In the OPC, how old do children have to be to come to the Lord's table? Or if not age, what are the requirements for admittance to the Supper?
Thank you for your question, an increasingly common one these days. Our Directory for the Public Worship of God as a part of our Book of Church Order makes it clear that we believe that God's Word requires a public profession of faith for someone to be admitted to the Lord's Supper. This is set forth in said Directory as follows:
Chapter V - Public Profession of Faith in Christ
1. In order to aid those who contemplate making public profession of faith in Christ to understand the implication of this significant act and to perform it intelligently, the pastor shall conduct classes in Christian doctrine both for the covenant youth and for any others who may manifest an interest in the way of salvation.
2. Before permitting any one to make profession of his faith in the presence of the congregation, the session shall examine him in order to assure itself so far as possible that he possesses the doctrinal knowledge requisite for active faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, relies for salvation on the merits of Christ alone, and is determined by the grace of God to lead a Christian life.
3. When the session is satisfied that any one is qualified to make public profession of faith in Christ, his name shall be publicly announced to the church at least one week before the day chosen for this solemn event, in order that the members of the church may have opportunity to acquaint the session with such facts concerning him as may appear to be irreconcilable with a sincere profession. The session shall weigh such evidence and determine its validity.
4. No one shall be allowed to take part in the celebration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper who has not first made public profession of faith in Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord.
This requirement is merely an application of what we have in our doctrinal standards, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. While a number of things in the Westminster Standards bear on the question that you ask (cf. WLC 168-177), WLC 177, the last phrase particularly (the proof text for which is I Cor. 11:28-29), has relevance for your question:
Q. 177. Wherein do the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper differ?
A. The sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper differ, in that baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ, and that even to infants; whereas the Lord's supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul, and to confirm our continuance and growth in him, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.
I trust that this proves useful to you in your service to our Lord.
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