The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:26 that “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” There is no question that the Lord’s Supper proclaims the gospel to the saints. It visibly reminds us of the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross by which he has reconciled us to God. It points us ahead to the heavenly reception that awaits all true believers, when we shall see Him face-to-face and dine with him at the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:6–8).
The Lord’s Supper also reminds us that while we live between the first and second advents of Christ, He is with us by His Spirit. He is spiritually present, even during the administration of the Lord’s Supper, to comfort and strengthen our souls as only He can truly do. Christ is really and truly present, not by changing the substance of the elements, but by the work of his Holy Spirit. But in what way does the Lord’s Supper minister to unbelievers who happen to be with us in church?
For years I have been perplexed by the attitude that suggests that the Lord’s Supper has no evangelistic benefit. I would like to suggest the exact opposite—that the Lord’s Supper is profoundly evangelistic, and that it is a wonderful thing for non-Christians to see, even if they cannot yet participate. I will illustrate this with a true story from our church.
A young man began visiting our church as a skeptic. He had many doubts but was interested in learning. It was a wonderful privilege to be able to befriend and talk with him. We agreed to study the gospel of John together.
For about a year this young man and I read and discussed the gospel of John. At the end of that time, he still was not ready to make a profession of faith. I was admittedly disappointed. But he continued to come to church. I was happily surprised.
One Sunday after the Lord’s Supper, he came up to me with tears in his eyes and said, “I think I’ve become a Christian and I want to profess my faith.” Shocked and elated, I asked him what had sparked the change. His answer was the Lord’s Supper. Every time he was there, the table was fenced, and he knew he was not ready to partake. He was reminded that he was still not reconciled to God, and that he must be reconciled to God and profess his faith in Christ before coming to the table. He was eager to do so, and made a wonderful profession. The Lord’s death had been visibly “proclaimed” to the evangelistic benefit of his soul.
However often our churches celebrate the Lord’s Supper, let us not see it as a hindrance to our unbelieving friends, but a loving, visible reminder of their need to profess Christ, and then to join us as we “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).