“But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” “Try your own selves, whether ye be in the faith: prove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed, ye be reprobate.” —1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5.
No one may eat of the bread without self-examination. The danger of “unworthy communicating” is indeed very great. The sin of “making oneself guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” is very grave. The possibility of eating judgment unto oneself is very fearful (read I Corinthians 11:27-30). Everyone who is truly desirous of a blessing at the table will be very willing to yield obedience to the command of our Lord; “Try your own selves:” “Prove your own selves.”
The problem of self-examination is simple. According to the apostle, there are but two conditions, either Jesus Christ is in you, or ye are reprobate: one of two. There is no third condition. The life of Christ in you may still be weak; but if you are truly born again and a child of God, Christ is in you. And then as a child you have access to the table of the Father and a share in the children’s bread.
But if Christ is not in you, you are “reprobate.” Nothing that is in you, nothing that you do, or are, or even desire and wish to be, makes you acceptable to God. The God against whom you have sinned inquires only about one thing: whether you have received His Son. “He that hath the Son hath the life.” With nothing less than this can He be content: with this He is fully satisfied. If Christ is in you, you are acceptable to the Father. But if Christ is not in you, you are at the very same moment “reprobate.” You have come in to the Lord’s Supper without the wedding garment: your lot must be in the outermost darkness. You are unworthy. You eat judgment to yourself. You make yourself “guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”
Reader, how is it with you? What will God say of you when He sees you at the table? Will God look upon you as one of His children, who are very heartily welcome to Him at His table, or as an intruder who has no right to be at His table? You would not for a moment sit down at the table of a man on earth if you were aware that you were not welcome to him, or if you thought that he did not willingly see you there. Surely, then, you would not dream of sitting down at the table of God, while it is still possible that He may look upon you with anger, as one who is desecrating His ordinance. Reader, pray answer this question: What will God say of you when He beholds you at His table? You are one of two things: you are either a true believer and a child of God, or you are not. If you are a child of God, you have a right to the table and eat the bread of the Father, however feeble you may be. But if you are not a child of God, no true believer, you have no right to it. You may not go forward to it.
Reader, try your own self, whether you are in the faith: prove yourself. And should it appear that you do not yet have Christ, then even to-day receive Him. There is still time. Without delay give yourself to Christ: in Him you have a right to the Lord’s Table.
Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way that is everlasting. Lord, Thou knowest how deceitful the heart is, far above all things. But, Lord, Thou knowest the heart, even my heart. And now I come to Thee, Omniscient One, and set my heart before Thee with the prayer: Lord, make me know whether Jesus Christ is in me, or whether I am still without Him, and reprobate before Thee.
Of old, Thou Thyself didst see to it that hypocrites should be cast out from the midst of Thy people. Thou didst point out Achan. Thou didst make known the man who dipped his hand in the dish with Thy Son. Thou didst detect Ananias. Thou art the King who comest in to scrutinize the guests that have sat down, and who sayest: “Friend, how camest thou in hither, not being in the wedding garment?” Thou art still mighty to search the hearts. Lord, hear now the supplication of Thy people, ,and purge Thy congregation. Let the life of the Spirit become so powerful that all doubts shall vanish, and Thy children know and confess that Christ is in them. Let Thy presence in their midst effect such a joy and such a reverence that mere confessors with the lips shall be afraid, and the self-righteous be brought to detection. Lord, make it known to many who are still content in uncertainty, whether Christ is in them or whether they are reprobate.
Great God, make this known to me. Is Jesus Christ in me? Let the Holy Spirit give me the blessed assurance of this. Then shall I sit down with confidence as Thy child at Thy table.
And if Jesus Christ is still not in me, and I am still without Christ and reprobate before Thee, Thou merciful One, make this known to me. Make me willing to know this, and not to draw near to Thy table except that Jesus Christ is in me. Lord, I come now to Thee to set my heart open before Jesus, and to receive Him as my Saviour. Amen.
(for one who has discovered that Jesus Christ is not in him).
Lord God, I had thought of going forward to Thy table. A sense of obligation came even to me, and I made myself ready for the hour of the feast. But, behold, Thy word has made me afraid. It tells me that, if Jesus Christ is not in me, I am reprobate.
Lord, have compassion upon me. I know that I may not sit down without the wedding garment. Thou art the Lord of table; Thy word must prevail there. Thou art the Holy God. Thou canst not meet in love with the sinner who is not washed from his sin and clothed with the righteousness of Christ. And, Lord, I fear that I am still without that wedding garment: my sins are not forgiven me. Lord, have pity upon me: I dare not go to Thy table: the bread of the children is not for me.
I dare not go forward. And yet, Lord, I dare not remain away. To have no part in Jesus, no share in Thy friendship, no place in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb on high—woe is me, if this must be my lot. Lord, have mercy upon me, and, if it be possible, grant unto me that which I require for sitting down at Thy table.
Lord God, I have heard of Thy mercy. Thou givest the wedding garment for nothing: Thou forgivest the vilest sinner. Too long have I been content without really having Jesus Christ in me. Lord, now I come to Thee. Before Thee I lay my unrighteousness, which is great. I am entirely under the power of sin, and cannot help myself. Lord, Thou alone canst help me: and Thou wilt also do it. Be pleased to receive me. I cast myself down here before Thee: I here surrender myself to Thee. This day let the blood of Jesus wash me.
Lord Jesus, given by the Father for me, I receive Thee. I receive Thee, Lord, as my Saviour. I believe that Thou art for me. Here I give Thee my heart—my poor, sinful heart: come and dwell in it, and let me also know that Jesus Christ is in me.
My God, my soul cries out and longs for Thee: make me truly partaker of Jesus. Amen.