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No worthiness in self but only in Christ
True sell-examination is not meant to find worthiness in ourselves, but on the contrary, to see all worthiness in Christ alone, and at the same time experience our own total unworthiness. It is not a digging in our own heart, because we will never find anything there that will make us worthy guests at the table of the Lord. The deeper we put our hand in our own bosom, the more reasons we will find not to attend, and that is exactly what Satan wants. In the examination of ourselves we must consider our relationship with Christ, and we must by faith, look at Him with our poverty and our needs, believing in what He wants to be for His children. A true examination of self reflects on what He has done and what He has promised. The Lord Jesus must always be the central focal point.
What we need then is not in the first place an established knowledge of our faith in Christ, but a living out-going to Him. This is also accompanied by a hungering and thirsting after Him, a being unable to live without Him, a longing to know Him as my personal Surety, a fleeing to Him, and a beseeching: “Lead me to the Rock, which is higher than I.” The exercises of faith are directed to Him and that always goes together with a turning away from self, and a seeking refuge in Him with all our sins, guilt and unworthiness. The more a person is established in faith, the more he realizes his own unworthiness and sinfulness, and the more he needs Jesus. All God’s children, also those who are established in grace, come to Christ as helpless and needy ones, yea, as in themselves lying in the midst of death, so that they may receive food out of His fullness. In the true self-examination the exercises of faith are directed to Him alone. The Holy Supper urges God’s people to go to Jesus with their poverty, and in that way seek their salvation outside of themselves. He is the only All-sufficient Saviour. “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.”
His hands are pierced hands, full hands; He breaks His own body and He pours out His own blood, and He is the One who says: “Come hither, for all things are ready.” He wants to give to sorrowing and self-condemning children of God, gold tried in the fire. He has woven a garment for them so that the shame of their nakedness would not appear. He gives beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Those who seek marks of grace and worthiness in themselves become self-righteous people, who keep the truly hungry hearts away from the Table of the Lord. It is so easy to be active in a wrong manner, and to draw wrong conclusions. When the Holy Spirit with His discovering light shines in the heart, and uncovers our sins, the little ones find that to be a reason to stay away from the Table. That is, however, not the purpose of God’s Spirit. When one of little faith finds nothing but sin in his heart, he should not stay away from the Table of the Lord, but he should, lamenting his sins, turn to the Lord Jesus, because He calls us.
When the Heidelberg Catechism asks in Question 81: “For whom is the Lord’s Supper instituted?” it gives the following answer: “For those who are truly sorrowful for their sins, and yet trust that these are forgiven them for the sake of Christ; and that their remaining infirmities are covered by His passion and death.”
Rev. H Hofman
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