The Supper in The Christian Faith by Michael Horton

The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way

The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way

I am blessed to be able to worship on Good Friday (2012) with my friends who are associated with OurCalling. In preparation for this special worship meeting, I have been reading in Horton’s theology on The Lord’s Supper.

He explains and develops the concept of the covenant meal. Let me share with you some excerpts from this chapter of his book.

Clearly, these covenantal actions are not merely illustrations. Yet they are also not a magical transformation of earthly substances into divine substances. Rather, they are performative actions that do what they say. In and through the act of consecrating bread and wine as his body and blood, Jesus hands himself over to death as the sacrifice for the sins of those who eat and drink in faith. He offers them the “cup of salvation” because he will drink the “cup of wrath” to its dregs, a cup that he will dread in Gethsemane but will accept for us (782).

In a covenantal understanding, sacraments involve a giving of gifts from one person to another, not an exchange of substances. Its interest it not in what happens to the signs but in what happens between persons through them, not how Christ is present in the sacraments, but that he is present in saving action toward us. Grace is God’s favor, and the sacraments ratify God’s favor toward us. Their purpose is to reconcile enemies, not to elevate nature beyond itself (784).

The Heidelberg Catechism relates to us,

First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross . . . Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves, and taste with my mouth the bread and the cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood (785).

Lastly, this may be one of my favorite comments,

Each time the Word is preached and the sacraments are attached as signs and seals, we receive our own answer to Abram’s query, “How can I know that this will happen?” Since God’s presence is not always felicitous (since he also frequently comes in judgment), we need the assurance that he come to us now in peace. The focus is not on what the water, bread, and wine really are whether Christ is substantially present in them but whether through these particular actions Christ is really giving himself to us (785).

Tonight, I hope to lead folks to find the grace of God in the Lord Jesus irresistible because he drank the “cup of wrath” for us and in its place he extends to sinners a cup of grace and salvation in his blood.

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