What are the Benefits of the Lord’s Supper?
One can reply briefly: It is profitable for strengthening of faith. But this must be explained more fully, and it cannot be done better than with the words of institution, thus:
I. Remission of sins and salvation consists in this, that we are partakers of the merit of Christ and are included in the New Testament covenant of grace. Christ offers us the greatest token and surest seal of this in His Supper, namely that very same body of His, by whose offering these great benefits have been bought, and that very same blood, by whose shedding the New Testament was confirmed, so that we might be made sure and strong against all temptations by this most precious pledge, that the communion of the good things accomplished by the death of Christ most certainly applies also to us.
II. The promise of the Gospel in general offers grace to all believers, so that everyone might surely conclude that this universal promise applies specifically also to him and that this grace is offered and presented to him in such a way that he can safely rely on it and rejoice in it. In the true use of this Sacrament, Christ Himself offers and gives to every individual His body and blood, by the means ordained for this, beamed at every individual with this personal invitation: “Take, eat and drink; this is My body given for you; this is My blood [shed] for the remission of your sins.”
III. Remembrance of the death of Christ, which consists in true repentance and faith, must be preserved, strengthened, and increased in us. But it is easily weakened, quenched, and lost as a result of manifold wiles of Satan, stumbling-blocks of the world, and the weakness, security, and wickedness of our flesh. Therefore Christ, in order from time to time to renew and strengthen it in us, ordained a salutary and very efficacious remedy in this His Supper, namely the reception of His body and blood, adding, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
IV. Since, alas, we often fall from the covenant and pact of grace through sins against conscience, therefore, so that in true conversion we might have sure and special evidence, besides the general Word, that God, [who is most gracious,] is willing to receive us anew into that covenant of grace, Christ says in His Supper: Take and drink, this cup is the New Testament in My blood. And these very same words (This is the New Testament) are a kind of very sure pledge that this will come to pass, that we are firmly kept and preserved by the power of God in that grace unto salvation.
V. Since nothing good, but only sin, dwells in our flesh, whence extremely many evil fruits continually sprout and come forth, therefore Christ, in His Supper, offers us His most holy body and blood, so that, engrafted by this communion as branches in Him who is the true vine, we might draw thence new, good, and spiritual sap. Thus we are also joined most closely by this communion with other Christians as members of the one body of Christ (1 Co 10:17), so that mutual love toward the neighbor is kindled, increased, and preserved in us.
All these things are thoroughly and aptly set forth in the words of institution. He that rightly and seriously considers these things will experience in deed how much comfort a troubled conscience will receive from the frequent use of this Sacrament.
And if this doctrine is constantly and earnestly emphasized, constraint will not be necessary, but believers in Christ will stir themselves up to a frequent use of this Sacrament. But he that has no concern or care for these things, he, by that very fact, bears witness that he is not a Christian.
Martin Chemnitz and Luther Poellot, Ministry, Word, and Sacraments : An Enchiridion, electronic ed., 128-29 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).