Summary: In this lesson we learn that we are to examine ourselves before partaking the Lord's Supper.
We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
One of the challenges that Christians face is the issue of proper Christian worship, and for the past two weeks we have been looking at the Lord’s Supper as an aspect of Christian worship. Let’s learn about more about the Lord’s Supper in a message I am calling, “Examine Yourself before Partaking.”
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 11:27-34:
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. (1 Corinthians 11:27-34)
As we begin today’s lesson I would like to review briefly some of what I covered last week.
There are two sacraments in the Old Testament of the Bible, and there are two sacraments in the New Testament of the Bible.
The two Old Testament sacraments are circumcision and the Passover meal. The sacrament of circumcision signified entrance into the covenant community of God’s people. And the sacrament of the Passover meal signified fellowship (or communion) within the covenant community of God’s people.
The two Old Testament sacraments of circumcision and the Passover meal were replaced by the New Testament sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The sacrament of circumcision was replaced by the sacrament of baptism, which also signifies entrance into the covenant community of God’s people. And the sacrament of the Passover meal was replaced by the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which also signifies fellowship (or communion) within the covenant community of God’s people.
The apostle Paul established the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper in the church at Corinth when he planted it. Although he did not personally baptize many of the Christians in the Corinthian church (cf. 1:14-16), he affirmed baptism as a non-negotiable act of obedience to the Lord for all believers. The apostle Paul also affirmed the Lord’s Supper as a non-negotiable act of obedience to the Lord for all believers.
Unfortunately, however, the practice of celebrating the Lord’s Supper in Corinth had degenerated far from the Lord’s original intention. The Corinthian Christians gathered regularly to share a special meal. These meals were known as “love feasts” (Jude 12). It was like our modern potluck meal. Everyone brought something to eat and drink to the large home of a wealthy Christian. (Remember that there were no “church buildings” in those days.) The Christians enjoyed a regular meal together, which was then concluded with the Lord’s Supper.
The purpose of the love feast was to stress fellowship, affection, and mutual caring among the Christians.
Sadly, what Paul had taught the Corinthian Christians about the Lord’s Supper was forgotten, and the Lord’s Supper was being abused. The Christians who were poor had to work late. Consequently, they were not able to join the rich Christians early enough. Furthermore, the poor Christians did not have much food or drink at all to bring to the love feast. So, the rich Christians often started the love feast without waiting for the poor Christians. The entire meal then degenerated into a gluttonous, drunken revelry. It was so bad that Paul was compelled to say to the Corinthian Christians, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat” (11:20).
So, in the section previous to our text for today, Paul reminded the Corinthians that the central focus of the Lord’s Supper was the remembrance and proclamation of Christ’s saving work.
Now, in today’s text, Paul wrote that to mistreat fellow Christians in the Lord’s Supper was to show contempt for Christ’s death, to malign the gospel, and to tempt the judgment of God.
So, in our lesson today, we learn that we are to examine ourselves before partaking the Lord’s Supper.
We learn about this as follows:
1. The Danger of Partaking the Lord’s Supper in an Unworthy Manner (11:27).
2. The Necessity of Self-examination Prior to Partaking the Lord’s Supper (11:28).