Sunday, May 26, 2013

Who can partake of the Lord's Supper?

Today was week six as a visitor at the Free Church of Scotland in Portree and it was also our first communion service.

In the Highlands, many believers do not partake of the Lord's Supper because of a sense of unworthiness. This has been a long standing issue in many presbyterian churches despite the best efforts of many ministers who labour tirelessly to magnify the grace of God. Traditionally, in some presbyterian churches, the minister would 'fence the table' in other words certain criteria had to be satisfied before a person would be allowed to take communion. Sadly, a zeal for purity created a legacy of legalism which remains a stumbling block for many believers to this very day.

On the other end of the spectrum, many modern churches can fall into licence and the communion table is so open that even non professing attendants can partake of the Lord's Supper.

This morning the minister laid out four simple questions (and offered some explanation) to help clarify who can partake of the Lord's supper.

1) Do you know Jesus?

In communion we remember Jesus' death, we can only truly remember Jesus and what he has done if we know him personally. Have we encountered the Saviour?

2) Do you love Jesus?

Do we love the Lord? The question is not, do we love him as much as we ought, but do we love him? Is it impossible for us to say that we do not love him? The Lord's Supper is for those who love Christ.

3) Do you trust Jesus?

Do we trust in Christ alone for salvation? As the minister said today, 'Communion is not for those who think they are good enough, it is for those who know they are bad!' In other words the Lord's Supper is for those who know they need a saviour.

4) Will you obey Jesus?

Jesus says 'Those who love me will obey what I command.', will we obey Jesus' command to 'Do this in remembrance of me'? Communion is not about pronouncing ourselves as righteous, it is simply a response to the grace of God and obedience to the command of Christ.


  1. Thanks, John, for a good summary, and posting these questions which are similar to what I have been doing for many years. I have heard, years ago, some ministers go through the Ten Commandments in the "Fencing", so that it sounded more like a "Dare" than instruction and invitation.

  2. Thanks Calum, I think it is Psalm 130 which says 'Lord if you were to mark our transgressions, who could stand?'

  3. Good questions, John. Good also to consider that the Lord kept the first occasion with those disciples who had stayed with Him in his trials, i.e. the committed, Judas having left at the end of the passover meal (John 13:30). Acts 2:41-42 shows that it was a regular thing for the first disciples, who had accepted the gospel, been baptised in water (as in Romans 6), and added to the church of God. Ac. 2:47 shows this 'adding' was a work of the Lord, not joining a club. So the Remembrance is for those who belong to the Lord, and is not in the elders' gift as a one-off. Blessings, Martin