One of my heroes of faith is Richard Sibbes. Mark Dever summarises that for Sibbes the Supper was not a means of conversion - that only by the gospel word - but rather strengthened, confirmed and assured of faith already present.
Sibbes speaks of The Lord's Supper, in Bowel's Opened: The Saint's Comfort:
God gave his Son to death, to shed his blood for my sins. What would become of the hunger-bitten, thirsty soul, that is stung by Satan and his temptations, were it not for the blood of Christ to quench our thirst, and the body of Christ given by the Father to death for sin? Were it not that the soul could think upon this, where were the comfort of the soul? All this is represented to us here in the sacrament.Image - Creative Commons - 10MFH
We feed on the body and blood of Christ spiritually, and are refreshed by it as our bodies are refreshed with the bread and wine. God does not feed us with empty symbols and representations, but with things themselves, that the soul which comes in faith to partake of Christ crucified, and be knit to him, who is in heaven. There is as sure a union and communion between Christ and the Christian as there is between the food and the body when it is digested.
Let us come to this blessed sacrament, this sweet food of our souls with hungry appetites and thankful hearts, that God has given us the best comfort of his word. He will feed us so sweetly that nothing is good enough for our food but himself, with his gracious word and truth. Let us be very thankful and stir up our appetite for him.
How shall come?
- Firstly, let us think seriously of our life this week past. For Christ, the food of the soul, relishes well with the sour herbs of repentance. Let us stir our hearts to repent of our sins and sorrow at our corrupt nature and life, and feel our lack. Then Christ will be sweet to us. As the Passover lamb was eaten with sour herbs so Christ our Passover is eaten with repentance.
- Secondly, come with purging. Many things clog the stomach. Do not come in worldly wicked and malicious affections but lay them aside.
- Thirdly, consider the need of spiritual strength. We need his assistance. Let us often frequent this means of grace and come prepared to find Christ making good on his promise in his best time, so we can say with the truth of heart, experience and feeling with the church: My beloved is mine and I am his.”