Who Is Worthy to Partake Of The Sacrament?

last supper

TheDiscipleMD

In the eighteenth chapter of Third Nephi is recorded some of the instructions that the Savior gave to the people here in the Americas. In this chapter He institutes the Sacrament, teaches them to pray always in His name, and gave the disciples power to give the Holy Ghost. Of note to me is the instruction the Lord gave concerning the worthiness of those who partake of the emblems of the Sacrament. There are several verses that I have heard quoted, often, regarding worthiness to participate in this ordinance. After the Lord has the multitude participate in the blessing, passing and partaking of the bread and wine, He turns to the Disciples and gives them this direction:

“… Behold verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you another commandment, and then I must go unto my Father that I may fulfil other commandments which he hath given me. And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it; For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him”. ( 3 Nephi 18: 26-29).

Now, these are the verses most often quoted and used regarding worthiness to partake of the Sacrament. However, I have often been perplexed by these verses because all are unworthy, to some degree, to partake of the sacred emblems. However, as if often the case, it is important to read the surrounding verses. Immediately following these verses is this charge:

“Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood. But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered. Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them”. ( 3 Nephi 18: 30-32).

In other words, it is clear that those He was speaking of were not baptized members of the church because he follows up his commandment with the directive that, “if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood”. To me, this verse gives greater light to the direction that the Savior was giving regarding partaking of the Sacrament.  Unbelievers that have not taken upon themselves the name of Christ, and have no intention of obeying His commandments are mocking the ordinance when they are allowed to participate. Their hearts are not right and it makes sense that they would not be allowed to partake. These individuals are different, to me, from the sinful members of the church who have taken upon them the name of the Lord and have made a covenant to remember and obey His commandments. Each week the Sacrament provides the members with the opportunity to recommit themselves to these covenants, so that they might have “His spirit” to be with them. (D&C 20). Now, if they have no intention of obeying the commandments then I think they, like nonmembers, are mocking God by partaking. Ecclesiastical leaders can direct members, under certain circumstances, not to partake of the Sacrament, but that is a matter of the Spirit. We should take the time in the coming weeks to listen to the Sacrament Prayers and the great promises found therein. In my opinion, the sacrament as instituted by the Savior was intended for the believers who also were sinful.  Afterall, while not conclusive,  it appears that Jesus administered the sacrament to all the apostles, even the betrayer. (Luke 22: 14-19)

 

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