disposes of Rome's dreadful abuse of the Lord's
Supper that robs it of its strength. We must now give our attention to
the question who, according to God's Word are the true partakers?
    "For whom is the Lord's Supper instituted?" asks the instructor.
This is an important question to be studied in the light of God's Word.
We must seriously examine ourselves in order not to be cast out as the
man to whom the King said, "Friend, how comest thou in hither?" This
question is the more forceful because for many the fact that they have
made "confession of faith" appears to be sufficient to make one a
faithful communicant, and a one-sided emphasis is laid upon the duty of
partaking without seriously urging self-examination. As a result
superficiality is dominant and crowds of people go to the Lord's Supper
of whom it is to be feared not without reason that they are strangers
of Christ. They can not subdue their enmity against the inward,
experimental life of God's people. Much of the fault lies with the
ministry of the Word. Especially in preparatory sermons,
self-examination should be urged and the marks of a true participant
should be presented, even as our fathers did. The form for the
administration of the Lord's Supper also does this. Many say the form
is too long. Should the section on self-examination be abridged? Does
the congregation no longer need the admonition of Paul to the
Corinthians, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that
bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh
unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning
the Lord's body."? Come, let us hear the answer of the instructor, that
we may know for whom the Lord's Supper is instituted:
    "For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust
that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ, and that their
remaining infirmities are covered by His passion and death, and who
also earnestly desire to have their faith more and more strengthened,
and their lives more holy."
    The true communicant therefore (a) abhors himself; (b) believes in
Christ; and (c) seeks holiness.
    Self-abhorrence is the fruit of the discovering work of the Holy
Spirit. By nature we are self-pleasers. Every utterance of fallen human
nature is made for the purpose of glorifying man and his work. "Is not
this great Babylon that I have built?" This idolizing of man increases
as he rejects God's Word and reveals more and more what he has become
through sin. Regarding the marks of the antichrist it is written, "He
as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2
Thess 2:4). This devilish manifestation of Satan in the man of sin who
is to come is possible, only because through sin it has become natural
for us to seek self, to please self, to glorify self, and to thrust God
from His throne in order and to occupy it ourselves.
    How great a change grace brings. It casts the regenerated soul into
the dust; causes him to bow down at God's footstool; even more, works
in him such a complete renewal, that what was life to him becomes
death. He loathes the vanities of sin; he dislikes and abhors himself.
Because of this the publican could not draw near, but stood afar off in
the temple, dared not even lift up his eyes to heaven, and smote upon
his breast. He was filled with shame and sorrow. None could be as bad
or as wicked as he. He condemns himself. If he could, he would flee
from himself. There is only one way out, "God be merciful to me a
    In the centurion at Capernaum we find another example of that
self-abhorrence, that led to a low esteem of self and on the other hand
to a high esteem for Christ; which together caused him to cry out,
"Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof." The
centurion's servant was sick and grievously tormented; and the man
himself, (where would you find it in today's demoralized society?) who
loved the Jews (is it because he saw the Lord's salvation in that
people?) and even built them their synagogue - the man himself, having
heard of Jesus, sent the elders of the Jews to Him, that his servant
might be healed. He dared not go himself. Would the Lord have anything
to do with such a one as he? He chose persons whom he considered to be
more worthy, namely, the elders of the people. Now when the Lord comes,
and the centurion notices that Jesus intends to enter his home, he does
not know where to hide himself. He is overwhelmed, that the Lord would
come to him, such an unworthy one. Did the Lord really know who he was?
Immediately he sent some friends to Him, to say to him, "Lord, trouble
not Thyself; for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my
roof." This was unlike the Pharisees. They (think of Simon the
Pharisee) at times sought to establish friendship with Jesus, but that
was meant to be a favour showed to Him, by considering Him worthy of
entering their home. Here is a centurion of whom the elders of the
people can say nothing but good. He tenderly cares for his servant, but
sees nothing but evil in himself. He considers himself unworthy to
receive the Lord Jesus in his home. He abhors himself and he does so
all the more because he firmly believes that the Lord abhors him also.
Therefore he dares not stand before Him. The centurion had the very
lowest thoughts of himself but still sends his request in faith. For,
hear the message he sends: "Say in a word, and my servant shall be
healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me
soldiers, and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,'
and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." So strong
then was his faith in Christ that he saw all things as being under His
authority. Christ had only to command without putting forth any effort
Himself. He had only to speak one word and the servant would be healed.
The centurion abhorred himself, but believed. The Lord said of him, "I
have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."
    Paul also is an example of this self-loathing - an example which
teaches us that discovering grace works greater self-knowledge. In
Romans 7 the apostle describes his experience of being set at liberty
in Christ, who of God was made unto him wisdom, and righteousness, and
sanctification, and redemption. That experience is always one of
self-loathing, of knowing oneself as carnal, sold under sin, of knowing
that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; of crying out:
"Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this
death?" Paul, a deeply exercised Christian (who is his equal?) abhors
himself only to have full salvation in Christ. He is a mourner who
exults, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
    The examples mentioned should be sufficient to show that in the
regenerate, God the Holy Spirit imparts a knowledge of God and a
knowledge of self, by which the sinner is abased to the lowest and
Christ obtains a place in his heart, where He glorifies Himself. Hence,
the three marks of the true communicant, are not independent of, but
are closely related to each other. When we abhor ourselves, we flee by
faith to the Fountain opened to the house of David and to the
inhabitants of Jerusalem; and there also our hatred of sin causes us to
seek sanctification. True self-abhorrence does not make us rich in our
poverty, or cause us to glory in our loathing of self, or wickedly
enlarge upon our sinful nature which but increases the evil lusts of
our heart. It is rather a grievous self-abhorrence which causes us to
flee to Christ, to find rest in Him alone; because He is the ground
upon which we obtain remission of sins, and only by Him our remaining
weaknesses which remain with us till death are covered. God causes His
people to seek after sanctification in the strengthening of faith, that
causes the soul to live in Him Who has said, "Without Me ye can do
    For such the Lord's Supper was instituted, so that during the
breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine as they eat and
drink, their faith shall be strengthened in their Lord and Savior, Who
bought them with His precious blood as He sacrificed Himself for them
upon the cross. For all of these and for these alone the Lord's Supper
was instituted. "But hypocrites, and such as turn not to God with
sincere hearts eat and drink judgment to themselves." That is the
judgment of self-deception. They deceive themselves. They identify
themselves with God's people, but are strangers to grace. The judgment
which they eat and drink to themselves is the Lord's giving them over
to themselves, while they harden themselves in their error to their own
    Oh how necessary it is to observe this, to lay it upon the
conscience when preaching, to show the difference between the common
and saving operation of the Holy Spirit, so that the conscience may
awaken and the congregation may be convinced, that only those who by
regeneration have become partakers of a new life are invited to the
Lord's Supper. Of these all are invited! The Lord's Supper is meant not
only for the assured Christian, but also for the weak in faith. For the
Catechism describes the true communicant in terms of the essence of
faith, and the form for the administration of the Lord's Supper says
emphatically that they who lack that perfect faith are not excluded.
They, too, who hunger and thirst after righteousness are invited that
they may be filled. The preaching of the Word is one of the two keys by
which the Kingdom of heaven is shut to unbelievers and opened to
believers. There is still another key, and by it the table of the Lord
is strongly protected as we shall now hear in the third place.
    In the last question of this Lord's Day the instructor says we must
exclude from the Lord's Supper those who by doctrine and life show
themselves to be ungodly.
    This must be done wisely. A minister must make himself free from
the blood of his hearers when preaching the Word. They are to be held
responsible if they do not examine themselves according to the marks he
brings forth. He may not and cannot refuse the Lord's Supper to those
he does not believe are converted to God. He does not know the heart.
It is a very different matter, however, with those who show themselves
by doctrine or life to be ungodly, who deny the truth or have a good
confession, but live in sin. Then it is the bounden duty of the
consistory to forbid their partaking. If they do not do so, the wrath
of God is kindled against the whole congregation. When Achan had stolen
some of the spoil of Jericho, God would not go with Joshua to war
against Ai. An accursed one was in the camp. So when discipline is not
exercised a curse rests on the church. God then withdraws Himself,
withholds His Spirit, and hides His kind face. In the following Lord's
Days the Catechism speaks of the keys of the kingdom, but in connection
with the holy supper we must point out that the elders must guard the
walls of Zion closely, and take heed to both doctrine and life.
Therefore they watch at the Lord's table and must prohibit those who
offend openly. On the other hand the Lord calls His people to the
table, so that they may by faith embrace the redemption in Christ which
is prepared for them in the presence of their enemies. For to them will
be confirmed the words of Psalm 72, which we shall now sing out of
Psalter No. 200 stanza 2:
        "When the needy seek Him
        He will mercy show," etc.
    Beloved, may the Lord by His Word stir us up to oppose the
God-dishonoring doctrine of the Romish church. Let us not look on
without concern when Rome commits its idolatry. The doctrine of
transubstantiation is an easy perceptible lie, as we learned in Lord's
Day 29. Moreover, the mass is a denial of the only sacrifice of Christ;
and, since divine honour is given to a wafer, it is an accursed
idolatry. Is it possible to keep silence about this if God's Word has
any value for us at all? Can we bear to see Rome go on unmolested in
this land which was once delivered out of its claws, if the honour of
Christ still carries some weight upon our heart? A Jew once told me
that he had attended a religious procession while wearing a hat.
Certain ones threatened to knock his hat off if he did not remove it
for the wafer that was being carried in the procession. Ask yourself
what is awaiting us if Rome has its way! In legislation and in
government Rome is attaining the upper hand, and the Protestants remain
indifferent. Those who call themselves Reformed, but are without
principle or courage and deny their profession, are helping Rome ascend
the throne. Both the government and the citizens are surrendering our
land and our people to the power of Rome, because they reject the Word
of God and propagate a so-called liberty which is in direct opposition
to the liberty obtained by the 80 years' war. Shall not the Lord see
it, and remove our land from before His face because we have
faithlessly forsaken Him and because we have provoked Him with this
idolatry? Rome is seeking to dominate the world just as Communism is.
It will not rest before rulers and nations bow to the power of the pope
whom our Reformed fathers called the antichrist. Oh, let us awaken, and
destroy out of the land, denial of the only sacrifice of Christ and the
accursed idolatry that is committed in the mass, so that the kingdom of
the antichrist may be cast down. Repetition of the sacrifice once
brought by Christ is not necessary, either for the living, or for the
    The Lord's Supper testifies to us that only in the one sacrifice of
Christ accomplished on the cross, God's people have a full pardon of
sin, that is, a full pardon of all original and actual sin. We must
have communion with that sacrifice by faith. Beloved, let us examine
ourselves in this matter. Although in these days of our superficiality,
all professors of the truth are urged to attend the Lord's Supper, the
Catechism tells us that this sacrament is instituted only for those who
are truly sorrowful for their sins and yet trust that these are
forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining
infirmities are covered by His passion and death. Do you by effectual
conviction know something of this true sorrow? Were your sin and guilt
ever revealed to you as an offense against the attributes of God? Have
you learned to know a godly sorrow that works repentance to salvation
not to be repented of? If not, then you have no right to the supper,
even though the consistory cannot prevent you. A few minutes ago I
referred to the king's marriage feast, at which one guest was sent away
with the question, "How camest thou in hither not having a wedding
garment?" But how could the king ask that question? When the invited
guests had not come, the king's servant called the poor and the maimed
from the highways and hedges and compelled them to be guests at the
wedding. Who of these was wearing a wedding garment? No one, of course.
On the other hand, everyone that entered at the gate was given a
wedding garment by the master of the feast. Hence the question to the
one who had no wedding garment, "How camest thou in hither." He had
climbed up by another way, and as a thief and murderer he was bound
hand and foot and cast into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matt
22:1-15) In this parable we see the picture of all those who are not
partakers of Christ. Poor Christless communicant! God will cast you
into outer darkness if you come to the Lord's Supper as one who climbs
in by another way; you do not enter by the king's gate. Since you lack
the saving conviction of the Holy Spirit, and have never learned to
take refuge in Christ, there is no proper place for you at the Lord's
table. Although God's Word excludes you, you can be so bold as to break
through; but the Lord sees you and will cast you away with a strong
arm. I pray you, examine yourself and fear, lest the Lord give you up
to the hardness and blindness of your heart. Examine yourself before
going to the Lord's table. God knows the heart of each of us. May He
thrust us from all our deceptive grounds, so that we may learn. by His
Spirit to abhor ourselves and seek our righteousness in Christ. I
cannot say it too simply or too seriously. An unconverted person cannot
properly partake of the Lord's table. That does not mean that the
Lord's Supper has nothing to say to you. Behold the great privilege of
those for whom the Lord has made a place there. If many sit at the
table who are strangers to grace, it is to their own condemnation; but
let your eye fall upon the true communicants once more. Are they not
happy? Would you not be jealous of their blessedness? Do not stay away
when the Lord's Supper is administered, but see what God has prepared
for His people in the one sacrifice of Christ accomplished on the
cross. May the Lord sanctify, also for you in the Supper, the clear
testimony of His eternal sacrifice.
    If you have learned to abhor yourself in dust and ashes before God,
do not despise the invitation of Christ. Notice that those who are
truly sorry for their sins also embrace by faith the full pardon in
Christ. They have the fruit of this already in their frames. It is not
always dark and lost; sometimes the heavy burden of their sins falls
away from them, and the love and peace of God fills their heart, so
that they sing, "I love the Lord." Testify before the Lord whether you
are a stranger to this fruit of the reconciliation accomplished by the
sacrifice of Christ; whether the Lord did not sustain you by His Word,
and capture your heart by opening the Gospel to you. Such, now, are
called to the Lord's Supper, that their faith may be strengthened. If
the enemy assaults you, and if you fear that you are not wearing a
wedding garment because you cannot accept Christ as your own, may the
love of the Lord impel you to show the Lord's death, and grant you by
faith to meet Him at His table. He invites you to eat of the bread and
to drink of the wine He has mingled. At His table the Lord strengthens
faith. May He bring you to full assurance, as I once heard of an elder
who at the table was delivered of the greatest bonds. He could embrace
Christ by faith and cry out with the spouse, "My Beloved is mine, and I
am His: He feedeth among the lilies." Let not the evil frames of your
heart keep you back. May the Lord prevent us from breaking out in sin
and from backsliding in doctrine and life. To that end all God's people
need the Lord's guarding hand over them at all times. Even though we
are graciously prevented from backsliding, a soul can be so dry and
dead, that the ordinances of the Lord leave almost no impression. Let
this not prevent you from having communion, but rather urge you to seek
Him and place yourself along the way where Jesus passes. May He come
leaping upon the mountains and skipping upon the hills, treading them
under His feet. May He strengthen your faith by means of the Supper. Do
not deny your Mediator and Savior. May He grant you by the continual
exercise of faith to increase in sanctification, bearing the fruit
thereof in "amendment of life." May communion with Him also bear fruit
in closer fellowship with the saints, that there may be mutual support
among God's people, even when they grow older. May the Lord thus in the
administration of His table cause His people to sit under the apple
tree. May His fruit be sweet to their taste, and lead their thoughts to
that Supper that shall once be held in perfection by all God's elect,
when with Abraham, Isaac en Jacob they shall sit at the round table to
praise and glorify their God and King forever. Amen.

Kersten, Heidelberg Catechism in 52 Sermons, Vol.2
(continued in part 5...)

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