Since we are about to partake of the Lord’s Supper and Christ gives us to partake of His body and blood, given and shed for us for the remission of our sins, it is fitting that we heed the words of Scripture and examine ourselves before partaking of Christ’s Supper.
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor. 11:28-29).
In order to examine ourselves and see if we are truly sorry for our sins, if we trust in Christ Jesus and His sacrifice upon the cross for the remission of our sins, and if we, as a fruit of our faith and with the help and aid of God the Holy Ghost, desire to amend our lives and live in accord with God’s Word, it is helpful for us to do so by examining ourselves based upon God’s Ten Commandments.
Today, we examine ourselves in the light of His first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods.” What does this mean? “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.”
Here, we must ask ourselves, Do I love the LORD God with all my heart, mind and soul (cf. Matthew 22:37-38)?
In examining ourselves, we consider the question as to whether God is truly honored as God in our lives. Is He first and foremost in our life? Does our worship and service of God come before all else? Or do we first seek our own will and desires? Do we place earthly goods, pleasures and ambitions before God? Do we put our own family, spouse, or children before God? It is easy to say we love God, but the proof of that is often not borne out in our lives.
Do we trust in God above all else? Or, do we trust in ourselves, our abilities, our jobs, our wealth or even in other gods or images of God made in our own likeness?
Do we seek to honor Him with our lives and all He gives us? Do we honor Him with our firstfruits, give in faith, serve Him with our lives, speak of Him to our neighbors?
In all these things we come short. We fail to measure up. We stand condemned by God’s commandment, and the wages of our sin is death!
Do you acknowledge that you have sinned? Do you confess and agree with God that you are guilty and deserving of his wrath and punishment? Do you believe God’s commandment is good and right but you are wrong, a sinner deserving of the torments of hell?
The Bible says: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Gal. 3:10).
But the Bible also tells us that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).
Do you trust that Christ Jesus has truly redeemed you from the curse of God’s law? That He fulfilled its righteous demands and truly loved God with all His heart, mind and soul; but that He also then took your sins upon Himself, along with the sins of the whole world, and suffered your just punishment when He died upon the cross? Do you believe that Christ paid for your sins when he died upon the cross and that he rose again in victory?
Do you also believe Jesus gives you to partake of His sacrifice for the sins of the world in the Sacrament – that He gives you His body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins?
As a fruit of your faith, do you truly desire and seek God’s help to amend your life and live it to respect, love and trust in God above all else?
If you are truly sorry for your sins and look to Christ and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross for pardon and forgiveness, I announce unto you the grace of God and, in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Christian Questions with Their Answers
Prepared by Dr. Martin Luther for those who intend to go to the Sacrament
[The “Christian Questions with Their Answers,” designating Luther as the author, first appeared in an edition of the Small Catechism in 1551, five years after Luther’s death].
After confession and instruction in the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the pastor may ask, or Christians may ask themselves these questions:
1. Do you believe that you are a sinner? Yes, I believe it. I am a sinner.
2. How do you know this? From the Ten Commandments, which I have not kept.
3. Are you sorry for your sins? Yes, I am sorry that I have sinned against God.
4. What have you deserved from God because of your sins? His wrath and displeasure, temporal death, and eternal damnation. See Romans 6:21,23.
5. Do you hope to be saved? Yes, that is my hope.
6. In whom then do you trust? In my dear Lord Jesus Christ.
7. Who is Christ? The Son of God, true God and man.
8. How many Gods are there? Only one, but there are three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
9. What has Christ done for you that you trust in Him? He died for me and shed His blood for me on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.
10. Did the Father also die for you? He did not. The Father is God only, as is the Holy Spirit; but the Son is both true God and true man. He died for me and shed his blood for me.
11. How do you know this? From the holy Gospel, from the words instituting the Sacrament, and by His body and blood given me as a pledge in the Sacrament.
12. What are the Words of Institution? Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
13. Do you believe, then, that the true body and blood of Christ are in the Sacrament? Yes, I believe it.
14. What convinces you to believe this? The word of Christ: Take, eat, this is My body; drink of it, all of you, this is My blood.
15. What should we do when we eat His body and drink His blood, and in this way receive His pledge? We should remember and proclaim His death and the shedding of His blood, as He taught us: This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
16. Why should we remember and proclaim His death? First, so that we may learn to believe that no creature could make satisfaction for our sins. Only Christ, true God and man, could do that. Second, so we may learn to be horrified by our sins, and to regard them as very serious. Third, so we may find joy and comfort in Christ alone, and through faith in Him be saved.
17. What motivated Christ to die and make full payment for your sins? His great love for His Father and for me and other sinners, as it is written in John 14; Romans 5; Galatians 2 and Ephesians 5.
18. Finally, why do you wish to go to the Sacrament? That I may learn to believe that Christ, out of great love, died for my sin, and also learn from Him to love God and my neighbor.
19. What should admonish and encourage a Christian to receive the Sacrament frequently? First, both the command and the promise of Christ the Lord. Second, his own pressing need, because of which the command, encouragement, and promise are given.
20. But what should you do if you are not aware of this need and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament? To such a person no better advice can be given than this: first, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it in Galatians 5 and Romans 7. Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15-16 and in 1 John 2 and 5. Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, as the Scriptures picture him in John 8 and 16; 1 Peter 5; Ephesians 6; and 2 Timothy 2.
These questions and answers are no child’s play, but are drawn up with great earnestness of purpose by the venerable and devout Dr. Luther for both young and old. Let each one pay attention and consider it a serious matter; for St. Paul writes to the Galatians in chapter six: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.”