Mennonite Articles of Faith (1766) - Article 26
XXVI. Of the Holy Supper.
By the Supper of the Lord we understand the sacred and solemn act of the Lord with His disciples in the night in which He was betrayed (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) when after the eating of the Passover meal (Luke 22:15) He took of the bread which they had, blessed (Luke 22:19, 20) and broke it and gave to the disciples (Matthew 26:26-28) with the gracious words, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken and given for you: this do in remembrance of me."
Likewise also He took the cup after the eating of the Supper, gave thanks again (Mark 14:22, 23) and gave it to the disciples with the loving words, "Drink ye all of it, for this is My blood, the blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many; this do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me."
That the Lord instituted this sacrament with the intention that it is to be observed by His disciples in His church in all time, is plainly seen, we think, not only from the words already quoted, and repeated by the Lord -- "This do in remembrance of Me," but also from the renewed command given evidently for this reason, directly to the Apostle Paul and through him to the church, in the same words; further, from the careful observance of this sacred act by the first and best Christians (Acts 2:46; 20:7); finally also from the fact that the apostles did not revoke the institution when great disorder and abuse crept in with its observance, but rather insisted on reformation and a return to its right use.
When we consider, moreover, the ends for which this sacrament was instituted, ends worthy of God and positively useful to the church, we find our esteem for the same to grow at every turn. On the part of God and Christ it serves as a means to confirm and seal unto us in the most emphatic manner the great blessings comprehended in the gospel. The great love of the Father manifested to us (John 3:14-17); Jesus Christ as crucified, the author of eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9), the true Bread of Life (John 6:35, 50, 51, 53-58) both all-sufficient (Hebrews 10:14) as well as ready and willing to give us the life-all this is here, as it were, set before our eyes for the strengthening of our faith, and hope (Galatians 3:1; John 12:32); and this the Holy Spirit confirms unto the souls that are susceptible to it.
On the side of the believer the celebration of this holy feast has likewise important ends to serve and is useful in more ways than one. In general to bring to grateful remembrance, with deep reverence, the great work of redemption; to proclaim the Lord's death as, well as the occasion (1 John 4:9, 10; Romans, 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 8:9) and the effects (Isaiah 53:5, 6; Romans 8:1) of the same; to lay stress upon the exalted duties of the believers toward God (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:14-19) and Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15), as well as toward one another (1 John 4:11; Colossians 3:13); and more of like nature. But especially according to each one's attitude and inclination, may persons who stand in the assurance, of a blessed participation in Christ have fellowship and eat with joy, in love and singleness of heart; burdened ones may fall together at Jesus' feet with new confession of guilt, with humiliation and self-surrender seeking in Him righteousness and strength and looking for His grace; yea, even the most unworthy and the most timid among the people of the Lord, if they hunger indeed after the truth and His righteousness (Matthew 5:6) and desire to be wholly His, may confidently disclose this longing and this desire, and rest in the hope of His grace, remembering that He never cast out those that came to Him in humility (John 6:37) crying to Him for mercy, asking for the crumbs, and counting themselves happy if they could but touch the hem of His garment.
If the Lord's holy Supper is thus desired, and celebrated with this end in view, we believe that the true blessing as indicated -- the communion with Jesus Christ and the knitting together of the believers (Matthew 26:26-28; John 6:55; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17), will be realized in no small measure, and be furthered thereby. But where this essential frame of mind is lacking (Matthew 22:11-13) there this fruit can not with reason be expected (2 Chronicles 16:9); and if the elements are taken unworthily, that is, if one does not with reverence discern the body and blood of the Lord, such a one eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself. 1 Corinthians 11:27-29.
For this reason we may invite none to the Lord's table but such as truly believe in Jesus Christ and honestly desire to live through and for Him, those who have openly professed this before, God and man, who have been baptized according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 12:13) and have been duly received into the church, who do not by their lives give just cause for offense in the church (Romans 16:17), who live with her in peace (Matthew 5:23, 24), and as much as in them is have peace with all men (Romans 12:18), who bear with and forgive one another (Matthew 6:14, 15; 18:23-35); in short none but disciples of Christ who have a desire and are determined solemnly to renew and confirm the covenant once entered into. Wherefore we admonish everyone to prove himself (1 Corinthians 11:28). Moreover we exclude no one except those who by offensive teaching or disgraceful life (2 Thessalonians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13) are subject to discipline.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: "Mennonite Articles of Faith (1766) - Article 26." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1766. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M4637ME.html/m4637me_26.
APA style: (1766). Mennonite Articles of Faith (1766) - Article 26. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M4637ME.html/m4637me_26.