Summary: This is a teaching of the meaning of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper as well as the consequences of partaking of it unworthily.
The Lord’s Supper
By Pastor Jim May
The Apostle Paul had spent nearly two years in the city of Corinth during one of his missionary journeys. For two years he preached daily, and ministered to as many who would listen. During that time there were many people converted to Christ, both Jews and Gentiles, and the Corinthian Church was born.
Paul left Corinth to continue his work in other cities, leaving the church in peace and in perfect harmony. How many of you know that Satan hates to see the church at peace and everyone in harmony? As you can guess, it didn’t take long for that peace and harmony to come under attack.
Almost immediately after Paul departed heresies began to invade the church. False teachers arose teaching bad doctrine, living in immorality and causing confusion among the believers. It is obvious that many of those in the Corinthian church did not have a Bible, for there was no new testament written at that time. They depended upon their leaders, and upon what Paul had taught them. They were hungry and unlearned. Even though Paul had taught them for two years, they were still babies in the Lord and hungry to know more.
Satan used that fertile ground of a hungry heart to bring deception and sin into their midst and not many of them would speak out against it for fear of ridicule from other church members.
Jews who remained there began to add their believes according to the Law of Moses, saying that Christ alone was not enough. The idol worshippers added their beliefs as well, and it wasn’t long before the church that Paul had founded with a simple gospel message began to compromise in order to keep peace and the simplicity of the gospel was lost in the mix. The church was divided and split into several groups that condemned other groups, but all of them were wrong and were being used by Satan to destroy the church in its infancy.
In 55 AD, while Paul was at Ephesus establishing a new church there, he learned of the sin that had entered the Corinthian church and so he sat down to write them a letter, in an attempt to correct some of the wrong doctrines and practices that they had accepted, and there were a lot of them.
1) The Corinthians had allowed incest to go on knowingly without dealing with those who were guilty of that terrible sin.
2) They had become so divided that they were actually taking one another to court, standing before a heathen judge, to decide which of them was right in their doctrine instead of settling the matter among themselves.
3) They were allowing adultery and fornication to continue rampant in the church and no one was preaching against it for fear of upsetting the congregation.
4) There was confusion about what the commitment of marriage was really all about, some saying that it wasn’t meant for a lifetime, but only as long as it was good for both the man and woman and both were happy.
5) There was also the practice of taking those things that were offered to idols and using them in the house of God.
6) There were arguments over how to compensate the ministers in the church. Then there were some who mixed the worship of idols with the worship of Jesus Christ, blaspheming the Holy Ghost in the process.
7) They were abusing and misusing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, speaking things in the name of Jesus that Jesus had not instructed them to speak at all, and trying to control the actions of their fellow Christians by invoking the name of Jesus into whatever issue they wanted to go their way.
8) Some were beginning to deny that there was such a thing as the resurrection of the dead.
9) There was arguing over how to handle the finances of the church, how to take up offerings and who should be in charge and how the poor and widows were to be cared for.
Sadly, as we look at this list, we can see that the lies of Satan have not changed. There is not one thing in that Corinthian church that is named that can’t be found in the modern church too. And like the church at Corinth, if we don’t correct those evils and preach against sin, and teach the right doctrines, then the church is headed for division and destruction.
One of the problems that had entered the Corinthian church was their flippant attitude toward the ordinances of the church, especially that of observing the Lord’s Supper, or as we often call it, taking Communion.
Since we are going to observe this ordinance of the church in a little while, I thought it would be profitable for us to look at what Paul had to say to the Corinthians and make sure that we are not being as unconcerned for its value and meaning as the Corinthians were.