Sunday, May 10, 2015

Paul's Epistles - 1 Corinthians Part 23 – Communion

Paul's Epistles - 1 Corinthians
Part 23 – Communion
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

Paul's letter to the church in Corinth, was addressing the things he had heard about them, including incest, adultery, over-spiritualized behaviors, wandering away from the Word of God, and an overall pride about them.

Paul has corrected the Corinthian Churches view about the division; Christ is head of the church, no one else. He also let them know that the power comes from God, and they should be humble, not conceited and over-spiritual.

He warned them not to go beyond what is written.

He addressed their pseudo-faith and spiritual activity of abstaining from intimate relations with their spouses, explaining this was the root of their immoral behavior.

He also warned them against lawsuits with other believers, saying the only reason they could not come to terms together inside the church was because of their pride and arrogance.

He instructed them to be content in their situations, so as to quench the immoral behavior that was coming from discontent, and selfish ambition. Paul warned about becoming a stumbling block to other believers if we have certain knowledge that they do not possess.

Last week, Paul corrected those in Corinth who believed they could do anything they wanted because they belonged to the Lord. Paul says just because you can do something, does not mean it's beneficial or constructive.

He says that the problem is, you need to seek others good, not your own. Stop living selfishly.

Paul said, in all you do, do it for God's glory.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE I Corinthians 11:17 - 34

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 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.” 25 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.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 So then, 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.28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.

                   I.            I HAVE NO PRAISE FOR YOU
a.      You are doing more harm than good

b.     The results, one remains hungry, another gets drunk

c.      Eat and Drink at home
                                                                         i.      Or do you despise the Church of God?
                                                                      ii.      You humiliate those who have nothing

               II.            COMMUNION, WHAT IS AND IS NOT
a.      It IS the Passover Feast!
                                                                         i.      Instilled by God in Exodus
1.      Egypt (sin) enslaved (bondage) Jews (people)
2.      Sacrifice of unblemished lamb (Jesus without sin)
3.      Blood from sacrifice over door (Jesus' blood as a covering)
4.      Angel of death (second death) took firstborns
5.      but "passed-over" those covered in the blood of the lamb

                                                                      ii.      Celebrated every year = Figurative of Christ's sacrificial death

                                                                   iii.      At the "Last Supper", Jesus and the Disciples celebrated like they did every year.
1.      The last time though, Jesus explained how the bread was figurative of His body being broken, and the wine figurative of His blood being shed.

2.      He showed them that this Passover they observed, was always about Him.

3.      Though it was a complete meal, He mentions only the two elements.

                                                                     iv.      1 Corinthians 11:25 "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."
1.      This too is figurative
a.      The 'literal' cup is not the new covenant
                                                                                                                                                 i.      This is why so many searched for the "Holy Grail"
                                                                                                                                              ii.      They missed the figurative meaning of this
                                                                                                                                           iii.      They, as many denominations, believe this to be a literal account in scripture.

b.     Drinking this cup was figurative of the New Covenant

c.      Purchased in His Blood!

2.      Why a purchase price, and a cup?
a.      Because it is figurative of the marriage proposal.

b.     A covenant or agreement was drawn up

c.      If the bride accepted the grooms terms, she would drink a glass of wine

d.     And from that point on, it was as if the two were already married, although they were not together until the wedding!

                                                                        v.      When we drink of the cup, we are acknowledging that we are "accepting" the grooms (Jesus') conditions for the New Covenant.

                                                                     vi.      And it is as if we are already with Him, although we are apart.

b.     Communion is NOT His literal blood and body!
                                                                         i.      Some denominations that are blind to the spiritual meaning look at the Lord's Supper as something more literal.

                                                                      ii.      Just as so many who thought the Holy Grail, "the cup" which Jesus said "is" the New Covenant, searched for, many today will miss the real meaning.

                                                                   iii.      The bread does not literally become, or magically turn into Christ's body.

                                                                     iv.      The wine does not literally become or magically turn into Christ's blood.

c.      The importance of understanding the difference
                                                                         i.      We must know the difference between what is literal and what is figurative, or we miss the spiritual meaning of scripture.

1.      Revelation 19:15 "Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations..."

a.      We know from scripture that the sword is the Word of God
                                                                                                                                                 i.      Ephesians 6:17 "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

b.     Jesus is not going to be riding a great white horse with a literal sword sticking out of His mouth striking down nations.

2.      Other figurative speech by Jesus
a.      Jesus called himself a shepherd, a gate, a light. Some of the most theologically important words in the Bible are figures of speech. We should not interpret them literally, because they aren't meant to be read literally.

3.       Let's look briefly at some biblical commands. "You shall not murder," the Ten Commandments tell us (Exodus 20:13). Jesus interpreted this literally and symbolically. This commandment forbids not only murder but also hatred (Matthew 5:21-22). If we insist only on a literal meaning, we miss the more important spiritual intent.

a.      God's laws are not arbitrary rules. They are based on spiritual principles. We should keep the laws of God not with arbitrary exactness, but accordance to the spiritual intent.

            III.            WHAT THEY GOT WRONG
a.      They caused division
                                                                         i.      They were fighting with one another.
                                                                      ii.      They would not wait for one another (no unity).
                                                                   iii.      Some lacked while others had more than enough.
                                                                     iv.      Their conduct destroyed the purpose and use of the Lord's Supper.
                                                                        v.      They might as well never come and participated.
                                                                     vi.      They had contempt for the church; they should have feasted at home.

b.     The Dangers of Receiving Unworthily
                                                                         i.      They shall be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
1.      Instead of being cleansed by His blood, they are guilty by His blood.
                                                                      ii.      vs.29 "they eat and drink judgment on themselves."
                                                                   iii.      They provoke God, and likely bring judgment down on themselves.
                                                                     iv.      The Corinthians failed because they came to the Lord's table without recognizing His body and blood, and treated it like another feast, a free meal.

c.      Paul clarifies they were acting inappropriately
                                                                         i.      Eating and drinking for pleasure should be done at home
                                                                      ii.      Holy things are to be used in a Holy manner.


The Lord's Supper, communion, is figurative of the covenantal agreement, purchased in Christ's Blood. When we, the bride, drink, we are acknowledging the acceptance of the groom's, Jesus', contract, which is simply this.

We are all sinners, and have sinned against God. The debt we owe for that sin is eternal damnation and separation from God, the second death.

Jesus paid that debt with His blood, so that, anyone who drinks of this cup, accepting the New Covenant, will be accepting the Lord's Sacrifice and payment of a debt they themselves owe. Also, agreeing to live a life for Christ, Loving God with all of their hearts, minds, and bodies, and loving their neighbors as themselves. Putting Christ first in all things and submitting to Him, daily.
 We are told to take communion often, and when we do, examine ourselves, renew our vows to the Lord, and allow Him to do a work in us through His Holy Spirit.

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