What Happens When a Non-believer Takes the Lord’s Supper Seriously?

Sunday Afternoon Musings

Charles Simeon 1This week I have been rereading a short biography on the life of Charles Simeon. It’s the second bio in John Piper’s The Roots of Endurance (Crossway, 2002). Simeon was a British pastor (1754-1836). His mother died when he was very young, his father was an unbeliever and he was sent to Eton boarding school at the age of 7 where he stayed for 12 years.

Eton was a place of unspeakable immorality. Simeon remained a life-long bachelor but reflecting back on his time at Eton he said that if he had a son “he would be tempted take the life of his son rather than let him see the vice he himself had seen at Eton”  (quoting Piper, p. 80). 

During the whole of his time at Eton he never met a Christian. At 19 he left for Cambridge and once again found no Christians. He wasn’t looking. He was an arrogant and spoiled young man given to excesses of fashion to which his wealthy father easily indulged. But at Cambridge he was told by the principle that all the men would be expected to take the Lord’s Supper and the thought terrified him. 

He read one book but found no gospel in it, only legalistic rules and regulations. Then he happened upon a book by the Bishop. He started to read it in preparation for participating in the Lord’s Supper at Easter. Here’s Simeon’s own words from his journal.

In Passion Week, as I was reading Bishop Wilson on the Lord’s Supper, I met with an expression to this effect–“That the Jews knew what they did, when they transferred their sin to the head of their offering.” The thought came into my mind, What, may I transfer all my guilt to another? Has God provided an Offering for me, that I may lay my sins on His head? Then, God willing, I will not bear them on my own soul one moment longer. Accordingly I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus; and on the Wednesday began to have a hope of mercy; on the Thursday that hope increased; on the Friday and Saturday it became more strong; and on the Sunday morning, Easter-day, April 4, I awoke early with those words upon my heart and lips, “Jesus Christ is risen to-day! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” From that hour peace flowed in rich abundance into my soul; and at the Lord’s Table in our Chapel I had the sweetest access to God through my blessed Savior” 

Cited in The Roots of Endurance, 82.
(Emphasis added)

Easter is the celebration that our sins have been transferred to Christ, nailed to a cross, buried in a grave, thrown behind God’s back, and sunk in the sea of God’s forgetfulness. It’s just around the corner and its going to be a great celebration.


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