Q.82. Are those to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper who show by what they say and do that they are unbelieving and ungodly?
A. No, that would dishonor God’s covenant and bring down God’s anger upon the entire congregation. Therefore, according to the instruction of Christ and his apostles, the Christian church is duty-bound to exclude such people, by the official use of the keys of the kingdom, until they reform their lives.
This question is really the other side of question 81. In that question the reformers addressed who should participate in the Lord’s Supper and we saw that all who are sorry for their sins should come. In my thinking that should be enough, but because of some misuse and poor church practices during the reformation, it was necessary to further clarify what to do with those whose life didn’t match their profession. Do such situations still exist today? Certainly, there are many who say one thing with their mouth but live another thing with their life. These folks do not understand true faith. Read James 2:17-22.
Read Titus 1:15-16. Our lives and our actions need to confess that Christ is Lord and that we are repentant. When the word and deed don’t compliment each other, we must and the church must consider if our confession is true and if comfort for our souls is really in order, or if a conviction of sin is what is properly needed.
When we participate in this sacrament, we are coming before God thanking him for his gracious provision of grace and forgiveness. However, to come before him without a heart of repentance is to treat the gift of God with contempt and God hates such behavior. Read Isaiah 1:11-17.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul is speaking to a church that is treating the Supper passé. They are engaging in sinful actions even as they worship he declares. His response: examine yourselves. Look upon your life and see if it is really repentant and striving after God. If so, come and enjoy the grace of God, if not, refrain. Read 1Corinthians 11:17-32.
Read 1Corinthians 11:31. How does participation in the Lord’s Supper while willingly and knowingly sinning bring about weakness and sickness in the Christian life? When one eats in this manner, they salve their conscience and convince themselves that everything they do is all right when in fact it isn’t. This hinders people from enjoying the fruit of repentance and the power of the Spirit cleansing and remaking the broken life.
Not wanting to close the week on a negative note, let us turn towards the positive. Who is communion for? Read Luke 22:15-19. Throughout this passage Jesus speaks to those who belong to him. The supper is for you who follow me. And that truth continues today. All who follow Christ, regardless of age, race or gender are invited to the table. Let us rejoice, the assurance of grace is for you and me and all who believe.