1 Corinthians 11:17-22
Conduct at the Lord’s Supper/ Correcting an Abuse of the Lord’s Supper:
17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
What is the Lord’s Supper really all about? Do we fully understand what this monthly ritual we participate in is supposed to mean? Or do we just do the Lord’s Supper because, well, because that is what a person does at church? It’s tradition!
I read this week of a small-town church in upstate New York. They’d had a pastor in that church for over thirty-five years. He was loved by the church and the community. After he retired, he was replaced by a young pastor. It was his first church; he had a great desire to do well. He had been at the church several weeks when he began to perceive that the people were upset at him. He was troubled.
Eventually he called aside one of the lay leaders of the church and said, "I don’t know what’s wrong, but I have a feeling that there’s something wrong."
The man said, "Well, pastor, that’s true. I hate to say it, but it’s the way you do the Communion service."
"The way I do the Communion service? What do you mean?"
"Well, it’s not so much what you do as what you leave out."
"I don’t think I leave out anything from the Communion service."
"Oh yes, you do. Just before our previous pastor distributed and administered the cup and wine to the people, he’d always go over and touch the radiator. And, then, he would--"
"Touch the radiator? I never heard of that liturgical tradition."
So, the younger man called the former pastor. He said, "I haven’t even been here a month, and I’m in trouble."
"In trouble? Why?" Asked his predecessor.
"Well, it’s something to do with touching the radiator. Could that be possible? Did you do that?"
"Oh yes, I did. Always before I distributed the cup to the people, I touched the radiator to discharge the static electricity so I wouldn’t shock them."
So, for over thirty-five years, the people of his congregation had thought that touching the radiator was a part of the holy tradition. I have to tell you that church has now gained the name, "The Church of the Holy Radiator."
As you can tell from the table that is set before us, we will be partaking of the Lord’s Supper this afternoon. So, since that is the case, I think it is a good idea for us to spend some time talking about what that means. There are two reasons why that’s a good idea for us this afternoon. The first reason will apply to most of us here. Most of us have been in church for a long time. And when we’ve been in church a long time, the things we do in church can become a habit.
Things that we do begin to lose their meaning. The songs and the line up become so familiar that we just perform them out of habit. Before we know it, we can become like robots that have been programmed to go through the motions. It’s almost like when you drive the same route every day. You do that day after day and week after week until you become numb to it. Then one day you get home and realize you were so zoned out during your drive that you can’t remember anything about it. Do you ever get home from church feeling like that?
What I mean is, is coming to church, also has become a routine in our lives, that the meaning of worship has lost its value? We greet each other with a hug, we sing praises to our Lord, we sit down and listen to the message. Has it gotten to the point where the Lords Message doesn’t mean anything anymore? We just listen to the message and that is as far as it goes. No more application for holy living, no more value in the fact that it is the Word Of God.
What is our Scripture passage? We can get into such a routine that we go on autopilot. For those of us who have been in the church for a long time, the Lord’s Supper can get like that. We like to say that we don’t celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week like some denominations do so that it won’t become an empty ritual that we do out of habit. That’s true. That’s the reason why we don’t have it every week. But is it any different if we only have it once a month? Is it any different if we only have it once a quarter? Not if we allow it to become routine for us.
Our passage this afternoon is toward the end of a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church he had planted in the city of Corinth. He had stayed with them for about a year and a half and then moved on to plant other churches.
The city of Corinth was an extremely immoral city. It was so bad that even its name became synonymous with immorality. If somebody said that you were acting like a Corinthian, it was a bad thing. The good thing was that Paul planted a growing church there. The bad thing was that the people in that church had a hard time letting go of their past.
Things were in check while Paul was there, but they went downhill in a hurry after he left. In his letters, he had to deal with everything from bad teaching to sexual immorality. They were messing up a lot of stuff. And one of the things that they were messing up was the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. Paul wrote this section to deal with that problem. In it he shows us three things concerning the Lord’s Supper. He shows us the abuse of the Lord’s Supper, the act of the Lord’s Supper and the attitude of the Lord’s Supper. First, he points out how the church at Corinth had been abusing the Lord’s Supper.
Look back at verses 17-22:
1) The Abuse Of The Lords Supper.
1 Corinthians 11:17-18
17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.
Paul starts verse 17 by basically saying that he’s not happy with them. And the reason that he’s not happy with them is the way that they are treating the Lord’s Supper. We have to understand how they celebrated the Lord’s Supper in the early church. They would come together for a time of worship, preaching and teaching.
That might take hours. But then when it was finished, they wouldn’t just shake hands and go home. They would have dinner on the grounds. They would all stick around for a big fellowship dinner. Actually, it was meant to be for more than just a social event. Have you noticed that that’s what we think of when we think of fellowship? We think of a social event. That’s not what fellowship meant to them.
Fellowship was sharing. Those who had shared with those who didn’t have. And there were plenty of people who didn’t have. Publicly professing your faith in Christ would often mean that your pagan boss would fire you. (Keep in mind, Christianity was persecuted.) And it wasn’t like you could go down to the unemployment office in those days. There was no such thing as food stamps. If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. And when you became a Christian, many times you couldn’t work. But that wasn’t the case with everybody in Corinth. Corinth was a multicultural city.
They were tolerant for the most part. But fellowship meant that those who still had an income were supposed to share with those who were struggling. Did you know that it still means the same thing? Fellowship is more than just shaking hands and being nice to each other. It means that we are involved in each other’s lives.
When one hurts, we’re all supposed to hurt. When one rejoices, we’re all supposed to rejoice. But that wasn’t going on in Corinth. The fellowship was broken. They weren’t sharing in each other’s lives. Why? Because verse 18 says that there were divisions among them. Paul had been getting reports that the people in Corinth were ripping each other apart. It was a church split where nobody was leaving. They were just divided amongst each other. No unity, not in one body. Verse 19 says that there were also heretics there…
1 Corinthians 11:19
19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
A group or clique within a larger group, party, government, organization, or the like: a faction in favor of big business. party strife and intrigue; dissension:
Heretics are people who believe wrong doctrine. What is interesting to me is that Paul pretty much leaves them alone. He says that the heretics will always be there. As a matter of fact, in verse 19, he says that them being there is a good thing. It’s a good thing because their bad doctrine forces people to seek the truth. Think about it. When somebody tells you something that doesn’t line up with scripture, what do you do? You try to refute it. And if you can’t refute it, it forces you to go back to the Bible to see what the real answer is. After one is converted, there will always be that hunger to know the truth. Why? Because the Truth will set you free.
Free from what? From traditions, man made teachings that are not biblical. It sets you free from believing the wrong things. Paul had to deal with heretics in those days, in each church that he planted. No difference than churches we have today. Different beliefs, different practices, and so on. That is one of the reasons that the Lord allows tares to grow up among the wheat. (Matthew 13)
They were killing their gatherings. They were killing their church. And they were killing the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. No wonder Paul was scolding them. Do you think, if Paul was still alive, would he scold us or praise us? We are friendly. We share some really good meals and fun things together.
In a few minutes, we’re going to share the Lord’s Supper together. But let me ask you something. Is there someone here that you will not sit at the same fellowship table with? Is there someone here that you don’t speak to? Is there something that you won’t do in the church if you think that they’re going to be there? If there is, then how in the world can you sit in the same congregation and take the Lord’s Supper with them? I doesn’t really matter if you’re sitting on opposite ends of the sanctuary, if Jesus has saved you, you are still part of His body. (Later on, in our meeting, we will be dealing with church membership)
Notice that Paul didn’t go into any details about why they were divided... It didn’t matter. He didn’t care who was to blame. He didn’t care who started it. He didn’t care how long it had been going on. All he cared about was that there was division in their fellowship. And by allowing that division to remain, verse 22 says that the people were showing that they despised the church of God.
1 Corinthians 11:22
22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
Do you despise the church of God? Is there any strife, quarrels amongst the members in this church? And if there is, you do know that there are serious consequences for that. Remember the warning that we take, before we partake of the Lords Supper?
1 Corinthians 11:27-34
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
So… it comes with a great warning that is not meant to be neglected. “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world”. It comes with a great deal of discipline from the Lord. You know willfully that you are sinning against the Lord in the way you live your life. and you partake of the Lords Supper. Which represents the Lords body, & blood.
2: There is the attitude in the Lords Supper:
Do you realize so far, how serious this is? This isn’t just some ritual. This isn’t just some way to get something from God. The Lord’s Supper is about unbroken fellowship within the body of Christ. There are a couple of different ways to look at verse 27. You can look at it like most of us look at it. And that’s that if we take the Lord’s Supper with unconfessed sin in our lives, it’s like we’re hanging Jesus on the cross ourselves.
You can look at it like most of us look at it. And that is that if we take the Lord’s Supper with unconfessed sin in our lives, it’s like we’re hanging Jesus on the cross ourselves. There is an element of that. But in the context of the passage, it actually is more specific than that. When Jesus saves us, the Bible says that we are now His body. Just a few verses from our passage in..
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink [a]into one Spirit.
Like it or not, when Jesus saves us, we are all saved together into one body. And as the body of Christ, we are called to join in communion with each other and with Him. That’s is also the reason that the Lords Supper is also called Communion. Around this Lord’s Table. These elements are pictures of His body and blood.
And if we take of those elements at the same time we are having division with another part of His body—we are guilty of ripping the very body of Christ apart. That’s why the Lord’s Supper is a time of self examination. Look at what’s on the table here. Jesus’ physical body was destroyed on the cross so that we might be saved and become part of His body. When we have division amongst us, we are destroying His body again. And as a result, many among us will have our physical bodies destroyed. (Sickness, illness, financial burdens, no peace)
Lastly, and now, thirdly brings us to…
3: The Act Of The Lords Supper:
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
But before we get to the act, I want to give you a chance to respond to what you’ve heard.
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us are faultless. If it was not for the grace of God as shown on the cross of Calvary, we would all be standing equally guilty before His judgment…the condemnation with the world.
I know that there are divisions in this church, as there are in all churches. The divisions that I am talking about, is the differences that we have. We may feel differently toward one another, and that is ok, for as long as we are not sinning against each other. The Bread and the Cup, would be a little hard to swallow, if there is sin from each other. We all make mistakes, we al may offend each other from time to time. But it should not get to the point where we start to use the word, HATE! We are all different, God did not make us all the same.
Could you imagine, picture this if you will. God built this church, The First Fil-Am Baptist Mission Church. And guess what He has placed inside this church? A bunch of messed up people, being healed by the Lord. Who in here is perfect? NO ONE!!!
We are all messed up in one point or another. We…all carry a stain in our lives that Lord has cleansed with His Blood. We are all imperfect people, guilty of sin. NOT ONE PERFECT!!!
That is why God sacrificed His One and Only Son! The body of Jesus was placed on that cross for you and I. HIS BODY, HIS BLOOD!!!
Jesus didn’t dig up all of our past when He saved us, did He? All He did was forgive. While we were still in our sin and cared nothing about Him, He died for you and I. Awakened faith in you and I, saved you and I. He took our sin upon Himself. And He clothed us in His righteousness. And through His Spirit, He has empowered you and I, to forgive others like He forgave. He has empowered you and I, to heal the divisions and set things back in order. So now is the time. Now I am going to pray. Please pray with me that we take the Lords Supper seriously, with its full meaning and value….
Let Us Pray….
Pastor Richard Santos
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