Category Archives: Lord’s Supper

Let A Man Examine Himself

But if you say: What, then, shall I do if I cannot feel such distress or experience hunger and thirst for the Sacrament? Answer: For those who are so minded that they do not realize their condition I know no better counsel than that they put their hand into their bosom to ascertain whether they also have flesh and blood. And if you find that to be the case, then go, for your good, to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, and hear what sort of a fruit your flesh is: Now the works of the flesh (he says in Galatians 5:19-21) are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like.

Therefore, if you cannot feel it, at least believe the Scriptures; they will not lie to you, and they know your flesh better than you yourself. Yea, St. Paul further concludes in Rom. 7:18: “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” If St. Paul may speak thus of his flesh, we do not propose to be better nor more holy. But that we do not feel it is so much the worse; for it is a sign that there is a leprous flesh which feels nothing, and yet the leprosy rages and keeps spreading. Yet, as we have said, if you are quite dead to all sensibility, still believe the Scriptures, which pronounce sentence upon you. And, in short, the less you feel your sins and infirmities, the more reason have you to go to the Sacrament to seek help and a remedy.

In the second place, look about you and see whether you are also in the world, or if you do not know it, ask your neighbors about it. If you are in the world, do not think that there will be lack of sins and misery. For only begin to act as though you would be godly and adhere to the Gospel, and see whether no one will become your enemy, and, moreover, do you harm, wrong, and violence, and likewise give you cause for sin and vice. If you have not experienced it, then let the Scriptures tell you, which everywhere give this praise and testimony to the world.

Besides this, you will also have the devil about you, whom you will not entirely tread under foot, because our Lord Christ Himself could not entirely avoid him. Now, what is the devil? Nothing else than what the Scriptures call him, a liar and murderer. A liar, to lead the heart astray from the Word of God, and to blind it, that you cannot feel your distress or come to Christ. A murderer, who cannot bear to see you live one single hour. If you could see how many knives, darts, and arrows are every moment aimed at you, you would be glad to come to the Sacrament as often as possible. But there is no reason why we walk so securely and heedlessly, except that we neither think nor believe that we are in the flesh, and in this wicked world or in the kingdom of the devil.

Therefore, try this and practice it well, and do but examine yourself, or look about you a little, and only keep to the Scriptures. If even then you still feel nothing, you have so much the more misery to lament both to God and to your brother. Then take advice and have others pray for you, and do not desist until the stone be removed from your heart. Then, indeed, the distress will not fail to become manifest, and you will find that you have sunk twice as deep as any other poor sinner, and are much more in need of the Sacrament against the misery which unfortunately you do not see, so that, with the grace of God, you may feel it more and become the more hungry for the Sacrament, especially since the devil plies his force against you, and lies in wait for you without ceasing to seize and destroy you, soul and body, so that you are not safe from him one hour. How soon can he have brought you suddenly into misery and distress when you least expect it!

The Large Catechism of Martin Luther, Part 5, paragraphs 75-84

Tagged , ,

No Programs, No Magic Bullets. Only Pastoral Care Will Do It.

When a pastor teaches and allures and appeals and warns in such a proper evangelical way [toward a proper and diligent use of the Lord’s Supper], and also does not forget to hand over this whole matter and every individual soul who is in danger to God in prayer, to petition again and again for the proper pastoral wisdom and prudence of the Great Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, then God’s Word will bestow its power, and he will find out how many cheerfully and willingly again return and allure and compel themselves to appear at the table of grace of their Savior.

– Georg Mezger, “How Should A Pastor Exhort His Congregation and Individual Members Toward A Proper and Diligent Use of the Lord’s Supper?” Translated by DMJ

Tagged , ,

Take the Medicine

“In order that everyone may learn what a tricky knave the devil is, I want to give an example out of my own experience to all who are willing to let themselves be warned. It has happened to me several times that I resolved to go to the sacrament on this or that day. When the day arrived, my devotion disappeared or some hindrance came up, or I regarded myself unfit, saying: ‘Very well, I will go in a week.’ But the next week again found me as unfit and encumbered as on the former occasion: ‘Very well, I will go next week.’ Those weeks became so numerous that I almost got away from it entirely and hardly ever went to the sacrament. But when God granted me grace to become aware of the devil’s knavery, I said: ‘Do you want to make a wager, Satan, that I don’t know what you are up to? A plague upon your cleverness!’ So I broke out of the vicious circle and participated in the sacrament, even without making confession several times (which I do not ordinarily do) to spite the devil, particularly because I was not conscious of any gross sins. And so I discovered this about myself: If a person has no longing or reverence for the sacrament and yet earnestly makes the effort to participate in it, then such thoughts and the action itself bring forth sufficient reverence and longing and do a good job of driving away the lazy and morose thoughts which hinder a person and make him unfit. For it is a gracious, efficacious sacrament; if one thinks about it only a little with earnestness and prepares oneself for it, then it kindles, arouses, and further attracts the heart to itself.”

– Martin Luther, “Admonition Concerning the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Our Lord”, Luther’s Works Volume 38, page 127

Tagged , ,

True Congregational Growth Is Tied to A Diligent Use of the Lord’s Supper

It’s a crying shame that many members of a congregation have become lazy and negligent in enjoying the Lord’s Supper, or that the congregation also perhaps tolerates such tranquility of those in their midst who goes on for a year or longer without coming to the Lord’s table. The Lord’s Supper is a means of grace as much as God’s Word, through which the Lord distributes His sure mercies to His Christians. This sacrament makes the forgiveness of sins especially, personally certain to individuals. It thus strengthens the faith of Christians in a particular way, sustains and strengthens their spiritual life and promotes the growth of the inner man. A Christian who diligently uses this sacrament in true faith will grow and increase in the knowledge of God’s will and evermore be complete in sanctification. A congregation in which a more faithful, more diligent use of this means of grace is in full swing, will therefore also internally grow and thrive and rightly build on their most holy faith. And on the other hand, if a congregation is poorly prepared in the proper and diligent use of this sacrament, then they thus deprive themselves of a great blessing that God has chosen for them. The inner growth of the congregation will no longer joyfully progress, but begins to stand still and regress, even if perhaps the congregation is still externally growing and increasing.

– Georg Mezger, “How Should A Pastor Exhort His Congregation and Individual Members Toward A Proper and Diligent Use of the Lord’s Supper?” Translated by DMJ.