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One of the basic implications to the covenant theology of the Lord’s Supper is that it is a communion with God – the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – as well as communion with God’s people. Behind the word “communion” is the New Testament word koinonia. It is a very rich word in the New Testament; it is used to speak of covenant relationships. In 1 Corinthians 11:26, Paul says that the cup of the Lord is koinonia – a communion in the blood of Christ. What exactly does this mean? It is true that believers are bound together by the blood of Christ so that they become one Body. It is also true that a unity of that kind is properly called koinonia. However, what is the source of that communion, which exists among God’s people? In his commentary of this verse, Calvin answers this by stating

… we are united to Christ so that “we are flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones” For it is necessary for us to be incorporated, as it were, into Christ in order to be united to each other… Therefore, from the context of this verse, we can conclude that koinonia or communion of the blood is the “the alliance which we have with the blood of Christ when He ingrafts all of us into His body, so that He may live in us, and we in Him. Commentary on First Corinthians, p. 216

In the simplest terms, communion means partaking or enjoying some good or some benefit together with others. In the Supper, we are partaking of the body and blood of Christ, which speaks of the atonement accomplished on the cross when our Savior offered up His body and blood to atone for our sin. However, it must be emphasized that the Lord’s Supper brings us into communion with Christ. We are called by the gospel to communion with Christ and in the Lord’s Supper, we are partakers with God of His holiness and happiness.

This communion in Christ is depicted in numerous ways. First, Christians have communion with Christ in being partakers with Him of His righteousness and of the benefit of His perfect obedience. Christians are partakers with Christ of the benefits of His sacrifice since His sacrifice justified not only Himself but us as well. Second, Christians have communion with Christ in that we participate in His relation to the Father. Because Christ is the Son of God, we become sons of God (cf. John 20:17; John 16:27; Romans 8:14-17). Third, Christians have communion with Christ in that we partake of the same Spirit. By partaking of the same Spirit, Christians are made partakers of the same comfort and spiritual joy. This is why the Spirit of Christ is therefore called the Comforter (cf. John 14:27).

Finally, Christians have communion with Christ in that we partake of Christ’s heavenly glory. Christ, as our conqueror, has returned home through the gates of heaven and even now leads us into the City of God. Christians have communion with Christ in His rule, His dominion, and His resurrection (cf. Romans 6:5). This communion of glory emphasizes the true spiritual presence of the Lord at Holy Communion. Consider the words of Jonathan Edwards in describing this spiritual presence.

Lastly, there is a spiritual society between Christ and believers that is founded in their common partaking of benefits. And they are called to converse with Christ: they express their love and admiration of Him, and dependence upon Him and delight in Him, and their desires to Him with a sense of His presence in meditation, in prayer, and in praises. They often look to Him, lifting up their hearts to Him. And Christ is wont to meet with and mutually to communicate Himself to them. At such times, He will manifest Himself to them, and will by His Spirit make known His friendship and love, and teaches them and counsels and comforts them, as it were, by an inward spiritual work. Hughes Oliphant Old, Holy Communion in the Piety of the Reformed Church, p. 631-632

This is the glory and true presence that we experience in the prayer and praises, in the meditation and the reading and preaching of the Word of God, and above all, in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Let us come to Him on this Lord’s Day to partake and enjoy communion with Him.

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