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His Table is For His Family: Spurgeon’s Convictions about the Lord’s Supper

Matthew Perry January 25, 2024

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) approached the Lord’s Table with gladness and gravity–and called his flock at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London to do the same. Why did Spurgeon hold this ordinance in such high value? In examining six sermons dating from 1857 to 1882, Spurgeon maintained consistency in his teaching of the purpose of the Lord’s Supper as well as the warnings of approaching the Table wrongly. What does Spurgeon have to teach us about the Lord’s Supper today?

There are two biblical ordinances: Baptism & the Lord’s Supper

In his 1882 sermon “The Right Observance of the Lord’s Supper,” he pulled no punches:

We have no respect whatever for the ordinances of men in religion. Anything that is only invented by churches, or councils, is nothing whatever to us. We know of two ordinances instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ: the baptism of believers and the Lord’s Supper; and we utterly abhor and reject all pretended sacraments of every kind.[1]

The Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church held sway over a great many of the London population, much to Spurgeon’s dismay. So, on more than one occasion, Spurgeon sought to assuage the “ignorance of the signification of the observance.”[2]

Spurgeon taught his congregation to support all church activity and Christian life with the Scriptures–thus the foundation of his problem with the Anglican and Roman rites. Yet, even when these rites dominated the landscape during the Dark Ages, Spurgeon reminded his listeners that Christ’s true church had always met.

There always has been a Church of Christ since he founded it. In the darkest Popish days, Christ always had his little Church to observe this ordinance. In the catacombs at Rome, in the mountains of Bohemia, in the Vaudois valleys, in the wild glens of Scotland, and in almost every land, in the simple breaking of bread and the pouring out of wine believers still remembered Christ’s death, even though they met together at the peril of their lives.[3]

The ordinances are for Christians

Spurgeon also instructed his congregation that the Lord’s Supper does nothing to bring about their salvation. “The ordinance of the Lord’s supper is not meant for the conversion of sinners; it is not specially intended to lead men to salvation, but it is intended for those who are already saved, those who are converted.”[4] The gravity by which Spurgeon instructed his people to approach the table was motivated by Paul’s command to not approach the table in an unworthy manner (cf. 1 Cor 11:27). Spurgeon was protective over the souls that joined his church and entered the services of the Tabernacle.

It is not a converting ordinance, nor a saving ordinance; it is an establishing ordinance and a comforting ordinance for those who are saved. But it never was intended to save souls, neither is it adapted to that end; and if it be so misrepresented, it is apt rather to be a means of damning than of saving the soul, for he that so eats and drinks may, in very deed, be eating and drinking damnation to himself.[5]

One can understand why Spurgeon wanted to drive home this point. Those who seek to find their salvation in this ordinance would find their condemnation. Thus, when the apostle Paul warns of partaking in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (1 Cor 11:27). “Yet this is no excuse for the ungodly persons venturing to come to the communion table, for they will be eating and drinking condemnation to themselves.”[6]

All through Spurgeon’s sermons on the Lord’s Supper, one theme rises above all: an examination of the participant’s heart. Spurgeon warned his listeners who were “mere professors and hypocrites” to stay away from the Master’s Table. “As in your dying day you shall remember your deeds of formality and hypocrisy, I beseech you, do not dare to touch that bread with unhallowed lip, nor sip that wine; take them not unless you feel that you have the Spirit within you, and are really united with the Lamb.”[7] In the same sermon, he goes on:

Remember, dear friends, that no recognition by the minister, no reception by the deacons or elders of a church, will excuse you for coming to the Lord’s table if, when you come, you are not a really converted person. It is true that you cannot come there unless the church itself consents to your coming; but the church takes upon itself none of the responsibility of your fitness; it says to you, “You may come to the table of communion; but if you have deceived us, on your own head be the sin; and if you are not what you profess to be, — true believers in Christ, — your unlawful observance of the ordinance must be accounted for, at the last great day, amongst the rest of your transgressions.” And I do now, most solemnly and earnestly, as the Pastor of this church, in the name and on behalf of this church, warn all men and women now about to draw nigh unto this table that, if they be not God’s children, and have no faith in Christ, they do stop before they, with sacrilegious hands, touch the elements of this sacred supper.[8]

Spurgeon rightly warns all who listen to refrain from taking the Supper apart from a genuine repentance and faith in Christ.

The Lord’s Supper is for a gathering of Christians

Spurgeon’s views may surprise some, especially considering his Reformed background. Spurgeon held strong convictions that Christians may observe the Lord’s Supper together at any place at any time. “Wherever two or three Christians are met together, there may they celebrate the supper of the Lord. It is as valid without a minister as with one, and just as really the Lord’s Supper though there be no ordained presbyter or learned Doctor of Divinity to preside at the table.[9]

In all avenues of faith, conversations arise as to where the Lord’s Supper takes place. While each church should determine its own practice, Spurgeon believes the main issue is the assembling of Christians, not the place. “We do not think that it is at all material where that supper is held. It is just as valid and helpful in your own private apartments, in your bedroom, or in your parlour, as it is in any place where Christians usually congregate.”[10]

Are there any other guidelines on when the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated? Apparently, “High Churchmen” resisted observing the Lord’s Supper in the evening, believing this should only take place in the morning services. While Spurgeon noted that others (that is, the low churchmen) “do not attach so much importance as some people do to the time when it is observed,” he goes on emphatically:

We are astonished that High Churchmen should be opposed to evening communion, for, if any definite time for partaking of it can be quoted from Scripture, it certainly is the evening. I should like to ask the Ritualists whether they can find any instance, either in holy or profane things, of a supper being eaten before breakfast, until they invented that absurd practice. There is no time that is more like the first occasion when the Master celebrated the ordinance with his disciples than is the evening of the day.[11]

Wryly, Spurgeon observed that they believed that Christians could only observe a supper in the morning. While Spurgeon does not mean that the Lord’s Supper could only be served in the evening, he rejects the notion of keeping this only for the morning. Instead, his emphasis is on the gathering together of Christians.

The Lord’s Supper should be connected to the membership and discipline of the Church

Spurgeon believed, “This supper is a most instructive ordinance for those who are saved; but those who are not born again, and are not, by grace, members of the Lord’s family, have no right here.”[12] For Spurgeon, you could partake of the Lord’s Supper if you are a member of the Kingdom of God through Christ’s work on the cross, not restricting this to the members of the Tabernacle.

Therefore, Spurgeon continually instructed his people to examine themselves each time the Table was opened, not to believe they were permitted simply due to their church membership status.

I can give no man a certificate which really entitles him to come to the communion table. In my office as pastor, it is my privilege to receive members into this church; but, by so doing, we never mean to imply that we thereby certify that they are really converted. That is a matter which must rest with each man; and his judgment of himself, if he is a wise man, will not be the opinion of his minister, but the verdict of his own conscience in the sight of God.[13]

For Spurgeon, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are interconnected ordinances, both typifying the reality of their new birth and life in Christ.

Baptism, the immersion of the believer in water, is the token of his death, burial, and resurrection with Christ. It sets forth the fellowship which he has with his Lord, as the apostle tells us: “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him;” — not that the plunge into the water confers any grace upon the person who is baptized, but it is the type, the emblem, the instructive symbol of the new birth, which new birth consists in passing, by death and resurrection, into newness of life. You all know that we are only born once. A thing can only have one true beginning. Hence, baptism is never to be repeated. The other ordinance is the Lord’s Supper; and, as baptism sets forth, typifies, (mark you, nothing more than typifies,) and is the emblem of the new birth, so the Lord’s Supper is the emblem of the spiritual feeding of that new life.[14]

One should not come to the Table typifying new life without participating in this ordinance typifying the new birth. To ignore a clear command of Christ to participate in baptism serves as an indicator of your walk with Him and thus prevents you from coming to the Table. In reflecting on Acts 2:38, Spurgeon leaned in on those who call themselves disciples yet ignore the warnings of disobedience and apathy to His commands:

Now, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke thus plainly concerning one of the two ordinances which he instituted: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Yet we have met with a number of his professed followers who say, “Well, that baptism is not a saving ordinance.” Who said that it was? Would you attend to it if it were? Then, if you only mean to do what will pay you, your obedience will be selfish, and of small value. Are you really a disciple of Christ? It should be the delight of a disciple to do what his Master bids him, whether there is any visible benefit to him in it, or not. It is not for you or me, beloved, to question or cavil at anything which our Lord has commanded, but promptly to obey it.[15]


Spurgeon’s instructions to his congregation benefit us over a century later. In a day when conversations abound about the boundaries of the Lord’s Supper, Spurgeon provides clarity and conviction. May we all examine ourselves before God and others before taking the elements of the Table–a Table meant for family, the family of God!

[1]Spurgeon, “The Right Observance of the Lord’s Supper,” MTP 45 (1882).


[3]Spurgeon, “The Object of the Lord’s Supper” MTP 51 (1876).

[4]Spurgeon, “Examination before Communion,” MTP 46 (1881).

[5]Spurgeon, “Fencing the Table,” MTP 50 (1876).

[6]“Examination before Communion.”

[7]Spurgeon, “Preparation Necessary for the Communion,” MTP 45 (1857).


[9]Spurgeon, “The Lord’s Supper,” MTP 50 (1861).

[10]Spurgeon, “The Right Observance of the Lord’s Supper.”    

[11]Spurgeon, Ibid.

[12]Spurgeon, Ibid.

[13]Spurgeon, “Examination Before Communion.”

[14]Spurgeon, “Fencing the Table.”

[15]Spurgeon, “Examination Before Communion.”