Seven Sureties of the Sacred Supper
August 5th, 1990 @ 10:50 AM
THE SEVEN SURETIES OF THE SACRED SUPPER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
8-5-90 10:30 a.m.
We welcome the throngs of you who share this hour on radio and on television. You are now a part of our precious First Baptist Church in Dallas. As Jody Mazzola announced a little while ago, the pastor’s sermon subject, The Seven Sureties of the Sacred Supper, it is a message prepared for our sharing this holy and heavenly ordinance. A surety, a thing assured, a certainty as from the hands of God. And our text is in Matthew 26, beginning at verse 26:
As they were eating the Passover, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body.
And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of you of it;
For this is My blood of the new testament, of the new covenant, which is shed for the remission of sins.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.
And when they had sung an hymn, they went out.
The seven sureties of this sacred Supper.
First: it is called an “ordinance.” I read from the eleventh chapter of 1 Corinthians. It begins, “Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you” [1 Corinthians 11:2]. Paradosis: what is handed over; the ordinances, the institutions of Christ that we are to observe and to keep. They are commanded of our Lord; they are not optional, and they are not useless ceremonies. There are two of them: the initial ordinance, when we are baptized into the family and fellowship of God; and the recurring ordinance that we observe when we break bread and drink the cup together. There are just two; there are not more than two. There are only two, and those two are sacred, to be kept faithfully and observed spiritually and prayerfully on the part of our people. That’s the first certainty that obtains concerning this sacred Supper.
The second one: it is a shared meal; it is represented and symbolized by eating and drinking. “As they were eating, He took bread, Take, eat. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Drink ye all of it, all of you drink of it” [Matthew 26:26-27]. It is a shared meal, represented by eating and drinking.
Sometimes we have an immature and wrong remembrance of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. When we think of the sacrifice, we think of it as being burned. Once in a while—and remember it is the exception—once in a while the sacrifices of the Old Testament were burnt. It was a whole burnt offering [Leviticus 1:3-17, 6:8-13]. But that was the exception, not the rule. A sacrifice was a shared meal; and the family brought it to the priest, and it was slain in the presence of the Lord, many times confessing on the head of the sacrificial animal the sins of the family. Then they ate the sacrifice. It was shared by the priest, it was shared by the family, it was shared by the friends they might have invited to be with them in that sacred Supper [Leviticus 7:15-18]. That is the beautiful meaning of sacrifice: it is a shared meal. And our Lord invites us to that sharing. “As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and gave it to His disciples, and said, Take, eat. And He did the same with the cup” [Matthew 26:26-28]. Our Lord provides the salvation, the communion, the sacrifice; and He asks us to take it. And that is one of the sweet and heavenly privileges of our communion with God, is to take the beautiful, loving grace of our Lord, represented under the aegis of bread and the fruit of the vine [Matthew 26:26-28].
The third surety, certainty, of this sacred Supper: it is placed in the church. It is a church ordinance. It is not celebrated at the conclusion of a banquet of the chamber of commerce; it has not been given in the prerogatives of a legislature or a judiciary or an academic institution, it is a part of the church. Our Lord in His Great Commission that closed the First Gospel of Matthew; we are to make disciples, believers, converts of all the people of the earth. We are to baptize them in the name of the triune God, and we are to teach them to observe all the things the Lord has commanded us [Matthew 28:19-20]. It is a church ordinance, and it belongs to the people of God who assemble in the precious name of our Lord.
The fourth certainty of this sacred Supper: it is a memorial. In the beautiful passage written by Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11, “He took bread, [and] when He had given thanks, brake it, [and] said, Eat, this is My body: this do in remembrance of Me” [1 Corinthians 11:23-24]. In that same, in this same letter, 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.”
The background of that is known to us all. On that awesome night following the nine visitations, plagues, judgments of God upon an unbelieving and remonstrating Egypt [Exodus 7:14-10:23], that tenth plague [Exodus 11:1-12:30], the Lord said:
My angel will pass over. And if there is blood in the form of a cross on the lintel at the top, on the doorposts on either side, if there is blood from the sacrificial lamb, if there is blood on the lintel and the doorposts, the angel of death will pass over; and there will be life and light in that home. But if there is not the sign of the cross, the pouring out of the blood, the firstborn in every home and every family will die that night.
So those who believed, who accepted the grace of God, took a lamb, kept it four days until it became identified with the family; slew the lamb [Exodus 12:3, 6]; poured out the blood; and took that crimson sacrifice of life and put it on the lintel at the top, and on either side on the doorposts [Exodus 12:7]. And that lamb was a picture of the sacrifice of God’s Son, the Lamb of God. And this beautiful service that we observe is a memorial of the sacrifice of our Lord for us: “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” [1 Corinthians 5:17].
The [fifth] meaning of this beautiful, beautiful service: it is an Eucharist. “And when He had eucharisteō, and when He had given thanks…” [1 Corinthians 11:24]. There are communions who call this the Eucharist; and it is beautifully named. Eucharisteō, the Greek word for giving thanks: when He had given thanks, He broke the bread, and they shared it together. And in the same manner, giving thanks, they drank of that red crimson of the vine [1 Corinthians 11:25]. A eucharisteō, a thanksgiving to God—oh, how much we owe to our Lord! Not only in the pilgrimage of this life, but O Savior, how we depend upon Thee in the life that is yet to come.
When I talk to children—and as you know, every child that comes forward I have the family bring the youngster to me, and I speak to the child of the things of the kingdom, what it means to be saved, what it means to be baptized, what it means to take the Lord’s Supper, what it means to be a good church member—one of the things I do in talking to the child, “Do you realize that someday you will die? Have you ever seen a cemetery?” And the child will always reply, “Yes. I know that someday I will die and be carried out to be buried in that cemetery.”
Who will stand by us in the hour of our death? Your mother? My mother has been dead for a generation. Your father? My father has been dead even longer. I, the pastor? All I can do is hold a memorial for you in the church, in the sanctuary of God. Who will stand by us in the hour of our death? That’s why we take our poor, lost souls, and we bow before our blessed Lord Jesus, “Lord, in that inevitable hour, You stand by. And precious Savior, may Your gracious, nail-pierced hands open for me the door of heaven” [John 14:3]. We have no other hope. Our hope lies in Him. And we are believing, we who have found refuge in Christ, we are believing that He will stand by us in the hour of our death, and that He will welcome us into the heaven of the life that is yet to come [John 14:1-3]. This is our thanksgiving: “Lord, thank You for dying for me [1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 2:20]. Thank You for washing my sins away in Your blood [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5]. Thank You for giving Your life for my poor soul. And thank You, Lord, for the promise we’ll see You when You come again [Mark 14:62; Revelation 1:7], and that You will take us to Yourself in heaven” [Matthew 25:31-34]. This, I say, is an Eucharist; it is a thanksgiving to God [1 Corinthians 11:23-26].
Number six: it is a communion. I read from the tenth chapter of this 1 Corinthian letter, verses 16 and 17: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the koinōnia of the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break, is it not the koinōnia of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: and we are all partakers of that one bread” [1 Corinthians 10:16-17]. Koinōnia: almost always in the Bible it is translated “fellowship.” Koinōnia, translated here “communion,” this is our communion with our Savior. I can just feel His presence, His extended hands of blessing on our congregation. It is a communion with Him; our hearts are raised to bless His name and to thank Him for His wondrous goodness to us. And it is a koinōnia; it is a communion with God’s family: you, and I, and these who love our Lord; a sweet and precious moment of sharing together, a koinōnia [1 Corinthians 10:16-17].
And seventh, and last: it is an eschatological promise. Do you remember what I read in the passage in Matthew? “I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” [Matthew 26:29]; when we sit down with our Lord at the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:7-9]. “I will drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” [MATTHEW 26:29]. And in this passage of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11, “As often as you eat this bread, and as often as you drink this cup, you dramatize, you show forth the Lord’s death till He come; achris hou elthe, until He shall surely, surely come” [1 Corinthians 11:26].
What a beautiful memorial. It looks back to the death of our Lord on the cross [Matthew 27:32-50]; but it looks forward to the glorious triumph when our Savior appears in glory [Matthew 25:31]. We shall have a new body. We shall have a new world. We shall have a new fellowship. We shall have a new communion [Revelation 21:1-5]. O God, that when that day comes, that it will be one of triumph and of glory for us, waiting, watching, for the return of our blessed Lord [Titus 2:13].
It may be at noonday, it may be at twilight,
It may be, perchance, that the blackness of midnight
Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,
When Jesus comes for His own.
Oh, joy! Oh, delight! should I go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying.
Caught up with my Lord and the saints into glory,
When Jesus comes for His own.
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long,
Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Christ returneth!
Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Amen.
[“Christ Returneth,” H. L. Turner]
The meaning of this sacred Supper.
And to you who have been a part of this service, may God bear to your heart also this wonderful message of hope and salvation. God hath intended some better thing for us than that we die and turn back to the dust of the ground. It is a purpose of God that we shall live in a new body, in a heavenly fellowship forever and ever [1 Corinthians 15:42-50]. And that is the meaning of the sacrifice of Jesus for us, that we might be saved [John 3:16]. And if you don’t know how to accept the Lord as your Savior, there’s a number on that screen; call us. It will be a joy unspeakable for one of our consecrated, devoted men and women to answer that phone and show you the way into the kingdom of God. And if you’ll open your heart to accept Him, someday I’ll see you in glory.
And to the great throng in this sanctuary this beautiful Lord’s Day morning hour, in the balcony round, down one of those stairways; in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and I’m answering with my life.” A one somebody you accepting Christ as your Savior [Romans 10:9-13]; a couple you answering the call of God; a family you coming into the fellowship of our dear church; as the Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, answer with your life. And welcome, while we stand and while we sing our hymn of appeal.