Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. – I Corinthians 11:28.
You are familiar with this word of Scripture. A Christian should examine himself before going to the Lord’s Supper as to whether he be in the faith and therefore will receive this Sacrament worthily. For that reason we must not give this Sacrament to such as cannot examine themselves, for instance, not to those adults who as yet have not a sufficient knowledge of the Word of God for such self-examination. They should first be instructed in the same.
Nor should we admit little children to this Sacrament, for though, through Baptism, they have been united with Christ in faith, yet they do not understand the Word of God sufficiently to be able to examine themselves. They should be instructed in the Word of God as soon as possible, and when they have arrived at a satisfactory spiritual maturity, they should be given the Lord’s Supper. In our churches we therefore have the laudable custom of confirmation. There the children that have been instructed, publicly, in the presence of the congregation, give account of their faith and testify to their spiritual unity with the congregation, confess their faithful adherence to the Church of the true faith, and thereupon receive the Holy Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ.
Nor should the Lord’s Supper be given to unconscious people, or to such as are unable to perform a self-examination due to mental disabilities. But in all this we must not forget that the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, surely sustains the light of faith within their hearts and makes them partakers of salvation (if they have not been otherwise manifested as unbelievers).
And now, my dear Christian, examine yourself, whether you are a poor, penitent sinner who believes in his Savior and is willing to serve Him; and then approach the Lord’s Table, where you receive such complete and glorious assurance of the grace of God.
PRAYER – Help, Lord God, that I, a poor sinner, may sincerely repent of my sins, find true comfort in Thy merit, desire to amend my life, and thus at all times, unto my end, receive the assurance of Thy grace which Thy holy Sacrament so abundantly offers to me. Amen.
Jesus, Sun of Life, my Splendor,
Jesus, Thou my Friend most tender,
Jesus, joy of my desiring,
Fount of life, my soul inspiring—
At Thy feet I cray, my Maker,
Let me be a fit partaker
Of this blessed food from heaven,
For our good, Thy glory given.
Hymn 305, 7.