(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 Beloved, 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 idolatry. 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 themselves. 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 presented: I. In the difference between the Lord's Supper and the popish mass; II. In the true participants; III. In the strong defense of the Lord's table. I 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 Supper. 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 idolatry." 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? II "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 sinner." 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 nothing." 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 destruction. 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. III 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 dead. 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...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: krhc2-04.txt .