Category Archives: A Student’s Guide to the Lord’s Supper

Chapter 10, When will we stop eating the Lord’s Supper?

We will now cover the last part of our little study.  The question before you is a very simple one. When will we stop eating the Lord’s Supper? Well, this, of all the questions, is the easiest.

We are told in 1 Cor. 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” As we celebrate the Supper, we are proclaiming His death until He comes.

So we will continue to have the Supper until either we die or until our Lord comes back. This is a practice which we will celebrate for the rest of our lives or until history as we know it ends (which ends when Christ comes back). Most people will have little problem with any of this. They will say, “Of course we do it until He comes back or until we die.” Yet, is there any significance to this?

Having the future in mind

The Lord’s Supper is closely tied to the past event (the Supper represents what Christ did), to the present (the present fellowship we have with Him at the Supper), and also to the future. It is something we easily overlook. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26)

We sometimes focus so much on the present benefits of the Supper that we fail to consider how they relate to the future. We are to remember that He is coming back. Each time we celebrate the Supper, we are reminded that what we experience now will not continue indefinitely. The joy, sorrows, pain, pleasure, etc. will all come to an end. Christ is coming back.

We are not communing with Christ at the Supper only to just get along in this life. The present fellowship at the Supper is also a reminder that one day, we shall see Him face to face. The sacrament will give way to reality; the sign to the person to whom it pointed.

I will not drink again… until that day (Mt. 26:29)

When our Lord commanded that the Supper be celebrated (that is, when He instituted the Supper), He said, “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Mt. 26:29) This was Jesus’ way of saying farewell to them (though they didn’t fully realize it at the time) since He was about to die. But He was also promising them something. He will have table fellowship with them in the future. Their present fellowship will be renewed in our Father’s kingdom.

So, at the Supper, we have the promise that one day, we shall fellowship with our Lord face to face in our Father’s kingdom. Each time we celebrate, we are not only recognizing that He will return but that Supper is also an emblem of the future fellowship we will have with our Lord. Of course we have present sweet fellowship with Him at the Supper but we must also remember that this present fellowship is only a taste of the great table fellowship to come.

This promise is made several other times. The Bible speaks of the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9), reclining at the table with Abraham (Mt. 8:11), and reclining at the table of the kingdom of God (Lk. 13:29). Table fellowship is the picture of the great intimacy we have with our Lord.

We should yearn for the great Supper to come. As we enjoy the sweet fellowship with our Lord at the Supper, we should also remember that this is just a small taste (albeit satisfying) of the great Supper to come.

In the mean time…The Cross

With the future in mind and with the promise of the future fellowship in our hearts, we are to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” What characterizes the Supper and our lives is the importance of the death of Christ for our present lives.

The death of Christ is our food, our nourishment. It sustains us as we wait for the coming of our Lord. It is the subject of our preaching. From it come the benefits of the Lord’s Supper. Because of Christ’s death, we live and because of its rich worth (its sufficiency), we have peace with God.

One of the important things about the Supper is that it makes Christ’s death central to our lives. Our Lord wants us to continually look at the past event for our present benefit. He has done it all. At the Supper, we come empty because His death has paid everything for us. Our hunger is satisfied by the benefits of His death.

Because the death of Christ has fully accomplished our redemption, we are reminded of it over and over again each time we have communion. As we proclaim His death until He comes, we are at the same time reminded that the one who loved us not only died for us but that He will come back to us because He loves us.

Not in Heaven

Needless to say, there will be no need for the Lord’s Supper in heaven because everything that the Lord’s Supper points to and gives (signifies and exhibits), we receive in the person of Christ in heaven. The Lord’s Supper is temporary but necessary. It is like a lifesaver one wears when shipwrecked. Once we reach the shore, we no longer need it.

What this means is that the Lord’s Supper is the next best thing to heaven. Here in the Supper, we fellowship with Christ truly and spiritually. In heaven, we fellowship with Him personally, really, and perpetually. The same Christ is received but we get Him that much better in heaven.


In the Supper, the Lord gives Himself to us. What more can we ask? Let us prepare well, receive well, and afterwards, by faith reflect well. This will fill our course of life until we die or until Christ comes back.

If we cannot enjoy Christ at the Supper, then what are we looking for? If He is our chief delight and we enjoy genuine fellowship with Him at the Supper, then we are assured that this Supper will turn into the final Supper. What we have received by faith shall fill our souls by sight. Come Lord Jesus!


1. How long will believers partake of the Lord’s Supper?

2. What does the future have to do with the Lord’s Supper?

3. What did the Lord promise about the future when he instituted the Lord’s Supper?

4. What does it mean to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes”?

Chapter 9, What should I do after the Lord’s Supper?

If there is any energy spent on receiving the Lord’s Supper, it is usually expended before and during the Supper. That we would expect. Yet, there are still things that we can do after the Supper that can still help and encourage us.

In a normal meal, hunger creates a desire for food. As we sit for the meal, we find pleasure and delight as we eat. But what about “after” we eat? Don’t we feel satisfied because we ate? Don’t we derive benefits because of the nutrition we received? Are we not usually happier because we consumed a delicious meal? Yes, a good meal always satisfies us.

Something like that should happen to us after we have the Lord’s Supper. After the Supper, we should have been spiritually satisfied. Our souls should have been nourished and our love to Christ should have deepened. If we indeed have communed with Christ, we are much better for it.

We ought not to leave the table empty but filled. The One who serves the Table never disappoints. He promised to fellowship with us as revealed in His Word. So we must consider what happened and if indeed we received much from the Supper. If we neglect this, then are we not moving on with our lives with little concern for this matter?

The worst thing to do

I think many of us, myself included, give the least attention to this part of the Lord’s Supper. We prepare for the Supper and try to be as focused and serious as possible during the Supper. After that, we leave, at times mindful of what happens but quite often, we simply move to the next activity of our lives.

How would you respond if you shared something very important and personal with your friend who afterwards walked away and sat down in the living room to turn the TV on and acted like you never spoke her? You would wonder if she either took you seriously or if she understood what it was you shared. You expected your close friend to respond in a certain way that showed that they understood the seriousness of the conversation.

If we leave the Lord’s Supper and we don’t think about it or reflect on what happened, then what good was it? To walk away from the Supper without spiritually thinking about it and meditating on it with thanksgiving is to act as if we simply took medicine. When we take medicine, it doesn’t demand too much from us. We might not think about the medicine or even act as if we took it. Yet, it still affects us and does us good. But the Lord’s Supper is not like that at all. Its continued benefit assumes the exercise of faith.

The worst thing to do is to leave the Lord’s Supper without giving it a second thought. If we walk away with little reflection and spiritual meditation on what just happened, then we shortchange our spiritual growth. But what makes it worse is that we are by our actions saying that it was only good for that moment and not much more.

Paul’s example to the Corinthians

When we read 1 Cor. 11, we see Paul analyzing how the Corinthians acted at the Supper. He was reflecting on their behavior. They obviously did not do it so he does it for them. He is telling them how they behaved at the Supper and why it was they received judgment at the Supper.

We have noted already that the Corinthians behaved badly at the Supper (11:20ff.). He also exhorts them to change their behavior and to do the very opposite. First he said, “[W]hen you come together it is not for the better but for the worse …When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat.” (11:17, 20) He is rehearsing how they acted at the Supper and rebuking them. At the end, he exhorts them by saying, “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another…so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.” (11:33-34)

This is our example. We should look back and rehearse how we acted. We should wonder if our coming together with the saints was for my good. Did the Supper benefit my soul? Did I really come to Christ with a hungry soul to receive Him? Though Paul can’t write to us, we can reflect back with God’s Word and reflect on how we behaved.

I didn’t get anything

There may be occasions when we (for various reasons) did not truly benefit from the Supper. How then should we respond? Should we simply say, “Well, maybe it’ll be better next time?” If we leave it that way, will we really profit from it? If we do not ask serious questions, then why do we expect it to be better next time? If I am not able to fit into a particular pair of pants today, does that mean if I simply try it on the next day that it will work? Of course not! Why couldn’t I fit in? Was it my pants? Do I need to lose weight?

My young son once came to me asking for a belt because the pair of pants he was trying to wear was way too big. There was considerable room in his pants and I simply could not understand why they were so big and why my wife had given him these to wear. He went to his mother for help only to find that he was trying on his older sister’s pants. He made a mistake and picked up the wrong pair of pants. He could have tried the pants on every day for a few years and they still would not have fit him. In finding out the problem, he was able to get the right pair of pants.

So we should not respond by thinking that it will be more beneficial to us next time simply because we come to it again later. We should ask ourselves serious questions. Was I in a carnal frame of mind? Was I thinking about the world? What were my desires during the Supper? How well did I prepare? Did I stay up too late the night before wasting time or filling it with vain and silly things? Are there sins I need to confess? Am I harboring bitterness?

Some Causes

Remember, in Corinth, there was a specific reason why judgment came to the Corinthians. There are some things we can do to see if indeed we may be the cause. This, of course, is only a guide and is not meant to be a complete list:

Lack of preparation — The Corinthians did not properly prepare themselves. They ate and drank and sought to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Their actions indicated that they did not prepare and remedy the problem before the Supper. So, ask yourself, did you adequately prepare? Did you review your life? What about your choices, words, actions, etc.?

Worldly or carnal mind — Sometimes believers have wasted all their previous efforts and let their hearts and minds wander through the Lord’s Day in the morning and especially during the worship service. Maybe the sermon did very little for you so you let your heart wander and you began to fix your mind on unworthy things. If this was the way you acted during the Supper, you should repent and call upon the Lord for such ways during the precious time.

Sin against someone — It is not uncommon to find that some in the service may actually be sitting there with bitterness in their hearts against someone in the church or somewhere else. They have repeatedly let the sun go down on their anger (Eph. 4:26, 27) and somehow assumed that all is well because they do not feel the heat of their anger or bitterness during the Supper. This is a dangerous situation and the Lord’s holding back His blessing may only be a step towards something more harsh. You should quickly and humbly repent and seek reconciliation.

Presumption or superstition — Our hearts can get used to “rituals” and assume that like always that if they just go through the motions, everything will work out well. Other people think of the Supper superstitiously and look to it as magic. Instead of exercising faith in Christ, they are looking to the elements to do something in them like medicine. Against these things, we must continually fight. For these sins we must beg the Lord’s forgiveness.

To these things, the Larger Catechism says, “if they see they have failed…they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.” Go to Christ at the Supper that much more.

Thomas Doolittle asked, “What if you find no good by the sacrament?” The Christian is to respond, “I must examine what was the cause, be humble for it, forsake the sin, pray to feel the benefit of it when I have come away, better prepare myself, and humbly wait upon God therein for another time.”

What if I can’t honestly find the problem?

There may be occasions (perhaps quite often) when we simply cannot pinpoint it. Let us not grow discouraged. If our conscience is clear as we honestly and humbly review the matter, then we must continually seek the Lord and more earnestly seek Him at the Supper. Christ has promised to commune with you — will you not go to Him with those truths and pray earnestly that He will benefit your soul at the Supper as He so promised?

Many good men have pointed out that the blessings of the Supper may not come during the Supper but sometime after because you may have mourned more and seriously yearned more after Christ hours after the Supper.


Our Larger Catechism (#175) says that we should seriously consider how we behaved and see if we had success. If we did, then we should “bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, [and] fulfill their vows…” Surely God ought to be blessed for the benefits we derived from the Supper. Did you thank Him? Did you bow before Him in gratitude?

Also, let that blessing be a serious occasion to resolve to please Him more and live in a manner that is more consistent with our calling. You should bless Him for the assurance, comfort, and the real sense of His love for you. Such hearty thanks can only glorify God and make your heart glad with purity.

Furthermore, your lifestyle, your speech, your desires, etc. should be different and better. The Lord has been good to your soul and it should become evident in your behavior.

No Pride

Spiritual comforts can easily turn into spiritual pride. We may have received much and our souls may rejoice. “We ought especially to watch against the workings of spiritual pride after” the Supper; “for our wicked and deceitful hearts are most ready to be lifted up with the great favors and honor here conferred upon us.”[1]

If Satan could not trip us up before and during the Supper, then he’ll meet us after. Did not Satan enter Judas’s heart after the Supper (John 13:27)? If he cannot cause us to forsake the Supper, then he will use the Supper to cause us to forsake Christ by tempting you to be proud. Never say with the Laodiceans, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” (Rev. 3:17) Don’t let your satisfied soul become the occasion for pride (cf. Deut. 8:11ff.). You still need your soul and any benefit you derived should be the occasion for thankfulness and humility.

Let us never trust our hearts. We came to Him dependent upon His grace and let us leave dependent upon Him. Let us not sin away His blessings by thinking more of ourselves than we ought. Surely, Christ’s grace came to us at the Supper on account of His tender mercy and grace. “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Cor. 4:7)


1. What is the worse thing to do after taking the Lord’s Supper?

2. What does the Bible teach regarding examining yourself after the Supper?

3. What should you do if you did not profit from the Supper?

4. What are some of the causes for not profiting from the Supper?

5. What should you when you profit from the Supper?

6. Explain why you should be aware of spiritual pride after the Supper?

[1] J. Willison, A Sacramental Catechism (1720; repr., Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), 268.

Chapter 8, What should I do during the Lord’s Supper?

When we are invited to our friend’s house for dinner, we go there to eat with him. Yet, it is more than just sitting down to eat dinner. We relish the fellowship and relationship we have with our dear friend and we want to be with him more than simply eating the meal. The dinner time becomes special not because the food is good but more so because the friendship is delightful. It is the friendship and fellowship that makes the evening wonderful. What makes the Lord’s Supper so wonderful is not the bread and wine nor the seriousness that surrounds the celebration. Fellowshipping with Christ is what makes the whole Supper so delightful.


During the Lord’s Supper, we must consider the high privilege and the great blessings we are about to receive. We must also be aware of Satan’s presence during the Supper. Remember, Satan was at the first Supper. “Then after he [Judas] had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him.” (Jn. 13:27)

He will accuse you and bring to your mind many things you have done wrong. He will distract you, inject wicked thoughts into your minds, etc. If he can rob you of any of the spiritual blessings, he will. So pray against him and cling to Christ by faith. If the work to be done is good and holy, then Satan will be most active during that time. Resist him firm in your faith.

Basic stuff

We all know that we should fix our minds on what we are about to do. We should fight against wandering thoughts and against careless mannerisms. We do not wish to undo all our good preparations by mindlessly going to the table of the Lord.

We have all seen little children looking around and grabbing at things during the Lord’s Supper. We excuse that behavior because they are so young. We would say, “What do you expect? They don’t understand and that is why they act that way.” We also recognize that they also cannot take the Lord’s Supper because they do not understand what to believe or how to act.

Would it not be horrible if you understood all these things regarding the Supper and yet you acted as that child? Yes! Be focused and pray. Ask the Lord to help you focus on Him. You are commanded to do this in remembrance of Him and not in remembrance of something silly!

One and Ten

Robert Murray McCheyne said, “For every look at self, take ten looks at Christ.”  It is easy to focus on ourselves during the Lord’s Supper. McCheyne’s advice should be heeded. It is true we must be aware of our sins but we must also remember we are not coming to the supper because we are perfect and healthy. We need the supper for our spiritual nourishment because we are weak and sinful. It is the Lord’s table and not our own. He invites us to it because it is for our spiritual benefit. By faith, we look to Christ recognizing that His death has fully paid for all my sins. You are not coming to the table because you are “good enough,” you come because Jesus is your Savior and you partake in remembrance of Him!

Faith in the face of your personal sins

You might have committed particular sins through the week that you did not rightly handle. You never really confessed them or you merely mouthed words of repentance. Anyway, you feel guilty. Whatever the sin, confess and repent. At the same time, look to Christ in faith.

Christ has died on the cross for your sins and this sacrament remembers that deed — you “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” The wine represents the blood of his covenant “which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt. 26:28) As you drink the wine, believe that as certainly as that wine is taken in, your sins have been forgiven.

The Lord’s Supper is not merely a memory recall but it is also fellowshipping or communing with Christ. You are to feed on Christ by faith, receive of his fullness, and trust in His merits (LC, 174). You by faith receive and apply to yourself Christ crucified and all the benefits of his death (LC, 170). This is where the benefits of his past finished sacrifice on the cross become a present benefit to your soul.

Faith in the face of your dullness

If you are not well aware of your personal failures and sins, you might be appalled by your dullness of heart. How can you feel so indifferent to what is going on? You might fear greatly because your heart is so cold. Immediately, you may be tempted to panic and wonder if you should step away from the supper.

You should “bewail your unbelief” (LC, 172), that is, you should call upon Christ and say, “Lord, my cold unbelieving heart – O do forgive me. I want to want you more than I do.” Then partake of the supper while believing there is pardon for you in Christ.

You are doing this in remembrance of what He has done for you. Christ’s death on the cross has secured your salvation and has purchased your forgiveness. Even your dull, cold, and lifeless condition was paid for. You are fellowshipping with Christ’s body and blood (1 Cor. 10:15, 16). As these elements of bread and wine are present to your eyes, so you fellowship with everything those elements represent. Our Larger Catechism says that  “the body and blood of Christ are …spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses” (LC, 170). In other words, everything that the bread and wine represents are present spiritually to you by faith as certain as the bread and wine are present before your eyes and mouth.

Faith in the face of your accusing conscience

Sometimes you feel “condemned.” You may not be able to put your finger on it. There is a feeling of defeat and unworthiness hanging over your spirit like a dark cloud. You might feel most unworthy and doubt if God really wants you there. You feel reluctant.

This feeling is not uncommon. I recently listened to a brilliant Christian philosopher defend the faith against atheism. He understood all the ins and outs of the Christian faith and defended it very powerfully. During the question and answer session, one asked him if he doubted. He said that he did not doubt the nature of the Christian faith but doubted quite often if God loved him because of his own personal sins and because of his many health problems. I was amazed to see that such a brilliant man could doubt so easily.

Yet, we all doubt and feel condemned at times. The supper seems to hold little benefit for us. How should we respond when the table is served on the appointed Lord’s Day? We must remember that it is for us! “This is my body which is for you.” (1 Cor. 11:24) Christ did not say it is for you because you feel so good or have such a perfect conscience or because you are not cast down. He said it is for you as you are.

When do we go to the doctor? When we are sick, right? Yes. What would you say to someone who said, “I’m going to go to the doctor when I improve and get healthier.”?  Will he really get healthier if he stays away from the doctor? I doubt it. We go to the doctor because we need him. Likewise, we go to Christ because we so need Him and this supper is spread out before us to encourage and nourish us.

Think about it, if you feel condemned and guilty, do you think staying away can help you? Who alone can relieve you of your sad condition? Is it not the Lord Jesus? Will not fellowshipping with Him help you? Will it not cheer your soul and encourage you? In your sad condition, go humbly but expectantly to Him as you eat by faith. Doubt not and remember that Christ has died for you so that you might find life in Him.

While you eat and drink

While you eat the bread and drink the wine, consider and believe that just as you chew the bread and drink the wine, know that Christ is communicating by His Spirit His blessings to you. As certain as you eat and drink those elements, so you fellowship with Christ.

Remember, this eating and drinking has two levels — one by the mouth and the other by your soul. You chew and drink to receive it into your mouth and you exercise faith to receive Christ into your soul. The eating and drinking signify your union and enjoyment of Christ.

Eat and drink with faith. Just eating the bread without faith will do you as much good as if a monkey ate the bread. I have seen some little infants become frustrated because their mommy and daddy were eating the bread and they didn’t receive anything. All they see is the opportunity to eat and put something into their mouths. In the Lord’s Supper, as you already know, it is something more than eating!

Faith in Christ

We cannot forget this one simple truth. Without faith, eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper will be of no benefit to you. You only receive the bread and wine if you do not exercise faith. In addition, you may incur God’s judgment for eating with your mouth without spiritually eating by faith.

Christ is ours by faith and we truly and really fellowship with Him at the Supper — He is “present to the faith of the receiver” (LC, 170) and we are called to “wait upon God” in the Supper (LC, 174). So look to Christ as you eat and drink.

In particular, look to Him regarding all that He has accomplished for you on the cross, and by faith accept the simple truth that you are fellowshipping with Him. The Spirit brings about that special fellowship with Christ. Your stomach may still feel hungry after the Lord’s Supper but your soul will be filled. Remember, it is all about Him — “Do this in remembrance of Me.”


1. How does Satan get involved in the Lord’s Supper?

2. What are some of the basic things you should not do during the Supper?

3. What if you don’t feel worthy to come to the Supper?

4. What if you feel dull before coming to the Supper?

5. What if you feel condemned before the Supper?

6. What is the one thing we must have as we receive the Supper?

Chapter 7, How do I prepare for the Lord’s Supper?

There was a time in church history when believers thoroughly prepared for the Lord’s Supper. Because many of them did not have the Lord’s Supper more than a few times a year, they were considered to be very special occasions. As a result, there were preparatory services or Saturday services in preparation for the Lord’s Supper the following Lord’s Day. They prepared for the Supper. Some had a day of fasting a day or two before the preparatory service.

We do not do that since we celebrate the Supper more often. But that does not mean we should not prepare. In fact, we should prepare more than we do. Since preparing is not a very common practice, we should seek to understand what it is we should do.

The Bible

The Bible is not completely silent on this matter. The 1 Cor. 11 passage of course is very helpful. Two important verses stand out in the section on the Lord’s Supper. One, we are called to examine ourselves: “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” (v. 28) Then it says, “But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.” (v. 31)

The two verses teach the following truths. First of all, we must examine or judge ourselves before we come to the Supper. Second, the individual must examine himself. The Bible requires self-reflection which means each person must ask serious questions about Christ, the elements, the body of Christ, himself, etc. Third, one of the reasons for this is spelled out in vv. 27 & 29. We must examine ourselves to avoid judgment (v. 29) and to not become guilty of profaning the body.

We prepare by examining and judging ourselves before the Lord. What this means is that we must spend some serious private time pondering what we have done and what we have become.

There is good reason for all of this. Surely, we all prepare for exams, important meetings, etc. If we really think through things before a certain event, we are less likely to make mistakes. We respect other people when they are prepared. Should we not prepare for one of the best privileges of our spiritual lives?

Understanding the Supper

We must labor to understand what the Lord’s Supper is and what it means. We do not come to the Supper with an empty mind. An empty mind will leave a person with an empty soul. Our heads and hearts must be filled with the knowledge of what we are about to do and what the whole Supper means.

We have studied what happens during the Supper. As we prepare, we must reflect upon what will happen and examine to see if we are ready. Knowing what will happen should arrest our attention and affections.

You have all heard stories of young couples who were about to get married. Each one carefully prepared each step of the wedding. They figured who they were going to invite, selected which pastor would lead them, chose what events were going to happen, purchased what ornaments they wished to use, etc. The preparation took longer than the event itself. If they did not prepare, the wedding ceremony would have been less meaningful and could have been viewed as being unimportant. In a similar way, our preparation helps us to create hunger and expectation for the Supper. The Supper becomes more meaningful and our preparations indicated how important and seriously we took the Supper.

Since we are about to fellowship with Christ in a sure and beneficial way at the Supper, we should spend time in preparation for that great meeting. If we come in a thoughtless and faithless manner, then we will cheapen the fellowship and possibly bring harm to ourselves.

The Corinthians came together to the Supper “not for the better but for the worse” (1 Cor. 11:17). They were so unprepared and unfocused that Paul says, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat.” (v. 20) Paul would not commend them for what they did at the Supper (v. 22). So, believers can come to the Supper and actually not benefit from the Supper because they came not for the better but for the worse. Our preparation before the Supper helps us to come to the Supper for the better and not for the worse.

In relationship to Christ

Now we will become even more specific about our preparation. Not only should we be fully aware of the fellowship that will be brought about during the Lord’s Supper, we should also (and more importantly) understand who Christ is and what He has done for us.

We are commanded to partake of the Supper “in remembrance” of Christ (1 Cor. 11:24, 25). Christ’s death is proclaimed until He returns (v. 26). We remember what the Supper means and exercise faith in everything that the Supper represents — namely, that Christ has died for the forgiveness of our sins of which the blood represents (Mt. 26:28). His blood at the same time started a “new covenant” (“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Lk. 22:20). That means our relationship with God was all achieved on account of Christ’s shed blood. When we prepare, we are thinking of the grace and depth of Christ’s love for us and of the sacrifice He was willing to offer up on our behalf. Knowledge of those things should stir our hearts.

We should ask ourselves, “How is my relationship with Christ?” “Have I grown at all spiritually?” “How much thought have I given to Him?” “Is Christ my all in all or is He second to other things in my life?” “Do I value what He has done for me?” “How have I shown that I am thankful for His death on the cross in my behalf?” “Do I want to fellowship with Him more closely at the Supper or am I reluctant?”

Since the Supper both represents what Christ did and how we are united or related to Him, we should set aside some time in preparation through the week, especially on Saturdays before the Lord’s Day to warm our hearts to prize that meeting with Christ.

I remember that our soccer coach in college always took us out to eat to an all you can eat place once the season ended. That was something to which we all looked forward.  On that day, many of my teammates refused to eat breakfast and lunch so that they could have empty stomachs for the big and delicious supper that evening. They specially prepared to be hungry that evening so they could enjoy everything in great quantity.

In a very similar way, we should become hungry for Christ by yearning for Him as we read His Word and pray to Him throughout the week. Our hunger to know Him, to fellowship with Him should deepen so that we may truly have our fill of Him at the Supper (spiritually speaking). One writer said that the only requirement for the Lord’s Supper is that you come to the table hungry. What he meant by that was that the poor simple believer should come to the table hungry to meet and have Christ. If our preparations have helped us (by the assistance of the Spirit) to hunger for Him, then we will not leave disappointed from the Supper.

In relationship to my brothers and sisters in Christ

What is easily overlooked in the Lord’s Supper is that the “event” also shows how we are related to one another. We have seen throughout the study that the Corinthians came together divided and selfish.  Some were getting drunk (1 Cor. 11:21) while others were deprived of food and thus leaving the Supper hungry (vv. 21-22). Paul says that the bread represents the oneness we have with each other in Christ: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17) The many become one body.

In other words, the Supper also hints at the unity we have. All of us eat from the one bread and our eating together means we are one in Christ. As we eat, it must mean that we are “all right” with each other. The Corinthians came together to show disunity (1 Cor. 11:18 says, “…when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you”). Their disunity was further manifested in the way they neglected each other.

It would be like a couple exchanging rings during a marriage ceremony while bickering and making rude comments. The whole ceremony was to show their love for each other but their responses to each other revealed their disharmony. So the Supper should neither illustrate nor further disunity but rather, it should indicate that all is well between each believer.

What this means is that when you come to the Lord’s Supper, you should make sure we are not harboring any bitter feelings against someone in the church. You must ensure that your relationship with other members of the church is one of peace. Perhaps you need to make a phone call to your brother or sister in Christ sometime that week before the Supper?

If a brother and sister at home spoke wickedly and harshly to each other and then they get into the car to go to the church with their family, then should they upon arriving at the church partake of the Lord’s Supper? It all depends on if they have worked through the issue with each other. They must quickly and sincerely repent before God and seek to be reconciled before they come together to eat the Supper of the Lord. There is an important principle our Lord taught in His Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:23-24): “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

We are first told to be reconciled with our brother before we present our offering. How much more in this matter? Shall we fellowship with our Lord while harboring bitterness against one of our Lord’s own servants? Such things ought not to be.

So, when we prepare, we want to understand all that the Supper represents and all that Christ has done for us. In addition, we want to make sure we are in good fellowship with our brothers with whom we will be eating at the Supper of the Lord.

I remember when I was young how unpleasant it was to eat dinner together with my brother just after we had fought. It made the supper less pleasant and the whole atmosphere was uncomfortable.  We pretended everything was all right at the dinner table while knowing that we had sinned against each other minutes before. We should have reconciled before we came together for our family dinner (though I did not live in a Christian family).

This should be the case with each member of the body of Christ. May our coming together be for good and not for harm. If we prepare our hearts and ensure that all is well with each other then when we “come together it will not be for judgment” (1 Cor. 11:34).


1. What do we mean by preparing for the Lord’s Supper?

2. Isn’t just coming to the Supper enough if one has been admitted to the table?

3. What are some of the things one should think about regarding the Supper itself?

4. How should we prepare in relation to Christ?

5. Does our preparation mean that we have to do anything with our brothers and sisters in Christ before we come to the table? Explain.

Chapter 6, What happens during the Lord’s Supper? (2)

We have already explained what happens in the Lord’s Supper. In this chapter, we will expand upon the previous chapter.  Some illustrations will be used to give you some hints into what really is happening at the Lord’s Supper.

The Spirit’s Work

Whatever should happen to us can only happen to us on account of the Spirit’s work. He takes of Christ and makes them known to us (Jn. 16:13-15, cf. 15:26; also, 1 Cor. 2:12-13). That is His role in the life of a believer. Though the Holy Spirit is not specifically mentioned in 1 Cor. 11, He is assumed because the New Testament establishes the simple truth the Lord Jesus is united to the Spirit and that the Spirit’s ministry is united to Christ.

The distance between the believer and Christ in heaven is vast. How do we get this Christ who is in heaven? As we exercise our faith in Christ, the Spirit bridges the gap. Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (Jn. 14:18, 28) How does He come to them? The passage makes it clear that Jesus speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit. He says it is necessary that He go so that the Spirit could come (Jn. 16:7). The Holy Spirit is the one who will bring the things of Christ to believers; to have the Spirit is to have Christ.

The Spirit brings the reality of the person and benefits of Christ to believers. When we eat the Lord’s Supper, those benefits of our Lord are brought home to us by the Spirit. A few illustrations may be of help here.

It is like a handshake and a hug

The Lord’s Supper is like a handshake and a hug. Of course, the Lord’s Supper is something more than a handshake. Yet, a handshake reveals one important truth to help us understand the Lord’s Supper. When we shake hands with a dear friend whom we have not seen for a long time, we are reacquainting ourselves with him. We are also fellowshipping with him at the same time. The relationship we’ve had is both re-established as well as acted out as we hug the friend. That is, we are actually experiencing the relationship as well as re-establishing it. The handshake and hug represents the relationship. The handshake and hug are also the expressions of the reality of the relationship — the friends are experiencing the relationship all over again.

So, the Lord’s Supper helps us to experience the relationship we have with Christ. The Supper not only represents our fellowship with Christ, it also ignites or conveys it as well. The Supper does not only point to the fellowship but we actually fellowship with Him in the Supper.

We get Him better in the Lord’s Supper

We have already said that we get no more in the Supper than what we get in God’s Word. But that is not to devalue the Supper. In the Supper, we get the same Christ we get in the Word but we get Him better. That is, the Word and the Supper end up enabling us to receive the same Christ better because this duty of celebrating the Supper has been appointed by God for that purpose. Let me explain.

We can drink water out of glass. It is quite simple. We can also drink water with a straw and this helps us bring it in faster. The Lord’s Supper is something like a straw in this example. There is still another example that may help.

Farmers used to get milk directly from a cow. It was always available to them and to us but only from a cow. But now, we can also get milk at the grocery store. It is packaged, sterilized and ready to drink. We can get milk either directly from a cow or from the grocery store. Of the two, which is easier? The one, you have to work at it to get the milk and it requires several steps to get it. At the grocery store, the milk is packaged and ready to receive. The Lord’s Supper is like the milk in the container — ready to be received. These are only analogies and like most analogies, they have their limitations.

Union and Communion with Christ

When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we fellowship with Christ. We participate or fellowship with his body and blood (1 Cor. 10:16). The two elements represent Christ and His work. We fellowship with Him and what He has done for us (His person and work).

An analogy, taken from John 15 is helpful here. We are branches abiding in Christ. As we abide in Him, like all branches on the plant, we derive nutrients, sustenance, life, etc. from that connection. Like that, as we partake of the Lord’s Supper, the reality of our relationship to Him becomes more focused. We are drawing from Him by faith all that we need.

Believers are united to Christ by faith and the Lord’s Supper heightens that reality. It does not create it but highlights it. We fellowship with his body and blood. The body and blood both represent Him as well as His sacrificial work on the cross. So when we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are communing or fellowshipping with Jesus.

Communion: His Benefits

Let me distinguish between Christ and His benefits though the two should not be separated. Our Confession teaches that “we receive, and feed upon [spiritually], Christ crucified, and all benefits of his death.” The benefits of his death are the blessings that He earned for us (forgiveness of sin, propitiation, access to the Father, etc.).

As we noted, Paul says in 1 Cor. 10:16 we are participants of Christ’s body and blood. As we are united to Christ Himself, we derive from Him all that He has accomplished for us by His death. The Lord’s Supper points to the death because it was at the cross his body and blood was offered up to make atonement for us. In the Supper, we receive “the benefits of his death.” The Supper points to what He did — “we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes ” (1Cor. 11:26).

Communion: Our Strengthening and Encouragement

Anytime believers focus on and exercise faith in Christ, they are strengthened and encouraged. The Lord’s Supper is like a floodlight to Christ and His finished work on the cross. It helps us to zero in on what He has done! As that is done, as faith is exercised, each simple child of God is strengthened in the Lord and encouraged to live and die for Him.

That means the Lord’s Supper should be a source of great joy to us. When we are forced to look at our failures and disobedience at the Supper, we must not stay there. He says that we are to do this in remembrance of Him and not in memory of ourselves. When we do that, being honest, humble, and full of repentance and faith, we are encouraged because the Supper serves as a visible sermon to us — Christ died for me though I’ve act treacherously against Him. I am strengthened by the fact that all my sins have been forgiven and encouraged because He accepts me on account of what He has done.

Communion: Our Obligation

The Larger Catechism (#168) talks about how the Supper renews our “thankfulness, and engagement to God.” As we reflect on what Christ has done, as we by faith look to Him, and as we by faith eat and drink, we are grateful (eucharist) for what He done and are stimulated to follow hard after God.

Certain songs, smells, incidents trigger our memories and experiences. The smell of certain foods causes us to salivate while some songs excite us. The Lord’s Supper, by the power of the Spirit — even as we look to Christ by faith — stimulates our hearts to be thankful and to want to be closer to our Savior and to obey Him. The elements don’t do that but the Spirit takes all that the elements represent and triggers and engenders a thankful heart and a yearning desire to want and obey our Redeemer.

Communion: Love to my Christian Brothers and Sisters

The Lord’s Supper also testifies and renews our “mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body.” Any anger, bitterness, etc. we might have had before the Supper, we are required to set aside and repent of our sins. The Supper reminds us that all of us are united to the same Savior and that we are untied to one another. As we by faith reflect on these things, the Spirit enables us to love each other that much more.

Again, let us illustrate this. Some married couples remember songs on the radio or certain events or meals with fondness. It “brings back memories” they might say. It can also engender greater love for their spouse at that moment. The Supper does that to believers — the Spirit engenders love for one another — not wrath. This is one of the ways we can know if we have profited from the Lord’s Supper.


1. What is the Lord’s Supper like a handshake or a hug?

2. Explain how the other two illustrations (straw and milk) show that we get Christ better in the Supper?

3. How does John 15 help us to understand the Lord’s Supper?

4. Explain how the Supper can be used by the Spirit to “renew” thankfulness and engagement to God”?

5. What is one of the ways we can know we have profited from the Supper?

Chapter 5, What happens during the Lord’s Supper? (1)

A way of fellowshipping with Christ

Something happens during the Lord’s Supper. It is more than mere thinking. Many believe we are called to merely think about what happened in the past. They think this is the only thing that happens. There is something more than reflecting on the past. Something actually happens at the Lord’s Supper.

In the previous chapter, we mentioned that the Lord’s Supper is a way of fellowshipping with Christ. That is what happens when we partake of the Lord’s Supper. It is much more than a memory recall. Sometimes we might recall an event we experience with our friend. It might put a smile on our face or force us to feel the pain of a bad experience. This recollection may be meaningful but it is not the same as the Lord’s Supper.

Paul says in 1 Cor. 10 that we participate or fellowship with Christ when we partake of the Lord’s Supper. We will unpack what this fellowship means and how it comes about. So the Lord’s Supper is not an empty sign that merely points to the event in the past. It is the appointed means of fellowshipping with Christ.

Without God’s Word, it is useless

John Calvin said, “For whatever benefit may come to us from the Supper requires the Word.” (Institutes, 4.17.39) The breaking of the bread and the drinking of the wine do not explain themselves. God’s Word determines both the meaning and benefit of the Lord’s Supper.

God’s Word teaches us what it is about. Jesus commanded that we do this and also explained what the activity is supposed to represent. So if there is no Word of God, then the bread and wine are simply another meal, mere food for the belly. Without the Words of Institution (that is, Christ’s word by which the sacrament is established), the actions and the ceremony would be mindless or useless exercises.

God’s Word also conveys what the Supper represents. That is, it is by means of God’s Word, the Spirit gives us what we need in the Supper. The elements of the Supper (bread and wine) do not by themselves give anything but what is promised in God’s Word is conveyed to us. Calvin also said that in the Lord’s Supper you get no more than what you get in the Word: “Hence, any man is deceived who thinks anything more is conferred upon him through the sacraments than what is offered by God’s Word and received by him in true faith.” (Institutes, 4.14.14).

There is one Christ and you do not get a different Christ in the Lord’s Supper. That is, the Christ we get in the Word is also same Christ we receive in the Supper. Without the Word, we receive nothing from the Supper. It is the Christ of the Word who comes to us through the Lord’s Supper; without the Word, the Supper gives nothing.

An illustration may be helpful here. Let us pretend that your father has been out of the country for a long time on account of his work. You received a letter from your father who promised you that he would take you Disney World when he returns. You cling to the letter and can’t wait until he gets home. You keep his letter close to you and read it over and over again. Now, is the plain sheet of paper itself important? No! Does the paper by itself promise you anything? No! What makes the paper important to this young girl? The written words of promise on the paper are important. Without the written words on the paper, the paper is useless. So, the bread and wine are useless and is invested with no significance except so much as the Word of God is present.

Without faith, it is a dangerous ceremony

Another important thing to consider is also one’s faith. One must believe in Christ and believe what He promises in His Word. The Lord’s Supper is not like medicine. You can take a pill and never think about it. The pill will work in you whether you consider it or not. The Lord’s Supper is not like that. One must be a believer and must believe in Christ’s Word in order to benefit from the Supper.

If faith is not present, then the Lord’s Supper is a mindless religious ceremony. It is no different than a young person listening to a sermon whose mind wanders off thinking about video games. The person did not benefit from the preached word. The Lord’s Supper is for believers only and they must look to Christ by faith as they partake of the bread and wine.

How can we fellowship with Christ when He is in heaven?

Many good men have wrestled with this simple question. How can we have fellowship with Christ when He is in heaven? Some believe that Christ comes down into the bread and wine. Others believe He comes down to become bread and wine. Others think that we are taken up into heaven to eat of Christ’s flesh. Each one of these positions attempted to answer the nature of eating the flesh. Nothing like this is mentioned in the Bible.

In 1 Cor. 10, we are told that when we eat, we fellowship with Christ (more on this in the next section). How can this be? In the New Testament, we learn that all that have of Christ comes to us through the Spirit of God. He (the Spirit) will take of Christ and declare it to us (Jn. 16:14-15). When you have the Spirit, you have Christ (cf. 2Cor. 3:17). We receive Christ and have fellowship with Him through the Spirit.

You don’t eat flesh

The passage already cited many times actually says that we participate in the blood of Christ and the body of Christ (1Cor. 10:16, 17). So doesn’t that mean that we get something different in the Lord’s Supper? Are we not in somehow and in someway eating or participating in Jesus’ literal blood and body?

The word “participate” in 1 Cor. 10 is not left undefined. As the context must always determine the meaning of a word, so the same rule applies here. Look at 1 Cor. 10:16, 17, the word “participate” is the same kind of word used in v. 18 “participants in the altar” as well as v. 20, “participants with demons.” That is to say, when the Corinthians were eating food sacrificed to demons, they ended up participating or identifying with demons. The idea of “partaking” is used in the same way for demons as well as for the Lord: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” (10:21) It is clear that the meaning of partaking simply means identifying with, giving allegiance to, uniting with, etc. either the Lord or demons. When a person either ate at a pagan ceremony or at the Lord’s table, he was identifying with and participating in everything related to table.

The point was not eating the literal flesh (here on earth or in heaven). The individual was united to the particular person (Lord or Satan) associated with the table, in this case, either to the Lord or demons. So when Paul said that we are participating in Christ’s blood and body, he was simply using a metaphor for Christ’s atoning work on the cross. We participate in what Christ has done for us on the cross as represented by the elements. The body given for us; the blood shed for us — they represent what He did for us. So, in the Supper we participate in Christ’s atoning work! That is what every sinner needs; at the supper, we get the same Christ we initially received when we became Christians. We need the same Christ in order to continue to grow in Him.

You receive Christ

What does Christ give to us at the Supper if not His flesh and blood in the literal sense? We receive Christ himself. Christ is most desirable to needy sinners when He is represented as dying, making atonement for sin, making peace for sinners, as bearing our sins, satisfying the wrath of God and the curse of the law, to draw out our hearts unto faith and love.

In the Supper we receive this Christ as represented in the elements of the bread and the wine. He is received by faith and not by the mouth. Christ and His gracious benefits (to which His blood and body point) are consumed by faith to our spiritual nourishment. That is why Paul changes the language from “blood of Christ” and “body of Christ” (v. 16) to “cup of the Lord” and “table of the Lord” (v. 21) because his concern is not so much over the actual blood and body but over our fellowship with Him! His cup and the table are specific references to the table fellowship we have with Him as opposed to some mysterious intake of his blood and body.

This is what we need more than anything else. We need to receive Christ and the Supper enables us to have fellowship with Him —more specifically, we receive all that had been accomplished by his death!


There is one thing you should seriously consider. Do you want more of Christ? He is offered to us in the Supper. That should be your great concern in the Supper.


1. What does it mean that the Lord’s Supper is more than recollection?

2. What does the Word of God have to do with the Supper? Explain the illustration about the letter from the father.

3. Explain how the Lord’s Supper is not like taking a pill.

4. Do believers receive real flesh and blood at the Supper? If not, explain.

5. Explain how the word “partake” should be interpreted in the 1 Cor. 10.

Chapter 4, What is the Lord’s Supper?

We have spent some time explaining what the Lord’s Supper is not. It is now time to show what it is. It is always good to know why we believe what we do as well as why we don’t believe certain things. Sometimes we can best understand certain biblical truths when we see them compared to other things. What then is the Lord’s Supper?

A Sacrament

A sacrament is something Christ commanded the church to do. It is not up to us to decide or create. He commanded His disciples to do this in remembrance of Him. In addition, the early Christians celebrated the Lord’s Supper in obedience to Him. Though it was not done well, the church in Corinth observed it and fell into sin.

We have already seen that the Lord commanded us to do this. He also commanded us to baptize. We also have examples of this in the church. The sacrament of baptism is once again found in the Corinthian church (as well as in other places). Like the Lord’s Supper, baptism also became a “problem” for that church. They were quarreling among themselves about who baptized whom (1 Cor. 1:10-17).

There are only two sacraments. Some have said that we are to observe foot washing (Jn. 13:1ff.). The New Testament church never practiced it as a religious observance. Clearly the passage is teaching us to be servants (Jn. 14:14). Marriage, priesthood, etc. have also been called sacraments by some. But the New Testament does not command such things. Christ gave only two sacraments to the church and they are the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.

Theologians call the Lord’s Supper a sacrament, which means that it is something Christ commanded us to do and by which the benefits of the new covenant are represented and applied to believers (SC #92). This sacrament must be something “physical” (they used to say “sensible,” that is, it can be seen and touched by our “senses”) that represents the benefits Christ assigns to it and can convey what it represents by means of the Holy Spirit.

Something you can see and touch

Since sacraments have to be commanded by Christ, does that mean everything Christ commanded is a sacrament? No. A sacrament is also a physical thing that points to something spiritual. It is like a sign but something more than a sign. It is something you can see and touch. The Lord’s Supper points to Christ’s death, His body, blood, atonement, etc. If they don’t point, then they cannot be sacraments.

Baptism points to something beyond itself as well. Water represents our union with Christ, cleansing, benefits of being connected to Christ, etc. The Lord’s Supper represents Christ’s body and blood: “Take, eat; this is my body…Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt. 26:26ff.)

So sacraments point to something spiritual and beneficial. They have no power in themselves. It is like (again it is more than this) a simple sign that points you to something. For example, an “exit” sign tells you where to go so that you can get out of the building but it is neither the door nor the exit. It is only a sign pointing to the real exit.

Wouldn’t it be silly if people ran to the sign, read it, and tried to enter into the sign? That would be ridiculous. It would also be a useless sign if it cannot be read. If you cannot understand the sign, then it will not help you. For that reason, our Lord gives us the sign and tells us what it represents.

A Means of Grace

The “special” thing about sacraments is that they are a means of grace. We said it is like a sign but it is also something much more. It can convey what it represents. This means the Lord’s Supper can give the benefits of Christ to each believer who looks in faith to Him.

For example, a car is a means of taking us to the place we wish to go. We often say that a car is a “means of transportation.” It can actually take us to our desired place. The Lord’s Supper is a means of giving us grace.

The Lord’s Supper does not only point to what our Lord has done for us, it can also give us those things. You may wonder how that can be? How does eating bread and drinking wine give anything to our souls? That has been a question over which some of the greatest minds have debated. Sad to say, it should not have been that difficult to answer.

The simple answer (which we will unpack a bit more in our next lesson) is that the Lord’s Supper can affect communion with Christ. Paul teaches us that taking the cup is a means of “participating in the blood of Christ.” The bread that we break and eat is a means of “participating in the body of Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:16) The word “participating” is the word from which we also get “fellowship” or “communion.”

So, when we take the Lord’s Supper, Christ conveys to us by His Spirit His presence and we actually get to fellowship with Him at the Supper. In that way, it is a means of grace, a way of giving to us Christ’s person and benefits. It is a means of fellowshipping with Christ.

For the church

Since the Lord’s Supper is for Christians, it is only for the church. It is not for the world or for unbelievers. It is not something that is automatically given to every person that comes to the church. It is only for the church. Remember, our Lord said, “Drink of it, all of you.” (Mt. 26:27) All of whom? The answer is Jesus’ disciples. Jesus was addressing this to His disciples. He was not saying, “Drink it, it is for everybody.” He did not offer it to the Pharisees or to those who were not connected to Him.

Having said that, we also recognize that not all church members who receive the Lord’s Supper are genuine believers. As a result, unbelieving church members do not receive grace through the Supper. They in fact eat and drink to their own harm.

Represents what Christ did
As the Lord’s Supper is a sign, so it is a sign of what Christ did for us. Regarding the cup, Jesus says, “…for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt. 16:28) He is saying that the cup with the wine represented his sacrificial death. But the elements also represent Christ Himself. The bread represents his body as the wine in the cup represents his blood.

It does not represent the strength of my faith or the goodness of my heart. Too often, as we have mentioned before, we end up focusing only on ourselves. Because the Supper represents Christ, we by faith receive Christ at the Supper. If we focus on ourselves (and only on ourselves), then we will miss Jesus at the Supper. It is like eating with our heads down oblivious to the good company at the table. People have been known to do that, and similar things can happen at the Lord’s table. The Supper is about Him and we need Him at the Supper.

Represents our relationship to each other
The Supper also represents our relationship to one another. The Corinthians failed to recognize that. They were divided and looking out for their own interests in 1 Cor. 11. Paul says, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17)

What does that mean? There is only one body of Christ. Christ does not have two or three bodies. All of us, Paul is saying, partake of that one body. We participate with one another since we participate with Christ. When we do that, we are, in effect, joined to one another because we have the same body inside of us. That is the imagery. The great John Calvin said this: “Now, since he [i.e. Jesus] has only one body, of which he makes us all partakers, it is necessary that all of us also be made one body by such participation. The bread shown in the Sacrament represents this unity.” (Institutes, 4.17.38)

The Lord’s Supper therefore points to the significance of our relationship to one another because of our relationship to Christ. One cannot have Jesus without His people and His people without Jesus. That is why we require that a person be a member of Christ’s church. Those who truly believe in Jesus and receive Him will receive His people. If the person won’t receive and join His people, then the person does not have Christ.


1. What is a sacrament?

2. What do we mean when we say that something is a means of grace?

3. What do we receive at the Supper? Is it just bread and wine?

4. Why can’t unbelievers or non-members of a church partake of the Lord’s Supper?

5. How does the Lord’s Supper represent our relationship with one another?

Chapter 3, Do we all believe the same thing about the Lord’s Supper?

I certainly wish everyone believed the same thing about the Lord’s Supper. Some have not studied the Bible carefully while other people let tradition control their understanding of the Lord’s Supper. We want to be as clear as possible, while being humble about what we believe the Bible teaches. In the end, the Bible is what we have to accept.

This chapter is going to be very different from all the other chapters because it will focus on some of the wrong views held by various people. We do not wish to speak badly about them. But we also must understand what it is we don’t believe as well as what we do believe. Sometimes we can better understand what we believe by studying this way. This is by no means the best way of learning the Bible’s teaching, but since so many people have been confused on this topic, I thought it best to begin by mentioning some of them.

Old Debates

Jesus said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Lk. 22:19) Some people have said, “Ah, see, Jesus said, ‘This bread IS my body.’ Therefore, somehow the bread has really become the body of Jesus.” Many professing believers believed this. Certainly this is wrong. How could the bread be Jesus’ body when he was sitting (lying) right beside of them? Did Jesus eat His own body at the Supper (we read that He ate and drank with the disciples, see Mark 14:22)? No. What Jesus means by “This is my body.” is “This represents my body.” Remember, Jesus also said, “I am the door.” (Jn. 10:9). He is not literally a door but He represents the door in the story.

So, we must not think that somehow, the bread and the wine became Christ’s body and blood. Jesus is in heaven seated at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1). His body does not leave that presence to become bread and wine. Though we will deal with this more fully later on, we must remember that we are not literally (physically) chewing on Christ’s body, nor drinking His blood.


Many godly Christians fear the Lord’s Supper. They fear what they do not know. They understand the Lord’s Supper is serious but do not understand how it could be of benefit to anyone. I have known grown ups who have almost sunk in their pews when they sit down and notice that the table has been prepared for the Lord’s Supper that Sunday morning.

Our Lord did not command us to “do this in remembrance” of Him so that we would fear. Jesus gave thanks and blessed the bread and wine (Mark 14:22-23). These elements were blessed and our Lord gave thanks for them. So, they are not to be occasions of fear but an opportunity for giving thanks. We are called to eat something that is blessed and set apart. To be serious is one thing but to be so scared that it becomes a source of great anxiety is another thing.

I used to be very much afraid of the Lord’s Supper. I thought everyone else really received something wonderful during that time and that I was simply going to be judged. My fear was unnecessary. My fear had to do with my misunderstanding. I did not know enough to gain comfort from the Lord’s Supper.

Little children have been afraid of many things that they outgrew once they understood what they were about. For example, many young boys and girls are afraid of going under water. They are scared to death. They watch other kids laughing and having fun in the pool but they simply sit on the side or wade in the shallow part because they are afraid of the water. Once they understand and experience the thrill of going under water, they quickly forget whatever fears they had. Their fears were fueled by their misunderstanding of what they thought would happen the second they went under. Believers who have lived in fear of the Lord’s Supper look forward to it now because they now understand what it is all about.


Another great misunderstanding plaguing many Christians is one of legalism. Now, we must define what this word means before we use it in this context. Legalism teaches that our good works, behavior, acts, etc. gain and earn God’s approval and acceptance. It teaches that our relationship to God is for the most part dependent on our performance.

Now, we would never want to deny the importance and necessity of “good works.” But we must understand what place they have in a believer’s life. Good works flow from our relationship with God and we have a firm and stable relationship with Him when we humbly believe and receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. Our relationship has been purchased by Christ and our standing and acceptance with God is dependent solely on what Jesus has done for us on the cross. All this is received by faith in Jesus Christ.

Legalism undercuts this. In the area of the Lord’s Supper, legalism teaches that we have to be good enough to come to the Lord’s Supper. The person thinks he or she has done pretty well this week and so feels very confident in coming to the Lord’s Table. At another week or month, the person feels and believes he or she was exceptionally bad that week and feels unworthy to come to the Supper. This is one of the biggest problems in the church when it comes to the Lord’s Supper.

Underneath this view is the mistaken idea that you and I could have a clean slate or a clean enough slate to come to the Lord (on account of my behavior). We are never accepted on account of our performances. Our standing before the Lord is based upon what Jesus has done. If we try to stand on our own before God, we will fall. “You are severed from Christ you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” (Gal. 5:4)

For some reason, many think that at this time in their Christian walk, before coming to the Lord’s Supper, they must be exceptionally good and clean (spiritually speaking). One lady I know visited a church and was not going to take the Lord’s Supper. It was reported to me after the Supper that she decided to take the Supper when she had not taken it for quite some time. She thought she had to be exceptionally good to take it but when she was reminded at the Supper that sinners in Christ should take it because they need it, she felt encouraged to participate. This kind of thing happens all the time. We do not come to the table because we are exceptionally good but because we are exceptionally weak and need our Savior and His blessings that much more.


For many years, the church was very superstitious about the Lord’s Supper. They thought the wine had magical powers or that the bread was so holy and special that it could never touch the ground. Some feared that a crumb would fall to the ground and that a mouse might eat it.

To this day, we find people still bowing before the bread and wine as if they were really Christ’s body. They believe in holy water, holy wine, etc. There are no such things. The bread and wine never ever change into anything. They remain as they are permanently.

There is no magic in the bread, nor is there any super power in the wine. The two elements are simply bread and wine. They are used to represent something much more, but in and of themselves, they are nothing more than bread and wine.

What this means is that after celebrating the Lord’s Supper, everyone can eat the bread and drink the wine. Strangers, friends, young children, etc. can all eat them because they are nothing more than bread and wine. They are used during the Supper in a holy way but they always remain the same.

I usually have crumbs in my Bible from the Lord’s Supper. They are usually found in 1 Cor. 11. The crumbs are dry and have been there for days. Are they holy? No. Can I eat them? Yes (if I wanted to). Can I throw them away? Yes. There is no magic in them.

Tradition and our experiences

Our experiences influence many of our thoughts and views. Tradition can play an important role in our lives as well and it can be very healthy, wholesome and beneficial. However, our experiences and tradition must not determine what we believe to be the meaning of the Lord’s Supper.

Some people have experienced certain rituals (incense, music, etc.) during the Lord’s Supper and expect to see them every time. They will say something like this: “I really enjoy it when they play such and such music during the Lord’s Supper. Why don’t we do it?” Some pastors put on their robes during this time and the people expect that each time the Lord’s Supper is served. Some want the bread pre-cut; others prefer the “common cup”; a few just want the Supper without the sermon; others expect to hear a bell toll during the words of institution, etc. Many enjoy the experience of kneeling and receiving the bread and wine. We can list many practices in the church that simply exist because they have always done them that way.

We need to be careful about all of these things. We should not (as we mentioned in our first chapter) add anything to this Supper. We should keep with the simple statements and teaching of Scripture and not make it more ritualistic than we need to.


This is becoming a problem. Since the bread and wine do not really become Christ’s body and blood, some therefore think the whole Supper is not all that beneficial and relevant. They simply tolerate the practice and care very little about preparing their hearts or even considering the right things during the Supper.

We must be careful not to make light of the Supper. Though we do not want to be superstitious, we also do not wish to dishonor the Lord at the table. Remember, this practice has been handed down to us from the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 11:23). As we do this until He comes (1 Cor. 11:26), we should proclaim everything about His death (1 Cor. 11:26) at the supper with great reverence. We do not want to be guilty of profaning or dishonoring what His body and blood represents (1 Cor. 11:27) lest we eat and drink judgment upon ourselves (1 Cor. 11:29).


We have given some hints into what the true view of the Lord’s Supper is by stating what we ought not to believe or practice. Our next study will explain the nature of the Lord’s Supper more clearly, but let us not forget what we should also avoid.

When a doctor instructs a diabetic to eat healthy food in right proportions in order to keep his blood sugar up, he also warns him against eating other kinds of food as well. He is to avoid certain foods while making sure he eats healthy food. So, in the Lord’s Supper, we must avoid many of the wrong things above.


1. How do we know that the bread and wine do not really turn into Christ’s body and blood?

2. Should we be afraid of the Lord’s Supper? Why?

3. What do we mean by legalism? How does it show up during the Lord’s Supper? Why should we avoid this?

4. Are there any magical powers in the bread and wine during and after the Supper? Do the bread and wine change into something else? Who can eat the bread and wine after the Supper?

5. Since the bread and wine remain the same, some people take the Supper lightly. Is that appropriate? Why or why not?

Chapter 2, Why couldn’t I take the Lord’s Supper?

Why can’t you take the Lord’s Supper? Is it because you are too young? Is it because you’ve sinned too much? Is it because you don’t know enough? Actually, it’s none of the above. It depends upon the answer to this question, “Are you a Christian?” It is that simple. It is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. How you answer that question affects the rest of your life.

So, as we begin to answer that question, we also need to understand something about you from God’s point of view. Once we understand what the Bible teaches regarding who you are, then we can finally answer the question, “Why couldn’t I take the Lord’s Supper?”

Who am I?

God placed you in the church. Most of you were raised in Christian homes or born to believing parents. You did not have a choice in this matter. God placed you with the parents that you have and because He saved them, he also blessed them by placing you into their lives. They could not choose what kind of child they would receive nor could you choose what kind of parents you would have.

God, by His choice, placed you into a Christian home. Unless one of your parents was not a Christian, you probably would not be reading this. As it is, you are reading this and trying to learn what the Bible teaches about you. You are reading this because God brought you to this point.

The biblical view of children

In the Old Testament (OT) God promised the following regarding the children of God’s people: “I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” (Is. 44:3) God promised to work in the children of believers by pouring His Spirit into them. Something like that began to happen in John the Baptist (“you shall call his name John…and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit” — Lk. 1:13-15).

In the OT, God considered all Israelites to be His people, not just the adults. The promises applied to both the adults and all their family members. The children of the OT were considered to be God’s people. The firstborn of Israel were specifically considered God’s (Num. 3:13, “for all the firstborn are mine”). God was very displeased with Israel because they did wicked things to their children. But they were in fact God’s children; He says of their children that they were His, children “they bore to Me [that is, “they bore to God”]” (Ezek. 23:37). God was telling them that their children were actually children born to Him. Also in Ezekiel, God speaks of children “born to Me” (16:20, 21).

King David would speak of his birth in this manner in Ps. 22:9-10: “Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” God was “seeking godly offspring” (Mal. 2:15). Wow, God cast David upon Himself ever since David was born!

In the New Testament, the children of believers are considered “holy” (1 Cor. 7:14). God’s promises were specifically for those who would believe and their children (Acts 2:39). God calls the children of believers to obey their parents because this pleases the Lord (Col. 3:20).

So the Bible teaches us that you, a child of at least one believing parent, are specially marked out by God. He treats the children of believers differently. You are not with your parents by accident and you are not unrelated to the Lord. You are His and He treats you differently! What does that mean?

I’m different from other children

Each child of a believer is different from his or her neighbor. Because God set you apart for Himself through Christian parents, you are obligated to truly live a life pleasing to Him. So the Bible can say, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Eph. 6:1) The Bible addresses you. You have the privilege of being part of God’s people by birth.

With every privilege comes responsibility. You have the responsibility to trust in your Savior Jesus Christ and to please God. Your friends who are not believers run after the world and delight in the things of the world. They do not worship God and Sunday is a day to sleep in for them. They do as they please, but the Bible says you are to obey His commands, because this pleases the Lord (Col. 3:20).

When I came to America, I did not know how to speak English. I did not understand what was expected of me and could not understand what other people were saying. I was quite frightened. After a summer of being in America, I began my first year of school in September. It was very difficult. Now, do you think the teachers were more patient with me when I didn’t follow their directions or with those who could perfectly understand them? Of course, they were very patient with me because I did not understand everything. The other students had no excuse! I, on the other hand, did have an excuse because I could not make sense of everything they said.

You are in a different position than I was. You are like those students who understand perfectly what is required of you. Your neighbors or friends at school might not understand at all. God says in Luke 12:48, “And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” If you do not believe, your situation is worse than your friends who have not been raised in Christian homes.

I’m a sinner and am not automatically a Christian

Though we have said you are different, you are still like others, a sinner needing Christ’s forgiveness. The privilege does not necessarily save you or change you. [Yes, something might have already happened in your heart and if that something is new birth in Christ, then you are in a blessed position.]

What this means is that the privilege of being in God’s church and being raised in a Christian home does not automatically mean you have received God’s gift. In Abraham’s family, one of his sons (Esau) rejected God. So, unless you rest upon and receive Christ as He is offered in the Gospel, your privileges will become awful curses.

There are many young children who have assumed everything is O.K. with them because they go to church. They simply believe that they are better than other people because they know some things of the gospel and understand many Bible stories. They are like some college students who think they are smart simply because they go to college when in fact, many college students hardly study and apply themselves. They may go to college but it does not follow that they have studied and received what had been taught.

So the same situation presents itself to you. God has placed you into a Christian home and has made you one of the members of the church. Are you going to be one of those college students who just goes to college but never studies and assumes that he knows all things simply because he heard many lectures? Or, are you going to be one of those students who will seize the responsibilities? Your responsibility is to believe in the Lord Jesus and follow Him!

I need Jesus

You need Jesus just like any other sinner on the face of the earth. You might not remember when it happened but you must be able to say, “I believe in Jesus Christ. I am a miserable sinner who deserves eternal death. But I believe He has died on the cross for sinners like me and I rest on what He has done on the cross. I believe that his death has paid the penalty for all my sins and that I can do nothing to earn salvation. I receive and rest upon Jesus alone for my salvation.”

You must be able to able to really say that! If you don’t sense your need of Him, sense that you are a miserable sinner, sense that without Him you will perish in your sins then saying those things are just words. God knows your heart!

God does not automatically apply what Christ has done on the cross to your account. You must receive it by faith. If you do not presently know that Jesus is your personal Savior and Lord, then you must repent of your sins and look to your Savior Jesus.

Though God has placed you into his church, He did not automatically turn you into a believer. That is His secret work and if He has done that in you, you will know it by your faith in Jesus. Do you believe in Christ (Acts 16:30-31)? Do you love Him? If you do not, you will be cursed (1 Cor. 16:22). If you have truly believed in Him for your salvation, He will be your greatest delight. You will have a new heart and spiritual desires. Jesus will be the subject of your conversation, heavenly things will be the object of your meditation, and God’s word will be the treasure you cherish.

Young Timothy was reared in the faith by his grandmother and mother (2 Tim. 1:5). He was exposed to God’s word ever since he was a child — “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Notice, he was “acquainted” with God’s Word. God’s Word makes one wise unto salvation. But the last statement is the most important in this sentence. God’s Word made Timothy wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. He needed to personally exercise his own faith in Jesus Christ for his own salvation. Everything was there to help him but no one could believe for him. One writer (William Gurnall) said, “You must live by your faith, not another’s. Labor to see truth with your own eyes.” Timothy could not live on his mom’s faith nor could he see the truth of Gospel with their eyes. God enabled Timothy to personally believe in Christ.

Am I in Christ?

So the question you must ask yourself is, “Am I a Christian?” Or, “Am I just going along with my family and care very little about these things?” Some like the church, the people, the experience, and many other things but these things are not the same as being a Christian.

Have you ever gone somewhere with your father or mother but didn’t really like it? I remember my dad and mom loved to go to college basketball games when I was a around ten years old. They used to take my brothers and me. My brothers seemed to enjoy it but I personally did not care for it that much. I liked the fun we had, the time with the family, the soda from the concession stand, and many other things. But, I did not much enjoy the game. When I was old enough to stay home by myself, I usually chose to not go, though my brothers usually went. Is this the way you view your life in the church?

If you are going along to church just like the way I went with my family to the basketball games, then you probably are not a Christian. You are a member of the church but you have not personally received and rested on Christ as your great Savior. You need to repent. You need to realize that these privileges demand from you the holy responsibility of seeking the Lord. Will you believe in Him? Will you pray to Him today, tonight, or this evening? Will you say, “Lord, save me! I am a miserable sinner and I look to you and place my complete faith in Jesus to deliver me from the coming wrath! Deliver me from myself; have mercy on me and save me Lord!”

Why couldn’t I take the Lord’s Supper?

When Jesus set up the first Lord’s Supper, it is clear from the Bible that only his disciples partook of the Lord’s Supper. In the Gospels, Jesus was with his twelve disciples. In 1 Corinthians 11, it is certain that only church members partook of the Lord’s Supper. He said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” That means Christ’s disciples, those who believe in Him, must remember Him and recognize the many good things the Lord’s Supper brings to their souls.

Why couldn’t you take the Lord’s Supper? Because the church does not know if you have yet embraced what you have been taught. It is not automatically given to everyone in the church. You must be a disciple of Christ to receive the Lord’s Supper. Now is the time to seriously consider where you stand. Are you His disciple? Are you a believer? Or, Are you just going along for the ride?


1. Are children of believers just like the children of unbelievers? Explain.

2. Isn’t being raised in a Christian home good enough? Does that make you a Christian?

3. How does one know he or she is a Christian?

4. What is the point behind the story about the basketball game? Where do you stand?

5. Isn’t the Lord’s Supper for everyone in the church? Explain.

Chapter 1, An Introduction to the Lord’s Supper

Did you ever ask your parents or elders what the Lord’s Supper was all about? Did you think it was only allowed for big older kids? Maybe you thought it was only for grown ups? But did you know that you too might be able to take the Lord’s Supper?

You might have smelled the bread and the wine some Sundays and wished you could have eaten the bread or drunk the wine because you were hungry. Yet, you knew that it was more than just a snack. Everyone seems so serious and quiet. At times, their seriousness may make you a little uncomfortable. Your mom or dad appeared to be more serious during this time than any other time during the service. Why all this seriousness? What is going on here that is so serious?

What is it called?

The Bible uses several names to describe the Lord’s Supper. Sometimes it is called “communion” from 1 Cor. 10:16 (KJV) — “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” The phrase “Lord’s Supper” comes from 1 Cor. 11:20 — “Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” Some call it the “Lord’s Table” from 1 Cor. 10:21 — “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” It is also called the eucharist from the Greek word for giving thanks in 1 Cor. 11:24. Each term describes an important part of the Lord’s Supper. So, we can use these terms interchangeably (communion, Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist).

Why do we do this?

If you are curious about the meaning of the Lord’s Supper and if you really believe in and love Jesus Christ, then you will want to know what the Bible has to say about the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is not something your parents or church made up. It came into use because our Lord Jesus told us to do this. He said, “DO THIS in remembrance of me.” (Lk. 22:19) Think about it. Why would we all eat the bread and drink the wine so quietly and seriously during a church service unless this was something our Lord told us to do? We do not want to do anything during church that our Lord did not command us to do.

Now, we might say that we already knew that. But there are several important reasons for pointing that out. First of all, as we mentioned, the church should do only what our Lord commands her to do. We cannot simply do things in the church service because we like them. Some things in the church may not be fun while other things may be easier to enjoy. Yet, when it comes to a Christian worshipping one’s Savior, one must only do what God commands one to do.

Our Lord’s Command

Another important reason relates to you. If Jesus says, DO THIS, then you should want to do it. If you don’t, then it says a lot about you. We hope you want to obey Jesus.

Let us imagine for a minute. Let us imagine that a young girl named Hannah found out that her father was about to die and he requested to see her by his bedside. After encouraging her to seek the Lord, he asked her to do one thing for him. The dying daddy asked her to always remember him on a certain day each year and on that very day he asked her to buy some beautiful flowers for her mother. He wanted his daughter to do something special each year for her mom in his behalf. Now, do you think Hannah will comply? I would think so. Why? Because she loves her daddy and wants to always remember him. She will never forget this one request.

In a similar way, our Lord commanded us to remember Him with the Supper. This was one of His last commands before He offered up His life for our sins. It was not a useless request. We will learn later of the importance of this command and how helpful it is for us. But still, shouldn’t we honor Him in this even if we don’t understand everything?

What about you?

It is true, you may not understand everything about WHY you need to do this, but because Jesus is our Lord and the one who loves us, we should want to obey what He says. A question that you must ask yourself is, “Do I want to obey Jesus?” If you said Yes to that question, then consider another one, “Do I want to obey Jesus in the area of the Lord’s Supper?” For believers, this is not an option. If Jesus commands it, then we must obey Him. So children, this is something that should get you to think and pray. Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Right now, you may not be taking the Lord’s Supper but did He not command His disciples to do so? Are you one of His disciples?

When I became a Christian in high school, I was very happy. I began to read the Bible over and over again. I wanted to understand more and more who Jesus was and how I was to live for Him. There were many things I did not understand in the Bible at all. But some things became clear to me. I noticed that all believers were baptized. “I was a already a believer and growing. Why do I need to be baptized? What is that ceremony going to do for me?” But the more I read, the more convicted I became and realized two things. First of all, I did not understand much about baptism and could not see any need for it. Second, the Bible was very clear. All believers had to be baptized. This second point bothered me greatly. I struggled with the issue for some time until I finally decided by God’s grace that I had no excuse. I was baptized and have been thankful for it every since.

I share that story to help us understand one important point. Whether we understand it or not, we are required to obey what God’s Word teaches. We are not given an option to obey some of God’s Word and skip over the rest. Jesus wants His disciples to DO THIS.


1. What are some of the names for the Lord’s Supper?

2. Who came up with the idea of the Lord’s Supper?

3. Should churches create new things to do in worship because they are fun? Explain.

4. What is the point behind the story (about baptism) mentioned in this chapter?

5. What if I don’t want to take the Lord’s Supper?