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New Horizons

April, 2008: Children at the Lord's Table

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Children at the Lord's Table

From at least the time of John Calvin, the Reformed churches have interpreted 1 Corinthians 11:29 as requiring a profession of faith prior to participation in the Lord's Supper. Taking the phrase "discerning the Lord's body" in the sense of implying profession is but a particular instance of the general Reformed rule: confession of faith is prior to the Lord's Table. In the nature of the case, profession of the covenant with the mouth comes before feeding upon the symbols of the covenant with the mouth.

This order is altogether suitable and appropriate. Profession ought to precede participation in the Lord's Supper. Commitment should precede communion because the words of Jesus in instituting this meal say as much. Jesus says, "Do this in remembrance of me." Now whatever the bread and the wine may be, at least they are memorials. When we see the bread and the wine, we remember Jesus. Well, what do we remember? What? You see that to ask the question is to raise the issue of what we profess about Jesus when we come to the Table. In other words, we plainly cannot come to the Table of the Lord properly without professing to remember something about him. Remembering the Lord at his Table requires a prior profession. Read more

The Lord's Supper: Warnings for All

Our confessional standards understand 1 Corinthians 11:17–34 as providing warnings to all Christians. But some say that the warnings apply only to those who have sinned as the Corinthians did. Most of these desire to admit children to the Lord's Supper who are unable to do what the warnings require. This article defends the historic way of understanding the warning statements.

First Corinthians 11:17–34 has four sections: (1) verses 17–22, (2) verses 23–26, (3) verses 27–32 (subdivided into verses 27–29 and verses 30–32), and (4) verses 33–34. Read more

The Lord's Supper and Covenant Children

A recent decision of the Christian Reformed Church (June 2006) to prepare the way for child communion within that denomination highlights the durability of that issue. The General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church received a report on this issue in 1987 in which a division of opinion was expressed. I will argue that the confessional standards of the OPC are correct in disallowing the practice of paedocommunion, because of the nature of the Lord's Supper as a covenant renewal meal.

The clearest statement of the Westminster standards on this question would seem to be found in Larger Catechism 177 (italics added): Read more

Jesus: Thirsty like His Brothers

When water and other drinks are so readily available in the United States, it is not easy to be gripped by the words of Jesus, "I thirst" (John 19:28). Christ was made like his brothers in every respect (Heb. 2:17), and his thirst while hanging on the cross was certainly real.

In delivering his people from the pains of hell, Christ's thirst on the cross mirrored the agony of those eternally under the wrath of God (cf. Luke 16:24). More was involved, however, than the physical experience of the wrath of God. Read more

Only the Bible?

Dear James,

The time we spent together was a highlight of last week's travel to Florida, and I am glad that my business trip and your spring break converged. I enjoyed meeting your school mates at the spring training game in Bradenton. Hope springs eternal this time of year, even for the Pittsburgh Pirates. But their pitching looks weak again this year, as we witnessed last Thursday. Both the Pirates and Presbyterianism were once proud and robust institutions in Pittsburgh, but they have fallen on hard times. Read more

Helps for Worship #28: The Sermon (Part 2)

The preaching of the Word of God is nothing less than Christ's message given to a particular congregation at a particular time and in particular circumstances. Through preaching done by a man who has been commissioned by the Lord of the church, Jesus Christ draws his sheep to his fold and feeds them heavenly food (cf. John 6:31–33, 50, 51).

Because preaching is so important, it is critical that those who go to church "take heed what they hear." What should you listen for in a sermon? Read more

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