Communion is remembrance and celebration not only of what Christ has accomplished already at the cross, but also an anticipation of what will yet be fulfilled completely. Thinking about the themes concerning the cross we have already talked about the last several weeks, that means:
- we recall His work of salvation and anticipate salvation from all the consequences of sin.
- we recall the necessity of His death and anticipate the necessity of our own death — and the necessity of our glorification.
- we recall the willingness of His sacrifice as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world and anticipate the complete removal of the flesh of sin.
- we recall His sparing us from judgment and anticipate His full work of righteous judgment.
- we recall His fulfillment of the Law and await the completion of His imputed righteousness.
A remembrance of Christ's work on the cross is incomplete without also remembering His future work, and trusting it completely.
That is, remembering the past with gratitude will become a stimulant to anticipating the future with trust. One reason believers fail to persevere in trust is that they have failed to cultivate gratitude in the past. They are ungrateful for the past (and don't see God's graciousness at work), so they worry about the future (fail to see the potential for God's sovereign ability to act with grace).
John Piper says it this way:
…the great redemptive works of past grace — for example, the death and resurrection of Jesus — are indispensable foundations for our faith in future grace. But their power resides precisely in that — they purchase and certify future grace in which we hope. The life and death of Jesus were God's Yes to all his promises (2 Corinthians 1:20). Christ came into the world 'to confirm the promises given to the Fathers' (Romans 15:8). Because of Christ's death, God will 'with him freely give us all things' (Romans 8:32). Those whom God has justified, he will most certainly glorify (Romans 8:30). Past grace is the foundation of life-transforming faith in future grace.…True gratitude exults in the riches of God's grace as it looks back on the benefits it has received. By cherishing past grace in this way, it inclines the heart to trust in future grace. [Future Grace]
Communion is valuable not only because it is an act of obedience to Christ, and not only because it stimulates us to remember Christ's past work, but also because it stimulates us to trust Him for His future provision.