We continue to “catch up” on some of the posts by Dr. Van Horn which were missed over the last many months. Appreciative of these contributions by the late Dr. Van Horn, nonetheless in the new year we will be moving on to other material for our Sunday catechism lessons. More about that in a future post.
STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn
Q. 96 What is the Lord’s Supper?
A. The Lord’s supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal or carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.
Scripture References: Matthew 26:26-27; Luke 22: 19-20; I Corinthians 11:26; I Corinthians 10:16; Ephesians 5:25-27.
1. When did our Lord institute this sacrament?
A. He instituted it in the same night in which He was betrayed. (I Cor. 11:23).
2. What are the outward elements of the Lord’s supper and what do they signify?
A. The outward elements are the bread which signifies the body of Christ, and wine which signifies the blood of Christ.
3. Who should administer this sacrament?
A. Even as Christ first administered it, so should it be administered now by ministers who have been called to that holy office.
4. When Christ said, “This is my body” in the institution of this sacrament, did He mean his real body?
A. No. He did not mean for us to take His words literally any more than we take the words “That rock was Christ” literally. In addition, note that Paul states it is the bread we eat (I Cor. 11:26), not the body of Christ.
5. How do the bread and wine represent the body and blood of Christ?
A. There is a representation in that even as the food itself would nourish and strengthen the body so spiritually speaking we have our souls nourished and strengthened by partaking in obedience.
6. What are the three main views regarding the Lord’s supper?
A. The Roman Catholic view (transubstantiation) states that there is a change of the bread and wine into the real body and blood of Christ. The Lutheran view (consubstantiation) conceives of the presence of Christ in a physical sense though the elements continue to look and taste like bread and wine. The Reformed view is the spiritual presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. It is a seal and pledge of what God does for believers.
A CHILD OF THE COVENANT
The term used in our title is a neglected heritage. Today, in Presbyterian churches, one hardly hears the term. The very fact that it is not emphasized surely is indicative of the terrible charge to be laid at the feet of believing parents, that of being unfaithful to their promises to God!
In days gone by there was an emphasis on the doctrine of the covenant and especially as it referred to children of believers. The Bible teaches that God promises to believing parents His grace will be active on the part of their children. However, this grace is dependent on the parents faithfully performing their baptismal vows. The Bible teaches the child of the covenant has an inheritance to receive. What a wonderful and glorious prospect!
It is true that there is a grave danger in the misuse of this doctrine. In the past there have been those who wrongly taught that the inheritance involved was that of salvation. Such a teaching is contrary to the Word of God for one never inherits salvation. The children of the covenant simply inherit the promises of God. It is not an automatic but a conditional promise. God will keep His promises if the believing parent (or parents) will keep his (or their) promises.
The child of the covenant inherits the assurance that God’s favor is directed toward him because he is a child of a believing parent (or parents). The child of the covenant inherits the privilege of the church and is a recipient of the means of grace. The child of the covenant is a privileged child and is surely a child God desires to save.
The difficulty in this area is that so many children of the covenant are motivated by unfaithful parents to desire the privileges without fulfilling the responsibilities. The true child of the covenant is one who is brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, who comes to saving faith and who gives proof of that saving faith with fruits of the Spirit in his life.
Are you a child of the covenant? If so, may God help you to seek Him with all your heart and soul and mind!
Published by The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Vol. 6, No. 12 (December 1967)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, editor.