Today we will take a fresh look at what the Bible has to say about the Lord's Supper. Naturally our scripture text will be found in the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians.
The church in Corinth was founded by the Apostle Paul on his first visit to the city, (Acts 18:1-17). During Paul's one and one-half year stay many people were added to the church. These converts were made up of both ordinary citizens and what might be called the upperclass. Paul mentions the existence these two groups and describes some tension that had developed between them, (I Cor. 11:22).
Corinth was a wicked city especially in the area of sexual immorality. History tells us that illicit sexual pleasure was the Corinthian god. The city boasted a temple with a thousand sacred prostitutes who helped them worship their god. So wide spread was the knowledge of Corinth's wickedness that its name became proverbial. One, in a city far away, might describe the wickedness of a deed or situation as being down-right, "Corinthian." Prostitutes, even in other cities, were often called, "Corinthian girls." This was a godless, idolatrous stronghold of evil. One can surely see the challenge a new church would face in this city. Corruption of that church would always be possible. It might be corrupted by contact with the unsaved citizens of the city. Likewise new converts might bring into the church the erroneous beliefs and sinful practices of their former life. Corruption did creep in. The church developed many serious problems. For instance, there were those who!
came into the church teaching Antinomianism. The word means "against law." These would have no rules of conduct placed upon them. They not only taught that one should give the body whatever pleasure it desired but they also denied the resurrection of the dead. They lived by the motto, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" which death, they believed, was the end of ones existence. This Antinomian influence may be the reason for the incestuous situation that existed in the church. One man was having relations with his father's wife, (I Cor. 5:1).
Then there were lawsuits on going between church members. One Christian would take another Christian to the secular court to settle their differences. This is forbidden by God. Problems in the church are to be settled in and by the local church. Then there was the abuse of spiritual gifts. Tongues and prophecy were not being used correctly. Paul spent much of the two Corinthian letters addressing this issue. In addition women were doing things in the church that God had reserved exclusively for men. And finally, for our purposes today, they were abusing the Lord's Supper. This is a given considering the sinful practices being tolerated in the church. The sacred had become common, the Supper had lost its meaning.
This is not surprising. For things done on a regular or routine basis are in danger of losing their meaning. Church attendance can become an empty ritual if one is not careful to worship God in spirit and truth. Reciting our corporate confession and the Lord's Prayer together each Sunday can come to mean nothing to one who does not bring his mind and soul to focus on what he is doing and why. Sometimes people in a church can get so familiar with the Lord's Supper that it means nothing to them. It is no longer sacred and holy. Parents begin to allow children who are too young to understand and show no signs of conversion to eat and drink as if they were Christians. This must not be allowed. Unbelievers and Christians in rebellion often eat and drink as if their sin meant nothing to them or to God. On one occasion I witnessed a man and women who were living together without being married eat and drink the Lord's Supper. These kinds of things make a mockery of what is s!