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The Lord's Supper and Children

The Lord's Supper and Children

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Published by Don Bryant

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Published by: Don Bryant on Jun 04, 2011
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CHILDREN AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
ByDon Bryant
Is it appropriate for a child to participate on Communion? This is a recurringquestion Christian parents ask. Since Spring Green Memorial Church is a “freechurch” that practices open communion (communion not restricted to membersonly) answers to this concern are left to the conscience of those who participateand those who are responsible to guide them. The practice of parents in thismatter has differed widely, often to the confusion of children. As a pastor, Iwould like to respond.In order to formulate some guidelines, parents should recall some truths about theLord’s Supper:1.The church is to practice two ordinances (ceremonies “ordered” by our Lord): baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
2.
Baptism is the ceremony of initiation, following salvation. The Lord’sSupper is the ceremony of continuation by which the Christian iscalled continually to a reliance upon Christ alone for salvation.3.Consequently, the proper order for participation in these ordinances isfirst, baptism, followed by the Lord’s Supper.4.From this it is clear that only those who have professed belief and personal trust in Jesus Christ for the gift of eternal life are to observethe Lord’s Supper. Children are to be guided away from an externalform of religion and led to the internal realities which the Holy Spiritwants to impart.5.As to observance of the Lord’s Supper, the Apostle Paul in I Cor. 11gives guidelines for proper participation:A. As to its design:1. It commemorates the death of Christ “
do this inremembrance of me
.”
 
2. It represents and certifies our parti-cipation in the bodyand blood of Christ – “
this is my body which is for  you.
3. It represents and certifies the union of believers witheach other. It is a common meal.4. It symbolizes our acceptance of the new covenant, asratified by the blood of Christ, to be God’s people, setapart for the doing of His will.B.As to the conditions for profitable Communion:1.Knowledge to discern in the Lords Supper the body of the Lord ( I Cor. 11:29). In other words, he/shemust understand that this is not a common meal whichis for satisfying the body. It is a remembrance of a body broken and blood shed by which the soul is saved. Inother words, participation requires competentknowledge of Christ and His gospel.2.Faith to feed upon Christ. If there is no relianceupon Christ then what is outwardly confessed is notinwardly true. Accordingly to Paul, this makes onesubject to chastisement from God (I Cor. 11:29)3.Personal examination (I Cor. 11:28). The Bibleteaches that carefulness is important to proper observance, lest there is actually no personal response being made to Christ in our observance to the Supper.As these guidelines are understood, a number of conclusions respecting childrenwould suggest themselves:1.There must be credible evidence of new birth in Christ, both in verbalconfession and spiritual fruit.2.Baptism should precede Communion as a proper order.
3.
The child should evidence that the importance of the event isunderstood. Many Protestant denominations precede the Lord’s Supper  by catechism so that the Supper is protected from being trivialized andabused, and have chosen age 12 as a minimum for participation.SGMC has no requirements in these matters, but I would suggest that12 is an appropriate age, as well. This is no set rule. But it would begood for the parent to carefully look for commanding evidence inorder to make an exception for the child.

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