It has become increasingly common in Christian circles, even in Lutheran circles, to either partake of the Lord's Supper at churches that do not hold the same doctrine as those who partake, or even worse, many partake at churches that have a completely different view of the Supper than those who partake.

I'm not sure what the reason for this is. But even if we set aside the debate about unity in doctrine, at the very least......

***We should have the same understanding of the Lord's Supper/Eucharist and its purpose.***

Set aside the debate about whether complete unity in doctrine is necessary for a moment. Let's just look at the very *purpose* and *essence* of what the Lord's Supper *is*.


Many of the Fathers of the Church discussed the importance of celebrating only *one* Eucharist. And this stands to reason, since Christ Himself only instituted one Eucharist.

One Eucharist.

This means that this one Eucharist should be understood the same way by those who partake of it. Otherwise, it makes no sense to celebrate it.

Christ tells us very clearly what the purpose of His Eucharist is:

"This is My Body, given for you for the forgiveness of sins."

"This is My Blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Drink of it, all of you."


Whoever partakes of this Eucharist, publicly confesses the view of the Eucharist that the celebrating Church declares.

What many people do not realize, however, is that they think there can be individual differences on the very essence or purpose of the Eucharist, while yet partaking of the same Eucharist.

How does this work at all?

Imagine a Roman Catholic and a Lutheran partaking of the same "Eucharist."

The Romanist believes that there is no bread or wine remaining, and that its purpose is to offer sacrifice for the sins of both the living and the dead.

The Lutheran rejects that completely.

Imagine a reformed Christian or an evangelical partaking with a Lutheran.

The reformed and the evangelicals either believe it is only bread and wine--or worse, grape juice--to simply "remember" or "ascend to heaven by faith spiritually." They would never say we receive forgiveness, life, and salvation at the Eucharist.

So, it makes no sense for Lutherans to partake of another Eucharist.

But on another note, it makes no sense for non-Lutherans to partake of our Eucharist.


So, it is not that we "keep people away" or "exclude" folks from our Table. The Table is ready. It is for those who believe Christ's Words of Institution.

Any who do not believe that the Supper is Christ Himself, given in our mouths for forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation--any who do not believe His Word here, have excluded themselves.

We do not exclude them.

They have excluded themselves.

The Table is ready.

Will you take Christ at His Word?


Top down heaven meets earth relationship Christ has with us

Many evangelicals tend to speak of salvation relationship as us having a personal relationship with Jesus foremost. On the other hand, us Confessional Lutherans focus on that as being God Incarnate's relationship to us that is a top down and heaven meets earth type of relationship. And this will be the focus here.

Apart from Christ, our own relationship we have to God is that of being lost sinners condemned by the law. Though the law may curb our sins (first use of the law), it does not make us any less condemned as sinners. The mirror (second) use of the law, which in the Confessional Lutheran view is the primary use, reveals to us our sins that we have in us  (and continues to do so even after our conversion) to bring us to contrition and drives us by grace through faith to the Gospel which gives to us from outside ourselves that forgiveness of sins  that the law cannot give us.

So how does this relate to Christ's top down and heaven meets earth relationship to us? The law shows us we cannot come to salvation by reaching up to God by human efforts. Instead, God the Son condescended to our level by taking on human flesh. Through His active obedience, He fulfilled the law fully on our behalf, and through His passive obedience, He died in our place as the spotless Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. And we can have hope because He rose again to assure us we can have new life in Him.

And how does God brings it about where we receive what Christ did for us- which is forgiveness of sins won for us at the Cross? Just as the Incarnation is heaven meets earth, so is the means of grace by which God reaches us. The means of grace by which God Incarnate condescends to come to us to deliver His forgiveness are Word and Sacrament, which is why those are also called the Visible Gospel. Those are tangible means by which we can hear, touch, taste, smell, feel and see the Gospel, and by which God employs all our senses to give us assurance of Christ with us to give us His salvation in His finished work at the Cross.

So when the water is poured, sprinted or immersed over us in Holy Baptism, it's heaven meets earth. It is Christ's top down relationship with us, where He comes to us giving us Himself and His blood that washes away our sins. When we hear the words of Absolution, though such words are spoken by the pastor, it is Christ being with us speaking His  words of forgiveness to us just as He spoke to the thief on the Cross to assure him. When in Holy Communion, we take the bread and hear the words, "This is My body given for you", and when we take the cup and hear the words, "This is the new covenant in My blood poured out for the remission of sins," God Incarnate condescended to us in top down and heaven meets relationship to us to give us His forgiveness to continually assure us He is still with us in real person, real time, and real place. We have that objective assurance.

 The Gospel (good news that Christ had paid for our sins)  given to us in Word and Sacrament is what gives us saving faith, that the Holy Spirit works to give us. It is a saving, justifying faith that clings to His person and His forgiveness. That faith is both Incarnational and sacramental. It is a faith that God continues to nourish and sustains in the means of grace. It is a faith that has objective means to look to, where we can be fully assured what Christ did on the Cross is given unto us.

It is a top down, heaven meets earth relationship that Christ has with us that as a result we because the same gospel that justifies us in Christ also now sanctifies us by grace through faith unto good works. And God  now accepts our good works, for Christ's sake, because He sees Christ's righteousness as covering us though we remain sinners (though repentant sinners). And how do we know what God desires of us? The law gives us that guide (third use of the law which is only true only for those in Christ).

Can the law assures us though if we use it as guide? No, since the mirror use of the law will always accuse us in regards to showing where we are still sinful. That is why we are driven back to the Gospel given us from outside ourselves in Word and Sacrament. We constantly need that means of grace to continually have our sins forgiven in Christ crucified for us and to continually sanctify us unto good works. The law simply shows us what is pleasing to God that we may have obedience of faith, but the Gospel sanctifies us unto that.

The end results of God Incarnate's top down heaven meets earth relationship with us in Word and Sacrament, where God is gloried in our salvation, are that we in turn glorify and praise God (in responding to His vertical relationship to us)  and we go out of the church divine service (where heaven meets earth) and serve God and we serve our neighbors in a horizontal relationship as we are called to do in regards to good works accepted by God, for Christ's sake.

Here we stand.


Outer salvation follow-up

Salvation lies outside ourselves also mean several other things besides the seven listed in the previous article found here:


Here's a few more:

First, when  we look inwards at our own fruits, works etc. we are looking at ourselves from the standpoint of law. And if we are honest with ourselves we will see that we are still the very sinners in need of grace (that is what mirror use of the law does). So we can't really look inwards to find real assurance. We have to look outwards as opposed to inwards. And where we look outwards are in Word and Sacrament, by which the Gospel are delivered unto us. The Visible Gospel so to speak is from outside ourselves. It is purely law and gospel distinction as to what we got here.

Next, when we find assurance in the objective Word that is right in front of us in tangible and real manner, spoken to us to show God's revealed saving will for us, we have no need to look for that inward feelings of the Spirit telling us we are of the elect. Feelings are subjective, and they come and go. We can feel high one moment and feel low the next. But God's objective word always remains true, and most importantly true for us and is there to and for us where our God Incarnate may be found (in the Visible Gospel). That keeps us from looking into God's inscrutable will (it is sin, that the law reveals to us after all that is the gap between the hidden God and us such that no one can see Him and live) as regards as to whom He may elect but we locate our election in Word and Sacrament where we find assurance in Christ crucified for us. In other words, it's purely God's revealed saving will and God's hidden will distinction, which are really extension of law and gospel distinction.

Finally, we don't look to how good we think we are, how well we think we keep the law, or how successful we feel we are in life. All that is fleeting and when we focus on those, what happen when things don't go well? Does that mean God has abandoned us or Christ isn't our Savior? Of course not!  But it does show the dangers of this theology of glory. We look outside ourselves to the salvation that may be found in the Cross of Christ given unto us in the outwards objective means of grace. That's Theology of the Cross for us. It's purely Theology of the Cross as opposed to Theology of Glory.

Here we stand.


Our outer salvation in Christ crucified for us

  Luther was known to have said salvation lies outside ourselves.

What does salvation lies outside ourselves means?

First, it means we can do nothing in our fallen state to save ourselves but salvation is entirely dependent on God who works to make us who were unwilling to become willing to believe in Christ crucified for us,  such that faith itself doesn't come from within ourselves but is gift of God imparted to us from outside ourselves. It is purely grace alone in definition.

Secondly, it means our assurance is not on the basis of anything in us, but it is in Christ crucified for us. It is purely Christ alone as our Savior.

Thirdly, it means our continual assurance lies in the outward objective means of Word and Sacrament  given unto us. It It is purely sacramental, physical grace delivered unto us from outside ourselves in the means of grace (to receive what Christ did for us), as when the Word is delivered to us in the water of baptism, spoken in Absolution and given us in Body and Blood in the Eucharist.

Fourthly, it means there is nothing in us that merits righteousness before God but it is the righteousness of Christ that God sees in us that is foreign to who we are. It is purely alien/imputed righteousness.

Fifthly,  it means we have no fruit or work we can boast from ourselves of or say can justify us. It is purely faith alone as the instrument by which God justified us, for Christ's sake, from start to finish (or from conversion to glorification).

Sixth, it means faith alone looks outwards in clinging to God's word given from outside ourselves via means of grace, by which we are joined to Christ who comes to us to deliver His forgiveness. It is purely Incarnational and Christological.

Finally, it means that is what is true for all (whom Christ died for and God's grace is for) becomes personally true for us when offered unto us from outside ourselves objectively in the means of grace. It is purely universal atonement delivered by universal grace through objective, outward means by which faith alone clings to from outside ourselves.

Here we stand.