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In the second of our mini-series on the issue of receiving the sacraments, Robert Brewis looks at some background to our understanding of the sacraments and then examines the Articles to see what they teach on this matter.
What does it mean to be a worthy receiver of the sacraments? As Article 25 says, ‘And in such only as worthily receive the same they have a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith.’
Strong stuff! So what does it mean to receive the sacraments ‘worthily’?
Sacraments and sacramentalism
The consistent teaching of Hebrews is that a person is in the new covenant by faith alone (Hebrews 2:10-17; 4:3, 14; 7:25; 8:6, 10:22). Notice Jesus himself administers the new covenant, and a person shares in his rest, his work, and the new covenant by faith. The new covenant is entered into by belief, and the sacraments of the new covenant (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) are God’s way of assuring believers that what he promised to do upon faith, he has done. For the person of faith, they seal one’s interest in the covenant. The new covenant is a promise of salvation upon faith flowing from Christ’s work, and therefore to be in the covenant one has to have faith, not merely receive a sacrament.
Director Lee Gatiss is interviewed on the GAFCON 2018 livestream.
Watch Lee Gatiss being interviewed on the GAFCON 2018 livestream calling for real change in the Church of England to allow greater flourishing for evangelicals. He also talks about our recent book on the Thirty-Nine Articles, Foundations of Faith, which he’s been giving away to delegates from the developing world.
Ro Mody examines at 1 Corinthians to see what Paul has to say about church discipline and the Eucharist.
Recently, the whole topic of church discipline has been publicly discussed. Bishop Rod Thomas has suggested that given the rubric of the Book of Common Prayer talks about “unworthy reception” of the bread and the wine at Holy Communion, couples in active same sex relationships might be gently advised to examine their consciences before coming to the Lord’s Table.
For many, the whole idea of church discipline and excommunication is a harsh, unloving, and judgemental act that ought not to be practiced in the Church of England. Rather, the church should be inclusive and tolerant of the lifestyles of its church members. Yet, our authority and our practice in these matters is the Word of God, the Bible, and I want to look at what Paul has to say about church discipline and the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians.