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Dr. Robert Hawker
Union and Communion with Christ
THE LORD’S FAMILY THE ONLY INVITED
AT THE LORD’S TABLE.
And how is this proved? Are none invited to the Lord’s Supper but the Lord’s people? I answer, No. And it is proved from Scripture; and in terms which cannot be mistaken; for they are very plain, and very full, and satisfactory. Among a great variety of evidences to this amount, take the following:
First, From the Names by which that sacred ordinance is called.
It is called the Lord’s Supper. Now a supper is a family meal. Whatever way-faring men may have passed by in the day, and had refreshment, yet, at the supper it is the household only who are supposed to be present, and no intruders. The master of every well regulated family is supposed to have shut his doors at even, having first gathered his little ones around him, and presented them with himself before the throne of the Lord; and then, the whole sit down together to supper, and bless the Lord in their food before they retire to rest. In like manner, the Lord Jesus having in the end of the world, as it is called, “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” sits down at this ordinance which he hath instituted in perpetual memory of himself and sacrifice; and being encircled with his family, and no strangers present, he feasts himself with his redeemed, and they with him, in this holy Supper. He is supposed to be so intimately present with them in spirit, to lead them into blessed and endearing views of himself, as he was with the disciples of old, when he first ordained this service. And the same or similar soul warming, soul comforting, soul strengthening discourses, which he delivered then, are in effect, delivered to his family now. And, therefore, it can be none but his family, his children, his body the church, can be bidden to the Supper. And while none others are invited, not one of these, his household, should be absent. The Lord’s Supper is a standing ordinance in the church, to show that salvation is wholly on the ground of Christ’s person, blood, and righteousness. Here upon earth, the church is gathered to Jesus, to celebrate it by faith. And ere long, in heaven the whole family will be brought together in one vast assembly, to celebrate it by sight. Hence the Lord’s Supper is for the Lord’s family, and they are the only invited guests at the Lord’s table. They only will be, and not a single one of them absent, “at the marriage Supper of the Lamb,” (John 14:15, 17; Rev. 19:9).
Again. It is called the Communion. And what, as far as relates to Christ, is a communion, but Christ as the head, and his people the body, formed and united in one? Hence they and they only, have communion with him, and he with them. But what communion without union? Supposing a body not united to Christ, what possible enjoyment can there be of Christ? There must be a uniting to Christ by regeneration, before there can be a communion with him in his gifts and graces. Without being quickened by a new and spiritual life in Christ, there can be no partaking of Christ. For supposing that I had not sprung from the Adam of the earth, I should have had no part in Adam’s transgression: so, in like manner, if I have no quickening by the Adam, the Lord from heaven, I can have no part in Christ’s redemption and righteousness. There may be, and it is to be feared there too often is, a rushing to the ordinance of the Communion by persons unquickened by grace, and unregenerated by the Spirit. But this is no real communion with Christ. Such persons may have communion with the bread and with the wine, but they have none with Christ. They cannot say with Paul as they receive it, “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?” These are spiritual enjoyments, and known only by the Lord’s family. Judas was at the Lord’s table. Judas had communion with the bread and wine at the table. Judas received the sop. Judas had the outward sign. But Judas never knew what was the inward and spiritual grace. He had no part or lot in the matter. The communion with Christ can be had by none but those which have union with Christ. It the children only, which have a right to the children’s bread. The Lord’s family are the only invited guests to the Lord’s table. . . .
Once more. It is called the Lord’s Passover. Christ our Passover is said “to have been sacrificed for us.” And, therefore, it is added, “let us keep the feast,” (1 Cor. 5:7-8). And every child of God, regenerated by the Holy Ghost, that by grace can say with Paul, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;” may with equal truth, and indeed ought with holy boldness, to say, “Let us keep the feast.” And, hence it appears that this feast, which is a feast upon that sacrifice, can be truly kept by none but such for whom that sacrifice was made, and who have interest in that sacrifice. It were a folly to talk of a feast by way of commemorating a mercy, and yet unconscious of the mercy itself. It is the people of God which have redemption by Christ’s sacrifice; and, consequently, they only can be interested to keep a feast upon it. To every other there can be neither sacrifice nor feast. As it was with Israel of old in their Passover, so is it with the true Israel of God now. The Passover was to them a token of the Lord’s deliverance of them. The supper of the Lord is with us a representation of our deliverance by Christ’s death. With them it was a shadow of Christ. To us and them Christ is the substance. And the feast upon it is our memorial to the Lord, as theirs was for an ordinance for ever, (Ex. 12:12.) Hence the Lord’s family is here again discovered to be the only invited guests at the Lord’s Table.
Lastly, to add no more: It is called, and by the Lord Jesus himself at the institution of it, the New Testament in Christ’s blood, (Luke, 22:20). And what is a testament, but the giving legacies by will? When the testator dies the will is proved, and the gifts contained therein are paid. Hence, Jesus makes his will, his testament, and seals it in his blood. The ordinance of the New Testament in the holy Supper is instituted, and the several legatees are invited to come, and give in their claim for what Jesus hath left them. But what have the rest, not mentioned in his will, to do there, when they have no legacies to receive? There must be first a right to prove the Lord’s will; and at the same time to prove our relationship to the Lord, as mentioned in his will; and then, and not before, we come to his table for our legacies. So that it is Christ’s church, Christ’s spouse, his children, his people, his redeemed, his chosen, which are the invited guests at the Lord’s Table. The Lord’s words are: “Gather (he saith) my saints together, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice,” (Ps. 1:5).
I do not think it proper to dwell upon the names by which the holy Supper is sometimes, but very improperly called. I mean the Sacrament and the Companion to the Altar; for both are unscriptural. The Sacrament was a term borrowed from heathens. The Roman soldiers used to call their oaths sacraments. And to talk of Altar services or Companions to the Altar, in reference to the Lord’s Supper, is still more highly improper. For to call the communion table in churches the altar is sinful. Believers in Christ have no altar but Christ himself. He is our New Testament Altar, our only Sacrifice, and only High Priest, and Sacrificer. There can be no other. And with respect to Companions to the Altar, with all the trumpery which poor unregenerated persons rest upon in going to the Lord’s Table; all can only be the result of the blindness and ignorance of their minds. The Lord the Spirit is the sole Companion to Christ the Altar; and every preparation of the heart of man and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord, (Jam. 1:17). But enough hath been said, under the first branch, from the names by which the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is known, in proof that the Lord’s family are the only invited guests at the Lord’s table.
Secondly, I go on to observe, that the Invitations given to the Lord’s Supper, become a further proof to the same point, for they are given only to the Lord’s family. And this confirms the truth yet more.
Now in following up this evidence let it be observed, that the whole scriptures of God in all the proclamations of mercy are held forth to the poor, to the maimed, to the halt, and the blind. The gospel itself is not set forth in more full and extensive characters, to show the rich and free and boundless grace of God in Christ; than the persons are described, to whom that grace will be welcomed from their conscious sense of their great need of it. And it is worthy remark, that in addition to all that had been said before by Christ himself, and all his servants, in encouraging every broken-hearted sinner to come to him; Jesus closed his public preaching with a loud call: and the Holy Ghost closed his sacred canon of scripture with the same. For thus we read: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink,” (John 7:37-38). And of the Holy Ghost we read, in the last chapter of the Bible and almost the last verse: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come And let him that heareth say, come; and let him that is athirst come: and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” (Rev. 22:17).
But then, let it be well understood, both in those scriptures and in the whole tenor of the word of God, the persons invited are defined by their qualities, and their wants are described; by which alone is discoverable their need of Christ, and his usefulness to them. If any man thirst: the man must thirst, or he will never desire the water of life. If any will the soul must be made willing in the day of Christ’s power; or the person of Christ, and the salvation by Christ will have no charms with him. And elsewhere in scripture they are defined as the poor in spirit; as the needy in soul; the halt by sin; and the blind in heart; yea, by nature, “dead in trespasses and sins!” And who are these but the Lord’s people in nature, and whom the Lord calls by grace? So saith the Holy Ghost by his servant James. “Hearken my beloved brethren! hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom?” (Jam. 2:5). Here we see their characters, and prove their relationship. They are God’s children, though poor. They are heirs of the kingdom, though in wretched circumstances. Hence they are the Lord’s family, and as children manifest their right to their Father’s table.
And as the word of God thus defines their persons, and draws the features by which they are distinguished; so the work of grace upon their hearts demonstrates that they are the guests, and the only guests the word of God all along hath in view, to whom the word of salvation is sent. The Lord’s Table is the Lord’s gift, and not man’s desert. He that invites the guests provides the fare. He that spreads the table gives the appetite. And that soul, and that soul only, and every soul of this description to whom Jesus is welcome as a free, full, and complete Saviour, shall be welcome to Jesus as a poor, needy, and helpless sinner. And who, in every instance, can this be, but the redeemed of Christ? Who but they that belong to Christ can be welcome to Christ or Christ to them? Who can indeed feast with a full spiritual appetite upon a full Saviour, but the hungry, longing, perishing sinner? To offer Christ to any other, is like proposing medicine to the healthy, or food to the dead. The Lord’s family is the only invited guests at the Lord’s table!
Thirdly, In addition to the two former marks of the names by which that sacred ordinance is known, and the invitations which are only given to the Lord’s people; let me further observe, that the preparations for the real enjoyment of the Lord’s Supper most plainly prove also, that the Lord’s family are the only invited guests at the Lord’s table.
None but God can dispose the heart to seek God. He that would draw nigh to God must seek the Lord’s face in the Lord’s strength. “The preparation of the heart of man, and the answer of the tongue, are both from the Lord,” (Prov. 16:1). Now it is the Lord’s family only that can be prepared. For when by grace the poor sinner is brought out of darkness into light; hath felt the plague of his own heart; and been led to see somewhat of the loveliness, and suitableness, and all-sufficiency of Jesus for salvation; he is then in a state of grace before God, and habitually at all times prepared for the Supper, and every other ordinance of the Lord. And when at any time the Lord the Spirit calls forth the graces he hath given him into exercise, he is then actually prepared for every spiritual enjoyment of the Lord. This is what John meant when he said, “We have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” And this is what David prayed for, when he said, “O send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me, let them bring me unto thine holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the Altar of God (Christ, God’s Altar); to God my exceeding joy,” (Ps. 43:6-7).
And if the preparation of the heart be wholly from the Lord, what a folly must it be (to speak in the least harsh terms of it), to take up a round of books and week’s preparation, which thousands make use of to qualify them for the Supper of the Lord! The very title of those books is enough to convince any man, if he was not doubly blind, of their folly. A Week’s preparation! What is the Lord to be served by weeks? Is the change of heart the work of a week; to be put off and put on, as those persons do their books, only before and after the Communion? How hath it grieved my soul when I have beheld many of this complexion, and some of them grown old in the service, coming to the Lord’s table with their books, and running through all the words which are there taught them before receiving; and then again after, ere they ventured to leave the table. Might not the greatest charity say with the prophet, “Surely these are poor, these are foolish, they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God,” (Jer. 5:4).
All these considerations (and others that, needful, might he added) plainly prove, that the Lord’s preparations of the heart are the only preparations; and as the Lord’s people are the only prepared people for his service, it is they, and they only, to whom the invitation to his Supper is sent. Of consequence, the Lord’s family is the only invited guests at the Lord’s Table.
And now if the reader wishes to prosecute the subject further, he may read another Tract on the same service, entitled, The King Coming in to See the
Guests at His Table. In the meantime, if what hath been here proposed shall have proved satisfactory to any one of the Lord’s humbled ones; if it hath carried, under God’s grace, conviction to his heart, respecting both the nature and design of the Lord’s Supper; for whom it is provided; who are the invited; and by whom all preparation for the worthy partaking of it is given: and if the reader hath a well-grounded hope in himself that he is one of the Lord’s family, perhaps he may find his mind under the same gracious influence, led to the mercy-seat to express his wants and desires, in. terms not unlike the following prayer:—
Gracious Lord God! Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! In the name of thy dear and blessed Son, I pray for grace to present myself at thy mercy seat. It hath been proclaimed in thy church, and to thy people, that my Lord is about to hold a feast at his table on the sacrifice of Christ’s broken body and blood. Lord I may I be of the happy number? I would come as a poor needy sinner. And I would pray my God, who spreads his table and invites his guests, to prepare my otherwise unprepared soul, both to accept the invitation, and to be found a welcome guest before thee.
I look up to thee, O thou blessed and eternal, Spirit! who art the alone quickener of dead souls, and the glorifier of Christ Jesus; that thou wouldest work in me, both to will and to do of thy good pleasure. Oh! give me such a deep view of sin; and with it such a deep view of the fulness, suitableness, and all sufficiency of redeeming grace in Christ; that while my soul feels, as it ought to feel, an abiding sense of my own total unworthiness before God; the view of Jesus and his finished salvation may comfort and encourage me. Bring me, Lord, to that fountain which is open for sin and uncleanness. Wash me, and make me white, in the blood of the Lamb! Clothe me with the robe of Jesus’ righteousness, that when the King comes in to see the guests at his table, I may be found by him in the wedding garment of his righteousness, and have a gracious reception!
And oh! thou blessed Redeemer! thou who art the Lord of the feast, and the whole substance of it! wilt thou be graciously pleased to manifest thyself to me at thy table; and while thou art visiting one and another of thy redeemed there, with the smiles of thy love, oh! for some sweet token to my poor soul also, given me by thine own hand. Let me hear thy voice; let me see thy countenance: for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely!
Everlasting praise to my God and Father for taking me into this covenant of grace, and for having given me to his dear Son. Lord accept me in him. Give me to know my adoption character in him: and both here and forever may my soul be found holy in him, and without blame before thee in love. And may my soul be in such lively actings of faith at the table of thy dear Son, that I may enjoy all the blessings of thy covenant love in Jesus Christ. Glory be to Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now and forever. Amen.
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