Category Archives: Basics in Christian Faith and Living

God’s Reputation and Our Lifestyle

We know that the man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Many texts could be produced to prove this well received point.[1] The text 1Cor. 10:31 states, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The most mundane acts are to be done for God’s glory. Even as we receive each other, we do it unto God’s glory, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Rom. 15:7)

No believer should have any problems with this truth. How we act on that truth is an entirely different matter. The Bible teaches that our behavior either glorifies God or gives the opportunity for the enemies of Christ to blaspheme Him. Paul says this of the Jews (Rom. 2:23, 24): “You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed [βλασφημεῖται] among the Gentiles because of you.”” They claimed to be God’s people of the law and recognized that the Gentiles did not have God’s law to direct them.[2] Yet, by their own disobedience and wicked lifestyle, the Jews gave the Gentiles the occasion to blaspheme God.

This concern for God’s reputation is found in Moses’ prayer. He was worried about God’s reputation after God threatened to obliterate the people in the desert. Notice this prayer in Ex. 32:11-14,

11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

What the Egyptians might say of God compelled Moses to pray. He did not want them to say, “With evil intent did he (God) bring them out, to kill them…” This, along with God’s faithfulness to His covenant, moved Moses to plead with God for Israel. Moses’ expressed his regard for God’s reputation.

Hezekiah alludes to this very concern when he prayed to the Lord to deliver Israel. The Assyrians mocked the living God (Is. 37:17; cf. vv. 10-13) and Hezekiah asked God to save them “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD.” (v. 20) God responds by saying that His zeal will deliver them (Is. 37:32) for His own sake and for the sake of His servant David (37:35). God’s reputation was on the line and God will defend His great name.

Daniel, in one of the most moving and eloquent prayers in the Bible, argued as Moses. He makes it known that their punishment was just on God’s part (Dan. 9:14). But he also points out that God saved them to make “a name for yourself” (v. 15). He asks God to act “for your own sake, O Lord” (v. 17). They bear God’s name and the city is “called by your name” (v. 18). Then he cries out, “Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” (v. 19) God’s name is connected with the fate and felicity of His people. Daniel wants God to act for His name’s sake because of His covenant obligations. In effect, what will the nations say about God if His people and the city called by His name were not rescued?


The truth in these passages teach us the importance of God’s glory and the necessity of making it part of our prayer and personal concern! It is not even to simply assume that our plight is so bad, that God must act. Do we not deserve much worse than we have received?

Apart from that theological observation, we also learn that the depth of one’s piety can be measured by concern the child of God has for God’s reputation. Do we have our Lord’s reputation in mind?

Some NT Passages

Before we focus on a few key passages, we must consider the well known petition. The first petition of the Lord’s prayer concerns God’s glory. We want His name to be hallowed, considered holy, held in reverence, etc. As the SC states, “That God would enable us, and others, to glorify him…” That is, our lives (among other things) must play a part in fulfilling that petition.

We can also mention how creation, salvation, ethics, etc. all center on God’s glory. Much could be said about those points but we will give our attention to some things that are easily overlooked. These eminently concrete passages jump out with bold colors. What they say is unmistakable and they assume some of the things we have already mentioned.

If believers live sensual godless lives…

2Peter 2:2 reiterates Rom. 2:23, 24 we quoted above. The sensual and godless lives of those who profess faith (led astray by false prophets with their destructive heresies) lead people to blaspheme God: “because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed (βλασφημηθήσεται).”[3] Here, it is not simply about God; it is about His message, His method of salvation. “The infection from the false teachers spreads to others, but it does not stop there. The unbelieving world sees the impact on the church and responds by maligning and ridiculing “the way of truth.”… When unbelievers see the moral effect produced by the opponents in the lives of their followers, they will conclude that the way of truth is a way of error.”[4]

The truth of the gospel is questioned on account of our sinful behavior. Not only is God’s reputation sullied, His message to lost sinner is maligned. The world scrutinizes our behavior and quickly seizes our inconsistency. Believers do not have the liberty to do as they wish; their lifestyle brings honor or dishonor to God.

If wives do not fulfill their domestic duties…

Paul instructs Titus to tell older women to teach “young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled [or blasphemed, βλασφημῆται]” (Titus 2:4, 5)

Apart from the domestic peace and stability such actions bring to the household, Paul is concerned that God’s Word would not be “reviled.” Domestic lifestyles therefore either give legitimacy to the truth of the Gospel or discredit it. It is not a private affair.

If Christian wives ignored these demands and flouted the role their culture demanded of good wives, the gospel would be maligned, criticized, and discredited by non-Christians. Christianity would be judged especially by the impact that it had on the women. It therefore was the duty of the women to protect God’s revelation from profanation by living discreet and wholesome lives. For Christians, no life style is justified that hinders “the word of God,” the message of God’s salvation in Christ.[5]

From whence does the blasphemy come? Does it come from the world or the unbelieving spouse? Chrystostom believes this comes from the unbelieving spouse. He says, ““For if you gain nothing else, and do not attract your husband to embrace right doctrines, yet you have stopped his mouth, and are not allowing him to blaspheme Christianity.”[6]

In this same passage, Paul talks about how the behavior of young men and in particular Titus should affect the opponents “having nothing evil to say about us” (v. 8). Titus’ life in holiness and ministerial faithfulness affects how the world might speak about the gospel.

If inferiors do not respect their superiors…

In 1Timothy 6:1, Paul says, “Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled [or blasphemed, βλασφημῆται].” The same is said in Titus 2:10 where the slaves are not to argue or steal “that in everything they may adorn (κοσμῶσιν) the doctrine of God our Savior.”

How the slaves acted affected how the masters would view the gospel. Their lifestyles “adorn” the gospel and give the masters no occasion to revile or blaspheme the “the name of God and the teaching.” In Titus, we are taught that a godly life “adorns” the gospel. Our lifestyle makes the Gospel attractive; makes it more desirable, credible, and lovely. We don’t add to its essence but enhance what is already inherently wonderful.


1. God is zealous for His glory and we ought to be as well.

2. God’s reputation, His honor or glory, must fill our petitions and passions.

3. Our lifestyle says something about the truth and goodness of the gospel. If God’s truth saved us, then our lifestyles should validate that truth.

4. Does your life “adorn” the doctrine of God our Savior?


[Adult Sunday School Lesson, Oct. 23, 2011]

[1] A helpful essay from a biblical theological perspective is Thomas R. Schreiner, “A Biblical Theology of the Glory of God,” in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, ed. Sam Storms and Justin Taylor (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010), 215-234. Also consult Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, eds., The Glory of God, Theology in Community (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010).

[2] Paul is referring to Is. 52:5. “In Isaiah, the blaspheming of God’s name occurs through the oppression of Israel, God’s chosen people, by foreign powers. Paul ascribes the cause of the blasphemy to the disobedient lives of his people. Perhaps Paul intends the reader to see the irony in having responsibility for dishonoring God’s name transferred from the Gentiles to the people of Israel.” Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 166.

[3] This word could be simply translated as “verbally abuse.” KJV has “be evil spoken of.”

[4] Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude (NAC 37; ed. E. Ray Clendenen; Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 332.

[5] D. Edmond Hiebert, Titus (EBC 11; ed. Frank E. Gaebelein and J. D. Douglas; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 437.

[6] William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (WBC 46; Accordance/Thomas Nelson electronic ed. Waco: Word Books, 2000), 412.  I modernized the quote offered in Mounce.


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 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.

Why Pray?

Basics in Christian Faith and Living

Why pray?

All of us struggle with prayer. Could we be more disciplined? Shouldn’t we pray longer? Our minds rush through all that we have to do when we get up in the morning and it is very challenging to set aside time to pray. Let us see what the Bible teaches about prayer and then apply some of it to our lives.

Scriptural Exhortations

Remember, we are commanded to pray (Eph. 6:18; 1Th. 5:17). Somehow this has not sunk deep into our souls. We unwittingly make prayer an optional discipline in our lives. It is relegated to the realm of our “feelings” — we pray when we feel like it. We know we are commanded to not murder, steal, etc. but we are also commanded to pray (along with many other things). Furthermore, we are also given a model prayer (Mt. 6:9-13). One of the interesting things we tend to overlook is the occasion for the “Lord’s Prayer.” The disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1). The question was not, “Do we need to? Why should we pray? I don’t have enough time to pray so do I need to?” Rather, we need instruction in prayer because we know we ought to pray. The question assumes its necessity.

Great saints prayed. Paul prayed often (Eph. 1:16; 1Th. 3:10). Peter prayed (Acts 10:9). OT saints prayed (Moses, David, Elijah, etc.). We have been given the Spirit of God in order to pray (Rom. 8:26). As it has been said, God has no dumb children—all true children of God can and will pray.

We must remember that Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, etc. also pray. Just being religious assumes that the person prays. Of course they do not pray to the true God and with a renewed heart. We are to thank God through Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:8; 7:25) as we offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ (1Pet. 2:5, “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”). God works in us that which is pleasing to Himself “through Jesus Christ” (Heb. 13:21). On account of Christ, we can pray and have access to the Father (Eph. 2:18; 3:12; Heb. 4:14-16). This is the privilege, gift and responsibility earned for us through our Lord Jesus Christ. No one else can pray like we can! We can go directly to God the Father (“Our Father…”); we have the Son who intercedes for us (Rom. 8:34) as well as the Spirit (Rom. 8:27). The Triune God has graciously cleared away every obstacle so that we can pray!


Christians have the comfort of knowing that God hears us (1 Jn. 5:14, 15). He will give us everything we need if we ask anything according to His will (1 Jn. 5:14). We do not receive because we do not ask and when we ask, we ask with wrong motives (James 4:2, 3). But the great benefit is that the everlasting God hears us and responds to our miserable prayers.

We can ask for our daily necessities and ask Him to forgive us of our sins. Furthermore, prayer helps us to fight sin (all this in the Lord’s Prayer). Thomas Watson said, “Prayer keeps the heart open to God and shut to sin.”

Many people love to talk, talk, talk, etc. about their problems to every soul. It may make them feel better but the sympathetic ear can only take so much. Would to God that we pray more than we talk to others. They may hear; God hears and can act. There are not many things better than leaving the matter to God in prayer— leaving confidently and with hope, “It is well with my soul.”


Many excuses have been used to avoid prayer. One of the most common is, “I don’t feel like praying.” That rarely regulates our interactions with others. If the queen of England, the President of this nation, or your own boss requested to talk with you, would you say, “I don’t feel like talking today.”? Of course not — prayer is not dependent upon our emotions; it is dependent on the word of God.

Another excuse is that we don’t have time. You don’t have enough time not to pray. Everyone chooses how he or she uses time; it is filled by the choices that we make. Prayer doesn’t fit in because you did not make room for it. If you can eat, then you can pray. Skip a meal? If pressed for time, then skip it and pray. Surely there is something you can skip? You surfed the web, you watched TV, you had “down time,” etc. but did you pray?

Often saints will say, “I feel so spiritually dry. I have no motivation, desire, etc. to pray.” This is probably the most dangerous situation to be in. How we respond at this moment will have an immense impact on our spiritual lives. Go to God and tell Him of your spiritual condition. Tell him how cold and desperate your heart is. Let that be the matter of your prayers. Let that be the concern of your heart—will He not hear you? Have you never complained of your heart to God? Have you never found your heart breaking and warming up as you weep over your cold lifeless dull heart before the Lord? The cold heart is warmed as it is talked about before God. The heart will not automatically become more willing to pray by not praying. What are you waiting for?

Methods & Suggestions

One, do not leave prayer to chance. Set a time or it won’t get done. Too often we leave it as an after thought. Two, have a place to pray. Remember our Lord’s words: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.” (Mt. 6:6) Three, use the Lord’s prayer (and the catechism’s exposition)— this is a ready guide to regulate your prayers. Four, utilize a prayer list (not slavishly). Have you prayed for everyone in this room? Have you even mentioned each one by name? Five, pray out loud if your thoughts wander off. Hearing your own voice will keep you focused and help you to consider what you say. Six, use prayer books as guides but not as a substitute. Sometimes, we are wordless and the prayers of godly divines can be of tremendous assistance (e.g. Valley of Vision). Seven, pray scripturally. Learn verses, phrases, general content of various passages of scripture and use them in your prayers. Use God’s word as you pray to God. Eight, don’t just pray about me me, me, me, me, and me. Sometimes your problems are simply YOU. Turn away from yourself and pray for others. Nine, you might find CATS helpful — Confession, Adoration, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (I prefer CATS to ACTS though I don’t particularly like cats). These elements may be of help to many. Ten, consider fasting with your prayer. There are times to fast and pray—when was the last time you fasted? Eleven, resort to long seasons of prayer. Our Lord prayed all night (Lk. 6:12). At times, set aside a season of prayer for your soul. You’ve squeezed God into your schedule; break out and commit hours, a day, an evening, etc. to call upon the Lord. Twelve, praise God! Never fail to praise God for who He is and thank Him for what He has done. Thirteen, don’t make driving, walking, exercising times the only occasion for your prayer times. Does He not deserve better than being taken along on your agenda? Where is that secret room of yours? Fourteen, use a notepad and pen. Have one nearby so that you can quickly jot a thing or two down that calls you away from prayer. Fifteen, pray on your knees or fall down. Posture in prayer is more important than you know. It often expresses the attitude of your heart. Sixteen, remember, there is not one thing you will do this day that is better than calling upon the Lord!

Why read the Bible?

Basics in Christian Faith and Living

Why read the Bible?

Most Christians believe it is a good thing to read the Bible. Many feel guilty because they don’t read enough. Some feel dissatisfied with their on and off schedule. Others have no real method or plan but tend to read something in the Bible just to have read something.

Scriptural Exhortations

One cannot find an “explicit” verse that states, “You must read the Bible everyday.” But much in Scripture assumes its practice and benefit. Psalm 1 illustrates this perfectly. The godly or righteous are those who meditates on God’s law “day and night” (Ps. 1:2). How can one meditate on something he does not read or how can he do it day and night if he does not read it every day? On the other hand, if we memorized the entire word of God, then we can meditate on it day and night without reading it every day.

Our Lord Jesus establishes the simple but profound truth of our absolute need for God’s Word. He rebuffed the devil by quoting Deut. 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” He knew Scripture and He quoted it. But more importantly, from this verse we learn that we desperately need God’s word just to live. The analogy is simple. We need food (bread) every day to live but that is not the only thing we need every day, we need God’s word. Sad to say, too often, we think we can get along without His Word while we never dare forego a meal. The other way around would be better for all of us. In fact, we are no better than animals if we think we can get along with mere physical food. We are capable of and create for higher and better things, to be nourished by God’s Word.

Ps. 119 focuses entirely on God’s Word. Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is used to extol the greatness and benefits of God’s Holy Word. We are told to store up God’s word in our hearts so as not to sin against God (v. 11). The psalmist will never forget God’s word (v. 16) and begs God to open his eyes to “behold wondrous things out of your law” (v. 18; cf. 27). God’s testimonies are his “counselors” (v. 24) and God strengthens with His Word (v. 28). Christians too can say with the Psalmist, “your rules are good” (v. 39; Paul says in Rom. 7:12, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”). The psalmist delights in and loves God’s word (vv. 47, 92, 113, 119, 127, 163, etc.); he hopes in it (v. 49) and it gives him life (v. 50). God’s laws are sweet to him, “sweeter than honey to my mouth” (v. 103) and are the joy of his heart (v. 111). He longs for God’s commandment (v. 131) and “great peace have those who love your law” (v. 165). How can these things become a part of us if we do not read, memorize, and meditate on God’s word on a daily basis? This is not the heart of a legalist; it is the heart of a saint who is sanctified and mature.

Joshua was to keep God’s word and to meditate on it “day and night.” Why? “So that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” (Josh. 1:8) If God wants us to keep His Word (and He does), then are we exempt because we don’t read it and know it? We should be as Ezra (7:10), “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”

We read the Bible everyday because it is God’s word. I know of a man who reads and reads great works of literature and memorizes great poetry. It is impressive. Yet, those wonderful pieces of literature are not the Word of God. Should we not read God’s Word every day because it is his? Many read newspapers, magazines, email, etc. everyday; they will rarely miss a day. But God’s Word alone is fully and always true and it alone is absolutely authoritative. All the other writings are the mere writings of men.

We should read the Bible everyday because God still speaks and gives life through it. Because it is “God breathed” we can cite Scripture and say “God says” or the “Holy Spirit says” (cf. Acts 13:47; 28:25; 2 Cor. 6:2, 16; Heb. 1:5; 3:7; 8:5; 10:15; etc.). God spoke and speaks; as Scripture speaks, God speaks. His Word is life indeed.

For these reasons, we should read God’s Word daily and meditate on it day and night. It is not just another book but the book of books. It is absolutely unique and absolutely authoritative.


In addition to the Scriptural examples and exhortations, there are immense benefits to reading Scripture. First of all, it will make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:14, 15). Those who diligently search the Scriptures will understand how God saves and by the power of His mercy, will be converted. Once that has happened, the child of God will begin to know God through His Word. God makes Himself known. Eternal life and knowing God are the same (Jn. 17:3). Through reading and meditating on God’s Word, we begin to know Him better and all the blessings He has for us (1Cor. 2:9-13). No saint will ever grow in maturity without regularly and daily meditating on God’s Word.

Through God’s word we are given instruction (Rom. 15:4) on how to please God and are made wise through His Word (e.g. Ps. 119; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17). God afflicts us in order to help us keep His Word and His Word keeps us from perishing in times of affliction (Ps. 119:67, 71, 92). Stories and different instructions were written as “examples for us” (1 Cor. 10:1-6). In addition, we receive encouragement from Scripture (Rom. 15:4).

We are too often aimless and spiritually malnourished. Yet saints have been sustained and mightily built up through God’s Word. Are we truly benefiting from God’s Word? Do we read it and meditate upon it?


I want to give some suggestions on how to read the Bible. First of all, have a plan. Have a plan to go through the entire Bible. Some do one chapter from each testament while others go from Genesis to Maps. Whatever the plan, have one that will enable you to complete the entire Bible consistently and regularly. Remember, you have the rest of your life so devise a plan that works. [Use McCheyne’s schedule for those interested in a rather disciplined approach.] Two, use variety. Sometimes read the Psalms for a time and then go back to your plan. Similarly, camp out on a certain book or epistle for deep study. Read M. Henry or other commentaries to help you through certain books of the Bible (but never as a replacement for the Bible itself). Three, keep a journal or a notebook to help you keep track. If that is not a problem, have a notebook to write down your favorite verses, make notations on passages, etc. This will help you to recall passages and specific things you’ve learned from God’s Word. Four, memorize verses and passages. Use your Bible times to memorize verses and recite the older ones. This will enable you to meditate on it day and night. Five, set aside time that works for you. Mornings are preferable since your mind is a sponge. Don’t give God the worst part of the day or when you are least attentive. Six, invest in commentaries and Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias. This will help you to read with better comprehension. Seven, use a private place where you can commune with God and His Word. It is not a “show” but private worship. Eight (though it is actually first on the list), pray to God to help you understand His Word.