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October 3, 2022 2:00 am
You would please turn with me to first Corinthians chapter 11 as we continue making our way through versus 23 through 34. Last time we looked at verses 22 through 26 over to pick it up in verse 27 semi first Corinthian's 11 beginning at verse 27 whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself then and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died if we judged ourselves. Truly we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world so that my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let them eat at home so that when you come together, it will not be for judgment about the other things I will give directions when I come pray together Holy Spirit you indwell your people so that we might know our God and understand his word so that we might be both comforted and convicted by the truth of the gospel. So would you do that which only you can do in our hearts, open our eyes to behold.
Wonderful things from your word.
If in any area of our lives are out of step with your words you conform us to the image of Christ and to the will of God. We pray in Jesus name, amen. Be seated a couple of Sunday nights ago we walked through the various New Testament passages that address the how and the watt and the why of the Lord's supper, we learn the liturgy and the meaning of communion.
Paul of course had to spell all of this out for the Corinthians, because they had so abused and distorted the practice of communion that they needed to be taken back to square one will now that Paul has has told them what the Lord's supper ought to look like he's ready to give them a stern warning about the danger and consequences of practicing it incorrectly. Unfortunately, because of the stern and corrective tone with which Paul had to address the Corinthian church. I think it's often assumed that the Lord's supper is primarily a time for deep introspection and and self-examination, but we just ask you this. How much emphasis did Jesus place on self-examination when he instituted the sacrament in the upper room. He certainly called us to use our minds in a contemplative way, but the direction of our contemplation was supposed to be above all, Christ word. Do this in remembrance of me.
Jesus said there is to be sure an appropriate measure of self-examination that needs to take place as we approach Lord's table, but to make self examination. The main event as I think can sometimes be the case in certain Christian circles is to miss the point and to miss the grace of the sacred noon meal like for us to spend a few moments tonight.
Considering the warning that Paul issued to Corinth and that he issues to to us when we're headed down the same path as Corinth but I also want to remind us that the Lord's supper is a gift and a grace that the Lord gives to his church and as such it is not something to be dreaded or or avoided. Rather, it is something to be pursued and enjoyed, and even celebrated so after we've looked at the warning, we will consider some practical ways to prepare for and engage in the sacrament of communion will first, we see a warning for Corinth.
In verses 27 through 32. In Paul's warning includes a danger. It includes a command. A consequence and even a comfort. He begins first by highlighting the danger of misusing and abusing the Lord's supper verse 27 whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will beget will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. The first thing that we should note is that the phrase unworthy manner translates a Greek adverb, not an adjective. Now go go back with me in your mind perhaps way back for some of us do elementary school grammar hour, we all learned that an ad verb modifies, among other things of verb and action while in adjective modifies a noun if Paul had used the adjective he would've been making a statement about the recipient of the Lord's supper about us that he would've been saying Christian don't you be unworthy as you come to the table but instead Paul uses the ad verb which means he saying something odd about the worthiness of the Christian, but rather about the worthiness of the Christians eating and drinking at the table. Paul is not saying Christian. Make sure you are worthy before you participate saying Christian.
Make sure your actions are worthy as you participate is the left to ourselves. All of us to run working in terms of our person and character.
If the standard is only come if you deserve to come, then none of us could ever come. What Paul is insisting upon is that in our coming undeserving, though we are, we ought to come with due reverence and gratitude and recognition of of the grace that the table of the Lord conveys Paul's warning as one pastor put it, was, not to those who were leaving unworthy lives and long for forgiveness.
But to those who were by their behavior at the meal, making a mockery of that which should have been most sacred and solemn come in an unworthy manner than is to come carelessly without proper thought to the significance of what communion means. Remember early on in my life.
Learning the word sacrilegious. It was a word we used regularly in our home.
As I recall a word you really don't hear much anymore. Remember my parents saying to me on numerous occasions Eugene don't be sacrilegious that whenever I I would joke about something that was holier make light of something that was sacred.
Certainly there is a danger of religious formalism and dead ritual, but there is also a danger of your reference and impiety and blasphemy like we live in a day and age that seems to prefer the casual and the informal but search some things are holy and ought to be treated with the proper degree of reference and respect Paul is telling us that the sacrament of communion is one of those things we ought not approach it flippantly or thoughtlessly to do so is to receive the Lord's supper in a sacrilegious and demeaning and unworthy manner.
So how was Coren specifically in danger of taking communion in an unworthy manner while we saw last time bit that they were sinning against each other by neglecting certain members at their love feast, they were more concerned with getting their own fill of food and wine that the poorest among them were going hungry, and nobody seemed to notice or care. It was it was a self-centered lack of love that was spilling over into their observance of the Lord's supper and this self-centeredness obscured the very meaning of the Lord's supper rather than conveying the sufficiency of Christ body and blood for all of the church.
It was conveying a message of selfishness and intemperance and individualism and so what should have been making much of Christ and displaying the unity of the church was actually making a mockery of Christ and splintering the church.
Will this lead Paul to issue a command in verse 28 in light of the importance of approaching the table with due respect and decorum because of the significance of the table. Paul says let a person examine himself than and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Paul insisted that the Corinthians because of their lack of temperance examine themselves first test their actions and attitudes in approaching the table to see if the manner in which they participated in the sacrament was true to the meaning of the sacrament. Did they come into the table with an adequate apprehension of what they were doing, or do they come with just the mayor of of frivolous negligence overlooking Christ's intent to demonstrate his saving sacrifice for sinners through this meal.
Corinth was doing it all wrong. So Paul had to say to them court hit the pause button.
Ask yourself, am I adequately reflecting on what this meal is all about. Paul then wraps up his warning by pointing out the consequence of sacramental negligence, verse 29 for anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died or body.
In verse 29 could refer to the body of Christ as its represented there in the elements of communion or it could refer to the church as the body of Christ on earth. The New Testament uses that word in reference to the church. Often, but all of these, but both of these options have have warrant. I really don't think either option significantly changes Paul's point.
In fact, think about it for just a moment. It is the body of Christ crucified bit establishes that defines the body of believers, the church and there would be no need for communion without the church.
So, since there would be no need for communion without the church and there would be no church without Christ, we could say in the sense both Christ and the church are in view here. The point Paul is making is that the Lord's supper points the church to its source to the atoning work of Jesus Christ, and in turn, the atoning work of Jesus Christ makes all believers. One body. Remember Paul's statement back in for a first offense, 1017 he says, because there is one bread, we who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one red, the most important things that we are doing when we take communion is identifying ourselves with the people for whom Christ died. Westminster larger catechism says that one of the purposes of the sacrament is to distinguish between those who are in the church and those who are outside of the church and yet Coren's behavior during the very sacrament that should have been distinguishing and and marking out the people for whom Christ died was actually excluding an overlooking and dishonoring some of those for whom Christ died.
They were failing to discern the body and that they were failing to properly distinguish between the church and the world and so through self-centered negligence. They were excluding persons whose sins have been forgiven by the blood of Christ from the very meal that was supposed to highlight the fact that their sins were forgiven by the blood of Christ.
It was a failure to properly discern the body and notice the consequence of his negligence. Paul says in verse 30. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
I doubt that we would put negligence during communion near the top of the list of sins that are most odious to God. The church evidently God takes this very seriously because the consequence of this sin, at least in some cases is physical sickness and even death.
It seems that God takes the sacramental and representative nature of communion far more seriously than we do doesn't take kindly to us demeaning each other at the Lord's table because it is a demeaning of the body and blood of his only begotten son is consequence shows that there is a connection between our spirits and our bodies. Granted, this flies in the in the face of our modernist sensibilities, but there it is in verse 30 spiritual ills may have physical results. Disobedience in the spiritual round can and often does affect the physical body of this doesn't mean that every sickness or death is brought on by a spiritual failure, but our bodies and souls are not disconnected from each other, and one has only to read the dramatic account of Ananias and Sophia Ira in acts five to realize this connection between spiritual and physical well-being, church, God wants us to take each other and are standing in Christ very seriously and so Paul's stern warning is important, but the notice how he concludes this rebuke with an incredible comfort easy to miss but here it is in verses 31 and 32 he says if we judged ourselves. Truly we would not be judged when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. Paul is saying that we can either judge or examine ourselves or else God will do the judging for us, but here's the comfort even if we are negligence and invite divine judgment. That judgment is not the final condemning judgment of the world receives from God. Rather, it is the loving restorative judgment of a gracious father.
It's a Hebrews 12 kind of judgment in verse 12 says my son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives the comfort here is that even when we neglect self-examination and are judged by God that divine judgment is not eternal damnation. Rather, it is loving discipline.
And so even the chastening that we incur through a neglectful participation in the Lord's supper drives us back to the very attitude we ought to have had to begin with one of gratitude for Christ will. Paul concludes this section with a correction for Corinth. In verse 33. He says so. Then my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another, show deference to each other. Keep an eye out for each other's needs, not just your own appetite. Verse 34. If anyone is hungry that immediate home so that when you come together, it will not be for judgments. The purpose of the Lord's supper is not the satisfying of physical hunger so that if you are physically hungry. Gratify your appetite home so that your your physical appetite does not control your behavior at the Lord's supper in the last sentence says about the other things I will give directions when I come and this implies that there were other matters related to Coren's observance of communion that needed addressing by the apostle Paul, but they can wait.
Evidently they were is pressing, which suggests that not every aspect of our observance of the sacrament is of equal urgency and importance all over the course of these two sermons we've we've considered a whole lot with regard to the Lord's supper. Some like to to begin sort of wrapping all this up tying it all together by considering for a few moments.
How all of this ought to inform and shape the way we practically approach communion.
How do we make the most of this means of grace.
What should be our frame of mind as we approach the table and worship was walk through some of these practical considerations together in one of my commentaries that I study this past week I came across a very helpful summary of of what it is were to be doing as we take communion. I want to share these agitations with you and just encourage you to take them to heart each time you observe the Lord's supper when we take communion we need to first of all, look back to Christ's death. We need to look back to Christ's death. At the very least, communion is a remembering of Christ do this in remembrance of me. He says, and so as I hold the bread and the cup and as I eat and drink these elements.
My mind is to recall the greatest act of love and sacrifice that has ever occurred in history. I am to remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and to remember his agony in Gethsemane as he surrendered his will to the father and to remember his humiliation before Pilate in an angry mob.
I'm to recall his intense suffering at the praetorian in his painful walk to Golgotha and his last words on the cross as he declared it is finished, the debt is paid via the account that kept us guilty before God is closed it's canceled it's deleted when you take the supper look back to Christ's death and remember that we also need to look in at ourselves looking at ourselves we cannot deny that there is an element of inward soul-searching as we approach the table.
Paul tells us to examine ourselves we don't want to be remiss here however I do feel compelled to just stop at this point, and issue a word of caution, because I think the Reformed Church in particular. It's easily out of balance at this very point we want to take sin seriously and that's a good thing. We want to be adequately self skeptical skeptical because we know from God's word that our hearts are far blacker than we could even fathom church we need to remember that self-examination is not the chief end of communion. Jesus Christ is my fear that our approach to this self-examination can sometimes be akin to Peter's attitude there in the upper room. Jesus went to wash Peter's feet. But Peter resisted him and said you know off my feet. Maybe Peter's reaction sounded noble.
But then Jesus clarified. If you don't let me do this. You have no part in me Peter, so what did Peter do. We went to the other extremely civil and wash my entire body. Jesus said that's not necessary. Just do what I'm telling you to do, we might convince ourselves that taking the commands of Christ to extremes that go beyond Christ's intent is somehow noble and godly, but it's not were not careful, we can take this healthy honest self-examination and turn it into an act of self-righteousness and pride by getting so caught up in contemplating our sinful unworthiness that we never look to Christ we make the problem. The focus rather than the solution is not what the supper is about, or we get so caught up in thinking about our personal private sand that we give no thought to the fact that this sacrament is a corporate declaration of the church's unity and fellowship and victory in Christ.
We are not proclaiming the doctrine of total depravity. In these moments, we are proclaiming that efficacy of the Lord's death and the reality that he will return one day to make plainly visible. We can now only see with the eyes of faith was about 10 years old had some money burning a hole in my pocket one day and so I thought it would be a great idea to spend it on some toy soldiers that I really wanted and see them at the at the dollar store. Only problem was the dollar store was on the other side of town so I decided to slip out the back door and get on my bike and head off before anyone could object by anyone I mean my parents course is if you have to slip out the back door to do something before anyone sees you probably shouldn't do it limited to the dollar store bought my bag of toy soldiers.
It even came with this candidate fired plastic ammunitions great through the bag over my shoulder and started heading home.
Totally oblivious to the fact that it was already suppertime and my parents who had no idea where I was were at home, worried sick and on the verge of calling the police to report a missing person about 30 minutes later I came casually writing up the driveway to our home and noticed my dad coming out to meet me. I'll spare you some of the details and for the sake of time, let me just say it was not until the fatted calf is Eugene's come home sort of moments after my dad and I spent some quality time alone together. We sat down in a very quiet and awkward table for supper and my dad said something to the effect of son I want you to think about what you've done and only tell you, no amount of toy soldiers, carefree bike rides across town were worth the uncomfortable awkward silence at our dinner table that night but you know what made that meal so uncomfortably awkward. It was the fact that the normal atmosphere in our dinner table was one of laughter and enjoyment and conversation.
At the end of the day and I had ruling that through a lack of consideration for the rest of my family know what if I had said to myself in those moments, this, this feels awful. What what I've done has ruined the sweet atmosphere of our home, so I'm to make sure this never happens again. What if I had resolved in my heart to spend every supper from that night for taking to heart. My dad's admonition to think about what I had done. And so, from the age of 10. Onward I would spend every supper dwelling on what a bad person I am. Would that response have made me a less selfish person. Would that preoccupation with the misery of my sin have honored my father's intention and telling me to think about what I had done no it would've missed the point entirely. It would've actually had the opposite effect by prolonging for a lifetime. The joyless, and this brought on by an afternoon of selfishness. My dad's admonition had a context he told me to think about my selfishness precisely because I had read Tapic on the tranquility of our home by being selfish. But he was not doing was declaring that henceforth and forever more.
I should dwell on my failures lest I ruin the piece of our home again. Let me apply that to our attitude in approaching the Lord's table. Yes, Paul said let a person examine himself and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
But that admonition was given in the context of a church that was grossly abusing the sacrament through thoughtless desecration of the sacrament the church that was regularly obscuring its spiritual unity by indulging its physical appetites and it needed to stop this self-examination, then, is not some overly subjective preoccupation with one sin nature I am called to look inward only in order to make sure that I'm looking to Christ and loving the people for whom Christ died. In other words, that I am in fellowship with the Lord and in fellowship with the Lord's people and if I'm not, then the solution brothers and sisters, is not to abstain from the means of grace. The solution is to repent of my sin and to run to the means of grace we would never treat the word of God like that would week we would never say I unto sinful today to read the Bible.
I need to wait to my heart is in a better place to wait until my assurance is stronger and you wait until I get right with these people before I read the word of God know the word of God is is part of the means of getting all those things right so it is with the Lord's supper and baptism and prayer affect any means of grace God gives them to us to help us to nourish us to grow us up is nothing noble or godly about neglecting them out of some sense of personal unworthiness. Yes, we are all unworthy.
That's the very kind of person who needs God's grace is the one who doesn't recognize his unworthiness. That ought to stay away lest he eat and drink judgment to himself now to be sure, there are legitimate reasons to abstain from the table. This table is for Christians if if you want nothing to do with Christ, don't come to his table. This table is for the church. If you are outside of the church through unbelief through discipline don't come to the table but nothing that nothing should stop you.
So look inward and only insofar as it drives you to repentance, so that you can come to the table in a manner that is worthy of the table.
Thirdly, we should look up towards God.
Look up towards God, having remembered Christ's atoning work and acknowledged our sinfulness and need of that atoning work we are to look up in the present and enjoy the peace with God that only comes through the gospel.
This is that participation with Christ that Paul speaks of in prescriptions 10 communion is an appropriate name for it because that's exactly what were doing were enjoying the communion. The company of the Trinity as we are welcomed into God's throne room on the merits of Jesus Christ, our high priest. The Eucharist is also an appropriate name Eucharist simply means Thanksgiving as we sinners enjoy the privilege of communing with the triune God that ought to be the most gratitude filled moment in the world for us as we look up towards God and realize that he accepts us in Christ, fourthly, were to look around at the church. This sacrament is not some individualistic expression of self as we seem particularly from first Corinthians 11. It's an expression of our mutually belonging to each other. We are the church but called out once the congregation the mighty host that has been gathered from every nation and tribe and people, and language in taking these elements we are identifying ourselves not only with Christ but visibly with the bride of Christ.
These are our people. This is our family so we look to the past. We look up and around in the present and we also look forward to the future as we look forward to Christ's return.
God's plan of redemption has yet to climax. But it will culminate in the Most Glorious Way, Jesus Christ will return in the same way that he left, only this time he'll return as King exalted for all to see and he's coming for us. Paul says that every time we take communion.
We are proclaiming Christ death until he comes church.
This means that one day we won't need mere bread and wine will have Christ himself. We will see him and and hear him and talk with him and touch him and enjoy his company forever and ever and ever think about that day as you as you hold the sign in your hand. Look forward to the day when you will hold the substance's and lastly look outward to the world all says that the Lord's supper is a proclamation of the Lord's death.
The proclamation of preaching of the gospel. We take communion.
Our children are watching our fellow saints are watching the angels in heaven are watching people lost and dying in their sin and are watching and we were proclaiming to all of them that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life church every time we come to the table. We are coming to the one who gave his life that we might live.
We are coming to the one who now ever lives to make intercession for us. We are coming as unworthy sinners made worthy solely by his perfect line to come to this table is to forsake my own righteousness for the righteousness of Christ. It is to forsake my preoccupation with my own guilt in exchange for the eternal innocence of Christ. It is to say nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.
If Christ sits down the right hand of the father because the work is finished. Who are we to stand up as if there is more to be done. Love made me welcome yet. My soul drew back guilty of dust and sin, but quick.
I'd love observing me gross lack for my first entrance in drew nearer to me sweetly questioning if I lacked anything against. I answered worthy to be here. Love said use shall be he, I the unkindly ungrateful, my dear, I cannot look on the left took my hand and smiling did reply who made the eyes but I truth, Lord, but I have marred them let my shame go where it does deserve and know you not, says love, who bore the blame, my dear, than I will serve you must sit down says love and taste my meat so I did sit and eat. Jesus says I am the bread that came down from heaven.
Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever spray Jesus our words fall short of expressing the user gratitude in the comfort and the joy that your redeeming work has secured for us. Our sin is so strong that you are stronger. Her appetite for you so weak that you make is hungry and then you satisfy that hunger with yourself. Our faith is clouded with doubt that you give us bread to touch and wine to drink, or all we can say is thank you thank you man