Looking Forward to the Lord’s Supper

Next Sabbath, God willing, we shall be gathering at the Lord’s Table to commemorate our Lord’s death on the Cross on our behalf. This is a sacred appointment of the Lord, which we must not fail to keep. Yet, it is not an appointment that we should keep with a flippant attitude that is void of proper preparation.

Our Larger Catechism teaches us at the Lord’s Supper,…

"…they that worthily communicate feed upon His body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with Him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body" (WLC 168).

What the Catechism does not say explicitly, but which our Confession of Faithaffirms the Word of God to teach is that…

"…ignorant and wicked men… by their unworthy coming [to the Lord’s Table], are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, to their own damnation.… and [therefore] cannot, without great sin against Christ, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries…" (WCF 29.8; see 1 Cor 11:27-29).

What does this mean to us? It means that if we come to the Lord’s Table with proper preparation and partake of the body and blood of Christ worthily, we can expect great spiritual blessings from the Lord. On the other hand, those who come to the Table in hypocrisy can expect the Lord’s chastisement.

We must prepare ourselves, beloved brethren. We must not come as a matter of routine, or we would not only receive no blessing from the Lord, but may peradventure receive the Lord’s chastisement.

How should we prepare ourselves? Again, our Larger Catechism has some very useful instruction, viz.—

"They that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ, of their sins and wants; of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance; love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation, and fervent prayer" (WLC 171).

We have published this many times. But how many of us have sat down to contemplate and actually exercise it before coming to the Table? Indeed, how many of us have digested what is taught so that we actually prepared for the Supper in the way that our fathers in the faith taught us?

Our failure is a pity; for where we failed to prepare we failed to receive what our Lord would have bestowed upon us. Therefore let us consider briefly what we ought to do.

We should, according to the recommendations of Catechism, prepare firstly, by self-examination in regards to various graces; and secondly, by praying to the Lord to restore us where we fail. Of course, in actual practice, self-examination should be carried out prayerfully and meditatively rather than mechanically in two different steps. Therefore let us study the instruction under four heads corresponding to the four things we should examine ourselves for as we look forward to the Lord’s Supper.

1. Personal-State

The first thing that you must examine yourself about is whether you are ‘in Christ’, or in other words, whether you are truly a Christian (cf. 2 Cor 13:5). Unless you are truly a born-again Christian, you cannot truly discern the Lord’s body (1 Cor 11:29), for spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14). Those who are not born again will at best be able to partake the Lord’s Supper ritualistically without any spiritual or emotional effect upon their souls that Christ’s body was broken for them and His blood was shed for them.

Beloved brethren, as you consider your own heart, do you see elements which make you wonder if you are a true believer. Do you see the deadness of your soul? Do you see a lack of love for Him? Do you see yourself sinning against the Lord without any real grief? Oh will you not humble yourself before the Lord confessing your sin and hardness, and crying out unto Him to restore a right spirit within you and give you again an assurance of His love?

Do not beloved brethren allow yourself to remain in that state of spiritual lethargy or deadness one minute longer, for sin has a way of hardening and deceiving you so that you will quickly cease to be concerned about your heart! Do not be like the frog in the pot which becomes so comfortable with the slowly rising heat that it does not discern that it is being cooked.

Will you not take this opportunity of preparation for the Lord’s Table to seek the Lord afresh, making certain that you are a true sheep of Christ.

2. Knowledge, Faith & Repentance

The second thing that you must examine is the ‘truth and measure’ of your knowledge, faith and repentance.

In terms of knowledge, examine what you know and do not know. Do you understand what the meaning of the propitiation of Christ or why Christ had to die? Do you understand the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, not just what the wine and the bread represent? Do you know why we say that the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace, and how is it different from the Word as a means of grace? Ask yourself some of these questions and see if you are able to answer them.

In terms of repentance, examine if you truly believe you are sinner, and whether you truly hate sin. How have you dealt with sin over the last two months? What was your heart’s response when you were overtaken by temptation so that you broke God’s commandments directly? Are you concerned about the relative hardness of your heart and your lack of love for the Lord? Do you find in your heart any secret faults or besetting sin which needs to be repented of? Consider if you hate the consequence of sin more than sin itself?

In terms of faith, examine yourself to see if you truly believe that the Lord Jesus came to save sinners and that since you are a sinner, He came for you. Are you assured that if you were to die tonight, you will be found in paradise beholding the face of the lover of your soul? Is your hope in this life and the life to come found in Christ and Christ alone?

These things are so fundamental for the Christian, and yet we tend to forget about them. We tend to think little about them. Will you not take some time to seek the Lord on these matters? Where you are lacking in knowledge will you not seek counsel or read a good book on the areas you are unsure about? And will you not cry unto the Lord that He may grant you true repentance, and help your unbelief?
3. Love

The third thing that you must examine yourself about is your love for God and for the brethren.

Do you truly love God? If you love Him you will keep His commandments cheerfully (1 Jn 5:3). If you truly love Him, you will give priority to spiritual things. You will seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, knowing that He will provide the things that you need for this present life without your striving to obtain them (Mt 6:33). If you love God you will arrange your life around the worship of God both in public and private, rather than worshipping God ‘when you have the time’.

What about love for the brethren? You cannot claim to love God if you have no love for the brethren (1 Jn 4:20). If you love the brethren, you will desire fellowship with them. You will not shun to meet with the brethren when opportunities present themselves; rather, you will look forward to every public gathering of the people of God—not only that you can worship your heavenly Father together, but that you can meet one another! If you love the brethren, you will seek to receive them and to please them however difficult and unlovely they may be to you. If you love them you will not speak evil of them.

Moreover, since our Lord teaches us to love our neighbours as ourselves, and our neighbours are not just our brethren in church, if we are truly obedient to the Lord, we will have charity to all men, and forgive all who have done us wrong.

At the Lord’s Supper you will be commemorating the Lord’s death for you in order that you may be forgiven of your sin. He died for you when you were yet enemies of God. How can you go to His Table to remember what He did for you if you harbour bitterness or an unforgiving spirit against anyone, especially those for whom He also died for?

Will you not as you prepare to come to the Table ask the Lord to forgive your lack of love for Him and for others, and to increase your love to Him and for the brethren, as well as to instil a sense of compassion for the lost?

4. Desires for Christ

Fourthly, in preparing for the Lord’s Table you must examine yourself with regard to your desires after Christ and the benefits of redemption that are found in Him. Christ does not invite all indiscriminately to enjoy Him; He invites only those who desire after Him to come.

Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, He says: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isa 55:1); and in allusion to those words, He cried out at the great day of the feast: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink" (Jn 7:37).

Therefore, as you prepare to come to the Lord’s Table, examine your interest in Christ and the benefits of redemption. Are you thirsting for Christ and craving for the refreshment to your soul that He alone can give? Do you have a desire to meet with Christ and to fellowship with Him? If you have no desire for Him, how can you receive a blessing from Him when you come to His Table?

If you have no such desire, what could be the reason, but that you spiritual senses are dulled by indulgence in worldly pleasure or a failure to set your affection on things above? Oh will you not ask the Lord to open your eyes and your heart that you may again see the futility of finding pleasure in the things of this present world!

5. New Obedience

But finally, as your prepare for the Lord’s Table, you must examine yourself concerning new obedience. The apostle Paul says:

"7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. " (1 Cor 5:7-8)

Is your life characterized by malice and wickedness, or does it exult the fragrance of new obedience to Christ that is characterized by sincerity and truth?

Such as come to the Lord’s Table must not in anyway harbour malice against anyone, not the least against those who are coming to the same Table; and neither must they indulge in any form of wickedness (e.g. adultery, pornography, disobedience to parents, slander, cruelty to children, covenant breaking, etc), for that would be an affront our host, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore as you prepare for the Lord’s Table, see to it that you repent of any malice and wickedness that you may discover through this exercise of self-examination. Then resolve to obey the Word of Christ as it is revealed to you; and resolve to win the approval of Christ by your life.


It is easy, beloved brethren, to simply gloss over these instruction and to come to the Lord’s Table with little or no preparation next Sabbath. But if you were to do so, you will not only receive no blessing from the Supper, but you may provoke God to chastise you. May I therefore urge you, right now, or as soon as you are able to, to bow before the Lord, forgetting all the cares of the world for a moment, and prayerfully begin to examine yourself and to ask the Lord for mercy that He might renew the graces that will enable you to enjoy His fellowship again.

Oh may the Lord grant us His grace as we seek to prepare ourselves to come to the Table. Amen. —JJ Lim

WCF 29.7 Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament,do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.