"THE CONCERN ABOUT COMMUNION"

First Corinthians 11.17-34

INTRODUCTION:

1. Let me talk to the ladies here this evening, for just a few moments. Ladies, do I have your undivided attention? Good.

2. Ladies, I want you to search the deep recesses of your mind to when you were a young woman and you frequently went out for a hamburger with a beau. Back during those days, how many of you have ever suffered the personal outrage of being stood up? You know, when the fella is supposed to be by the house at 7:00 PM, only he doesnít arrived at 7:00 PM, he doesnít arrive period?

3. If thatís ever happened to you, do you remember how you felt? Do you remember the preparation that went into looking your best and the practice session you went through being your best? And then the ingrate doesnít even have the common courtesy to inform you that he isnít coming. So, he not only ruins the time you had planned, but you donít have time to arrange something else. Your evening is shot!

4. I donít know whether men are ever stood up by girls or not. No one I know has ever been stood up by a young woman. Iím not sure if thatís because men are just naturally more rude than women are, or Iíve just never seen it happen.

5. How about this: Have you ever invited people over to eat and then, without any advance warning, they just fail to show up?

6. I believe four times since Pam and I have been married we have really put on the feedbag, all out by our simple standards. And guess what? No one shows.

7. One time, when I pastored my first Church in Brawley, California, we were even serving pork chops. Folks, I donít even serve pork chops to my mother. And the guy didnít even call to cancel. I had to eat all those pork chops myself, with whatever help I could get from Pam.

8. Think about this for a moment. If you did that for someone, really cared enough to fix a nice meal, clean the house and polish the silver (if you have silver), and he didnít come, how would you take it?

9. Would you be hurt? Would you be angry? Would you think, after all your extra effort on behalf of others, "Oh, whatís the use?" And how much worse would you feel if someone stood you up and you discovered that instead of spending time eating a meal you had especially prepared for them, they stayed at home, not to do anything even remotely useful, but to watch pornographic junk on HBO or Showtime, or to watch some bubble headed television program on one of the networks? Would you do a slow burn?

10. Now I want you to think about something else for a moment. How do you think the Lord Jesus Christ feels when He invites Church members to come and sup at His table, the communion of the Lordís Supper, and we donít bother to show up?

11. Folks, weíve learned a great deal about the shortcomings and the sins that the Christians in Corinth committed, and how lousy their testimony for Christ was. But you know something? For all their spiritual problems, they had one thing in their life in order. According to First Corinthians 11.2, they never missed the Lordís Supper.

12. And yet how many modern Christians, like someone who stands up a dinner invitation, will not rearrange one bit of their life so that they might gather around the Lordís table?

13. Folks, unlike the Corinthians, we donít seem to think that the communion service, or what is also referred to as the Lordís Supper, is important anymore. But communion is important, as we see in our text for today.

14. Stand with me, as we read First Corinthians 11.17-34:

17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lordís supper.

21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lordís death till he come.

27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lordís body.

30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

34 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.

15. In our text are three observations made by the apostle Paul which shows us the importance of the communion of the Lordís Supper.

1A. FIRST, OBSERVING THE CORINTHIAN MANNER OF COMMUNION

Though it is praiseworthy that these Christians in Corinth were faithful to celebrate communion, the manner of their celebration was not at all praiseworthy. They were, to use a phrase I developed previously, doing the right thing the wrong way. Letís look at two problems related to the way in which they took communion.

1B. First, There Were Divisions And Heresies In The Church (11.17-19)

17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

1C. Folks, divisions and heresies are simply little groups and cliques that may have had quite innocent beginnings among people who just prefer each otherís company. But you know very well that any group within a congregation is a potential source of disunity.

2C. You see, itís only natural that people whose personalities mesh easily, or whose personal standards are very similar, or whose backgrounds are compatible, or who are members of the same large family or clan, to feel more comfortable around each other. So, before long, a little club forms.

3C. Now, the little club is not, in and of itself, wrong. But when the club becomes exclusive, or when the members of the little club become more concerned about each other than the Church as a whole . . . watch out.

4C. This had happened at Corinth, detracting from the love and the unity that ought to be present during a communion service.

5C. Are you on the lookout for some visitor to greet, some new person to talk to, someone not long in our congregation to show love to? Are you looking to always bring new folks into your circle of friends? If not, you are a potential participant in the kinds of problems described here.

2B. Another Problem With Their Manner Of Celebrating Communion Was Their Lack Of Reverence (11.20-22)

20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lordís supper.

21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

1C. There is no doubt that that these folks worshiped in an ordinary home. In those days they had no Church building, per se, like we do these days.

2C. As well, there is also no doubt that, for convenienceí sake, their habit was to have a type of potluck dinner called a love feast immediately before the communion. Churches often had dinners like this because it was a convenient way to have fellowship and food before the communion service, which they observed toward the end.

3C. But the love feast degenerated into a "Me first" party with a type of carnival atmosphere, focusing more on seeing how much food you could eat than on the fellowship aspect.

4C. As you can well imagine, this did not help to promote a spirit of unity when it was time to have communion.

5C. What would have helped them? Folks, ignoring this physical plant that we presently occupy, we must understand, as the Corinthians ought to have understood, that any place where we gather to worship our Lord is holy ground, be it a home or an auditorium.

6C. And though joy and laughter is proper, this auditorium is at no time a racetrack, a carnival, or a parlor. Amen?

2A. AFTER OBSERVATION OF THE CORINTHIAN MANNER, WE MOVE TO AN OBSERVATION OF THE CORRECT MANNER OF TAKING COMMUNION (11.23-25)

23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

I want you to notice two things about Paulís instructions for proper observance of the Lordís Supper:

1B. First, It Was Received From The Lord (11.23a)

"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you."

1C. By pointing this out Paul informs the readers that he is only relaying a message.

2C. The real author of this commentary is the Author and Finisher of our faith . . . the Lord Jesus Christ.

2B. Second, Paulís Instructions Were Rehearsed To The Readers (11.23b-25)

. . . That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

1C. Folks, if reading this passage doesnít cause folks to pay attention, doesnít cause people to be quiet, doesnít catch the attention of the straying mind during communion, something is really wrong.

2C. Notice the Lordís comment about His "body, which is broken for you." The question is: Is the communion bread really the literal fleshly body of Christ?

1D. Read John 19.36 quickly: "For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken." According to that verse, was Christís physical body broken? No.

2D. Therefore, the loaf of bread which Christ broke in the upper room the night before He was crucified could not have been literal flesh, because it was broken!

3D. Folks, the loaf of bread was a loaf of bread, that only symbolized Christ as the bread of life. Those little wafers in the chalice at Catholic Mass . . . are just little wafers.

3C. Now notice His comment in verse 25. Question: Does the liquid become Christís blood for us to consume?

1D. Not if you read Genesis 9.4, which forbids the consumption of blood.

2D. Again, Christís blood is symbolized in the cup. It does not actually turn to blood. Christians are not cannibals who eat the flesh and drink the blood of their Savior. Amen?

3A. FINALLY, OBSERVING THE CAUTION TO BE MANIFESTED

There are very good reasons why people should be cautious, should be reverent, when participating in communion.

1B. First Reason, Because Of The Picture Painted (11.26)

"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lordís death till he come."

1C. I donít know if youíve ever thought of it, but communion does paint a picture. You see, the design of communion is to preach the Lordís death. Everything about communion reminds us of the sacrifice Christ made for our sins. Thatís why Paul wrote, "ye do shew the Lordís death. . . ."

2C. But communion doesnít just have a design. It also has a duration. "do shew the Lordís death till He come." From that phrase we know two things: First, Jesus is coming again. Donít doubt that for a minute. Amen? Second, until He does come He wants His sacrifice on Calvaryís cross remembered in this way.

3C. And any tinkering or taking lightly of this powerful ordinance will not be appreciated by the Lord, as we shall see momentarily.

2B. Caution Is Also To Be Exercised In View of The Pain Promised To Offenders. Note What The Next 8 Verses Say.

1C. The warning is in verse 27: "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." Do not take communion unworthily. Folks, since the word "unworthily" is an adverb, it describes the action of the Christian, not the quality of his life. Fact is, no one is worthy to join in the Lordís Supper. But what this verse warns of is taking the Lordís Supper in an unworthy manner, to act disrespectfully, to be irreverent during the communion service. Because if you do you are guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. Whoa!

2C. The wisdom is seen in verses 28 and 29. "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lordís body." Youíd better examine yourself. Donít depend on other people to calm you down when you get rowdy. Why not? Because if you drink unworthily, if you act irreverently, you eat and drink damnation to yourself. Now, this does not mean you will go to Hell, but it does mean that you will bring judgment on yourself, from the Lord, and perhaps from the Church.

3C. The weakness is in verse 30: "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." Folks, because of the way in which they observed the Lordís Supper, many of the Corinthians were weak and sickly, and some were dead, which is what Paul means when he says they sleep. And in my own experience, a woman was dead within 24 hours after she disrupted a communion service I was conducting in Brawley. If there is sickness in the family, check out how communion is observed by those who attend it.

4C. The wage, verses 31 and 32: "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." What you earn by disrespectful behavior is the chastisement of God. God will chasten those who do not keep their personal house in order when communion time comes around.

5C. The weight, verses 33 and 34: "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." This is the weight of responsibility. You wait for each other until the appointed time and partake of the Lordís Supper in unity. You do those things, whether it be at a love feast before communion or some other activity, which will insure unity during communion time.

CONCLUSION:

1. I am quite sure that you would never be so rude as to ignore an invitation to sup with a loved one.

2. Because you would consider their love, their time, their attention, and even their expense, when invited you would attend, wouldnít you? Iím sure you would.

3. Well, consider this: The Lord Jesus Christ has invited each and every one of you Church members to dine with Him, at a table He has prepared. And when you consider His love for you, His attention to your sin problem, the great expense of His Own shed blood that He shed to prepare the communion of the Lordís Supper for you, and His invitation to you to get saved and Scripturally baptized so you might partake of the Supper . . . How can a genuinely converted Christian not attend?

4. After what we have studied this evening each of you ought to realize that the Lord Jesus Christ wants us to celebrate His great sacrificial death for us, and He wants us to celebrate it properly.

5. So I ask you, how many times have you missed this Supper youíve been invited to . . . and how was your behavior when you did attend?

6. "Pastor, I donít even know when we have communion at this Church." Once a month, when itís announced in the bulletin. Attending Church regularly when you ought to enables you to know exactly when the communion times are scheduled.

7. "But pastor, what does a person have to do to take communion?" The first thing a man must do to respond to Christís invitation to His Supper is get saved. You see, the Lordís Supper is for Christians, but people who have never been saved the Bible way are not Christians, but Christís enemies. So the invitation to a lost person is to receive Christ as personal Savior.

8. To a Christian the invitation is to then follow the Lord in believerís baptism, to become a member of this Church.

9. To our Church members the invitation is not to forsake the Lordís Supper if you have problems. Itís to use the Lordís Supper and the picture it portrays of Christís death to bring personal sin into sharp focus so it will be dealt with in your life. And as you reverently participate in communion, examining yourself and your lifestyle, committing yourself to dealing with the sins and problems and difficulties the Holy Spirit then brings to light.


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