The Lord Jesus Christ instituted two sacraments for the New Testament Church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Whereas Baptism points to the work of the Holy Spirit applying salvation, the Supper points to the work of Christ accomplishing salvation. Baptism is a picture of regeneration – “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). The Lord’s Supper is a picture of the death of Christ – “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Cor. 11:26).
The Lord’s Supper is a precious, but solemn, ordinance. Therefore the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland does not administer it lightly, as it is so often done these days in evangelical and even professedly reformed churches. The following distinctives can be noted:
- Before someone can sit at the Lord’s Table in the Free Presbyterian Church, they must meet with the Kirk-Session (the minister and ruling elders of the local congregation) and be interviewed about their profession of Christ. This is not conducted as an inquisition, but in order to assist the person desiring to come to the Lord’s Table, and also for the office-bearers to fulfil their duty to the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has committed to them the “keys” to open and bar the way to the sacraments of the visible Church. Read more about this in this article: Why do the minister and elders interview intending communicants?
- The modern practice of completely open, unrestricted, or loose access to the Table is not practised in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Neither is the opposite extreme, of Closed (or Close) Communion, where no one is allowed to come to the Table but those of our own denomination or even congregation. Instead, proper Biblical order is maintained by Restricted Communion, where only those who have an accredited profession of Christ are permitted to the Table. This article compares these different approaches, and explains the reasons for restricting access to the Table to only properly qualified persons: Restricted Communion.
- At every service in which the Lord’s Supper is to be dispensed, the minister will “fence the Table” at some length, before the communicants go forward to sit at the Table. This Scriptural requirement is explained in the linked article.
- All congregations of the Free Presbyterian Church continue to hold Communion Seasons every time the Lord’s Supper is administered. With preparatory services on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the Lord’s Supper is dispensed on the Lord’s Day, followed by a thanksgiving service or services on Monday. See this account of the communion season in Sydney in September 2014 for an example.
- The frequency of holding the Lord’s Supper. In each congregation the Supper is dispensed only once or twice each year. Compared with most churches today, this is relatively infrequent. It is not because the Supper is undervalued, but because it is rightly and Scripturally valued that the Supper is not held more frequently.