Summary: Exposition of 1 Cor 11:17-22 regarding the way to rightly receive the Lord’s Supper.
Text: 1 Cor 11:17-22, Title: Not Just Any Meal, Date/Place: NRBC, 4/19/09, AM
A. Opening illustration: Speak about a wedding being the initiation of a marriage and anniversaries being the renewing, or possibly the renewing of vows…
B. Background to passage: Paul began in chapter 11 dealing with improper behavior in Christian worship. He first talked about proper attire for worship related to gender (I’ll let you search it out, although it is not what you think). Then he moves on to their conduct related to the Lord’s Supper. And as you can see our services today will be centered around this observance. Many take the Supper casually, or thoughtlessly, and religiously, or even not at all. But Paul indicates here that God is very serious about the Supper, and especially about its abuse by the church members. Exp terminology quickly.
C. Main thought: How do we prepare to take the supper?
A. Church Prerequisites
1. In v. 20, Paul says that they are not really eating the Supper. Explain the Lord’s Supper in broad strokes about coming together as a body to remember Christ, demonstrate our unity, and proclaim the gospel. Decry its importance as a “church ordinance.” And its importance that we do it right and think rightly about it. And it has only been in recent history when questions of who could take communion were not talked about in Baptist life. Let me give you three areas of consideration. 1) Belief. Usually no one in Baptist circles will offer that the Supper should be given to nonbelievers. At the very least, most of us are unified in saying that this is the Lord’s Supper, taken by His church, which is made up of His people. 2) Baptized. Baptist have historically universally required baptism to precede communion. 3) Membership. There have been differing opinions to whether or not one must be member of the church who is carrying out the Supper, or just a church of a like faith and practice to participate together. And since baptism and membership are so linked together in Baptist life, it is no surprise. Again the Supper is a church ordinance! 4) In good standing. This last one kind of sums up the previous two. To rightly observe the Supper, we would seek to be clean before the Lord, and in good standing with His church.
2. Illustration: Jonathon Edwards’ firing after 23 years of pastoral ministry over open communion and the half-way covenant within the Congregational Church,
3. If you think that how we do the Supper is unimportant than you put yourself in disagreement with Paul, Jesus, and God. If you fail to take the Supper as a believer, or take it wrongly you are in sin. But you must be a believer. If you are here today, and are not born again, you are not welcome to partake with us. It is a continuation rite of the church, not of whoever is here today. If you are the family members of our church members, and you have never been born again, you cannot take with us. If you are children, who have not been saved, you cannot take with us. I am not comfortable excluding those unscripturally baptized, if they are truly born again. Nor am I comfortable excluding members of other churches of like faith and practice from the Lord’s table. If you are truly born again, you will want to walk in obedience, you will want to participate fully in the church, and you will remain in close communion with Christ. And although we are not the sin police, we trust that you will search your own heart as to your commitment to your Lord and to His church. We are going to REVIEW THE NRBC COVENANT.
B. Personal Prerequisites
1. The early church had what was known as “Love Feasts” where they would all gather and share a meal together, then receive the Lord’s Supper at the end. And what was happening in Corinth was doing more harm than good. Paul seems to imply that it would be better if they had not even come together. He tells them their practice negates, and even despising the church and the gospel that it is supposed to proclaim. The church is the manifestation of the body of Christ on earth, and to abuse her is to abuse Him. What was going on was that richer members of the church were eating the meal before the other “lower” classes of people got their, and getting drunk on top of it all. So that many were going without, and many were getting drunk. But the point was not so much, the excess, as the lack of love and unity. At the table of the Lord the church is supposed to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel in symbol! And Paul says that the consequences of such behavior will not only be a failure to proclaim, but the body will suffer if you don’t receive communion in unity and love! People are sick; they die, because they are not unified. So he pleads with them to examine themselves, judge themselves, or else God will purify them through whatever means necessary.