This Day in Presbyterian History:
Celebrations at a Memorial Service
With few Presbyterian historical events to remember on this date, we turn our attention to Shorter Catechism question and answer number 96. It asks, “What is the Lord’s Supper?” and answers “The Lord’s Supper is a Sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.”
Here is the other Sacrament after the initial one of baptism. Its essence is by “giving and receiving bread and wine,” Christ’s death is “showed forth.” In one phrase, the truth of the substitutionary atonement of Christ dying in place of sinners is represented. Christ clearly appointed that meaning when he instituted it near the end of His earthly life.
The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is put forth as a spiritual edification or building up of the Lord’s people. That this is so, is made clear by our Confessional fathers when they specifically state that “the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, make partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.”
The churches of the Reformation divided over the manner of the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Roman Catholics believe that the actual body and blood of Christ are present in the bread and wine. Lutherans believe that the actual body and blood of Christ are in, with, and under the elements. Presbyterians believe that Christ is spiritually present in the Lord’s Supper, while He in His physical body is in heaven as a glorified body, seated at the right hand of God. So, when we partake of the elements of bread and wine, we do in a spiritual manner partake of His body and blood. Rightly partaking of them will strengthen, encourage, and spiritually build us up in the totality of the Christian faith and walk.
Words to live by: In succeeding days, when we have nothing to report of historical persons, places, and things of Presbyterianism, we will look at the Larger Catechism’s treatment as to what duties we are to perform before, during, and after our observance of the Lord’s Supper. For now, do not be carelessly absent when the Lord’s Supper is offered at your congregation. It is a means of grace to our souls, a channel of blessings of the covenant of grace.
Through the Scriptures: Acts 10 – 12
Through the Standards: The subjects of baptism according to the Shorter Catechism
WSC 95 — “To whom is baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.”