What I would have said about the Lord’s Supper if I’d had time…

After last Sunday’s sermon (Removing the Obstacles of Legalism from Taking the Lord’s Supper), I’ve been amazed at how many people have shared with me how they have struggled with taking the Lord’s Supper. The guilt, the unworthiness, even the fear and dread of taking it. On the one hand, I’m glad that people take it so seriously, but on the other hand, I’m convicted by how many of those serious-minded worshippers I’ve had a part in discouraging in the act of taking. I pray that Sunday’s message will be a tool for bringing a whole lot of grace-induced liberation to hearts bound by condemnation.

My heart is still rejoicing to hear of the burdens that were lifted. Praise the Lord!!

Some have asked about who then is to be “fenced” away from the Lord’s Table. The short answer is this: those who are unrepentant about sin should not partake, since, THAT is a state of rebellion, or as Luther said, a lack of DESIRE to receive the grace given in the ordinance.

So, we should fence the table from 3 kinds of people: unbelievers, the unrepentant and the self-righteous. Everyone else is invited to come.

Luther had really good pastoral advice in his Larger Catechism. I had planned to use this in the sermon, but simply ran out of time. I wanted to find a way to share it with you so I’m posting it here. This is really good, so I’m giving you all of it.

Notice specifically the distinction in who should and shouldn’t come to the Lord’s Table in the first few paragraphs (paragraphs 2-4 in particular). Luther’s use of the term “desire” is the key here. (underlines and bracketed comments are mine)

Luther in the Larger Catechism:

But if you say: How if I feel that I am not prepared? Answer: That is also my scruple, especially from the old way under the Pope, in which a person tortured himself to be so perfectly pure that God could not find the least blemish in us. [This is a Catholic approach to the Lord’s Supper!] On this account we became so timid that every one was instantly thrown into consternation and said to himself: Alas! you are unworthy!

But if you are to regard how good and pure you are, and labor to have no compunctions, you must never approach.

We must, therefore, make a distinction here among men. For those who are wanton and dissolute [deliberately intend to continue in sin] must be told to stay away; for they are not prepared to receive forgiveness of sin, since they do not desire it and do not wish to be godly.

But the others, who are not such callous and wicked people, and desire to be godly, must not absent themselves, even though otherwise they be feeble and full of infirmities… For no one will make such progress that he will not retain many daily infirmities in flesh and blood.

Therefore such people must learn that it is the highest art to know that our Sacrament does not depend upon our worthiness. For we are not baptized because we are worthy and holy, [or] …because we are pure and without sin, but the contrary, because we are poor miserable men, and just because we are unworthy; …

But whoever would gladly obtain grace and consolation should impel himself, and allow no one to frighten him away, but say: I, indeed, would like to be worthy; but I come, not upon any worthiness, but upon Thy Word, because Thou hast commanded it, as one who would gladly be Thy disciple, no matter what becomes of my worthiness.

But this is difficult; for we always have this obstacle and hindrance to encounter, that we look more upon ourselves than upon the Word and lips of Christ.

We must never regard the Sacrament as something injurious from which we had better flee, but as a pure, wholesome, comforting remedy imparting salvation and comfort, which will cure you and give you life both in soul and body. …

those who are sensible of their weakness, desire to be rid of it and long for help, should regard and use it only as a precious antidote against the poison which they have in them. For here in the Sacrament you are to receive from the lips of Christ forgiveness of sin, which contains and brings with it the grace of God and the Spirit with all His gifts, protection, shelter, and power against death and the devil and all misfortune.

Published by Scott W. Kay

II serve as the pastor of Grace Church in Alpharetta, GA. I have previously pastored a church in Texas and another in Georgia. My wife and I have four children. I earned a B.A. in Biblical Studies from The Criswell College in Dallas, TX (1994), and then a Master of Divinity in 2006 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (2006).

3 thoughts on “What I would have said about the Lord’s Supper if I’d had time…

  1. Scott,
    Thanks for sharing this. What a beautiful gift the Lord’s Supper is to us. In His wisdom, He knew the grace His people would continue to need. It kind of reminds me of how I viewed the Sabbath for many years. Once you understand these things, instead of a dreaded or feared thing, they become a wonderful picture of His love for us.

  2. I enjoyed the sermons you preached on removing the obstacles of legalism from the Lord’s supper. Here is something I read today from Spurgeon on the ordinances.


    If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.
    Acts 8:37

    These words may answer your scruples, devout reader, concerning the ordinances. Perhaps you say, I should be afraid to be baptized; it is such a solemn thing to avow myself to be dead with Christ, and buried with him. I should not feel at liberty to come to the Master’s table; I should be afraid of eating and drinking damnation unto myself, not discerning the Lord’s body. Ah! poor trembler, Jesus has given you liberty, be not afraid. If a stranger came to your house, he would stand at the door, or wait in the hall; he would not dream of intruding unbidden into your parlour-he is not at home: but your child makes himself very free about the house; and so is it with the child of God. A stranger may not intrude where a child may venture. When the Holy Ghost has given you to feel the spirit of adoption, you may come to Christian ordinances without fear. The same rule holds good of the Christian’s inward privileges. You think, poor seeker, that you are not allowed to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; if you are permitted to get inside Christ’s door, or sit at the bottom of his table, you will be well content. Ah! but you shall not have less privileges than the very greatest. God makes no difference in his love to his children. A child is a child to him; he will not make him a hired servant; but he shall feast upon the fatted calf, and shall have the music and the dancing as much as if he had never gone astray. When Jesus comes into the heart, he issues a general licence to be glad in the Lord. No chains are worn in the court of King Jesus. Our admission into full privileges may be gradual, but it is sure. Perhaps our reader is saying, I wish I could enjoy the promises, and walk at liberty in my Lord’s commands. If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. Loose the chains of thy neck, O captive daughter, for Jesus makes thee free.

  3. Joseph,

    Thanks for listening and for commenting with that Spurgeon quote. That is exactly the freedom that I was hoping for Christians to enter in to when I preached those sermons.

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