Whenever we partake in the Lord’s Supper, it is a special moment. The Lord’s Supper is one of only two sacraments (means of grace) given to us by Jesus (the other being baptism). It is momentous because the Lord Jesus meets us visibly and vitally at His Table. But perhaps you’ve wondered: Should our children come to the Table? Should they too receive the Lord’s Supper? This is a good question. In order to clarify our position, we have prepared a positon statement on this very question, most of which can be found below. For the full paper, head over to the church website at: www.bpcc.com.au/grow/resources.
What is the Lord’s Supper?
Jesus Christ instituted what is known as the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26–30; Mark 14:22–26; Luke 22:19–20). He commanded that all Christians should eat bread and drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him and his death, and all that it would accomplish. In this way, the Lord’s Supper is a multi-faceted meal that looks to the past in commemoration of Christ’s death, to the present in celebration of restored communion with God and one another, and to the future in confident expectation of Christ’s return and the inauguration of his eternal kingdom.
Who should receive the Lord’s Supper?
What is the qualification for coming to any supper? Hunger and appetite. You want what is provided on the table. If you ask, ‘Can I receive the Lord’s Supper?’, then you are really asking, ‘Do I want what is provided in this feast? Do I want the blessings and benefits of Christ?’ The Lord’s Supper, then, is for those who have received Christ and all of his benefits with the empty hands of faith; it is for those who are truly sorry for their sin, who sincerely trust in Jesus as their Saviour, and who wholeheartedly desire to live in obedience to Him.
Should our children receive the Lord’s Supper?
When we baptise our children, we recognise the biblical truth that they are members of God’s covenant family (Matt. 19:14; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:16). As members of God’s covenant family, they are called to respond to the promises signified and sealed in their baptism (Jer. 4:4; Acts 17:30; 1 John 3:23), namely by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:9-10, 17). When a child exhibits a response of genuine repentance, faith, and love for Jesus, they are welcome to take part in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
In light of the responsibility given to parents to nurture the faith of their child/ren (Deut. 6:4–9; Eph. 6:4), the decision regarding when a child might participate in the Lord’s Supper is ultimately one for parents/carers to decide. If you believe your child has expressed age- and ability-appropriate faith in Jesus, and an understanding of the meaning and significance of Lord’s Supper, you should feel welcome to invite your child to receive the sacrament. You should also encourage your child, in light of their pronounced faith in Jesus and evident understanding of Lord’s Supper, to make a public profession of faith in due course.
Of course, we must also bear in mind the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:27–28 where we are warned against eating and drinking in an “unworthy manner” and commanded to “examine ourselves” before we participate. For our children, this means before they come to the Lord’s Supper we should seek to ensure they understand its significance and also have enough maturity to examine themselves. If your child has not yet expressed faith in Jesus, you should use Lord’s Supper as an opportunity to talk with them about why we partake in Lord’s Supper and the gospel truth it displays for us.