I apologize for the lateness of this post, and I thank you for your patience while we sorted out our tech issues with posting. Our tech man figured out which plugin was causing the issue and resolved it (thanks Jason). Now as I always do, I want to give a little bit of a brief as to how we got to here from the beginning of the book. You must always keep in the back of your mind that this letter is the second of four corrective letters to the church at Corinth, clearly the one that had the most issues that we read about in the new Testament. We must not initiate the building of theology from this letter without understanding the greater context of the Scriptures as a whole before using 1 Corinthians to draw any theological conclusions. You’ll see what I mean when we talk about our second paragraph this study.
In chapter 1, we learned that basically, everyone is some kind of fool, and concluded from our study that if we have to play the fool anyway, we should play the part of God’s fool, because the so-called “foolishness” of our sovereign God will put any of the logic or wisdom of the world to shame. Come, give your life for a carpenter’s son – for “a madman who died for a dream,” according to Dr. Albert Schweitzer. But only the foolish can tell of the wonderful grace of God in their own salvation and the wisdom found in His word through His Spirit.
That brought us to chapter 2, where we had opportunity to examine the nature of this heavenly wisdom, that the world calls foolish. We learned that not only was that true wisdom a spiritual, and nor earthly wisdom, but also that such wisdom could only be revealed to those who are aiming at maturity in Christ by walking “in the Spirit,” where for lack of better words, we obey what the Holy Spirit informs us through the Word of God and the New Nature that Christ gave us to walk in instead of the old nature that we are still very capable of falling into no matter how long you have been a real Christian.
Then in chapter 3, we considered that God’s reality is the reality to which attention must be paid. We like to manufacture our own at times to avoid responsibility toward God, but believers cannot afford that luxury – all believers are doing a great work, and Paul speaks to the details of that. Our conclusion is that because we are actually collectively building the naos of God, that is the Sanctuary, where God sits and lives and speaks and works, we must take great care with the construction in terms of the material we use. There are good and bad choices, and we want to make the best possible choices, because if we are careless, then we will suffer loss. And that loss is unimaginable, though we will still be saved – “yet so as through the fire, according to Paul.
Then the Apostle presents a choice in chapter 4 – which Paul would you like to face? The angry disciplinarian that wrote the letter to the Galatians, or the loving, humble, meek servant that wrote Ephesians and Philippians, etc.? It seems that the dividers were already hard at work trying to separate the sheep from the fold in Corinth, and it had to be explained that although Paul and his fellow servants perhaps appeared to be without honour, instead of discarding them, they should rather be imitated – because the kingdom of God does not exist in eloquent speeches, but in the power of changed lives, and that should be the measure for a preacher. It seems that we need to obey God and walk in the Spirit at this point, because that is what the Lord is mandating.
That brought us to chapter 5 and an example of the use of church discipline. We saw that it was to be used seldomly if possible, relying on the Holy Spirit to resolve our minor differences, but in the case of the persistent sin being expressed without any kind of repentance, it should be engaged to remove the covering of protection from an individual so that he may begin to understand through his own wrong choices that brought him into the place where he is so as to make him repent, and even be brought back in as occasion allows. It is specifically used in cases where a brother or sister WILL not repent, but because most of us want to become more like Christ, it should remain a rare thing.
That brought us to chapter 6 and a consideration about our spiritual choices, because you must remember that Christianity is a faith based on our motivations and choices of heart and mind, not an external religion of liturgy and external ritual, or of refined and well-presented words, but in the demonstration of power that comes from a changed life. Two things became clear. 1 – if your life is not changed as a result of turning to Christ, something is wrong. 2. If you ARE His, you are no longer your own, you don’t get to do what you want, you have been bought with a price – His lifeblood. And if that is true of you, how could you NOT follow Him? Really, how DARE you not follow Him?
That brings us to the first part of chapter 7, which we will now call 7A. We looked at verses 1-24, where we learned that although there were some things about marriage we needed to pay attention to, that again, Christianity is not a religion of rules, ritual, and rote, but instead is one of heart and attitude. One thing is very sure – the need to pay attention to the principles of marriage in the New Testament show that God still has His Law in place to be obeyed; so much for unhitching from the Old Testament, Andy. In the next portion of 7, which we called 7B, we learned that Paul was actually applying a biblical principle to a number of issues, and that principle is that anything we do should be done “in the Lord,” as Paul informs the Corinthians believers. We discovered through this that the principle of walking with the Lord and following His instructions that the Holy Spirit illuminates for us in His word applies to pretty much everything in life and practice.
That brought us to chapter 8, where we considered the defining mark of God’s servants – His agape love. With all the “stuff” we know here at BereanNation.com, we run a real risk of the arrogance that such knowledge can bring. Because we know it, it can be a natural thing to just think ourselves smarter than you, and therefore better than you. My prayer is that such a thing will never be from us. And when we compare what the world “knows” compared with the heavenly reality that all real believers should be aware of, it becomes clear that those of us who know the truths of God need to be gracious and approach people on the ground of their needs, and not our own – just like Jesus did for us when He came the first time.
This chapter (11) is important to understanding the whole of what has just been said in chapters 8 and 9 about the identifying mark of agape love for biblical Christians (Ch.8) and the subsequent rights and responsibilities of those who really do belong to Christ (Ch.9). Then we have a list of examples from the Old Testament of how not to be (Ch.10). We have to be given the list of behaviours to avoid because it is there we see what we need to stay away from – it is not always clear what we are moving towards.
Last week (11A) we saw that the Lord does actually have a created order, and that it is very clear to observe. Those that rage against it from any direction must deliberately confuse themselves and obfuscate the view for others in order to sell their lunacy as it turns out. This week, we will consider the church Ordinance (some would say Sacrament) of the Lord’s Supper itself as a part of that divine order that we began to consider last week, and see once again that Christianity is NOT a religion of tradition and rote ritual but is instead a living faith of heart and mind and motive and choices made in faith by grace in Christ.
I broke the chapter into the following thought units:
KV28: The responsibility of people in God’s house
17-22: Add-ons to Christianity are never improvements
23-26: The ordinance delivered to Paul by direct revelation
27-32: The responsibility to walk in a worthy manner
33-34: Get rid of the man-made add-ons
Now, a moment ago, I mentioned a word I do not like and prefer not to use because of the connotation it has taken on in the realm of what I will call “Churchianity.” The term is “Sacrament.” Originally, the word meant something like “sacred practice,” and if it still meant that I would use it all the time. However, largely because of the Roman Catholic cult, it now conveys the added meaning “means of grace,” whereby one may be saved, and that is incorrect, no matter which “ponitfex maximus” said it. That means supreme bridge builder. No bridge built by man will ever reach far enough to act as a means of grace, not even ceremony that was given by Jesus Himself, because it is NOT the reason He gave it. We’ll talk about that as we go through the text.
Instead, I prefer the term “Ordinance,” which has a meaning similar to the original meaning of sacrament. It means “regulation,” and in the case of the Lord’s Supper was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself on the night he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. It was intended to be practiced, and such intent was expressed by the Lord on that night (putting the lie to what Andy Stanley says about how “Jesus never commanded us to meet”). In fact, God felt that this command was important enough to divinely reveal to Paul, who was not at the last supper Jesus ate with His disciples, and in this passage, Paul tells us that it is supposed to be OFTEN from the text. And so the real church meets, practicing this on more than just the so-called “high holidays” of Christmas and Easter.
However, as with anything Christian that man gets involved in, the customs of Jesus are given some kind of falsely elevated importance and the whole exercise is restricted, changed, or what have you so as to muddy the clear meaning of the symbology, the doctrine itself, it’s reasons and practice, like that. This is a work of the enemy of Christ, but it can be worked against, by knowing, practicing, and communicating the original meaning to others. Let’s start here.
KV28: The responsibility of people in God’s house
Although it is true that God saved us, and that there was not one thing we could do to save ourselves, He HAS saved us and called us into fellowship in Christ. He has provided everything in Christ that pertains now to life and godliness for the Christian. Now, those of you who have seen these things before understand that our “journey” to salvation in Christ did not end with justification by grace through faith in Christ alone. That,. Beloved, as the term “new birth” implies, is just the beginning of our passage.
When god justified us, He put us upon a spiritual road, and that road has some checkpoints against which we may measure our progress, or “examine ourselves” as Paul puts in verse 28 of this text. It is a good thing that we are filled with joy at our salvation, but the reason for the joy is not joy in and of itself, it is part of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians 5:22-23. It is rather an indicator of being in the way, not the end of the way, right? (Say amen if you are with me!) In our studies so far, and those have included all of the Pauline Epistles at this point except 2 Corinthians, and that’s next, we have learned that discernment of false prophets is based on an examination of the “fruit” of their deeds and words. That principle is based on the statement of Jesus found in Matt. 7:16 & 20 (that’s right, He says it twice, that’s important sayings that get stated twice like that), and those principles can apply to our own self-examination. You can ask these things in the privacy of your own mind, as it turns out. Love: How am I loving others? My brothers and sisters in Christ? My neighbours (believing and unbelieving)? Is that defining mark of the servants of God seen in my life? No? Repent and go forward differently. Joy: Do I know Joy? Or am I mister or miz Grumpy-pants? How about peace? Am I experiencing peace and joy regardless of my circumstances (even in 2020, the year that is the great floating, burning dumpster fire)?
Because God called us to Himself, He has a worthy conduct that he repeatedly describes in the Word about how to follow Him in a worthy fashion. Yes, amen, we have the rights of the very Son of God that died for us and rose again so that we could sit with Him in heavenly places (see Eph. 1:6). But as we have the rights He gave us, He has also given us responsibilities, meaning we must walk in the way He has prescribed, that is walk in a worthy manner, the way He does for us. And because we are humans, and because humans try by default to make their own existence easier, we must guard here against things becoming empty ritual. Let’s get into the text here.
17-22: Add-ons to Christianity are never improvements
Have you ever wondered why we have so many grand old churches, particularly in the Roman Catholic cult, but not only there? All of the great and sublime ritual surrounding the worship of YHWH? And further, did you know that very little to none of it is actually found in Scripture? Where does it say that all services, for example, must be performed in Latin, to pick on a well-known one? Well, it doesn’t actually say that anywhere. All sorts of Roman and High Anglican (with the English Sovereign as the head of the church organization) until less than 50 years ago performed these “masses” in Latin. In fact, the entire “mass” is an add-on of sorts, being a re-sacrificing of Christ for fresh forgiveness of sins! Except that isn’t supposed to be done (see Heb. 10:12 – “but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God…”). In fact it’s a shame, according to Heb. 6:6: “…and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” All of these “add-ons” as I have termed them are not “improvements” or “evolutions” of “the faith once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude v.3). What these things tend to be, no matter how they arrived, things that eventually detract from the worship of Almighty God. The example described by Paul here is the “love-feast,” which at some point became a codified part of worship in Corinth, to the chagrin of those who were really His in Corinth.
In this case, the love-feast had begun as a time of fellowship of the saints, we do not know where, but we suspect it was transported to Corinth later. Originally, all of the believers in a place would bring food to share, and they shared it all together, like all their other belongings seen at the end of Acts 2. In other words, it was potluck! How about that? And I have to say, I still like those, and we don’t do them enough, and can’t at the moment anyway because of this COVID-19 lockdown. What had begun innocently enough now took a turn for the worse in Corinth. What happened is revealed in the text, so we’ll jump in here.
17: But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.
- From the context, I think this is Paul beginning a new thought. The reason I think that is the praise the Corinthians received about the roles of men and women in the House of God was a separate point. Now Paul seems to be moving on to another area, and as such does not seem inclined to be as praising as he was previously. So what instruction is he giving (and it is safe to say here it is an actual correction)?
- And why was this correction given? Well, it had to do with who was being glorified by the Corinthian gathering in terms of worship, among other issues, like charity, and the like. If God would have been receiving the glory here, this correction would not have been necessary or have been worded this way at any rate. Paul says though that the Corinthian believers are coming together for worship for the worse, not the better, and that cannot be a good thing no matter how you try to paint it so. No one I am aware of actually tries here, just to mention that.
18: For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.
- Paul is now explaining WHY he has said they are the worse for meeting as they have been. It has to do with the divisions that exist in the church that existed, but I have a feeling we’re not talking about the Apollos vs. Paul vs. Peter vs. Christ kind of stuff, at least not in its entirety. It is the next few verses that give me that impression, so I’ll continue with the study here. Paul will explain himself as we go.
19: For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.
- The word “evident” here is the Greek phaneros, meaning to become visible or to manifest. Paul is telling the believers in Corinth that factions, the Greek hairesis, where we get our English word “heresies,” MUST exist in the church to show those who are the real Christians! So when a certain octogenarian in our midst sits in the church parlour and tries to tell us that Catholics and Baptists believe exactly the same thing, and we look at him with disbelief because the Scriptures say otherwise, well, the “approved,” [Gk., dokimos, approved by testing against what is true] are revealed to everyone sitting by that knows the truth! But I don’t wish to make sport, I’m just stating the point, and the reason the gent got some funny looks from people besides me and Alex that day. No one said anything because no one needed to point out his error, beloved. We all knew it.
- Beloved, the reason we have disagreeable heretics in our midst is so that people can clearly and quickly see the difference in doctrine, and in behaviour. It is not for no reason that the Lord is allowing His own good wheat and the enemy’s evil tares to grow together until the harvest. Sometimes I think we can worry too much about how it looks if a certain heresy or heretic is in our congregation. Beloved, as long as no one is being led astray, let it be. There is no harm in letting him seek “converts” in a field where he won’t get any. This thought kind of occurred to me when he said what he said in front of our sister Maria. I was worried that she might be deceived, and was about to say something until she caught my eye and just shook her head and made a funny face as if to say SHE knew the difference. I stopped worrying. People know who he is and what he says is false. You can hear it every time he speaks, in the collective eyerolls of the congregation at his shameless self-promotions. They know. And it is plain to everyone paying attention as to what is going on. No, the problem was something else.
20: Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper,
- And there it is. There are a couple of things to note in this short phrase. First, the Corinthian error being addressed is that they were not truly gathering to eat the Lord’s Supper. That’s just a direct reading of the text.
- However, one CAN make a solid inference here, and this is a general problem I have with most places of fellowship today. They do not see one of the main purposes of their gathering together to BE the Lord’s Supper. And that is a DIRECT implication of Paul here in the text. Say this in the positive – When you meet together, it is to eat the Lord’s Supper. And who gets to make that decision? It is the recognized church leadership that decides. If you have an argument about that, you can take it up with Paul.
- For gatherings that only do this infrequently, like on so-called high holidays – shame on you. The church is not some kind of social club. It is the very body of Christ, and it is a gathering to remember in a very specific and singular way what Jesus did on the cross for us – how His body was offered as a sacrifice for “sins for all time” as it said in Hebrews 10:12, and how the New Testament was sealed in the shedding of His own precious blood – and that is Christian Worship.
- Did you get that? Worship in the Church is the verbal proclamation that Jesus is God, and that God came and died in our place to pay for our wrongdoings, and rose from the dead according to the Scriptures to show that not only had he paid the penalty for them, but that sin’s power in our lives was broken, and that at the end of our lives here on earth, regardless of how they end, so long as they end in the Lord, we will be saved from the very presence of sin in our characters. THAT is the gospel! That is why we worship – that and for who God actually is, in every way possible.
- It is not having a celebrity pastor. It is not in having a very talented “worship band.” It is not everyone muttering in gibberish all at once and falsely calling that speaking in tongues (and it’s out of order if it is, but we’ll look at that in chapter 14). It isn’t barking like dogs while rolling on the floor. It isn’t growling or behaving like you are drunk, or actually being drunk, or any other sort of falsehood like that. It isn’t in the liturgy, or the well-organized order of service, or the prayers, even the legitimate ones.
- No, beloved, it is the raw, reverential, actual WORSHIP of God in Jesus Christ by the REAL power of the real Holy Spirit, the third person of our Triune God, IN THE MANNER HE HAS PRESCRIBED, so that all things are done to intentionally glorify HIS name, and not ours. That means eating the Lord’s Supper every week in my opinion. I know it’s my opinion, and I’ll state it as that. But how else can we be faithful in the maintenance of His Table? Once a month doesn’t cut it for me, and it was only good enough for me when I did not understand what was at stake – His very testimony to the world. And yes, all of that is in that short verse. And now we come to Corinth’s issue.
21: for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.
- So what was Corinth doing? Well, they were having those “love feasts” that likely had been seen somewhere else, maybe Philippi, but that’s just speculation. What was one of those love feasts? Well, it was apparently a time where all of the saints were to make and bring food to share with everyone. We would call it a potluck fellowship these days, and I am pleased that where we attend, one of the things we get right is the Baptist Potluck. Did y’all know Baptist food has guilt-free calories? Oh, it HAS calories – lots of them – but you can eat every one of them without guilt, or so I’ve been told. Hah – okay, enough of that joke.
- What seems to be at issue here is that Corinth did not understand the generosity of a true potluck fellowship. People brought food, but they only brought their own food and wouldn’t share with the poor. Um – no. If you’re not willing to actually feed the hungry poor in your midst, what else are you not willing to do? Some would bring wine or other alcohol-based beverage to drink and became drunk – right before the Lord’s Supper – and never see the gross contradiction in terms. The poor went hungry. Now, how do we – who all know about how to throw a good potluck – feel about that? Well, I feel that Corinth wasn’t understanding potluck (or the spirit of generosity it is supposed to convey) at all.
- To put this into a context I can understand, when I lived in a brother’s training home, we actually would make extra lunches for people that arrived to worship that didn’t have one. Sometimes those were poor students that were focusing on their education. Sometimes it was some soul someone invited who weren’t saved, or were new believers, or had no real place of fellowship. It was the duty of the one that shared the lunch with that one to go out and meet not just their physical need (as is our actual responsibility according to James 2:14-17), but to meet other needs as they may have them. For students in a university town where most of the population of those campuses was liberal in worldview, the critical need was Christian fellowship, and it was EASY to see. For the unsaved, it was the gospel, and again, it was EASY to see. For those that were new or were looking for a deeper walk with the Lord, that need was fellowship, teaching, prayer, and sometimes just to sit and vent with another person who shared your overall worldview. This was kind of a reverse application of this, and really a logical thought that follows the thinking of James and the traditional “love feast” mentality. And Corinth was CLEARLY not meeting those needs of the people who were showing up, and in fact, it was engendering the very opposite.
22: What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? 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 will not praise you.
- So Paul says this – you folks don’t even have the right idea, and if you’re going to do this with these love-feasts (a decent idea if done properly) – then you should just stay home and eat. And I don’t think I’m overstating this when I say that Paul was trying to keep the hatred that these haireses-peddlers (v.19) have for the house of God from turning other people away. That’s right – to allow this kind of idiocy to continue unaddressed can turn people who otherwise would come to avoid the very house of God like the plague. Or COVID-19 these days. For all the words Paul used, he found none that he could use to praise the Corinthians for any of this.
In fact, Paul had such a low opinion of what was going on in their so-called love-feasts that he had the need to rebuke and reprove Corinth over it. He rebuked those doing these uncharitable things and basically being “heretics” in their causing of divisions (v.19), and he reproved those who stood by and let it happen, beloved. So if you have seen people showing uncharitable behavior (against others than yourself, it must be said), and you have stood by and done nothing to correct that kind of horrible and non-Christian behaviour, you have also not done well.
Some doubtless did not KNOW how to do this correctly, and so may have been poorly taught, misinformed, uninformed, or the like. What is that we are supposed to be doing and why, Paul? That is the operative question. Another one goes with it. How important is this really? And Paul is about to answer both in startling and refreshing clarity.
23-26: The ordinance delivered to Paul by direct revelation
What Paul has to say is actually in the text, so I won’t rehash it here, we’ll just jump straight in.
23: For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
- Paul says something that bears on the importance of what is going on in this verse. The first part of this verse says, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you…” Paul knew the importance of it because Christ had revealed it to Him directly. This means that the Lord Himself thought it important enough to give His chief apostle to the Gentiles direct revelation concerning this remembrance. Remember, Paul was not AT the last supper with the rest of the Apostles, he was off somewhere being a Pharisee, rank heretics that they were.
- This also tells us that the fact of this direct revelation to Paul, who was a capital-A Apostle, God’s chosen instrument to bring the gospel to the Gentiles so that they may also be saved, DOES NOT MEAN that all believers can receive direct revelation from God, Beloved. I have personally never had a direct revelation from God, although He has used the Scriptures to bring concepts and truths to where even I can notice them (and you can ask my wife, I’m often oblivious to things going on around me).
- However, Paul DID receive this knowledge, and knew that it was too important NOT to share. You know, folks, I know a bunch of people that hold the opinion (even about the Scriptures) that nothing is that important as long as we all love God. What a pagan idea that is! Look, if that’s true, why not do what the blasphemous thing that was done at a NYC church to protest the death of young Treyvon Martin? For the record the unfortunate young man was gunned down by a white man, who was able to prove he was acting in self-defense as far as the court was concerned. I’m not saying it was right. I’m just saying it happened, and I will let others provide the colour commentary on that. But folks, that so-called church had a communion service with Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea. Really? Did Trayvon’s body somehow analogously refer to skittles as a source of substitutionary sacrifice? Did Trayvon, as tragic as his death was, initiate a new covenant between God and man by the shedding of his…I don’t know, it isn’t blood…his stomach acid? Of course not. So why not use Skittles and Iced Tea for communion, then?
- Because friends, these emblems that Paul is about to discuss are a part of a FAR older priesthood than that of even Levi, and more powerful that that of Aaron, the brother of Moses, the original High Priest of God Most High. We looked briefly at it when we studied Hebrews, and those that were there will recall our consideration of the Priesthood of Melchizedek. What again were the emblems of THAT priesthood? Well, it wasn’t blood sacrifice, was it? No, it was bread and wine. And Paul begins to discuss that here.
24: and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
- What Paul does here is describe God’s prescribed order for it. You think it isn’t that important, friend? Then why is Paul correcting Corinth over this? It isn’t enough juhad a st to grab several friends and a guitar (or other stringed instrument like banjo) and head out to the woods to “commune with God.” I’m afraid there is in fact more to it.
- Speaking of the bread (last half of previous verse), the Lord gave thanks for the bread, which at the last supper was likely an unleavened loaf, so a pita-like bread perhaps, and then he broke it and passed it around the table. When He passed that bread, he told us that it was His body, given up for us. Then He told us to break bread the same way and remember what He did for us.
- Over the centuries, or nearly millennia now, our understanding of just how that “body” has been seen has been different things at different times. There is the ancient understanding early Christians had has been lost to time, for all intents and purposes. I think we can reason out what it is, and we will discuss that in short order. The medieval understanding (and still the Romanish one) is that the bread became the literal body of Christ (yes, cannibalistic) and that the wine became the literal blood of Christ. This was referred to as transubstantiation, and it isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. It was said that the power of God would make it so and in a way that the human partaking of the host would not be able to sense a thing. How that works as far as the science of it goes, I really don’t know and don’t care to speculate, because frankly it makes my head hurt, and I’m usually pretty good at that kind of stuff.
- Once the Protestant Reformation of the faith had started in earnest, Martin Luther had a different understanding. Instead of it being mystically transmuted into the flesh and blood of Christ, the substance of the elements would remain the same, but the spiritual body and blood of Christ would surround the emblems in spiritual fashion. He called this consubstantiation, and it is much closer to our own Baptist understanding of it that you might think – at least Luther attempted to have spirituality represented.
- Ulrich Zwingle had a very different understanding than Luther, though he was a contemporary of his. To Zwingle, the elements would remain bread and wine. They were to him symbols or allegories of the spiritual realities they represented.
- Jean Calvin had an understanding that actually could encompass both Luther’s and Zwingle’s position. In fact, after the untimely death of Zwingle as a battlefield chaplain, Luther and Calvin exchanged letters, and it was Luther’s opinion that Calvin could and would have brought the two men together on their controversy. Sometimes it pays to watch Ligonier documentaries, brothers. This entire month of October 2020, Ligonier.org is showing the documentary Luther for free on its YouTube channel.
- Our own Baptist understanding comes from Calvin, in fact, and it is our position that it is these simple emblems of bread and wine that symbolize the spiritual realities of the body of Christ that He sacrificed in our stead, and the blood represents the New Covenant in His blood which was shed on our behalf, and that this common sharing and corporate exercise is to be observed often, right up until the return of Christ, and we will see that in this paragraph.
25: In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
- So hear, Christ told Paul that He took the cup filled with what they would have called wine, but what in all likelihood we would have called grape juice, He would have given thanks for it, and after sipping it and telling us he would not drink wine again until He came in His kingdom, he would have passed it around for all the Apostles to take a drink.
- Notice here that the Lord does not say that the cup is His blood. He says it is a New Covenant in His blood, and that is different. If the transubstantiation idea were true, then the grape juice would have been mystically transformed into a legal document, not blood.
- Also, Christ told Paul the raison-d’etre of the ceremony – it is to be as often as it is done, in remembrance of Him. Note also that Paul said as often as you drink it, not as seldom, what is at issue here is the frequency and the clarity of what is being done. This is not part of a so-called sacrifice of the mass. This is about remembering His once for all sacrifice on our behalf. We are to remember Him, and remember Him OFTEN.
26: For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
- Why? Well, it is a symbolic proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that’s why. He died in our place. Not only that, but He’s coming back, and when He returns, friends, it won’t be anymore meek and mild, the sympathizing Jesus. It will be the King of kings and Lord of all lords. And He will be coming back to set up His kingdom with POWER. You best be ready for that, Christian.
So Jesus Himself, god the Son, communicated directly to Paul the importance of the ceremony and its meaning. It does not convey salvation in and of itself. Without God calling you and you accepting the invitation irresistibly, that isn’t even possible, but that’s not this chapter’s message. Here it is how and what to do and then the reasons behind it. But Paul’s reasoning is not over…it leads directly into the next paragraph.
27-32: The responsibility to walk in a worthy manner
This message is typical of all Paul’s letters. After a few hellos and a frank discussion of gospel issues or doctrine, Paul indicates that there is a time to put our money where our mouth is – we must walk the walk of a Christian, not simply talk the talk. Any add-ons that we can come up with will always eventually turn out not to benefit or build up the church. Are we, in the light of that fact, ready and willing to get rid of that added stuff?
Also, we must understand what we are doing in order for both orthodoxy (right teaching) and orthopraxy (right practice) to take place. Wrong doctrine or wrong practice, or worse wrong motive for right practice and teaching, will bring us to disaster if we tell people we are walking the walk and are not/ Let’s see what Paul has to say about this.
27: Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.eautou
- Okay, that sounds about as serious as cardiac arrest. What does it mean to eat the loaf and drink the cup in an unworthy manner? The Greek word is anaxios, which means at its base unworthy, but Vine tells us that it is used in the sense of treating communion as a common meal, the bread and the cup as common things, and not apprehending their solemn symbolic import. He also points out that the best texts do not have the word “unworthy” in verse 29, which appears in the KJV among others (I didn’t take the time to check, but I’m guessing it is an issue with the TR itself, and the Masoretic text base. I don’t know that for certain, but the NASB doesn’t have it and that’s a symptom of that issue to me).
- This is what it means to be guilty, that is “bound up under the guilt of the crime committed” in this sense, against the body and blood of the Lord directly. Note the sin is directly against Christ, not the symbols. The Lord stands behind those symbols you mock, unbeliever. Have a care. Such a one has not taken the sacrifice of Jesus seriously, or has made light of it in his own unbelief and mocking.
- What is the sentence for that crime? Well, according to such unbelievers, nothing. According to the Scriptures, to die in a state of not having received Jesus as your own saviour and Lord is to blaspheme, or to make light of, the Holy Spirit. That sin has no possibility of forgiveness. But friend, if you are hearing this, and you are still breathing – rejoice, there is still hope for you. You can still turn, as long as you are alive. Don’t wait though – you don’t know how long a time that will be.
28: But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
- This is what it means to “examine” yourself. That word “examine” is the Greek word dokimazo, which means something like “test yourself” but with an eye to approving yourself, which we et from the next word heautou, a primary pronoun, “he,” or himself as it is translated here. In that operation of self-examination, or self-approval, it is in your own interests to be absolutely and brutally honest. What are you trying to approve? You. Are you saved? Do you belong to Him? Are you following Him? HOW are you following Him? Notice, it is not saying that to approve yourself you have to clean up your own act. We are ALL sinners before God. But Beloved, he knows that. And He gave us an advocate in His Son Jesus to help us. Look for a moment at 1 John 1:6-10.
- If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
- The Apostle John is saying the same thing, and describing the reasoning and process of self-assessment a little bit! Think about how this passage would apply in Corinth. There were those that were meeting in the church that were telling themselves that they were walking in fellowship with God, but were fooling even themselves! And we can do that! Beloved, we need to be brutally honest with ourselves. We can lie to ourselves and not be practicing the truth, beloved. The worst version of this is we can tell ourselves that we’re saved while not being saved. Or we can be saved and just moving along and God is trying to deal with something in your life, and you can be telling yourself that it’s just who I am, it isn’t a problem. Beloved, there are symptoms of these things that can be discerned.
- But what does it say? If we are walking in the light as He, the Lord Jesus Christ, is in the Light. Folks, I need to say this – L is capitalized. John is using this as a name for God the Father. Are we walking in what the Father has told us to do? Are we believing on Him who He has sent, that is God the Son? If we truly are, it says first, that we have fellowship with one another. Beloved, the first thing you should know when you walk with God is that your relationships with your brothers and sisters in Christ will be friendly BY DEFAULT. Guys, I do this. I keep an eye on my relationships with other believers. When I’m getting snippy or defensive, I can know that something is wrong, and if I’m being honest, I know exactly what the problem is. And when we walk in fellowship with other believers like that, John tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ “keeps cleansing us” from all sin. We walk under His covering for sin and His protection.
- But if we say we have no sin, if we cry out, “That’s just way I am!” then we are lying to no one except ourselves, and the truth of God is NOT in us. And beloved, everyone can see that. And people aren’t stupid. No matter how smart you are, people see through that intellectual façade we can call up at will by our responses. That can be embarrassing, but if you wish to approve yourself and partake of the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner, you MUST deal with your sin before God. But How?
- Verse 9 of 1 John 1 tells us that if we confess our sins. Note the plural – this means admitting to, or owning up to God about your specific sins, bad temper, pride, lust, whatever it is. But the promise here is that IF we WILL do this, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins – again, note the plural, He is forgiving those specific sins we confess. If I stopped here, it would still be absolutely His wonderful grace, but the passage does not end there. “…and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” Beloved, He will cleanse us of the things we didn’t confess because we didn’t know about them yet – and he will cleanse – that is, He will make us holy, as He is also holy. But as soon as we say – I have done nothing wrong here, or claim that’s just the way I am, we make HIM a liar and it tells us that His word is not in us.
- Beloved, that’s a process of self-examination for the purposes of self-approval to partake of the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner. And it is a command of Scripture, beloved. We MUST give ourselves AND PASS the exam before we can partake of that supper. And if we can’t pass it – if we realize that we have unconfessed sin, for example – we should maybe just watch. Refrain from partaking of the emblems this time. (Another argument for doing this weekly by the way! Once a month means you can go 8 weeks without partaking of the Lord’s Supper under this scenario! That’s a long time.) And let me suggest that a poor time to do this is 5 minutes before communion. We should be resolving this as we go through our week in real time, as we go through things. And if we are clear of conscience when we come to the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week, THEN we can partake in a worthy manner.
29: For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.
- Beloved, thee is that serious-as-a-heart-attack kind of statement again. It is possible to earn a “judgement” against yourself. That is, it is possible to partake of these emblems in such a way that you will incur a sentence of penalty for yourself. The Greek word here is krima, and it means a verdict, a condemnation, the decision resulting from an investigation. That word is critically important here, because that self-examination is revealed by this verse that we are not the only ones examining our lives. Remember when I said it was in your interests to be brutally honest with yourself? This is why. And there are consequences for not examining yourself or doing a poor job of that.
- If he does not judge the body rightly. The word “judge” here is not the same word, but is a modified form of the word used earlier in the sentence. It has a prefix on it, dia. It literally means to divide asunder, and it is on the word krino, meaning to judge. This gives the meaning of “to separate throughout or entirely.” This makes it akin to our English word “discern.” In this context, it means that one has failed to discern properly what the emblems represent – the body of the Lord given as a sacrifice for us, and the New Covenant sealed in the shed blood of the Saviour. This seems to be a reminder that the time of communion is a solemn remembrance and must be constantly carried out so that we will remember what the Lord Jesus did for us. We are failed creatures. It is too easy to forget.
30: For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.
- And here is the evidence to which Paul referred. I think it should be pointed out that this is not speaking necessarily of physical symptoms here. I’ve had the flu. That makes me weak and sick and I sleep a lot. No, this is speaking of spiritual matters. That word for weak can be translated as “feeble” or “impotent.” Sick can be translated similarly as “not strong” or “feeble” as well. A spiritual malady or sickness is something that negatively affects your worldview, beloved. This isn’t necessarily speaking of physical illness, though it could be.
- And a number sleep. Sleep, in the margin of my NASB says, “i.e., are dead.” Vine says as much in his Expository Dictionary: “This metaphorical use of the word sleep is appropriate, because of the similarity in appearance between a sleeping body and a dead body; restfulness and peace normally characterize both. The object of the metaphor is to suggest that, as the sleeper does not cease to exist while his body sleeps, so the dead person continues to exist despite his absence from the region in which those who remain can communicate with him, and that, as sleep is known to be temporary, so the death of the body will be found to be [also].”
- That is to say, the removal of one’s physical body may be involved in that krima or judgement of that eating and drinking the loaf and the cup in an unworthy manner (v.29) could bring. Beloved, I don’t know entirely what that means, but if God would prematurely end a person’s life over this, it MUST be serious.
31: But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.
- I mentioned this earlier, and it seems to me that one would want to keep one’s slate very clean, sometimes called, “keeping short accounts with the Lord.” As I said, we are not the only ones keeping accounts of our wrongdoings. God Himself is also paying attention. Now, don’t get the idea that He is some cosmic killjoy waiting to rain on your parade (I used to think that before I was saved). God loves us! He wants everyone to repent and be in right relationship with Him if nothing else. But He is also aware of when we begin to lie to ourselves and those around us, and will act accordingly. He WILL hold us responsible as His children for all the unconfessed sin that we hold onto. This is a sad thing because it is SO unnecessary.
- So what does the Lord do with His children that want to remain in a state of disobedience to Him? Next verse.
32: But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
- He disciplines His disciples, friends. Now I need to say again, and I cannot stress this enough, that all of what we have been talking about ONLY applies if you are ONE OF HIS! If you are NOT one of His, there is only one fate for you – condemnation along with the rest of the world. That word “condemned,” incidentally, means “to pass sentence upon.” In the judicial order of things, that means the verdict has already been rendered on sin and those who will continue to walk in unrepentance and who will not turn to and believe in the Anointed One of God that died to suffer that sentence for them, our Lord Jesus Christ.
- The good news here is that you don’t have to be lumped in with the world who has already been found guilty and had this sentence passed on them. You CAN turn and repent, that is you can “change your mind” about your sin, and admit to God and man that it IS in fact sinful! And you can believe that Christ died in your place and has paid the penalty for you. If you believe that, we should talk after the study!
Now recall that this is all Paul correcting the gathering at Corinth on their false-love feasts. What was actually going on again? Well, the richer families were not sharing their food with anyone, and this was causing poorer believers that were told that they could get some nourishment to leave hungry and unsatisfied. Oh, beloved, that’s the pastor’s worst nightmare. Someone left the church without having their needs met. Not only is that terrible for the one not having their needs met, it is the responsibility of the pastor to see that no one leaves that way. He will be accountable for that if he had any ability at all to meet that need or knew who could.
But Paul has identified that the love-feast in Corinth was not being done the way it had been intended and had become a less-than-useless add-on to the worship in Corinth. Beloved, what are we supposed to do with things that do not build up the church or give God the glory that He alone deserves?
33-34: Get rid of the man-made add-ons
Why, get rid of those things, of course! Beloved, from Cain to the present day, NO work of man can ever add anything to God’s perfect work or give Him glory. If we took the time to trace this thought through the story arc of scripture, we would see time and again that man’s ways are FAR inferior to God’s ways, and that even extends into the realm of Angels (the book of Job, anyone?). No work other than God’s will ever glorify Him the way He deserves to be glorified as God by His creatures, unless they do it His prescribed way. In this thought unit, Paul is going to tell us what God’s prescribed way is in Corinth.
33: So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
- Remember way back in chapter 8 (and before that, and in every other epistle that Paul wrote, and not just Paul) where we talked about how we were to put the interests and needs of others before ourselves? That’s very clearly the pattern that Paul is trying to lay down here. The idea is not new, it actually originated with YHWH God when it began. The Law He gave to Moses was clear – we are to love God before anything else (the very first commandment), and then we are to love our neighbours as we love ourselves (Lev.19:18). Jesus reiterated that when He was here, and even told us that on those two great commands, the entirety of all the Law and Prophets in the Old Testament could find support. It is clearly a kingdom principle, beloved. We need to get this right!
- And what is the application here, you ask? Well, Paul says to wait for one another. Paul’s application was regarding the love feasts, but ours could be a little broader. If you know a new believer, and it is taking them what seems to you to be a long time to understand something, PATIENTLY wait for them to get it! Maybe even help with the concept for them! Isn’t that how we love people? And please note – I know I have said this before, but I hear it all the time and its wrong – the Scriptures do not command us to love ourselves. It assumes we already do. We certainly do in terms of self-care and self-enjoyment, that’s for sure. Why not extend the same love to your neighbour? That’s one potential application. There are others, but we’ll leave it there for now.
34: If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.
- And what was Paul’s cure for the meal? Take it out of the church meeting! If you’re hungry eat at home. That way, nobody has this sentence hanging over their head for the stuff we have been talking about. Avoid situations for the church that will give people false expectations. Also avoid doing things in the congregation that lacks support. I know it’s primarily church leaders that is addressed to, but not just the leaders.
- Don’t start something that no one is going to want to commit to, or you end up setting all kinds of false expectations, and people will (rightly) become frustrated and angry. You don’t want to do that, I know that. I constantly remind people of this whenever the idea of a choir comes up. “Great,” I say, “Practices are Thursday night if we can get 8 people to show up.” Watch the back-pedaling begin then! “Oh my, I can’t sing…”
- Today I had the privilege (or misfortune, depending on your point of view) of attending the 131st CBOQ Convention. I heard something that uniquely bothers me. The chair felt like he needed to acknowledge and thank First Nations people “on whose lands we meet.” Does the guy not get that the First Nations don’t consider the Land theirs? That instead they think they belong to the land, not the other way around. And then (and this is the part I have real issues with) he actually PRAYED that we would respect their teachings about the earth. Um – no. First Nations people don’t worship the earth and teach about it. The believe in the Great Spirit and teach about the ways of the creator on the earth, and it’s still pagan in origin. Folks, these are at the very best, add-ons to what the Lord wants. In my opinion, and I think the Apostle Paul’s, we need to get rid of that. The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains. Get rid of the extras like the tanking of the indigenous peoples. That’s actually an ecumenical agenda at work, and that finds its roots in the Roman cult.
- And clearly there were other things to talk about, but apparently they could wait until the Apostle himself arrived in Corinth to discuss, because that is what he said.
You have to understand that there are a lot of things that “Christianity” says God is saying. No one seems, however, to want to do the hard work of finding out what the Scriptures say. That’s actually germane to us here, because it was for that purpose that I started studying the scriptures myself and then invited others to tag along for the ride. There was a gent named Mike at the time who was investigating the claims of Christ, so we started in Galatians, the short (and we found out angry) version of Romans, and Mike actually repented and turned to Christ in faith. I last saw him at Christmas last year, and he is still walking with Christ, and I can tell you that there was a real change in him. Is he perfect? Heck, HE wouldn’t say that. But he’s working on it. I wish he would work on it with us, but everyone makes their own choices. If you’re watching this at some point Mike, we haven’t forgot about you, and we still are praying for you.
This is actually called Polemics, by the way. Taking what people are saying in the name of God and comparing it to the Word of God. It is one of the ways that we can train our discernment, a gift of the Holy Spirit, which we will consider next study.
My point here is that we need to know what the Word says about something before we can act on things, and when we know what the Word says, that’s what we have to stick to. Now, doubtless some will cry, “That’s your interpretation!” And you are correct, it is. However, I do need to address that. In saying that, you are implying that there are other interpretations, and that mine might be incorrect. Brother or sister, I have just opened the Scriptures to make my point. If you think I have erred, you may address that with your OWN interpretation. However, if you want to do that, you should know that this isn’t just “my” interpretation, I have some pretty powerful preachers who share my interpretations. I could name a few – Matthew Henry, John Owen, F. B. Meyer, Charles Spurgeon, J. C. Ryle, R. C. Sproul (Sr. & Jr.), and I could continue with recognizable names for a while. I could even include Dr. Steve Lawson, Dr. John MacArthur, and so on. Who can you say supports your “interpretation?” I’m not trying to say you’re wrong – but if all you do is shout that questioning comment – you ARE wrong, AND you are trying to create division on the level of what Paul saw in Corinth. Are you sure you want to do that?
I don’t really have an issue with people not agreeing. What I have an issue with is when they try to question my intelligence and integrity by suggesting that I am deliberately speaking falsehood. Paul had the same problem. You know what He said? He said it at the beginning of our test this evening – it is necessary that those who are not approved identify themselves this way so we can know who is approved. So if it is your opinion that I’m a “dangerous man” that can “cause a lot of damage,” you’re right. But you may not be happy with what gets damaged, my friend. It may just be your arguments that are damaged or destroyed. I speak that as a response to the individual who has said those things more than once in my hearing, though they were unaware I could hear on more than one occasion. You should be thankful that I don’t out you for that. But Paul didn’t name names over this, so I won’t either.
Anyway, that’s what I saw in this text, and that includes my appearance of a rambling conclusion at the end. I have discovered sometimes if I DON’T say something, it isn’t good, and I do not regret one thing I said, and I have no need to apologize for speaking the truth in love.