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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel


Of the Lordís Supper.

Q. 96. What is the Lordís supper?
A. The Lordís supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christís appointment, his death is skewed forth; and the worthy receivers are not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.


Q. 1. By whose authority is the Lordís supper instituted and appointed?
A. By the sovereign authority of Christ, the king of the church, and not by the pleasure of man; 1 Corinthians 11:23. For I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you; that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed , took bread.

Q. 2. Of what parts doth this sacrament consist?
A. It consists of two parts; one earthly and visible, to wit, bread and wine; the other spiritual add invisible, the body and blood of Christ; 1 Corinthians 10:16. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

Q. 3. How doth these earthly and heavenly things become a sacrament?
A. By the word of institution, and blessing coming from Christ upon them; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. For I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you; that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you: This do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also be took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood; This do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

Q. 4. When did Christ ordain and institute this sacrament?
A. He instituted it in the same night he was betrayed; 1 Corinthians 11:28. The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. It could not be sooner, because the passover must be first celebrated, and, by the institution of this, abrogated; not later, for soon after he was apprehended.

Q. 5. What doth the time of its institution teach us?
A. It teaches us, how great Christís care and love to his people is, that he makes in his ordinance such provision for our comfort, though he knew his own bitter agony was just at hand.

Q. 6. What is the general use and end of this sacrament?
A. It is to confirm, seal, and ratify the new covenant to believers; 1 Corinthians 11:35. This cup is the New Testament in my blood: This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

Q. 7. What are the particular ends and uses of it?
A. The first particular end and use of it, is, to bring Christ and his sufferings afresh to our remembrance; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25. This do in remembrance of me.

Q. 8. What kind of remembrance of Christ is here intended?
A. Not a mere speculative, but an affectionate heart-melting remembrance of him like that of Peter, Matthew 26:75. And Peter remembered the words of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock shall crow thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. Or of Joseph, Genesis 43:29-30. And Joseph made haste, for his bowels did yern upon his brother: And he sought where to weep, and he entered into his chamber and wept there.

Q. 9. What doth this end of the sacrament imply?
A. It implies this; that the best of Godís people are too apt to forget Christ1 and what he hath endured and suffered for them.

Q. 10. What else doth it imply?
A. It implies this; that none but those that have the saving knowledge of Christ, and have had former acquaintance with Christ, are fit for this ordinance; for no man can remember what he never knew; 1 Corinthians 11:28. But let a man examine himself; and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

Q. 11. What is the second particular use and end of this sacrament?
A. It is to represent Christ to believers, as an apt sign of him, and of his death; and that both memorative, significative, and instructive.

Q. 12. How is it a memorative sign of Christ?
A. It brings Christ to our remembrance, as his death and bitter sufferings are therein represented to us, by the breaking of bread, and pouring forth of wine; 1 Corinthians 11:26. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lordís death till he come.

Q. 13. How is it a significative ordinance?
A. It is a significative ordinance, not only as it represents Christís sufferings, but the believers union with him as the Head, and with each other as members of his body; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ; The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many, are one bread, and one body, &c.

Q. 14. In what respect is it an instructive sign?
A. It is an instructive sign in divers respects; namely, first, as it teaches us, that Christ is the only nutritive bread, by which our souls live; John 6:51. 1 am the living bread, which came down from heaven: If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever, and the I read that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. And, secondly, as it instructs us, that the New Testament is now in its full force, by the death of Christ the Testator; Hebrews 9:16-17. For where a Testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the Testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no force at all, whilst the Testator liveth. Thus much of the Author, nature, and ends of the Lordís supper.

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