The Review and Herald

886/1902

June 22, 1897

The Ordinances

EGW

The symbols of the Lord's house are simple and plainly understood, and the truths represented by them are of the deepest significance to us. In instituting the sacramental service to take the place of the Passover, Christ left for his church a memorial of his great sacrifice for man. “This do,” he said, “in remembrance of me.” This was the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. The one was to close forever; the other, which he had just established, was to take its place, and to continue through all time as the memorial of his death. RH June 22, 1897, par. 1

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!” “I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” RH June 22, 1897, par. 2

With the rest of the disciples, Judas partook of the bread and wine symbolizing the body and blood of Christ. This was the last time that Judas would be present with the twelve; but that the scripture might be fulfilled, he left the sacramental table, Christ's last gift to his disciples, to complete his work of betrayal. O why did not Judas at that solemn service recognize in its true light the awful work he had pledged himself to perform? Why did he not throw himself penitent at the feet of Jesus? He had not yet passed the boundary of God's mercy and love. But when his decision was made to carry out his purpose, when he left the presence of his Lord and fellow disciples, that barrier was passed. RH June 22, 1897, par. 3

In this last act of Christ in partaking with his disciples of the bread and wine, he pledged himself to them as their Redeemer by a new covenant, in which it was written and sealed that upon all who will receive Christ by faith will be bestowed all the blessings that heaven can supply, both in this life and in the future immortal life. RH June 22, 1897, par. 4

This covenant deed was to be ratified by Christ's own blood, which it had been the office of the old sacrificial offerings to keep before the minds of his chosen people. Christ designed that this supper should be often commemorated, in order to bring to our remembrance his sacrifice in giving his life for the remission of the sins of all who will believe on him and receive him. This ordinance is not to be exclusive, as many would make it. Each must participate in it publicly, and thus say: “I accept Christ as my personal Saviour. He gave his life for me, that I might be rescued from death.” RH June 22, 1897, par. 5

The children of God are to bear in mind that God is brought sacredly near on every such occasion as the service of feet-washing. As they come up to this ordinance, they should bring to their remembrance the words of the Lord of life and glory: “Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” RH June 22, 1897, par. 6

The object of this service is to call to mind the humility of our Lord, and the lessons he has given in washing the feet of his disciples. There is in man a disposition to esteem himself more highly than his brother, to work for himself, to serve himself, to seek the highest place; and often evil surmisings and bitterness of spirit spring up over mere trifles. This ordinance, preceding the Lord's Supper, is to clear away these misunderstandings, to bring man out of his selfishness, down from his stilts of self-exaltation, to the humility of spirit that will lead him to wash his brother's feet. It is not in God's plan that this should be deferred because some are considered unworthy to engage in it. The Lord washed the feet of Judas. He did not refuse him a place at the table, although he knew that he would leave that table to act his part in the betrayal of his Lord. It is not possible for human beings to tell who is worthy, and who is not. They cannot read the secrets of the soul. It is not for them to say, “I will not attend the ordinance if such a one is present to act a part.” Nor has God left it to man to say who shall present themselves on these occasions. RH June 22, 1897, par. 7

The ordinance of feet-washing has been especially enjoined by Christ, and on these occasions the Holy Spirit is present to witness and put a seal to his ordinance. He is there to convict and soften the heart. He draws the believers together, and makes them one in heart. They are made to feel that Christ indeed is present to clear away the rubbish that has accumulated to separate the hearts of the children of God from him. RH June 22, 1897, par. 8

These ordinances are regarded too much as a form, and not as a sacred thing to call to mind the Lord Jesus. Christ ordained them, and delegated his power to his ministers, who have the treasure in earthen vessels. They are to superintend these special appointments of the One who established them to continue to the close of time. It is in these, his own appointments, that he meets with and energizes his people by his personal presence. Notwithstanding that there may be hearts and hands that are unsanctified who will administer the ordinance, yet Jesus is in the midst of his people to work on human hearts. All who keep before them, in the act of feet-washing, the humiliation of Christ, all who will keep their hearts humble, who will keep in view the true tabernacle and service, which the Lord pitched and not man, will never fail to derive benefit from every discourse given, and spiritual strength from every communion. They are established for a purpose. Christ's followers are to bear in mind the example of Christ in his humility. This ordinance is to encourage humility, but it should never be termed humiliating in the sense of being degrading to humanity. It is to tender our hearts toward one another. Those who come to the sacramental service with their hearts open to the influences of the Spirit of God will be greatly blessed, even if the ones who officiate are not benefited thereby. RH June 22, 1897, par. 9

How the heart of Christ is pierced by the forgetfulness, the unwillingness and neglect, to do the things that God has enjoined upon us! The heart needs to be broken, that selfishness may be cut away from the soul and put away from the practise. If we have learned the lessons that Christ desires to teach us in this preparatory service, the witness will respond to the feelings implanted in the heart for a higher spiritual life. RH June 22, 1897, par. 10

The broken bread and pure juice of the grape are to represent the broken body and spilled blood of the Son of God. Bread that is leavened must not come on the communion table. The unleavened bread is the only correct representation of the Lord's Supper. Nothing fermented is to be used—only the pure fruit of the vine and unleavened bread are to be used. RH June 22, 1897, par. 11

We do not come to the ordinances of the Lord's house merely as a form. We do not make it our business, as we gather around the table of our Lord, to ponder about and mourn over our shortcomings. The ordinance of feet-washing embraced all this. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” We do not come with our minds diverted to our past experience in the religious life, whether that experience is elevating or depressing. We do not come to revive in our minds the ill-treatment we have received at the hands of our brethren. The ordinance of humility is to clear our moral horizon of the rubbish that has been permitted to accumulate. We have assembled now to meet with Jesus Christ, to commune with him. Every heart is to be open to the bright beams of the Son of Righteousness. Our minds and hearts are to be fixed on Christ as the great center on whom our hopes of eternal life depend. We are not to stand in the shadow, but in the saving light of the cross. With hearts cleansed by his most precious blood, and in full consciousness of his presence, although unseen, we may listen to his voice that thrills the soul with the words: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” On these occasions, heaven is brought very near to the true members of the Lord's family, and they are brought into sweet communion one with another. RH June 22, 1897, par. 12

These things we are never to forget. The love of Jesus, with its convincing power, is to be kept fresh in the memory. We must not forget him who is our strength and our sufficiency. He has instituted this service that it may speak constantly to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf. He gave us all that it was possible for him to give,—he gave his life for the life of the world,—and his appeal to our love is strikingly made in the words of the apostle Paul, recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23-34. RH June 22, 1897, par. 13

The second appearing of Christ in the clouds of heaven is ever to be kept before us. Almost his last words of consolation to his disciples were: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself: that where I am, there ye may be also.” RH June 22, 1897, par. 14

And the communion is to be a constant reminder of this. Says Christ: Under a conviction of sin, remember that I died for you. When oppressed and persecuted and afflicted for my sake and the gospel's, remember that my love was so great that I gave my life for you. Will you evidence your love for me, if required to die for me? When you feel your duties stern and severe, and almost too heavy to bear, will you remember that it was for your sake that I endured the cross, despising the shame? When your heart shrinks from the trying ordeal, remember that your Redeemer liveth to make intercession for you. “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” RH June 22, 1897, par. 15

Christ declared, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” We cannot as individuals maintain our bodily life unless we eat and drink for ourselves of temporal food. In order to maintain spiritual life and health, we must feed on Jesus Christ, which is studying his word, and doing those things that he has commanded in that word. This will constitute a close union with Christ. The branch that bears fruit must be in the vine, a part of it, receiving nourishment from the parent stalk. This is living by faith upon the Son of God. Christ has declared: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” RH June 22, 1897, par. 16