Is There A Mystical Encounter With The Lord Jesus Christ In The Sacrament Of The Holy Communion,Pt. 4

(Continuing From Part 3 of this Blog)

 

B. The mystical quality of the Holy Communion.

    

Just as the monergistic act of regeneration on the dead soul of a sinner is a mysterious and mystical work of God alone, so the inner workings of the Eucharist are not necessarily apparent to the eye. Thomas a Kempis in his fascinating devotional, The Imitation of Christ, gives spiritual insight into the workings and doings of the Eucharist,

"...man’s senses are prone to evil from his youth; and unless Divine medicine succor him, he will

quickly fall away and become worse than he is. The Holy Communion, then, draws him back

from evil, and strengthens him in good." [1]

 

  1. Christ strengthens the faith of His people at the Holy Communion.

    

He meets with them there. He spiritually sups with them there. He gives them of Himself there in the promises and precepts of His own Word. According to Thomas Houston, in his Treatise On The Lord’s Supper, there are a number of issues to consider when coming to celebrate the Holy Communion,

  1. It is a seal of the covenant. It is not only a sign which represents, it is a seal which confirms the benefit.

  2. It is a renewing of our covenant with Him.

  3. It is a communion with God. There is in this action more communion with God, than in any other religious act.

Besides these, there are benefits conferred as well from having Communion with the living Christ. Among these, according to Houston [2], are,

  1. The weakening of sin.

  2. The nourishment of the soul.

  3. The increase and exercise of grace.

  4. Sense and assurance of love from God.

  5. Union with Christ is promoted.

These benefits are certainly not apparent to those who have not been brought monergistically into relationship with the Lord. In other words, one must be spiritually alive before he/she can have any practical reception of these benefits. Scripture calls this primary action the new birth (John 3. 3-7). A person has no practical awareness of the Kingdom of God unless he has been made spiritually alive by the Lord. Otherwise, that one is spiritually dead and without any heartbeat for God. The above benefits are spiritually discerned. In this sense, the Holy Communion is said to be a mystical thing. What do we mean by "mystical"?

    

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines mystical as a: having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence; the mystical food of the sacrament; b: involving or having the nature of an individual's direct subjective communion with God or ultimate reality; the mystical experience of the Inner Light”. [3]

 

  2.  Christ meets with His people at the Holy Communion.

 

The mystical encounter with the Christ is not so much in the elements as around the elements that enable us to celebrate the Eucharist. Christ joins us at the table. As he ate with the disciples so apparently in His post-resurrection appearances, so too, in the spirit of the post-ascension, Jesus meets with those who are His own.

 

He does this to grant them the benefits already listed. But He also does this to reassure us of His Presence with and in us. This reassurance reinforces the promise He made when He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28.20).

    

We are a gifted people! We have cause to celebrate! This is because our Lord, our God, our Savior, our Friend is truly with us. It is the Eucharist that reminds us of His real Presence in, with and through us.

    

The bread and the wine are merely the earthly elements to recall that fact to our often forgetful minds and hearts. They, in and of themselves, are not mystical. It is the very real and mystical Presence of our Lord Christ that gives these things meaning and substance.

    

So our presence at the Holy Communion should be frequent and with great joy. There is a place for somberness and even penitence when we consider the Eucharist. But these things having had their place, we need to move on to celebrate Him who is the Christ, Him who promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He gives us His covenant meal to remind us of that reality.

 

                                                 Luther spoke with utmost seriousness of these

                                                 Sacraments even as true mystery ought to be

                                                 spoken of. Here (he said) Christ is actually present

                                                 and works on men. Here, at any rate, the speech

                                                 was not about a vague something or simply a

                                                 promise of God’s imparted, but here the gifts

                                                 of divine grace were actually imparted, distributed

                                                 to those who by faith partook of the Sacrament.

                                                 Here Christ, though enthroned in heaven, was

                                                at the same time present in earthly reality: indeed,

                                                He is united with an element of this earth in a

                                                mode that reason cannot fathom at all.[4]

 

 

[1] A Kempis, Thomas. Of the Imitation of Christ.[New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., No Year] ,p.255

 

[2] Houston, Thomas. Treatise on the Lord’s Supper.[Edinburgh: James Gemmel, 1878], pp.290-94

[3] http://jaguar.eb.com/dictionary/mystical

[4] Stahlin, Wilhelm. The Mystery of God.[London: Students Christian Union Press, 1937], p.73

 

 

 

 

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