28 September, 2005

Let a Man Examine Himself

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup.
(I Corinthians 11.28, Geneva Bible, 1599)


Our Reformed forefathers made a lot of the examination of oneself before partaking of the Lord's Supper. This is from the marginal notes of the 1599 Geneva Bible. (My favorite translation: the Reformed choice!)

The examination of a man's self, is of necessity required in the supper, and therefore they ought not to be admitted to it who cannot examine themselves: such as children, furious and angry men, also such as either have no knowledge of Christ, or not sufficient, although they profess Christian religion: and others that cannot examine themselves.

Those who are living scandelous lives are not to partake of the supper until they are repentant. Friends, let us examine ourselves.

Larger Catechism has a lot to say on what to do if you feel as though you lack faith or have not prepared your heart enough to partake of the Supper of our Lord. On an interesting side note, if these documents were written today, there would be a question that says, "What must a man do who thinks that he is over prepared, and never questions his state before God"? Both questions merit the same response:

Flee to Christ for grace and mercy.
Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith.

Q172: May one who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation, come to the Lord's supper?

A172: One who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation to the sacrament of the Lord's supper, may have true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof; and in God's account hath it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it, and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ, and to depart from iniquity: in which case (because promises are made, and this sacrament is appointed, for the relief even of weak and doubting Christians) he is to bewail his unbelief, and labor to have his doubts resolved; and, so doing, he may and ought to come to the Lord's supper, that he may be further strengthened.

Below you will find an excellent sermon that I listened to today. It is 50 minutes long, but well worth sitting back, closing your eyes, and meditating upon the need to examine yourself before partaking of the Lord's spiritual meal.

Self Examination, Rev. Joel Beeke

Discussion Points:
-What books do you find helpful in self examination?
-What do you meditate on while examining yourself?
-What is the purpose of self examination if you ultimately look to Jesus anyway?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yet another well-written post. I find that Brakel has a very good section on the Lord's Supper and examination of one's self. Currently, I am reading ________
for preparation.

Also, changing your family devotions the week before to help aid in preparation is a good practice. In changing, I mean to have specific studies relating to the Lord's Supper. It is not always necessary to change your current devotions. But, for example, say you are studying through Joshua, either you can somehow relate that and use it for preparation, or you could do a study on a verse such as 'Do this in remembrance...'

Reflecting on what it means to partake the week before and then reflection after is also important.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I was going to go get the correct author of the book I am reading, that is why I left it blank.

I am reading "The Lord's Supper is a Celebration of Grace" by
Gordon Keddie.

Smart Aleck said...

Shouldn't we always be examining are lives, not just the "week" before the Lord's Supper.

Also I have gotten the impression that people examine themselves to disqualify themselves from the Lord's Supper, instead of examining themselves to make themselves ready.

Nate said...

Examination is something that we are commanded to do before we COME to the table.

This is an extra ordinance besides our daily examination that we are also to do.

Examination should cause some to come and others to stay from. There are always going to be those who come who with examination should haved stayed away from; and those that stay away from the table that should come.

We cannot make excuses against examination based on the abuses of others. If this were the case, none of us would be Christian due to the RAMPANT hypocricy that occurs in the church.

Mr. Baggins said...

Very well put, Nate.

Navel Destroyer said...

'Examination is something that we are commanded to do before we COME to the table.

This is an extra ordinance besides our daily examination that we are also to do. '
'Examination is something that we are commanded to do before we COME to the table. '
And what is it that we're to be examining? ALL of our lives being consistent with grace being proclaimed by us!
I'm not getting this distinction.
Whatever happened to being careful to obey ALL that God commanded. This commandment doesn't seem to leave room for EXTRA-EXTRA examination. It's covered in being careful. Besides, offerings keep us in line as well. If your living in sin, your offering's worthless and you need to repent (though it's not a formal means of grace: Preaching, sacrament, and discipline are). If you've sinned against your brother you may not bring offering,repent, be reconciled then offer.
Concerning circumspection: do it 'circumspectly.'

Navel Destroyer said...

Be without doubt ...let a man examine himself. I still assert EXAMINE YOURSELF. If you presumptiously go to the table without sincere examination, you have sinned against the Lord's body not discerning it. Have regard for the members of Christ's body, i.e. His Church.

Navel Destroyer said...

"Navel Destroyer" has discerned something by the grace of God (i.e. NATE I am seeing this/your distinction).
There are times of emphasis in peculiar matters. You have rest in the Lord as in beginning the eternal rest by refraining from evil all the days of your life, then you have the time of rest the sabbath proclaimed within scripture as well. You have 'pray without ceasing' and 'these all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.'
There are other matters within scripture that are like this i.e.,e.g. the Lord's supper. It is a time of concentration upon proclaimation of the Lord's death and those for whom He had died and for why He died.
v.32 saying these were judged that you will take and consider and repent ....a common vain of thought in Scripture and in light of the post and the text at hand a good one to cite. Hmmmm...

Navel Destroyer said...

Navel Destroyer thinks that his former logic smacked of 'everyday is holy to the Lord/ Sabbath' thinking. Wrong again, N.D.!

Smart Aleck said...

"Examination should cause some to come and others to stay from."

Why should it cause anyone to stay away? It might cause people to turn to Christ for forgiveness, but forgiveness isn't a process. If we are saying away because of sin in our lives we either don't want to be forgive or don't trust God's forgiveness.

Nate said...

If one has not repented of their sin then they need to stay away from the table. They EAT damnation!

AS far as salvation, the Lord's Supper is not an ordinance for evangelism. It is not something that we should be promoiting to the unsaved at all.

It is for believer's who want the grace given to advance in their Christian life and experience in the beloved.

Rachel said...

If, during my examination, I find sin that has not been repented of, is that not part of the purpose of examination? And if I repent, then I ought to come to the Table. It is only if I refuse to repent that I ought not come.

shawn said...

Examination should cause some to come and others to stay from. There are always going to be those who come who with examination should haved stayed away from; and those that stay away from the table that should come.

S: Huh? Isn't self examination an exercise to help prepare you to come to the table? Who is able to examine themselves and decide... looks like the Table isn't for me.

Those who are able to examine themselves ought to be able to use the exercise as a means to come, not a means to not come. The Passage says:

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup.

If one decides he is not able to come to the table, he must consider himself
A) ignorant
B) scandalous
C) or his Church leaders scandalous

If he is ignorant, he is encouraged to become more knowledgable and come to the Table.

If he is scandalous, he is encouraged to repent and stop being scandalous and come to the Table.

If his Church leaders are scandalous, and will not repent, he is to leave her unfaithful ministry and her unfaithful table. For unfaithful leaders do not possess the Keys of the Kingdom, but rather have usurped them, and have no authority to administer the ordinances. (Matt 15:14; 23:1-4)

As an aside, this is what the communicants exam consists of, the ability to examine oneself, which requires one to have a knowledge of their Church's Terms of Communion, including living a life free of scandal. This is what the elders are to judge, in order for one to sustain their exam.

shawn said...

It [the LORD's Supper] is for believer's who want the grace given to advance in their Christian life and experience in the beloved.

Great point. Question: What is the bear minimum one would have to believe, or show they are able to examine themselves to sustain their exam and come to the Table?

shawn said...

Question 2: Which practice is the most Biblical?

Closed Communion: Only those in your local Church can come to the Table.

Close Communion: Only those who hold to the same strict subscription of the Church's Standards (or Terms of Communion) can come to the Table.

Partially Open Communion: Those who are in good standing in any evangelical Church can come to the Table (or some variation that seeks to open the table wider than strict subscription to the Standards of the Church).

Open Communion: Anyone can come to the Table.

shawn said...

Question 3: We consider Bread and Wine to be Elements of the LORD's Supper under the Regulative Principle of Worship.

Are there any other elements that are regulated?

- One Cup?
- One Table?
- The actions: breaking and passing one loaf of bread? the drinking from and passing one cup?

The General Assembly of Scottland as well as many of her Divines taught that allthese were elements as well, and if man-made elements took place of these, they were introducing elements of idolatry...

any thoughts?

I think if anything just as the elements of bread and wine are a picture of the Gospel, so also these other elements show a picture of the true fellowship and communion of the Church with each other and Christ.

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