Summary: This concept of having a healthy fear of the LORD has application in all areas of our lives, but there is some specific instructions about how it affects the way we celebrate the Lord’s Supper each month.
The Lord’s Supper and the Fear of the Lord
May 28/29, 2005
The key to developing an intimate friendship with God is understanding and developing a healthy fear of the LORD.
1. To fear the LORD means to have an appropriate awe and respect for God’s holiness and power.
2. To fear the LORD means to hate evil as God hates it. (Prov. 8:13)
This concept of having a healthy fear of the LORD has application in all areas of our lives, but there is some specific instructions about how it affects the way we celebrate the Lord’s Supper each month.
1Cor. 11:23-32 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
If we are to partake in the Lord’s Supper we must not do so in an unworthy manner (v. 27).
This means coming without first examining our relationship with the Lord.
This means coming with unrepentant attitudes about sin in our lives.
In order to partake in the Lord’s Supper, we must
recognize Jesus’ sacrifice for us (v. 29).
1Cor. 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.
To make it clearer, Paul speaks of “the Lord’s table”—a term that the Corinthian converts from paganism would readily associate with “tables” used for pagan idol meals. Here is an example of an invitation from an ancient pagan letter: “Chairemon invites you to a meal at the table of the lord Serapis in the Serapeum, tomorrow the fifteenth from nine o’clock onwards.” To Paul, a Christian cannot at the same time participate in the meal at the table of the pagan god and the table of the Lord. (NIV Commentary)
At these feasts – the animal had been sacrificed to appease or to please the false god, and then the people gathered to eat the sacrifice.
Even Jews were familiar with this practice of offering a sacrifice to the LORD and then eating the meat of the animal – it happened at Passover and other times.
When Jesus stood among his disciples on the night he was betrayed, he changed things up. He said he was initiating a New Covenant. Now, when we come the table of the LORD, we don’t eat the animal who was sacrificed. Now we partake of symbols that remind us of the one perfect sacrifice that was offered to appease God – the blood and the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We must, therefore, recognize that our salvation is completely dependant upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – we must recognize his body and his blood.
TRANS: Paul then gives a very serious reason why we dare not approach the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner or without recognizing the body and blood of Jesus
Participating in the Lord’s Supper without the fear of the Lord invites judgement into our lives (v. 30).
1Cor. 11:28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
1Cor. 11:29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.
1Cor. 11:30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
If you do come in an unworthy manner, you can expect that God will discipline you. These verses are clear that God judges those who come to the table in an unworthy manner, without a fear of the LORD, and that judgment includes weakness, sickness, and even premature death. Do I really believe this? This is what God’s word says. Judgment – actual physical judgment related to our health- follows from a casual attitude toward the Lord’s supper.