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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 11:27-34

29/07/2012

The Searchlight of the Supper!
1st Corinthians 11:27-34

We have seen something of the importance of the Lord’s Supper. We have learned:-

* The Corinthians were making a mockery of the Communion Service by their greed at the table, and their shaming of those who were poor. They destroyed the unity of the body of Christ.
* That by attempting to worship God in a carnal, man-made manner, around the Lord’s Table, the Corinthian believers were betraying Christ afresh.
* God has given us instructions, in His Word, about how worship is to be conducted, and that we must obey Him in observing His Word. We learned about the REGULATIVE PRINCIPLE OF WORSHIP, and in a general sense we noticed that there is a difference between worship that pleases God and worship that pleases man.
* We saw that the Lord’s Supper is a SIGN, which points us to Calvary, and that while Christ is not literally present in the bread or wins, nor does it change substance in any way, that for the believer, he really can meet Christ at the table, by faith! It is a remembrance, at which the only sacrifice is the sacrifice of our contrite hearts, laid on the altar for Christ.
* We reminded ourselves that Christ’s body was broken for us, and that His blood was poured out, in remission for our sins. We learned that Christ’s shed blood blots out our sins, and brings us into a new relationship with God, which we described as being a COVENANT.
* We saw that every time we come to the Lord’s Table we enact the PLEDGE OF GOD’S LOVE that Christ has given to His church. At Communion we remind ourselves of His love for us, His Church, until the day we meet Him face to face.

When we take all of this into consideration, we may get some understanding of why we cannot tamper with the Communion Service. Why it is so solemn. Why it must be observed exactly as given in the Word, and why those who preside, those who serve and those who partake, must all do so in accordance with God’s Word alone. In fact Paul, now gives us a series of warnings and the consequences which attend to wrongful observance of the feast.

In these verses we see:-

A Penetrating Realism!
We see here:-
An Outward Disgrace! At Corinth there was…
A Worthless Attendance! Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily Eating and drinking in a way that is unworthy of the Lord! In Corinth, the believers were treating the table of the Lord as if it were their own table! But there are many other types of abuse! (This verse applies, even if every other part of their Christian walk, and the intent of their hearts is right. James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. )

A group of Christian Young people went on a youth weekend. They had good fellowship, they had some reasonably good Bible Studies, they sang the Lord’s praises. When it came to the Sabbath morning, someone decided that they should have a communion service. Here they totally ruined what otherwise might have been a really useful weekend. They let someone of a radical mindset lead them, and they set out the communion using pieces of hamburger and Coke. It was a disgrace. They protested loudly when a few older people objected, and they argued that it didn’t really matter what was used, it, after all only a symbol, and if bread and wine were the foods of Jesus day, then hamburger and coke were the foods of today. They totally failed to recognise that to offer any worship to the Lord which not strictly in accordance with His word is in fact sin. It was an outward disgrace, and a worthless reconstruction of the Lord’s table and it ruined an otherwise good weekend.

A Wicked Guilt! shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Profaning and sinning against the body and blood of the Lord! Those who offend at the table by an unworthy participation thereat, those who treat the Lord’s Supper just as if it were another meal, are guilty of offending the Lord Jesus Christ! As they sin against the emblems, the symbols of His body and blood, so they sin against His actual body and blood! Charles Hodge uses an illustration of a national flag, which represents the monarch of a country. An act of defilement of that flag, which is that monarch’s symbol is an act op desecration against both the Monarch and the country over which he reigns. This outward disgrace stems from:-

An Inward Disease!
The need for a remedy suggests the inward aspect of the outward disorder! The very fact that Paul suggests a remedy, and that it is an inward remedy that is suggested would in itself lead us to believe that there is an internal problem at the very heart of the Corinthian disorder. We see:-
The application of the remedy is a thorough self-examination! But let a man examine himself.

In Scotland, in the stricter reformed churches, communion is an event that takes place only twice a year, and so it becomes an event of great significance and importance. A while ago I was up in Dingwall, in the Highlands, and a lady was telling me about her communion season. She began, “I’m so full of the joy of the Lord! We have had a wonderful communion! WE began on Thursday evening when the minister preached on the significance of Communion, then on Friday we had a guest preacher on the importance of self examination. All day Saturday, I spent much time alone with the Lord in prayer, and reading His Word, asking the Lord to search my heart and reveal my sins and my faults. Oh that the Lord would make my condition plain, for then I could properly repent of my sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. On Saturday night, we had a meeting where the sermon focused upon the Cross, and then on the Sabbath Day, we met around the Lord’s Table! On Monday we met again, to sing the praises of the Lord for what He has done for us, and the preacher exhorted us to go out from our Communion Time and life out our lives for the Lord!”

We cannot have the luxury of such a series of meetings every time we approach the Lord’s Table but our inward examination should be no less rigorous!

The timing of the remedy! It is before we eat! Not during the Communion, or after! and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. (The Amplified Bible), Only when he has done so should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup

This OUTWARD DISORDER at the Lord’s Supper, this lust for fleshly worship was indicative of a deeper spiritual illness in the life of the church. They needed to look for the cause in their hearts, not just in their meetings. Perhaps this is more generally true of us all! Luke 6:43-44 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. When we wonder why our evangelism is ineffective, our prayer meetings seem lifeless, our numbers falling away, our members so careless and indifferent to the things of God perhaps we ought to look at our hearts, and see if there is some root of bitterness, some unconfessed sin, some unforgiven wrong, something that is grieving God’s Holy Spirit and hindering God’s blessing in our assembly! And it is inside us, and it needs to recognised and dealt with! What is hindering the blessing of the Lord in our own church? Why are people not being saved as they once were? Let’s not look for excuses. Let’s not blame others, or the culture of today, or past events. Let’s examine our own hearts, and let’s have a season of repentance before the Lord! Lament. 3:40 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.

A Painful Retribution!.
The gravity of the celebration! For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself. This is the very reason why we must examine ourselves! The Greek word for damnation (AV) is better rendered by NKJV as judgement. Κριμα – It is the word from which we get our English word Criminal – a man under judgement. So the word does not indicate that a saint can fall away and be lost by such disobedience, but that He will come under God’s judgement. Hebrews 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

The lack of discernment! not discerning the Lord’s body. Paul is speaking specifically about communion here, but how often do we do despite to the Lord’s Body, the Church, simply by failing to exercise a little biblical discernment?

The awful effects! For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep
Weakness!
We lose our strength! Both spiritual and physical! How many Christians have become spiritually weak because of disobedience? Not only in regard to the Lord’s Supper! Mixed marriages weaken Christians. Failure to separate ourselves from the world weakens Christians. Lack of prayer weakens Christians! Spiritual & mental weakness soon leads to physical weakness and even:-
Sickness! We are subject to illness and sickness because of disobedience! This not by any means to be seen as symbolic!
Death! We may even die! At Corinth many already had died because of this matter! Paul said, ‘Many sleep.’
Could it be, that there come a time when God will tolerate no more disobedience in this matter from His children? Could it be that He allows us a little time to recognise our shortcomings and bring our activities, our lives, our worship, into conformity with His Word, but when our disobedience continues He applies further sanctions? He chastens us, so that we will not eternally perish! He weakens us. Some of us, He lays aside in beds of sickness! Some of us are taken home to heaven, because we are hindering God’s work here on earth by our wilful disobedience of His Word. And what of churches and assemblies? Is it not true that the Lord has borne with great patience the disobedience of some sections of His church, and that often He removes disobedient churches! They die, and their flickering light goes out! Rev. 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

A Pre-emptive Reassessment!
The option of self-examination! For if we would judge ourselves. Let us actively search for our own shortcomings! Let us recognize our own spiritual condition! Coping with difficult people is always a problem, particularly if the difficult person happens to be oneself.
The outcome of self-examination! we should not be judged. By God! If only we would exercise some self-judgement, we would avoid being judged by God!
when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord. It is better for us to judge ourselves, than to approach God in an unworthy manner, and then fall under the judgement of God, for God’s judgement will certainly lead to chastisement!

So that we should not be condemned with the world. Now there is a very important point here. The result of God’s judgement upon the world is final condemnation and eternal separation from God. This is why; when God judges the disobedient believer He chastens him! It is so that he does not fall into eternal condemnation and punishment. God must chasten His wayward children, and it is because of His love that this chastening occurs. What should our reaction to this chastening be? Are we resentful that God is chastening us? Let us rather accept that chastening, knowing that God is chastening us out of His love for us, and to prevent us from being condemned along with this world! Hebrews 12:6-7 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

A Preliminary Resolution!
Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come. Paul returns to the Corinthian problem. They are to meet at the same time, wait until all have arrived, and exclude any form of greed from the Lord’s Table. There are other matters that need addressed, but these are the most urgent!

So, we have seen that the Lord’s Supper is a Sign of the Covenant, in that it points us to Calvary and reminds us of Christ’s death. We have learned that it is a Pledge of Christ’s Love for His church and for us as individuals until He comes to take His church home. Now we see a further helpful purpose of the Communion Service. It ought to be a continual impetus for Christian self examination, and constant reassessment of our service for Christ. We can ask the Lord to help us to examine ourselves!

A young boy walked into a country shop and asked to use the telephone. He rang a certain number: “Hello, Mr. Jones. Do you want to hire a boy to cut the grass and run errands for you? Oh, you already have a boy? Are you completely satisfied with the boy you have? OK then, good-bye, then.” As the boy thanked the shopkeeper, he said, “Just a minute, Son. If you are looking for work, I could use a boy like you.” “Thank you, sir, but I have a job,” the boy replied. “But didn’t I just hear you trying to get a job from Mr Jones?” “No, sir,” said the boy, “you see, I’m the boy who is working for Mr Jones. I was just checking up on myself.”

Let’s make that our prayer, and lets allow our communion seasons to remind us to make that prayer. “Lord, are you completely satisfied with what I am doing for you? With my life?”

From → Sermon Notes

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