The Lord's Table
by Andrew Murray
Book and Audio Reading
by Andrew Murray
THE LORD'S TABLE
A Help to the Right Observance of the Holy Supper
Rev. Andrew Murray
Fleming H. Revell Company
[Electronic Text Note: Scripture references in the original text were given with Roman numerals. Those have been converted to Arabic numbers in this electronic text.]
On the use of this little volume I would fain say two things which lie upon my heart.
The first is this: that the Christian who desires to make use of it must not be content merely to read and to understand the portion for the day, but must take time to meditate upon it and to appropriate it. I am convinced that one chief cause why some do not grow more in grace is that they do not take time to hold converse with the Lord in secret. Spiritual, divine truth does not thus become our possession at once. Although I understand what I read, although I consent heartily to it, although I receive it, it may speedily fade away and be forgotten, unless by private meditation I give it time to become fixed and rooted in me, to become united and identified with me. Christians, give yourselves, give your Lord time to transfer His heavenly thoughts to your inner, spiritual life. When you have read a portion, set yourselves in silence before God. Take time to remain before Him until He has made His word living and powerful in your souls. Then does it become the life and the power of your life.
And this brings me to the second remark which I desire to make. It is this: that the Christian must take special care that he do not suffer himself to be led away from the Word of God by the many manuals which in our days are seeing the light. These books will have this result, whenever a man seeks his instruction only in what the writer has to say, he then becomes accustomed to take everything at second hand. These books can become a blessing to the reader only when they bring him always to that portion of Gods Word which is treated of in order that he may meditate further upon it himself as from the mouth of God. Christians, there is in the Word of God an incredible power. The blessing which lies hid in it is inconceivable. See to it that when you have read a portion you always return to that passage of the Scriptures of which an explanation is given. Receive that not as the word of man, but, as it is in truth, the Word of God, which works mightily in those that believe. Hold fellowship with God through the Word. Take time to speak with Him about it, to give an answer to Him concerning it. Then shall you understand what the Lord Jesus says: The words which I speak unto you, they are spirit and life. Then shall Word and sacrament gloriously work together, to make you increase in prayer and in the life of God.
That the Eternal God may bless this little volume also, to make His children learn His own Word, is the prayer of the author for all his readers.
The Week before the Supper
My God, and is Thy table spread?
And does Thy cup with love o'erflow?
Thither be all Thy children led,
And let them all its sweetness know.
Hail, sacred feast, which Jesus makes!
Rich banquet of His flesh and blood!
Thrice happy he who here partakes
That sacred stream, that heavenly food!
O let Thy table honored be,
And furnished well with joyful guests;
And may each soul salvation see
That here its sacred pledges tastes.
Let crowds approach with hearts prepared,
With hearts inflamed let all attend;
Nor, when we leave our Fathers board,
The pleasure or the profit end.
Revive Thy drooping Churches, Lord!
And bid our drooping graces live;
And more, that energy afford,
A Saviour's love alone can give.
The Divine Invitation
Behold, I have made ready my dinner. All things are ready. Come to the marriage. -- Matthew 22:4.
Let the King of Heaven and Earth say this to you. In honor of His Son He has prepared a great supper. There the Son bears His human nature. There are all the children of men, dear and precious to the Father, and He has caused them to be invited to the great festival of the Divine love. He is prepared to receive and honor them there as guests and friends. He will feed them with His heavenly food. He will bestow upon them the gifts and energies of everlasting life.
O my soul, thou also hast received this heavenly invitation. To be asked to eat with the King of Glory: how it behooves thee to embrace and be occupied with this honor. How desirous must you be to prepare yourself for this feast. How you must long that you should be in dress and demeanor, and language and disposition, all that may be rightly expected of one who is invited to the court of the King of kings.
Glorious invitation! I think of the banquet itself and what it has cost the great God to prepare it. To find food for angels: for this only one word was necessary. But to prepare for man upon this accursed earth a banquet of heavenly food that cost Him much. Nothing less than the life and blood of His Son, to take away the curse and to open up to them the right and the access to heavenly blessings. Nothing less than the body and the blood of the Son of God could give life to lost men. O my soul, ponder the wonders of this royal banquet.
I think of the invitation. It is as free, as wide as it could be, without money and without price. The poorest and the most unworthy are called to it. And so urgent and cordial is it. Not less cordial is the love which invites to it, the love which longs after sinners and takes delight in entertaining and blessing them.
I think of the blessing of the banquet. The dying are fed with the power of a heavenly life, the lost are restored to their places in the Fathers house, those that thirst after God are satisfied with God Himself and with His love.
Glorious invitation! With adoration I receive it, and prepare myself to make use of it. I have read of those who hold themselves excused because they are hindered, one by his merchandise, another by his work, and a third by his domestic happiness. I have heard the voice which has said, I say unto you, that none of these men which were bidden shall taste of My supper. Under the conviction that He who so cordially invites me is the Holy One, who will not suffer Himself to be mocked, I will prepare myself to lay aside all thoughtlessness, to withdraw myself from the seductions of the world; and with all earnestness to yield obedience to the voice of the heavenly love. I will remain in quiet meditation and in fellowship with the children of God, to keep myself free from all needless anxiety about the world, and as an invited guest, to meet my God with real hunger and quiet joy. He Himself will not withhold from me His help in this work.
Eternal God, I have received the good tidings that there is room also for me at the table of Thy Son. With grateful thanks I receive thy invitation, God of all grace. I hunger for Thy bread, O Lord. My soul thirsts for God. For the living God my flesh and my heart cry out. When shall I enter and appear before the face of God?
Lord, graciously bestow upon me this week a real blessing in the way of preparation. Let the sight of my sinfulness humble me deeply and take away from me all hope in myself. Let the sight of Thy grace again encourage me and fill me with confidence and gladness. Do Thou Thyself stir up within me a mighty desire for the Bridegroom, for the precious Jesus, without whom there could be no feast. And may it be manifest in me this week that I am full of the thought that I have an invitation to eat bread in the house of my God with his only-begotten and well-beloved Son. Lord, grant this for Jesus sake.
Lord Jesus, thou hast taught me: God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Lord, spiritual worship we cannot bring: but Thou wilt bestow upon us Thy Spirit. I entreat thee, Lord, to grant the working of the Spirit. The blessing of the Supper is a high spiritual blessing. The invisible God will there come very near to us and will very mightily impart the gift of eternal life to those who have the spiritual capacity for it. Only the spiritual mind can enjoy the spiritual blessing. Thou knowest how deeply I fail in this receptiveness for a full blessing. But grant, I pray thee, that the Holy Spirit may this week dwell and work in me with special power. I will surrender myself for this end to Him and to His guidance, in order that He may overcome in me the spirit of the world and renew my inner life to inherit from my God a new blessing,. Lord, let Thy Spirit work mightily within me.
And as I thus pray for myself I pray also for the whole congregation. Grant, Lord, in behalf of all thy children an overflowing outpouring of Thy Spirit, in order that this Supper may really be for all of us a time of quickening and renewal of our energies. Amen.
"Where wilt Thou that we go and make ready, that thou mayest eat the passover?" "He will himself show you a large upper room furnished and ready, and there make ready for us." "If thou set thine heart aright, then stretch out thine hands toward Him." -- Mark 4:12, 15; Job 11:13.
The greater a work is that a man undertakes the more important is the preparation. Four days before the Passover the Israelite had to make his preparations. The Lord Jesus also desired that care should be taken to obtain an upper room furnished and ready where the Passover might be prepared. When I am called upon to meet my God and to sit down at His table, I will see to it that I do not approach it unprepared. Otherwise I should dishonor Him and lose the blessing which is destined for me, and cover my soul with heavy guilt.
For a right preparation two things are necessary. The first is this: that my heart should be occupied and filled with Him who has invited me, and with all the glorious blessing which He is to bestow upon me. Great thoughts of Jesus and large expectations of what His love will do will set the heart aglow and be the best preparation for meeting Himself.
The second part of preparation is to consider if I shall be a worthy guest, acceptable and welcome to the Lord of the Feast: that is if I am really an invited guest willing and prepared to come to the table according to the law of the King in such a manner as He will approve of. To cherish mean thoughts of myself, and no more expectation from myself or of any good in me, and out of this to have deep-rooted renunciation of myself in order to be willing to live through Jesus alone this is the attitude of soul which leads to a blessed observance of the Supper.
Man obtains nothing without laying out time upon it. Even where free grace is to do everything apart from our working, we must give it time to carry out its work in our hearts. It is only when in secrecy I resolve with myself to look to Jesus until my desires become truly operative within me, that I shall be really prepared for the banquet. It is only when I deal trustfully with Him in the ordinary converse of the hidden and the daily life, that I can expect extraordinary blessing from public communion with Him at His table. Yea, hunger and thirst cannot be awakened simply when I see the table. It is in the conflict of the preceding life that hunger and thirst are aroused. Only for such is the table a feast. May this quickening not be wanting to me in this preparation.
But, alas! just as little as it was my work to prepare the table with its food, am I in a position to prepare myself as a guest for the feast. The Lord who says, All things are ready, has also prepared the wedding garment. He Himself will clothe the guests and prepare them for His feast. Therefore I will ask Him for this also. It was of the Lord that the disciples asked: Where wilt thou that we prepare the passover? Of Him also I may and will ask: Lord how wilt thou that I prepare the passover? This week I will continue in quiet meditations and prayer at His feet, with eye and heart fixed upon Him. I know assuredly that I shall find what is needful for me in celebrating this feast.
Lord, deliver me from all superficiality and light-mindedness in drawing near to Thy table. Too often have I supposed that it is self-evident I must use again the Lords Supper. I have considered too little how needful it was to take the stones out of the way, when the Lord Himself shall come to prepare His way and make His path straight. I fancied that it was a light thing to receive blessing. Lord, forgive me this error. Do Thou Thyself enable my soul to understand what is meant by saying that sinful man shall meet his God. Do Thou Thyself work within me true conscientiousness and eagerness to lay bare and to lay aside every sin, and trust myself wholly to Thee with a real surrender of the whole soul and of all its powers.
Lord Jesus, hear, I beseech Thee, this my petition. O Lord, grant that I may not lose the blessing by thoughtlessness or idleness. O my Lord, how much has it cost Thee to prepare the table for me, and now even this is not enough. I must still ask Thee to prepare me for the table. I thank Thee for the joyful assurance which I have that Thou wilt do this. Therefore I place myself for this week in Thy hands, in order that by Thy working in me a right condition of soul may be brought into existence.
Precious Lord, grant me the broken and contrite heart. And grant unto me to look up unto Thee with a living, active faith as my Friend, my Saviour, my All. Grant, Lord Jesus, that I also may be able to say: I have but one thought, one desire, and that is Jesus. So shall I be prepared with honor to the Father to glorify Thee by my cheerful confession that I desire nothing but Thee, and Thy wonderful love.
My Saviour, I depend upon Thee throughout this week. Work thou in me a true preparation for the Supper. I expect it from Thee. Amen.
And He said unto them, With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. Luke 22:15; Revelation 3:20.
The best preparation is to look into the heart of Jesus. When you understand what He that sits on the throne desires for you, how He longs after you, what He has prepared for you, this will more than aught else set your desires and longings in motion, and impart to you the right preparation.
That word of Jesus at the Paschal Table enables me to look into His heart. He knew that He must go from that feast to the Cross. He knew that His body must be broken, and His blood shed, in order that He might be really your Passover. He knew how in that night they should grieve and betray Him, and yet He says: With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you. What a love this is! And Jesus is still the same. Even with you, poor sinner, He earnestly desires to eat the Passover. Yea, on the throne of heaven, He looks forward with longing to the day of the Supper, to eat with you, and to quicken you. O man, let your sluggishness put you to shame: Jesus earnestly desiresJesus greatly longsto observe the Supper with you: He would not enjoy the food of heavenly life alone: He would fain eat of it along with you.
Or, we may think of it as that other word says: In order to observe the Supper with the soul, He stands at the door and knocks. Wonderful condescension! What is there in the vile sinner that the King of Heaven longs to sit down beside him? In order to hold a feast in my heart, Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Is not this inconceivable love? Is it not unspeakable blessing?
He would fain come in Himself. His presence is the special joy of the feast. And He Himself will hand to me and make me partaker of the heavenly food He brings to me. Even as the little weak infant, that does not know how to eat, is fed by its mothers hand, so will Jesus break for me the bread of heaven, and impart to me what I have need of.
Glorious Paschal feast thus observed with Jesus: glorious Supper held with Jesus. He is the Entertainer: He is the Wedding Garment: He is also the Food. He knows precisely what I need: He knows what it is that has hindered me hitherto, and the love of Jesus has seen meet to impart to me at His table just that one thing which can satisfy my hunger. Dost Thou, Lord Jesus, earnestly desire to keep the Passover with me? I venture to answer: I also earnestly desire to observe the Supper with Thee. My whole heart longs for the Supper with Jesus.
There is nothing on earth that awakens love and rouses it to activity so powerfully as the thought of being desired and loved. Let me endeavor to conceive how true it is that I am an object of desire to the Son of God. He looks out to see whether I am coming to Him or not. With the deepest interest, He would know whether I come hungering after Him, so that He may be able to bestow much of His blessing upon me. That would be such a joy to His love. Open thy mouth wide; I will fill it abundantly. Thus does He stir me up to earnest longings. His desire is toward me. My soul, believe and ponder this wonderful thought, until you feel drawn with overmastering force to give yourself over to Jesus, for the satisfaction of His desire toward you: then shall you too be satisfied.
Eternal Love, what am I that Thou shouldest desire to eat with me? Lord, it is too great a boon that Thou shouldest earnestly desire to eat with me: with me, who have desired so little to eat with Thee, who have longed so much more for the food that perisheth and for the fellowship of the world than for Thee and Thy heavenly bread. My Lord, give me so to feel the desire of Thy soul to eat with me, that my sluggishness and my unbelief shall be ashamed, and all that is within me may prepare to set my heart open with joy before Thee.
Yea, Lord, too long have I suffered Thee to stand at the door and knock: now will I open it to Thee. Make even my heart a banquet hall furnished and prepared where Thou mayest make ready the passover. Let the sight of Thy blood poured out for me be to me the full assurance of redemption. Let the eating of the Lamb fill me with the power of a heavenly life. Let the eating with Thee be fellowship with Thyself and Thy love be the joy of my soul. Blessed Jesus, let the love of Thy heart which draws Thee to me, also draw me to Thee.
My Saviour, it is this especially that I crave at Thy hand: unveil to me the love of Thy heart that makes Thee long so much after me. I know that this is one of the secret things that remain for Thy dearest friends, and I hardly dare reckon myself amongst them. And yet, Lord, may I venture to do so? Grant me, I pray Thee, one more glance into Thy heart, that I may know how earnestly Thou dost desire to eat with me. Let my soul conceive what it is to have me at Thy table with this great desire. Thou wouldst have me as Thine own possession. Thou wouldst enter into the deepest communion with me. Thou wouldst communicate Thyself to me. Thou wouldst become one with me. Thou wouldst have me for Thyself. My Jesus, if this be really so, cause me to feel it. Let not my heart remain in darkness. Then shall I turn away from all else, and my life shall be filled with one supreme desireto eat with Jesus, my King and my Friend. Precious Jesus, grant that it may indeed be so. Amen.
"But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup." "Try your own selves, whether ye be in the faith: prove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed, ye be reprobate." 1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5.
No one may eat of the bread without self-examination. The danger of unworthy communicating is indeed very great. The sin of making oneself guilty of the body and blood of the Lord is very grave. The possibility of eating judgment unto oneself is very fearful (read I Corinthians 11:27-30). Everyone who is truly desirous of a blessing at the table will be very willing to yield obedience to the command of our Lord; Try your own selves: Prove your own selves.
The problem of self-examination is simple. According to the apostle, there are but two conditions, either Jesus Christ is in you, or ye are reprobate: one of two. There is no third condition. The life of Christ in you may still be weak; but if you are truly born again and a child of God, Christ is in you. And then as a child you have access to the table of the Father and a share in the childrens bread.
But if Christ is not in you, you are reprobate. Nothing that is in you, nothing that you do, or are, or even desire and wish to be, makes you acceptable to God. The God against whom you have sinned inquires only about one thing: whether you have received His Son. He that hath the Son hath the life. With nothing less than this can He be content: with this He is fully satisfied. If Christ is in you, you are acceptable to the Father. But if Christ is not in you, you are at the very same moment reprobate. You have come in to the Lord's Supper without the wedding garment: your lot must be in the outermost darkness. You are unworthy. You eat judgment to yourself. You make yourself guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
Reader, how is it with you? What will God say of you when He sees you at the table? Will God look upon you as one of His children, who are very heartily welcome to Him at His table, or as an intruder who has no right to be at His table? You would not for a moment sit down at the table of a man on earth if you were aware that you were not welcome to him, or if you thought that he did not willingly see you there. Surely, then, you would not dream of sitting down at the table of God, while it is still possible that He may look upon you with anger, as one who is desecrating His ordinance. Reader, pray answer this question: What will God say of you when He beholds you at His table? You are one of two things: you are either a true believer and a child of God, or you are not. If you are a child of God, you have a right to the table and eat the bread of the Father, however feeble you may be. But if you are not a child of God, no true believer, you have no right to it. You may not go forward to it.
Reader, try your own self, whether you are in the faith: prove yourself. And should it appear that you do not yet have Christ, then even to-day receive Him. There is still time. Without delay give yourself to Christ: in Him you have a right to the Lords Table.
Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way that is everlasting. Lord, Thou knowest how deceitful the heart is, far above all things. But, Lord, Thou knowest the heart, even my heart. And now I come to Thee, Omniscient One, and set my heart before Thee with the prayer: Lord, make me know whether Jesus Christ is in me, or whether I am still without Him, and reprobate before Thee.
Of old, Thou Thyself didst see to it that hypocrites should be cast out from the midst of Thy people. Thou didst point out Achan. Thou didst make known the man who dipped his hand in the dish with Thy Son. Thou didst detect Ananias. Thou art the King who comest in to scrutinize the guests that have sat down, and who sayest: Friend, how camest thou in hither, not being in the wedding garment? Thou art still mighty to search the hearts. Lord, hear now the supplication of Thy people, and purge Thy congregation. Let the life of the Spirit become so powerful that all doubts shall vanish, and Thy children know and confess that Christ is in them. Let Thy presence in their midst effect such a joy and such a reverence that mere confessors with the lips shall be afraid, and the self-righteous be brought to detection. Lord, make it known to many who are still content in uncertainty, whether Christ is in them or whether they are reprobate.
Great God, make this known to me. Is Jesus Christ in me? Let the Holy Spirit give me the blessed assurance of this. Then shall I sit down with confidence as Thy child at Thy table.
And if Jesus Christ is still not in me, and I am still without Christ and reprobate before Thee, Thou merciful One, make this known to me. Make me willing to know this, and not to draw near to Thy table except that Jesus Christ is in me. Lord, I come now to Thee to set my heart open before Jesus, and to receive Him as my Saviour. Amen.
PRAYER. (for one who has discovered that Jesus Christ is not in him).
Lord God, I had thought of going forward to Thy table. A sense of obligation came even to me, and I made myself ready for the hour of the feast. But, behold, Thy word has made me afraid. It tells me that, if Jesus Christ is not in me, I am reprobate.
Lord, have compassion upon me. I know that I may not sit down without the wedding garment. Thou art the Lord of table; Thy word must prevail there. Thou art the Holy God. Thou canst not meet in love with the sinner who is not washed from his sin and clothed with the righteousness of Christ. And, Lord, I fear that I am still without that wedding garment: my sins are not forgiven me. Lord, have pity upon me: I dare not go to Thy table: the bread of the children is not for me.
I dare not go forward. And yet, Lord, I dare not remain away. To have no part in Jesus, no share in Thy friendship, no place in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb on highwoe is me, if this must be my lot. Lord, have mercy upon me, and, if it be possible, grant unto me that which I require for sitting down at Thy table.
Lord God, I have heard of Thy mercy. Thou givest the wedding garment for nothing: Thou forgivest the vilest sinner. Too long have I been content without really having Jesus Christ in me. Lord, now I come to Thee. Before Thee I lay my unrighteousness, which is great. I am entirely under the power of sin, and cannot help myself. Lord, Thou alone canst help me: and Thou wilt also do it. Be pleased to receive me. I cast myself down here before Thee: I here surrender myself to Thee. This day let the blood of Jesus wash me.
Lord Jesus, given by the Father for me, I receive Thee. I receive Thee, Lord, as my Saviour. I believe that Thou art for me. Here I give Thee my heartmy poor, sinful heart: come and dwell in it, and let me also know that Jesus Christ is in me.
My God, my soul cries out and longs for Thee: make me truly partaker of Jesus. Amen.
Confession of Sin
I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. How many are mine iniquities and sins: make me to know my transgression and my sin. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Psalm 38:18 Job 8:23; Matthew 5:4.
At the outset says our Directory, let everyone examine his heart, to see whether he be grieved on account of his sins, and humble himself before God. This is the first element of genuine self-examination. It cannot indeed be otherwise. The salvation of the Lord Jesus is a salvation from sin. The power, the grace, the Blessing of Jesus are exhibited in the taking away of sin out of us, and the implanting within us instead of the holiness and the life of heaven. And it is because the Lords Supper is intended to serve as a renewed and an increased participation of the life of Christ, that a new and deeper acknowledgment of sin is the most desirable preparation for the Supper. It is not merely he that is still seeking for forgiveness who must think of and confess his sins. No: it is especially the believer that has need to acknowledge aright and with all earnestness the sins which he still commits and their antipathy to God. The more he really despairs of himself, the more glorious will Christ become in his eyes. The more keenly he feels every sin, the more will Jesus become to him. Every sin is a need that calls for Jesus. By the confession of sin, you point out to Him the spot where you are wounded, and where He must exhibit the healing power of His blood. Every sin that you confess is an acknowledgment of something which Jesus must cast out, and the place of which He is bound to fill up with one of the lovely gifts of His holiness. Every sin that you confess is a new reason why you should believe more and ask more, and a new reason why Jesus should bless you.
Christian, prepare yourself for the Holy Supper by thinking of your sins. Be not afraid to make mention of them by name before Jesus. Point out to Him that which you desire He should change in you. Sin which is not confessed is also not combated. When a saved soul goes to Jesus to speak with Him about sin, and to make it known to Him, it breaks sins power and makes Him more precious. The very same light that enables you to feel the curse of sin more deeply, enables you also to discern the perfect and final victory over it. The experience, utterly lost, prepares the way for the experience utterly redeemed.
Beloved child of God, you do not perhaps yet know what a source of blessing a deep conviction of sin is. Do not be afraid of it: do not turn away from it. The blessed Spirit of God will give it to you. Through the increasing grace of Jesus in you, through your deepening fellowship in the life of heaven, He will so discover its incurable sinfulness, that this very experience shall lead you to that entire surrender to Jesus which is so gloriously sealed in the Lords Supper.
Lord God, Thou searchest and knowest us. Thou art He that knowest the hearts and triest the reins. Before Thee, there is no creature that is not made manifest: but all things are naked and open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Thine eyes see through the heart alike of the ungodly and the righteous. Thou art the Omniscient One, the Searcher of hearts.
Lord, how terrible is Thine omniscience for Thine enemies. That eye which burns in heaven as a flame of fire is always upon them. They would fain flee away from it, but they are never able. But for Thy people, Thine omniscience is a comfort and a refuge. Thou art He who can help them against themselves and the deceitfulness of their own hearts. They invite Thine omniscience to search their heart and to cleanse them from their secret faults.
Holy God, I too place myself in Thine hands. Search me, O God, and know my heart. With fear, and yet from the depths of my heart, I say unto thee: Holy God, I wish to tolerate no single sin, however secret or deeply rooted it may be. Lord, I crave Thy help: I place myself in the light of Thy flaming eyes, before which no sin can stand. Search me, O God, and know my heart.
I Know, Lord, that the answer is oftentimes terrible: By terrible things Thou wilt answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation. I know, when Thou dost suffer man to enter into temptation and let him see what is in his heart, that the humiliation and the shame and the sorrow are often deep and bitter. I know that when Thou trustest Thy mighty hand into the bosom to root out the almost unknown and yet deeply-rooted sin, flesh and blood must then fail. And yet I cry: Search me, O God, and know my heart.
Lord, make me know the sin to which I am blind: my characteristic sins also, about which I am so sensitive when any other speaks of them, whether it be the love of money with its seduction, or the love of the world with its vanity, or the love of self with its entanglement, make me to know it. Lord, use friend or foe: use what means Thou wilt, O my Father: only search me and know my heart: cleanse me from secret errors, and let no hurtful way abide with me, but lead me in the way that is everlasting.
Yes, gracious Lord, give me such an overmastering conviction of the entire corruption of my nature that I shall be constrained to receive in its completeness the perfect redemption of Christ. Amen.
Thy sins are forgiven. Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace. -- Luke 7:48-50.
At the table Jesus gathers His friends, and the Father waits only for His children to distribute to them the childrens bread. The table is not the place for me to be converted or to ask the expiation of my sins. No: these blessings I must seek in solitude: in the inner chamber Jesus will suffer Himself to be found with eagerness and certainty. The table is the place for His redeemed to confess their Lord, for His believers to have their faith strengthened, for His friends to renew their covenant. On this account our Directory mentions to us as the second element of self-examination before we go to the table, the question whether we really believe in the forgiveness of sins. In the next place, let everyone examine his heart as to whether be also believes this sure promise of God that all his sins are forgiven for Christs sake. It is through faith in the forgiveness of sins that the soul obtains confidence to draw near to the Lord, and thereby also obtains the blessing of a strengthened faith.
Reader, you are to go to the Lords Supper: do you believe in the forgiveness of your sins? You know what this means. Forgiveness is not the taking away of the sinfulness of the heart or sanctification: no, but only the beginning of the way by which it is to be reached. Forgiveness is the free declaration by which God acquits you of the evil you have hitherto done, and no longer reckons the guilt of it to you. Forgiveness comes first in order: then forthwith begins sanctification and renewal. For the present this is the question before you: Do you believe in the forgiveness of your sins that your sins are blotted out?
You know what faith is. You know that it is a feeling, an experience of something that keeps man intently occupied with his own condition. You know that it is a going out of ourselves to find a resting place in God and His word, so that faith in the forgiveness of sins is the certitude that your sins are forgiven, and that on no other ground except that God has said He has done so. Consequently, faith that your sins are forgiven is nothing but the confidence that you, as a poor sinner resting in His word, have come to Him, and that your sins have been blotted out of His book. You know it, because God has promised it.
Reader, do you thus believe in the forgiveness of sins that your sins are blotted out for Christs sake? Are you one of those concerning whom the Directory says: Let everyone examine his heart whether he has believed the sure promise of God that all his sins are forgiven, and that the perfect righteousness of Christ is bestowed upon him and reckoned to him as his own? Yea, as completely as if he himself in his own person had atoned for all his sins and fulfilled all righteousness.
Blessed are ye who believe this. You have confidence to draw near to the Lords Table. Believing in the truth of the word, He abundantly pardons, believing in the power of Jesus Christ really to cleanse the conscience, believing with a personal appreciation that the promise of forgiveness is also for you, you know that your guilt is blotted outthat your sins are remembered no more.
Christian, come to the table in this faith. Let your song of praise be: Bless the Lord, O my soul, who forgiveth all thine iniquities. Ask for the Holy Spirit, that He may make faith in forgiveness within you more certain, more powerful, more joyful. You will then experience at the table what a life of love and blessing and growing power God has prepared for all on whom He first bestows the forgiveness of sins.
Lord God, I find myself on the way to Thy table. I desire also to receive there what Jesus gives when He says: This cup is the New Covenant in my blood which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. Lord, I desire this day to acknowledge in a new act of faith my participation in the forgiveness of sins, and thus to meet with Thee at the Supper as Thine own in the joy of redemption.
For this end, wilt Thou grant unto me a sight of the work of Jesus as all-sufficient and perfectly fulfilled, so that there is nothing for me now to do save to receive it and rejoice in it? Renew in me by the Holy Spirit the living assurance of my part in Jesus. And help me, Lord, with a clearer faith than ever before to appropriate the whole redemption of Thy Son with all Thy rich and glorious promises.
Lord, I beseech Thee, let no doubt rob me of this blessing. When I look to myself, there is nothing but fear, and condemnation. When I have to question my heart and what I feel there, I have no hope. But I look to Thy word. It makes me cry out: Who is a God like unto Thee that forgiveth iniquity? (Mic. 7:18). That word points me to the Cross of Thy dear Son, who died for the ungodly, and says to me: The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive all our sins. That word teaches me to say: With Thee is forgiveness. Lord, on that word I depend: With Thee is forgiveness. I have confessed my sin before Thee: I lay my whole sinfulness bare before Thee, and I believe that through the virtue of the blood of Jesus, Thou forgivest my sin.
My God, grant me grace to hold fast by this truth, and with every fresh sin to flee always straight to the blood of Christ. Grant that I may sit down at Thy table with the blessed joy of a firm faith in the great promise of the New Covenant: I will be gracious to your iniquities, and your sins and transgressions will I remember no more.
Lord God, this Thou hast said, and that will I believe. Amen.
The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge that one died for all, therefore all died: and He died for all, that they which live shall no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him who for their sake died, and rose again. 2 Cor. 5:14-15.
In the third place, let everyone examine his heart to see whether He is conscious of having heretofore manifested genuine thankfulness toward God with his whole life. So the Directory expresses what Must Constitute the third part of self-examination, whether I have been hitherto conscious of dedicating myself to the Lord as a living thank offering, not in single things only, but in my whole life.
This is what Jesus desires. Every redeemed soul must be a man consecrated to God, entirely separated to live for Him, His will, His work, His honor. This also is what the true Christian desires: he acknowledges the equity of the demand which Jesus makes, the perfect right which Jesus has to him as His blood-bought possession. This is what the true Christian expects in the power of the love of Christ shed abroad in the heart, in the strength of the new life. And this dedication, this complete surrender, is what the believer especially confesses and completes in the Lords Supper.
The Lords Supper is always a sacrificial repast, and that in a double sense. Under the Old Covenant there were special sacrificesnamely, the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the thank offering. The sin offering, by which atonement was made, was the type of the sacrifice of Christ alone. He was made sin for us. The burnt offering, which had to be wholly consumed by fire on the altar, as a symbol of entire devotedness to the service of God, was the type alike of the sacrifice of Christ and of the sacrifice of believers in which they surrender themselves to the Lord (Rom. 12:1). Then last, the idea of thank offering is exhibited more fully to the apprehension in the feast of thank offering and in the fellowship that ensued.
Of the sin offering, by which atonement was made, the priests might eat, as a token of their fellowship with God through the atonement. The Lords Supper is our fellowship in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ which has done away with sin forever. Of the thank offering in which dedication to God was shown forth, the offerer himself might also eat in recognition of his fellowship with God in this dedication. The Lords Supper is a communion with Christ, not only because He offered Himself up for us, but because in and with Him we offer ourselves to the Father with all that we have.
Marvelous union: Jesus offers Himself to me: I offer myself to Him: Jesus gives Himself wholly for me: I give myself wholly for Him. My sacrifice is the counterpart, the reflection, of His.
With what earnestness did He prepare Himself for the fulfillment of His sacrifice, in order that His will might really yield itself completely and wholly to the Father. As for me, how much more need have I of preparation for asking whether, while I take a whole Christ for myself, I yield myself with my whole life to Him.
Let every one examine his heart. Believer, the observance of the Supper is a glorious opportunity of renewed dedication to your Lord. Let the Holy Spirit discover to you what it is to be a decided Christian: undividingly, unceasingly surrendered to Jesus in heart and hand and lips, at home and in society; living for Jesus, working zealously for Jesus; a burnt offering which is given entirely for God, and is consumed by the fire of the Spirit. In this spirit, prepare yourself to be willingly bound to the horns of the altar.
My Father, Thou callest me to Thy table to participate by faith anew in the sacrifice of Thy Son: I cry to Thee, in turn, to make me partaker of the power, the inclination, and the spirit of His self-sacrifice, that I, in fellowship with Him, may in like manner offer myself up to Thee. Through the Eternal Spirit He offered Himself up to God. My God, let the same Spirit make me also, on my part, a complete offering to Thee.
My Father, grant unto me to see that self-offering constitutes the essence and the worth of His sacrifice. Let the surrender of my feeling and will to the will of God be the mark of my piety. Yea, Lord, let me live as one who offers himself wholly to the desire of God and man to further Thine honor and their salvation.
My Father, at the Supper I desire truly to present myself as a living, holy sacrifice, well pleasing, to Godan offering that shall be wholly consumed.
For this end I entreat Thee for grace to prepare myself for this sacrifice, as Thy Son prepared Himself for the sacrifice on Golgotha by saying in Gethsemane: Not My will, but Thine be done. So would I offer myself as a sacrifice to Thee with the complete surrender of my will: may Thy will be all in all to me, O my God. Lord enable me to say in truth: I live only to do the will of God. In the strength of Jesus Christ, who liveth in me and in whom I offer myself to Thee, I venture to make His language my own: Lo I come to do Thy will, O God!
Lord, prepare me also to say: I desire here before Thee to renounce every known and unknown sin. All self-seeking and self-will I desire to abandon before Thee. I take Jesus Christ as my holiness, my strength, my victory ; and in virtue of the new nature which He has prepared for me, I say: Father, no more sin, but Thy will onlyThy will wholly, Thy will always and in all.
Lord Jesus, who didst give Thyself for me, I give myself to Thee. Yea, Lord, in this very moment, where I in solitude am this morning preparing myself for the Supper, I say before heaven and earth: Jesus, Son of God, I will give myself wholly to Thee, to live now and henceforth only for Thee. Lord Jesus, I do this now. And as one who is offered to the Father and to Thee, I will go to the Supper table, there to be confirmed in the faith and confession; I am no longer my own I have been bought with a high price: I will glorify God in my body and my spirit, which are Gods.
A Prayer for the Holy Spirit
Lord God, I thank Thee heartily that Thou hast led me throughout this week of preparation, and that I can now cherish the hope of eating with Thee and Thy Son on the morrow at the Table of the Covenant. I thank Thee for every opportunity of meditation and prayer, so that I may not thoughtlessly appear in the sanctuary. In this quiet evening hour, I come once more to Thee to beseech Thee for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Lord God, Thou hast taught us to say that without Him there can be no true prayer, no real fellowship with Thyself. Therefore hast Thou given to every one of Thy children the Holy Spirit, by whom they may have access in Christ to the Father. Lord, what I would entreat of Thee is this: that the Spirit may now work mightily in me, so as to impart to me all the dispositions by which I may draw near to Thee in the holy adornment of Thy chosen ones. I know that I have only been all too unfaithful to Him. Father, forgive me, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
May He convince me anew of sin. May He work in me true penitence, so that I may remember my sinfulness with a contrite heart. O Lord, my God, I desire this evening to remember, to confess, and to cast away every sin that still cleaves to me. (Here the believing suppliant may think of his own special sins, confess them, and abjure them before God.) I would think with loathing on myself and the deep aversion of my nature from God, and would forever renounce all confidence in myself, and all satisfaction with myself. Lord God, let the Holy Spirit so work in me, and spiritually so renew me, that all sin shall become more and more hateful and intolerable; and that in like manner, through the spiritual acknowledgement of my corrupt nature, I may meet with Thee in a more humble and tender spirit. May a sweet, blessed lowliness of mind be the fruit of a rich indwelling of the Spirit in my heart.
And Lord, in like manner may the result of Thine own Spirits operation in me be a strong, a joyful faith, that a full Christ, with all His promises and all His blessings, is inwardly appropriated and enjoyed. Yea, my God, may the Spirit bring out in me that fruit which in the sight of man seems so undesirablethe humility of one who feels himself worthy only of rejection, coupled with the gladness of one who is redeemed, who is a beloved child.
May He also discover to me, and shed abroad in me, the eternal love of our God, so that my experience of His personal affection for me may be a thousandfold clearer and more certain than the affection of any man on earth. O Lord, the Holy Spirit can effect this. He can bring down from heaven into my soul the love of God as a real gift: grant that this gift may be near at this time of communion. Lord, I depend upon Thy promise; I wait for the mighty working of the Spirit.
Then shall my love burst out into a flame at the Table. Then shall I behold the countenance of my Lord, and my whole heart shall be won by Him. Then shall my surrender to the Lord be a real and effectual one. Blessed God, withhold not from me, but bestow on me in large measure, the mighty operations of Thy Holy Spirit. Thou hast given Him to be in me: may He now fill me. Then shall my observance of the Supper be truly a fellowship of the Spirit with the Father and the Son. Then shall I have not only heavenly blessing around me and in me, but also heavenly life in me, both to know and to receive all His blessing.
Lord, I depend upon Thy promises: I set myself now in silence before Thee to wait for the Spirit: I give myself to Him in the faith that He will work in me. I ask this One boon besides: that in Thy servant who presides over the congregation, and in the congregation itself, Thy blessed Spirit, with His silent heavenly power, may be mightily at work, so that this festal time may be for all a time of great blessing. Would that some who are still dead may now be made alive.
Lord, grant this for the sake of Thy Son. Amen.