Are you culpable of Blood-guiltiness in the Lord's Supper?

Discussion in 'The Lord's Supper' started by C. Matthew McMahon, Jan 31, 2018.

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  1. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    In worship, quite a few aspects should concern the worshipper.

    In Gospel Worship, Burroughs is hammering home the idea that God must be regarded as holy to those who draw near to him in worship (worship of every kind). In the Lord's Supper this is especially true.


    From Sermon 11 -

    Consider this, that there is no duty in all the Bible that I know of, that is urged with more strength and severity than this ordinance. We find this in 1 Cor. 11 which shows the requirements of every one that comes to receive the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. They should, “examine themselves and so eat.” You have the most dreadful expressions against those that do not examine themselves in this that I know of mentioned against the neglect of any duty in all the Bible. There the Holy Spirit says, “that whosoever eats and drinks unworthily,” first, he is guilty of the body and blood of Christ. Secondly, he eats and drinks his own damnation. These two expressions have so much dreadfulness in them that you cannot even imagine it. We do not find an exhortation to a duty backed with two severe expressions like this (in case we should neglect our duty) as this great exhortation of eating and drinking worthily in the Lord's Supper. What if we do not sanctify God’s Name in this duty? We come to be guilty of the body and blood of Christ. Blood guiltiness is a terrible thing.
     
  2. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    Practically, how do you partake in the Lord's Supper in a worthy manner?
     
  3. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    Simply by examining oneself. This I know...in that if I have some serious sin, such as holding a grudge or debt to a brother or sister, I attempt to reconcile before I partake. Also what I have noticed is that I have much to repent of when I examine myself, and the tangible partaking of the bread and wine is a concrete example of what Jesus did for us sinners.
     
  4. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    Q. 171. How are they that receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?
    A. They that receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ; of their sins and wants; of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance, love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation, and fervent prayer.

    1 Cor. 11:28; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Cor. 5:7; Ex. 12:15; 1 Cor. 11:29; 2 Cor. 13:5; Matt. 26:28; Zech. 12:10; 1 Cor. 11:31; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; Acts 2:46-47; 1 Cor. 5:8; 1 Cor. 11:18, 20; Matt. 5:23-24; Isa. 55:1; John 7:37; 1 Cor. 5:7-8; 1 Cor. 11:25-26, 28; Heb. 10:21-22, 24; Ps. 26:6; 1 Cor. 11:24-25; 2 Chr. 30:18-19; Matt. 26:26.


    WLC
     
  5. Von

    Von Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you all for the reminders!
     
  6. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Thinking through this is exactly what Burroughs does in breaking this down. This is by no means exhaustive....

    BEFORE you come to the supper - do you do this?

    1) Do this before you come.
    2) Prepare yourself to honor God. How?
    3) Examine yourself. How?
    4) Ask the following questions:
    Am I in Christ?
    What are my sins?
    What are my besetting sins?
    What do I lack in honoring God daily?
    Do I have a biblical knowledge of faith?
    What do I know to be true about the God I serve?
    Who is He to me?
    What does the Bible say about Him?
    (What He has done (covenant) and who He is (attributes).)​
    Do I really repent of my sins?
    Have I? Have I truly repented so as not to do them again?
    Sight of sin, sorrow, confession, shame, turning and hatred of sin?​
    Do I love God?
    How do I show I love God?​
    Do I love the brethren?
    How do I show I love the brethren?​
    How am I charitable and how do I love all people?
    Do I forgive others or harbor bitterness and resentment?
    What is my desire after Christ?
    How much do I love him?
    How do I show it?​
    How am I obedient to Christ?
    Is it obedience or some legal performance?​
    How do I seek being filled with the Spirit?
    How do I exercise the fruit of the Spirit?
    Is this the fruit of the Spirit, or have I deceived myself?
    Am I a hypocrite?​
    How do I grow in grace?​
    5) Consider these things by serious meditation. (Who knows how to do this rightly?)
    6) Consider these things by fervent prayer. (Who has done this?)

    Burroughs would say - I challenge everyone reading this if you have ever even done part of this in honoring God and sanctifying his name.
    Then Burroughs would be blunt - If you have, then you need to improve it. If you have not, you're guilty of blood-guiltiness of the supper and have never sanctified or honored God's name in worship of him through the supper int he way he requires. (Lev. 10:1-3)

    We want the Christian name, and we say we want revival, and we say we want to honorable....but do we really? What happens, in my estimation, is that we tend to default: "Thank goodness that Christ has saved me!" Which tends to give us excuses for not doing what God requires. It's almost like we say, "I'm so happy that Christ has saved me because I don't act like a Christian for God's glory the way I should, but I'm safe anyway, so I'll come to the supper regardless because the supper is for sinners, and I'm a big sinner."

    We need to repent of that.
     
  7. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Dr. McMahon,

    That is really good - thank you. Does condemnation mean to be sentenced to hell? I'm trying to figure out the context. The ESV makes it sound like judgment through illness and death is taking place. Is it physical and spiritual damnation? Thank you!
     
  8. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Burroughs is a cage rattler. (It's one of the reason i love reading him. He does not let you rest easy in reading him. The cage gets rattled on purpose because we need to be reminded about God's holiness.)

    Also, keep in mind you are getting a couple of very short snippets on a 300 page volume. And these snippets particularly are from sermons in the latter half of the book. He's taken great pains to bring you to this point in the work in sanctifying God's name.

    But, with that said, Burroughs would never say that in terms of election, that the elect Christian is going to lose his salvation. No, no.
    Nor is he equally saying that one who continues to dishonor God shows forth "electing properties." This is part of the reason he is pressing us to consider what we do in "examining ourselves".

    In these snippets, he is pressing the reader to consider what they have done if they have sinned, and repent not to do it again since God will have his name either honored and sanctified in the act itself by us, or later on in judgment against us. This will cause his people to get into heaven "by the skin of our teeth" as Job mentions. That's not where Christians should want to be.

    Now, aside from election, based solely on what the "worshipper" is to do at the supper, (in this case) this is the realm of thought that Burroughs is pressing the reader to consider.
    Abstractly, he is saying Jesus did "such and such" for sinners. (Covenant, died, crucified, benefits, etc. etc.) But after he spends time explaining those benefits theoretically, he leaves them hanging in the air for the reader to consider it practically, "How do I deal with this supper in a godly way?" He uses the phrase "mystery of godliness" surrounding what professing Christians ought to do in coming to the supper. Ministers explain this mystery in preaching, and then it is visibly attended to in the supper. He keeps it in the practical realm (the divided sense if I might throw that in) on purpose (what we do in the here and now). And so, he says by not counting these things as serious in our actions, or that they really mean little to us (he uses that phrase a lot), then you eat and drink damnation (i.e. judgment) on yourself. So in that sense he is keeping the supper in a practical realm. Partake worthily, and you honor God. Partake unworthily and you drink judgment on yourself. (But there is a tinge of "judgment can also mean damnation if you are not careful" in his writing) Thus, he presses us, what will you do in this now?

    Damnation is the "ethereal" context, but judgment in sin and death is the immediate Scriptural context to answer your question. Burroughs is a good exegete here, but doesn't let the reader just blow off what their duty is. He uses the phrase, having to "deal with God" in these things, often.

    Most Christians don't even bother wanting to read something like this because they are far more happy just saying, "I'm saved, God will forgive me, no matter what." Burroughs counters all that with a - you are out of your mind to think that way. Sanctifying God's name is something God requires from us, which also shows our "Christianness" so to speak.

    Keep in mind, these were sermons given to his congregation. He made them eminently practical. There is a fair and good balance in dealing with the eternal nature of salvation in Christ, while at the same time keeping it real - God requires us to do something specific when we come to the supper and we need to do it and not make excuses about it. Otherwise we dishonor God.

    It is one of the most profound reads you will ever read on this side of heaven.

    (Read this one and then John Brinsley's "The Christian's Union, Communion and Conformity to Jesus Christ in His Death and Resurrection," then go back to Burroughs in his "Christ Inviting Sinners" and you have one of the most well rounded practical Christian courses with these 3 books on living a godly life in Christ that you could ever consider. I'm not far away from completing it in an updated fashion. It reads much easier now with still hammering away at our sin.)
     
  9. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Burroughs...on the supper...speaking to Christians.

    "If we do not sanctify God’s Name, it will quite turn to the contrary for us. It is the proper end of the sacrament to seal up our salvation. But if we do not sanctify God’s Name, it will seal up our condemnation.

    So though you have been guilty of shedding the blood of Christ again and again by your profane coming to the sacrament, yet know, seeing there is life in you, and the day of grace continues, it is possible that your soul may be saved by that blood that you have crucified. O! how many are cut off that have in this way profaned the Name of God in this sacrament, and never came to understand this danger! They are cut off, and now are undone forever. Then bless God that you are alive to hear more about this sacrament, and how God’s Name should be sanctified. Bless God that you are alive, and have time to repent of this great evil, of profaning the Name of God in this holy sacrament."
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
  10. Cedarbay

    Cedarbay Puritan Board Freshman

    Is there Scripture to support that one could unknowingly, "shed His blood again and again"?

    Having come out of Rome, this concerns me and sounds familiar.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
  11. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    1 Corinthians 11:27


    27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

    The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 1 Co 11:27.

    "Divines agree, that the unworthiness here spoken of, respecteth not the person of the receiver so much as the manner of the receiving; in which sense, a person that is worthy may receive this ordinance unworthily: it is variously expounded, without due religion and reverence, without faith and love, without proposing a right end in the action, under the guilt of any known sin not repented of, &c. Shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord; incur the guilt of the profanation of this sacred institution; for an abuse offered to a sign, reacheth to that of which it is a sign; as the abuse of a king’s seal, or picture, is justly accounted an abuse of the king himself, whose seal and picture it is. Some carry it higher; he shall be punished, as if he had crucified Christ, the profanation of Christ’s ordinance reflecting upon Christ himself."

    Matthew Poole, Annotations upon the Holy Bible, vol. 3 (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1853), 581.

    "They shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (v. 27), of violating this sacred institution, of despising his body and blood. They act as if they counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith they are sanctified, an unholy thing, Heb. 10:29. They profane the institution, and in a manner crucify their Saviour over again. Instead of being cleansed by his blood, they are guilty of his blood."

    Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2265.
     
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  12. Cedarbay

    Cedarbay Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you, Scott.

    How could a faithfully contrite believer be guilty of this?
     
  13. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    They wouldn't, necessarily. However, Burroughs spends 250 pages of explanation on worship, and how it is accomplished, before he gets here to this point.

    (My advice would be to hang tight, and wait to read the treatise. It truly is a life-changer.)
     
  14. Cedarbay

    Cedarbay Puritan Board Freshman

    Whew! Thank you, Rev. McMahon. I look forward to reading it.
     
  15. SavedSinner

    SavedSinner Puritan Board Freshman

     
  16. SavedSinner

    SavedSinner Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for your post; I think it is right. But how, then does this square with the new practice of weekly communion? 400 years after the Reformation, in perhaps half the reformed churches in the U.S. we suddenly have no preparatory sermons the week before, no announcements of communion the week before, no flyers on preparation for the communion service and sermons that have nothing to do with the Lord's Supper immediately before the Lord's Supper. The sacrament has apparently become an essential element of worship. I don't see how weekly communionists would be able to agree with what you have posted.
     
  17. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    I believe we are supposed to live in a perpetual climate of sober self-examination. If we are daily seeking God in prayer, daily confessing our sins (as the Lord's Prayer instructs), we will not be taken unawares by the Lord's Supper. You come to the table not as a saint without remaining sin, but as a saint who would fain be cleansed from it all--not consciously clinging to aught of it, but willing and eager to let it all go. You come admitting that you have sinned, and the only hope for sinners is visibly displayed and partaken of there.*

    *I am not saying that the ordinance saves you: I am saying that the person of whom the ordinance testifies is the Savior.
     
  18. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    This is almost the same objection (one of many) that Burroughs deals with on the Lord's Supper (and general worship).

    The Sacrament IS an essential part of worship (not "has become"). It was instituted by Jesus Christ which holds in it many levels of importance.

    From Burroughs' perspective...It doesn't come down to what "one agrees with" or not. What matters is whether God gets his honor and glory in what he requires, or whether he doesn't and instead, in justice, renders judgment. (See Leviticus 10:1-3) Generally, people come at this question on honoring God and sanctifying him in the way God requires in three ways: 1) I can't do it so God will just have to accept what I do anyway because Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. 2) It's too hard - who can do it? 3) I look at it with little concern, and don't see its overall importance.

    To really dive into what he is talking about, you have to, again, read the treatise.

    But aside from "agreeing" or dealing with those objections, it comes down to what God requires no matter how the supper, in this case, has been abused. This is part of what Burroughs is teaching from Lev. 10:3. God must be, will be, sanctified by those that come near to him, or he will execute judgment on "religious professors" and his people. It should be a great matter of concern for us to honor God the way God wants. If it is truly not, then we are most likely not Christians. If we are, then we can never say "communicants just can't do this and they don't agree with what Burroughs is teaching on the Regulative Principle." That just won't practically work. We could say that about anything people don't like in religion.

    Rather, if one understands worship (i.e. Burroughs' first 7-8 sermons) and then applies what they have learned to both the sacrament and prayer (sermons 9-14), then they begin to see what their duty is is honoring God. If they are not honoring God, they need to repent and begin doing what God requires. If they don't repent, or don't want to repent, they may have already apostatized. (And think, these thoughts were being taught in a solid Christian church 400 years ago. What does that say about those who attend church today?)
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  19. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    This is exactly the point, and Burroughs spends a great deal of time teaching this in great detail.
    Generally, from my own one on one experience with people, they don't know how to do this.
    This makes Burroughs' work (and Nathaniel Vincent's "A Discourse on Self Examination") extremely important today.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2018
  20. Reformed Roman

    Reformed Roman Puritan Board Freshman

    I want to share some of my experiences with communion I've had recently in my context. While I appreciate the thought of self examination, I would ask, is communion about how good we are, or reflecting on sacrifice of Christ?

    In the context of 1 Corinthians 11, they were gettin drunk at the Lord's supper, they were withholding the elements from other people just so they can feast. Ultimately the food and drink became the "main thing", what it was really about. So in context, you can understand why Paul gave such a firm rebuke.

    But to preach constant self examination, if not said or done carefully, can cause great damage. In my church, people would not take communion because they felt unworthy. They were told so many times to consider how to take it in a worthy manner, that no one felt worthy. Communion became more about if someone was worthy than what Christ actually did on the cross.

    There should be good self examination and I think you've all hit the nail on the head with many helpful hints of how to examine ourselves practically. We may not be like the church of Corinth, ie: we may not be getting drunk during communion! But we have so much we can apply to ourselves still with examining ourselves.

    But in my specific context, the people struggled a great deal with so much self examination, that communion became more of a time of examining oneself rather than examining Christ. Instead of examining the body, the blood, the sacrifice of Christ, communion became a time to look at yourself, am I worthy?

    If 90% of communion is examining yourself your doing it wrong.

    I believe Robert Murray M'Cheyne said it best when he said for every one look you take of yourself, take ten looks at Christ. And I don't see how communion can truly be a means of grace if your looking at yourself ten times, and only looking at Christ once.
     
  21. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Burroughs would challenge you on this. He would say its not a thought, its a command (see 1 Cor. 11), and the substance of the command is set in the context of Christ. It is a perpetual command in rightly examining, while perpetually doing it all in Christ. They are not sub categories of one another as if examination is aside from looking to Christ.

    Those who are discouraged with themselves may have misused both what it means to be in Christ, and what it means to examine one's self rightly, in the same context of Christ's great love of instituting such a mystery of godliness.
     
  22. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Dr. McMahon, how often would you recommend taking the Lord's Supper?
     
  23. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Churches in the RPCGA generally celebrate the supper weekly, which I love. It is part of our regular worship. Burroughs concurs on that. He advocates a number of reasons for weekly administration.

    That would, then, cause Christians regularly to exercise their self examination skills.

    Burroughs spends a great deal of time talking about seasoned Christians that are prepared to worship. In other words, as much as he presses preparation, some have what he calls a rare grace or blessing to be "ready" always, say, to pray, or hear, etc. because they are exercised in it. So the more exercise, the more those muscles of grace grow, so to speak.

    Let me give you an example that might help. A pastor has been in a church plant situation for 8 years. He's a bit worn out. But, his church isnt praying together, at all. They are a church plant who doesnt pray together to plant a church. After getting advice to have a prayer meeting, he proposed to the church a monthly prayer meeting. To me, that's like bringing a box of band aids to a MASH unit on the front lines.

    In the same vein, I find a monthly or bi-monthly supper, which occurs in many churches, to be "doing what is to be done," but, like the band aids. Its too important, in this case, to leave it off for so long. It reminds me of Christians who participate in the Lord's Day for 2 hours at church, and then go back to the world. The sacred and profane have no real division. In the case of the supper, its too long a time, thus, the exercise needful to be used to doing it is so far removed that recalling it rightly would be practically difficult.

    As Moses told the Israelites, "...this is your life."
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  24. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Are you currently practicing weekly communion at the RP your Ministering at if you don’t mind me asking. And if you are, are you guys using common cup and common bread?
     
  25. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    When I was preaching there, no, the elders came bi monthly to do it. They would not let guests do that at the time.

    ( BTW, I'm are no longer supplying the pulpit there.)
     
  26. Ray

    Ray Puritan Board Freshman

    Well come to California and let’s start a church plant. This liberal state needs more faithful Gospel Ministers. And we need more purer churches.
     
  27. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    We are considering this in our local area (and praying about bringing it to our presbytery for GA).
    There are no churches that adhere to the WCF or the Directory of Public Worship here for 250 miles in any direction.
    It's all parades, puppet shows, and deviant doctrine. Saddening.
     
  28. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Ryan, here is what Burroughs says (p. 272 in the new edition of Gospel Worship):

    "The Sabbath, my brethren, that is appointed to be the set constant day of thanksgiving for the great mercies of God in Christ, and there are other days for national mercies. Now, a special work of the Lord’s Day, is, the celebration of this holy sacrament; and Christians in former times were accustomed to do it every Lord’s Day because that is the day appointed by God for to be the day of thanksgiving for that great mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ."
     
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