Reflection Upon the Lord’s Supper

Extracted from Guilelmus Saldenus & Wilhelmus à Brakel,  In Remembrance of Him: Profiting from the Lord’s Supper, trans. J. A. De Jong; ed., B. Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 107-118. 

Question #1: Is it necessary to reflect upon the Lord’s Supper? 

Answer: Yes, we must, for: 

1. God’s Word commands us to meditate and reflect upon those benefits we have received from Him. Moses earnestly exhorted Israel to do so: “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness.… When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which he hath given … you. Beware that you forget not the Lord your God” (Dt 8:2–11). David exhorted himself in this regard: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Ps 103:2). 

2. When we meditate and reflect upon the Lord’s benefits, it will make us grateful so that we must say with the psalmist, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me …? I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Ps 116:12, 17). 

3. Meditating upon God’s benefits will yield much liberty to approach God, asking and beseeching Him to bestow more of His benefits upon us. It will also stimulate us to do our work with the confidence that the Lord will give His help and assistance in the future, considering the benefits He has previously bestowed upon us. Such was David’s experience (1 Sam 17:37). 

4. It will stimulate and motivate us to pursue holiness and a godly walk before the countenance of the Lord. Indeed, when we consider the Lord’s benefits that have been bestowed upon us, they obligate us to serve and obey Him most willingly as our benefactor. The psalmist expresses this when he says, “For you have delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps 116:8–9). 

Question #2: Wherein does reflection upon the Lord’s Supper consist? 

Answer: This consists in the performance of various duties to which we are obliged after having partaken of the Lord’s Supper; that is, to behave ourselves well accordingly. 

Question #3: What are the special duties that constitute reflection upon the Lord’s Supper? 

Answer: Specifically, reflection consists in (1) meditating and remembering; (2) gratitude toward God; (3) being near to God and having fellowship with Him; (4) despising and forsaking the world; and (5) displaying by our conduct that we are Christians, and as such are in covenant with the Lord. 

Question #4: What should be our first activity after having partaken of the Lord’s Supper? 

Answer: There should be a quiet and calm reflection upon and remembrance of those things upon which we ought to be meditating. 

Question #5: What are the things that we should be reflecting upon and remembering? 

Answer: We should first of all attentively and calmly reflect upon the steadfastness and immutability of the covenant of grace, and upon all its promises that have been sealed to us by means of the Lord’s Supper, such as the forgiveness of sins, comfort, sanctification, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Additional promises pertain to God’s preservation of believers in the state of grace, as well as to the eternal salvation in heaven that shall be their portion after this life. 

Question #6: To what must the reflection upon these matters be subservient, and what must its ultimate objective be? 

Answer: We are to reflect calmly and believingly upon these things, so that this will stimulate us to rely confidently upon the faithfulness of God and Christ in regard to the keeping of their promises, expecting their fulfillment believingly, with a lively hope, and with patience. 

Furthermore, it should stimulate us to be faithful in the keeping of our promises made to the Lord during and by way of our partaking of the Lord’s Supper, namely, that being in covenant with Him, we wish to walk before Him in true holiness, so that with good courage and joy we may run the race that is set before us in order thereby to secure and enjoy the eternal glory of heaven, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). 

Question 7: What else ought we to reflect upon? 

Answer: Second, we must reflect upon and remember what our spiritual frame was during our preparation for and during the actual celebration of the Lord’s Supper. We are to consider whether we were earnest and diligent or feeble and barren, whether we were sorrowful and tender or hard and insensitive, whether we were yearning for grace or listless and without any strong spiritual desires. What struggles between faith and unbelief did we encounter within us? What was our spiritual frame when praying to God? Was there a heartfelt resolution to repent of this or that specific sin, or were we discouraged and neither serious nor having any desires regarding this? Such are the various matters we ought to be thinking about. As a result, we will either humble ourselves before the Lord due to our deficiency, or our faith will have been strengthened and we will have been stimulated to express our gratitude toward God—both in proportion to what we have discovered while reflecting. 

Question 8: Is there anything else that ought be the object of our reflection? 

Answer: Third, we should meditate upon and remember what the Lord’s dealings with our soul either have or have not been at that moment. Did we receive peace and quietness in our soul, or was there inner agitation? Did we experience peace with God in our heart, or did the Lord hide Himself from us? Did He bestow upon us the enjoyment of being assured of our fellowship with Him, or did He permit our soul to be in a doubtful frame? Did He grant joy in our heart, or was our soul filled with sorrow, causing us to cry out unto the Lord? Did we receive much light from the Lord, or did our soul dwell in darkness? Was our heart tender toward spiritual matters, or were we only able to exercise our faith regarding this or however else it may have been with us? This will prompt us to inquire why we did not enjoy much spiritual refreshment, and there will be an acknowledgement of the Lord’s sovereignty in bestowing His grace upon us, as well as gratitude for the blessings we received to a greater or lesser degree. 

Question #9: What also belongs to a reflection upon the Lord’s Supper? 

Answer: Gratitude to God for all the goodness He has manifested toward us. 

Question #10: In what does such gratitude consist? 

Answer: This consists in: 

1. A thoughtful reflection upon and consideration of all the benefits we have received, as well as their goodness and magnitude, esteeming them highly: “I will remember your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all your work and talk of your doings” (Ps 77:11–12; also see Pss 139:17; 143:5). 

2. Recognizing the possession of the blessings we have received, so that we may retain our assurance that we truly have become partakers of both the great benefit of having been reconciled through Christ, as well as the benefits of the covenant of grace, and that we experienced a good spiritual disposition toward and fellowship with God (Gal 2:20). 

3. Recognizing that God has been the giver of these blessings, as well as recognizing His sovereignty in bestowing them upon us, a people as unworthy as we are. All of this will fill us with holy amazement (see Gen 32:10; 2 Sam 7:18; 1 Chr 29:13–14). 

4. Spiritual and holy joy before God in regard to what we have received and enjoyed, irrespective of its degree (see Isa 61:10; 1 Sam 2:1; Lk 1:46–49). 

5. An inclination to reciprocate, giving ourselves as a sacrifice unto the Lord and His service (see Ps 116:12–13, 16; Rom 12:1). 

6. Praising and magnifying the Lord for His goodness and sovereign grace (see Pss 103:1–2; 145:4; Eph. 1:3). 

7. Speaking to others at appropriate occasions of the goodness the Lord has bestowed upon us (see Pss 66:16; 145:4–7; Isa 12:4). 

Question # 11: What else belongs to this work of reflection? 

Answer: To this also belongs a continual and holy walk and fellowship with God. 

Question #12: What does such walking and having fellowship with God consist in? 

Answer: It consists in: 

1. Being neither able nor willing to find any true enjoyment other than in God, and that we consider, seek, and find our chief delight and pleasure only in being in His blessed nearness in fellowship with Christ, so that we truly may testify before the Lord with Asaph, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside you. My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.… But it is good for me to draw near to God” (Ps 73:25–26). 

2. Having a continual and lively impression that God in Christ has become our God, so that with David we can and must say before the Lord, “O God, you are my God” (Ps 63:1). 

3. A continual turning to the Lord regardless of where we are or what we are doing, always being desirous that our heart and mind are focused on Him and longing and anticipating how in grace He will be pleased to reveal Himself to us. This was true for David, who said, “Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord” (Ps 25:15), and for the church: “Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation” (Mic 7:7). 

4. Continually having a lively impression of God in our heart, attentively focusing upon and considering His majesty, holiness, righteousness, omniscience, omnipotence, wisdom, goodness, and other of His attributes and perfections. He is therefore worthy of being honored by us and all creatures. David testifies of this (or the Messiah testifies regarding Himself) in Psalm 16:8: “I have set the Lord always before me.” 

5. Always conducting ourselves before the Lord our God as we ought, so that we will consistently have the highest esteem for Him, love Him with all our heart as our God and our highest good, fear Him with a filial fear, and always have a deep sense of awe and a holy reverence for Him in our hearts. All of this will manifest itself in our conduct. We will wholeheartedly endeavor to obey and be subject to Him in all we are called either to do or not to do. We must therefore be quiet, submissive, and patient under all His dealings with us, so that in so doing we may honor, serve, and glorify Him as we ought and thus may live in a manner that is pleasing to Him. We are to do as God commanded Abraham to do: “I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be perfect” (Gen 17:1), and as David declared that he would do: “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps 116:9). 

6. Continually engaging in a holy and spiritual fellowship with Him by repeatedly taking the liberty to come to Him, repeatedly pursuing a spiritual dialogue with Him, making all our needs and holy desires known to Him, praying and beseeching Him for all that we need and desire, and seeking His counsel in all unsettling situations and waiting upon His answers. We will feel ourselves in all things dependent upon Him and will delight ourselves in Him by engaging in such interaction with the Lord. This is acquainting ourselves with the Lord as Eliphaz urged Job to do: “Acquaint now yourself with him, and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto you” (Job 22:21). 

7. Finally, it consists in finding in God our highest good and all-sufficient portion, in enjoying His blessed fellowship and nearness, in doing so with complete pleasure and without either desiring or seeking anything outside of Him as our highest good. In all cases, we will then also place our highest trust in Him alone, quietly and without fear submitting to and trusting in His leading as David did: “Truly my soul waits upon God; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.… In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength and my refuge is in God” (Ps 62:1–2, 7). The church did likewise: “The Lord is my portion, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him” (Lam 3:24). 

[Questions 13-19 omitted in this extract] 

—JJ Lim