Question 47 - Does the Lord’s Supper add anything to Christ’s atoning work?
No, Christ died once for all. The Lord’s Supper is a covenant meal celebrating Christ’s atoning work; as it is also a means of strengthening our faith as we look to him, and a foretaste of the future feast. But those who take part with unrepentant hearts eat and drink judgment on themselves.
Answer for kids:
No, Christ died once for all.
1 Peter 3:18
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. . . .
Commentary (from newcitycatechism.com Web App)
Let us settle it firmly in our minds that the Lord’s Supper was not given to be a means either of justification or of conversion. It was never meant to give grace where there is no grace already, or to provide pardon when pardon is not already enjoyed. It cannot possibly provide what is lacking with the absence of repentance to God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an ordinance for the penitent, not for the impenitent, for the believing, not for the unbelieving, for the converted, not for the unconverted. The unconverted man, who fancies that he can find a shortcut road to heaven by taking the Sacrament, without treading the well-worn steps of repentance and faith, will find to his cost one day that he is totally deceived. The Lord’s Supper was meant to increase and help the grace that a man has, but not to impart the grace that he has not. It was certainly never intended to make our peace with God, to justify, or to convert.
The simplest statement of the benefit which a truehearted communicant may expect to receive from the Lord’s Supper . . . is the strengthening and refreshing of our souls. Clearer views of Christ and His atonement, clearer views of all the offices which Christ fills as our Mediator and Advocate, clearer views of the complete redemption Christ has obtained for us by His vicarious death on the cross, clearer views of our full and perfect acceptance in Christ before God, fresh reasons for deep repentance for sin, fresh reasons for lively faith, fresh reasons for living a holy, consecrated, Christ-like life,—these are among the leading returns which a believer may confidently expect to get from his attendance at the Lord’s Table. He that eats the bread and drinks the wine in a right spirit will find himself drawn into closer communion with Christ, and will feel to know Him more, and understand Him better. . . .
In eating that bread and drinking that cup, such a man will have his repentance deepened, his faith increased, his knowledge enlarged, his habit of holy living strengthened. He will realise more of the “real presence” of Christ in his heart. Eating that bread by faith, he will feel closer communion with the body of Christ. Drinking that wine by faith, he will feel closer communion with the blood of Christ. He will see more clearly what Christ is to him, and what he is to Christ. He will understand more thoroughly what it is to be “one with Christ, and Christ one with him.” He will feel the roots of his soul’s spiritual life watered, and the work of grace in his heart established, built up, and carried forward. All these things may seem and sound like foolishness to a natural man, but to a true Christian these things are light, and health, and life, and peace.
Conqueror of Death, we celebrate your finished work when we take the Lord’s Supper. May our eating be a confession of faith, that though we are unworthy, we have been joined together with the worthiness of Christ. May we come to your table with repentant hearts, putting away pride and self-sufficiency, enjoying the free grace you offer to us. Amen.