“All the salvation and redemption brought about by Christ for his disciples is founded in the body and blood he gives them to eat and drink at the Eucharist”
— Herman Ridderbos
Waters uses that insight from Ridderbos to help explain the significance of the Lord’s Supper in the Christian religion, and thinking along these lines undergirds this entire book — not just that the Supper is something we ought to do, but something it’s vital to participate in — for our own spiritual health.
Waters begins by reviewing the basics of covenant theology — defining covenant and looking at the major covenants and how they point to Christ. Then Waters shifts to looking at the signs and seals of the various covenants — with a focus on the purpose of visible, tangible signs. The third chapter narrows that focus to covenant meals throughout redemptive history. Once the context has been firmly established, Waters introduces the Lord’s Supper with a survey of applicable biblical texts. Finally, Waters considers some practical and contemporary questions and applications. I’m not going to get into any specifics beyond this because what I want to focus on takes a lot of foundation work, and this would stop being about the book and would become a recap of the whole thing.
In a book this short (by design), I’m not sure Waters did his readers any favors by being as thorough in the first two chapters — it will be review material for many readers, and those who aren’t that grounded in covenant thinking are going to need more explanation of the ideas. Still, I appreciated what he wrote. The other three chapters were just great — I could’ve used more of all of them, but that’s not the point of the books in this series. The careful consideration of the Supper in its redemptive-historical context is so important and putting these ideas in a size and format that aren’t intimidating is going to be valuable.
I wish I had this book twenty years ago when I started studying the Lord’s Supper, it would’ve been very helpful and would’ve saved me a lot of time. I took a lot of notes while reading this and am going to spend a lot of time following up on them — and rereading this a couple of times. It’s the kind of book you want to hand out to your friends so you can talk about it with them. The last chapter was particularly helpful and encouraging. This would be a great companion read to Letham, Mathison, and Wallace (to be read after Letham, but before Mathison, probably).
Waters is one of the better academic writers the Reformed world has — thankfully, he’s also capable of producing concise and clear works for laity. This short volume demonstrates that well. It’s helpful, encouraging and I have no doubt will strengthen some believers’ in their use of the Supper as it shows others how important it is.
I’d been previously unaware of the series Short Studies in Biblical Theology, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be getting my hands on some of the other volumes. I love the idea behind the series and if they’re all this helpful, it’ll be worth it.
Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Crossway via NetGalley in exchange for this post — thanks to both for this.