Faithlife Sermons

Getting Right By Getting Real (1 Cor. 11:17-34)

C. Jason Walker
Counsel from Corinth  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Getting the Lord's Table right means getting real with God's Word about your sinful self.

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Introduction:

On this 11th day of Sept., 2016, we as a Nation remember the tragedy of the terroristic attacks upon our country some 15 years ago. Some of you can recall, no doubt, with vivid detail where you were the exact moment you recieved the horrific news. Many people, family, friends, loved ones, first responders, innocent people, no matter the gender, no matter the age, no matter the status of life, died that fateful day at the hands of unjust and wicked Islamic terrorists. There seems to be no depth to the depravity of the wicked heart of man when it comes to committing atrocities against his neighbors, no matter how innocent they may personally be.
Similarly, I think it fitting that God has planned for us to consider another memorial this day, though this is not our usually scheduled Communion Service. Today, we consider what Paul wrote to Corinth about the problems they were having in failing to honor the Lord's Table properly.
Paul is telling the Corinthians that while they might have everything looking good on the outside (1 Cor. 11:2-16), they have brought a real disgrace and shame to the testimony of Christ and His blood-bought Church, in that they are mistreating one the most important services in the life of their assembling together, the Lord's Table.
If Jesus were here in person, He would not want you to leave today until you had given some serious thought to what the Ordinance of the Lord's Supper means to your following after Him, and how you probably have not given enough weight to it so as to approach it with genuine humility (rather than selfishness), all gravity (and seriousness), with purity and politeness to your fellow church members.
Reproof - It's wrong for you to simply "NOT" approach the Lord's Table if you have accepting His vicarious and substitutionary atonement for your sins. That's at best forgetfulness toward His sacrifice for you, and a worst, deliberate disobedience to His revealed commands to keep the Ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper in remembrance of Him. Rebuke - the fleshly lusts that rob you of truly abiding in Christ, partaking at His Table of Commemoration. Exhortation - get the things out of your life and practice that are either hindering you from gathering around the Lord's Table with us, or have deceived you into thinking that you are gathering around His Table, when in reality, you really aren't. It's time to stop playing games in your so-called "Christianity" and get real about Christ and His church.
Main Thought: Getting the Lord's Table right means getting real with God's Word about your sinful self.
Sub-intro:
Connect this to the preceding context and explain the cultural possibilities that help us understand the root of the problem that Paul was addressing.
Body:
1 Corinthians 11:17–34 KJV 1900
Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

I. The Corinthian Problem Explained (1 Cor. 11:17-22).

A Praise-less Practice

A. A Destructive Assembly (1 Cor. 11:17-19).

1. Reprimanding Declaration (v. 17).

1 Corinthians 11:17 KJV 1900
Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.
Note the inclusio of "I praise you not" (vv. 17 & 22).
Note that they are not helping matters when they assemble, but rather are making things worse for the cause of Christ.

2. Reported Divisions (v. 18).

1 Corinthians 11:18 KJV 1900
For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
Note the importance of the church's testimony and how so many churches today would be guilty of the same divisions. Some things never change, and the carnal nature of the flesh is one of them. Paul doesn't want to believe it, but he also has to know that there is some element of accuracy in the report.

3. Repulsive Dispositions (v. 19).

1 Corinthians 11:19 KJV 1900
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
Note - "heresies" are sects, or cliques (birds of a feather).
I.e. - "Well, you can sit at our table here if you're of the same social class; didn't you see the name plates? this is the table where the "Haves" sit. The table where the "have-not's" get their food is over there..."

B. A Disgraceful Assembly (1 Cor. 11:20-22).

1. Pseudo Gatherings (v. 20).

1 Corinthians 11:20 KJV 1900
When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.
Note - Psuedo means fake. They might have "Communion Service" out on the Church Sign, but really it's a "What We Have in Common Service," in that we'll only fellowship with those that we have something in common with when it comes to our society or class or education or hobbies or the such like.

2. Selfish Gatherings (v. 21).

1 Corinthians 11:21 KJV 1900
For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

the wealthy Christians in Corinth do not set out to deprive some of the poor of food at the Lord’s Supper. Rather, this is an indirect consequence of their beginning to eat the ordinary meal preceding the Brotritus and Kelchritus before all have arrived. As patrons of the community, in conformity with Roman custom, they often appropriate more than their share of the provisions that they have supplied for the meal. Thus, it frequently happens that there is not enough food for the latest comers, although they are still able to partake of the bread and the wine used in what later would become known as the Eucharist. In Paul’s estimation, the effect is to humiliate all of those who must rely on the hospitality of their social superiors, because they are confronted with the fact of their social inferiority. He admonishes the wealthy to make social distinctions as invisible as possible when the church meets together; practically, this means that they must share the provisions equally with the poor.

Note that Paul will not allow their carnal lusts and cliques to go unchecked. We have to be willing to call sin what it is. As audacious as they are, the real hurt comes because it reveals that they truly do not have the same compassion for the poor that Jesus had. When we get to the place where we are comfortable looking down our noses at those who don't have as much, we are no better than the snobby rich bully on the elementary schoolyard playground who looks down on the poor kids because of he doesn't have the newest __________.
How loved would you feel, if every single time you came to Potluck, all that was left were some measely scraps that the dogs couldn't reach, and not one single person (who was blessed enough in their material life to get there early enough to be the first one in the food line) thought enough of you (when they knew you were coming) to even set aside a plate for you, but on the contrary, in spite (maybe even without realizing it, or possibly rationalizing it away in that, "Well, they'll still be able to partake of the bread and juice"), made sure they ate every morsel of goodness just so you couldn't get any?

3. Shameful Gatherings (v. 22).

1 Corinthians 11:22 KJV 1900
What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
Note how Paul says that this kind of selfish behavior is disgraceful, and shows just how little someone like this esteems the church of God. This poor Christian has slaved all week, and has looked forward with anticipation gathering around with those who are supposed to have something in common with him through Christ's blood, and when he shows up, late, because he just got off work and came straight to church, he doesn't find a warm, loving reception among God's people, but instead hangs his head down, and feels completely snubbed and worthless. When in reality, his soul was so precious to Christ that He laid down His very life to redeem it.
Note the severity of these "spots in your feasts of charity" (Jude 12-13).

II. The Communion Partaking Expounded (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

A Precious Propitiation

A. The Delivered Ordinance (1 Cor. 11:23-25).

1. Paul's Faithfulness to Communicate (v. 23).

NOTE - be sure to explain that this is not to be understood in a Catholic manner of "communication" as defined by the Council of Trent, which says that the "sacrament" of "eucharist" is to be done under a priest's sole authority and none other; but rather it is simply to mean that Paul was faithful to transmit the truth of the local Church's requirement to observe this ordinance as he was "one sent" by the direct authority of the resurrected Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:23 KJV 1900
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
Note - "delivered" and "betrayed" is the same root word.
Note that the idea of being betrayed carries with the similar thought of being "handed over" and what this means in light of Isaiah 53 about Jesus' fulfillment of Isaiah's Suffering Servant.

2. Christ's Faithfulness to Vindicate (vv. 24a-25a).

1 Corinthians 11:24–25 KJV 1900
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
Note - "given thanks" is the word eucharistasas from which we get our English word Eucharist from. When we celebrate The Lord's Table, it ought to begin with thanksgiving to God for sending Jesus to be the Bread of Life for us.
Note - the breaking of the bread is a picture of the crucifixion of Christ's body on Calvary.
Note the force of "for" ('uper + genitive; e.g. substitutionary atonement).
1 Corinthians 5:7 KJV 1900
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
Note the importance of the Blood for Atonement, and how this applies to the Jewish remembrance of Passover, as well as how Christ instituted a new remembrance for His disciples that paralled for them how Israel was delivered from bondage, being a picture of how Christ's death (covenant), burial and resurrection delivers those who place their faith in Him from the bondage of sin and death.

3. The Believer's Faithfulness to Participate (vv. 24b-25b).

1 Corinthians 11:24–25 KJV 1900
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
Note the imperatives throughout this passage: Take... eat... do (2x)... (vv. 24-25); examine... eat... drink... (v. 28); tarry... eat... (vv. 33-34).

B. A Demonstration of Faith (1 Cor. 11:26).

1 Corinthians 11:26 KJV 1900
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
Note the past, present, and future aspects of this Commemoration Service. Memorials are so that those in the present can look forward to the future by considering the past.
Transition: Their Problem Exposed - a Praise-less Practice; The Partaking Expounded - a Precious Propitiation; Now...

III. Their Coming Presumptuously without Examination (1 Cor. 11:27-32).

A Presumptuous Pride

A. The Duty of Self-Examination (1 Cor. 11:27-31).

1. The Danger of Despising the Ordinance (v. 27).

1 Corinthians 11:27 KJV 1900
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
Hebrews 6:1ff KJV 1900
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

2. The Duty to Delight in the Ordinance (v. 28).

1 Corinthians 11:28 KJV 1900
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
Note - Wordstudy on διακρίνω: [the following is a summary of lexical data]
LEMMA - 19x's in 18 verses of the NT; The sense (discern/examine) in this context: Webster's 1828 - the power or faculty of the mind, by which it distinguishes one thing from another, as truth from falsehood virtue from vice; Vines - “to separate, discriminate”; then, “to learn by discriminating, to determine, decide.” It is translated “discern” in Matt. 16:3, of discriminating between the varying conditions of the sky...and in 1 Cor. 11:29, with reference to partaking of the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Supper unworthily, by not “discerning” or discriminating what they represent; in v. 31,...for the kjv, “would judge,” of trying oneself, “discerning” one’s condition, and so judging any evil before the Lord; BAGD - to evaluate by paying careful attention to, evaluate, judge ...judge correctly (Job 12:11; 23:10) the appearance of the sky Mt 16:3; evaluate oneself 1 Cor 11:31; recognize τὸ σῶμα vs. 29.; Thayer - to separate, make a distinction, discriminate, ...like the Lat. distinguo, used emphatically: to distinguish or separate a person or thing from the rest, in effect i. q. to prefer, yield to him the preference or honor: τινά, 1 Co. 4:7 [cf. W. 452 (421)]; τὸ σῶμα (τοῦ κυρίου), 1 Co. 11:29.; EDNT - Paronomasia [pun] with the numerous terms for judging and judgment in 1 Cor 11:29–34 has led to the use of διακρίνω in v. 31: “If we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged.The statement demands strict self-criticism of a Christian’s conduct according to the criterion of divine judgment, particularly with respect to behavior at the Lord’s Supper (→ δοκιμάζω in v. 28).; L&S - separate one from another...distinguish...set [a place] apart for holy purposes...interpret...; WSDNT - By implication, to distinguish, make a distinction, cause to differ (Acts 15:9; 1 Cor. 11:29, “not distinguishing the body of the Lord” [a.t.] from common food). In the mid. in James 2:4, “Do you not then make a distinction in yourselves?” (a.t.), i.e., are you not partial? ...With the idea of preference or prerogative (1 Cor. 4:7 “who then distinguishes you” [a.t.], or makes you different?). Figuratively it means to distinguish, discern clearly, note accurately (Matt. 16:3; 1 Cor. 11:31, “if we took a proper view” [a.t.], or formed a just estimate of ourselves; 14:29, equivalent to dokimázō [1381], to examine; 1 John 4:1; Sept.: Job 12:11).; M&M - The active = “test,” “examine”.

3. Discerning the Lord's Body in the Ordinance (v. 29).

1 Corinthians 11:29 KJV 1900
For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
Note how the context impacts understanding what it means to eat and drink unworthily.

UNWŎRŦHILY, adv. [See Worthy and Worth.]

Not according to desert; without due regard to merit; as, to treat a man unworthily.

Note - "desert" has the sense of that which is deserved.
Note - to partake unworthily, for the Corinthians, was for them to come to the Table of the Lord, and not give Him what He rightly deserves, namely, first place in their heart. They could not be loving Him supremely when they loved themselves more than Him and His people.
Note - if you live your life for yourself, and do not give Christ the throne of your heart, you can expect damnation when you stand before Him. That goes for the lost (damnation in hell for eternity paying for their own sins as they rejected His payment in their place) or the saved (in the sense of verse 34 below, condemnation rather than commendation at the JSOC). Someone claiming to be a disciple, with love for the brethren, yet who treats those he sees as lesser than him in a way that Christ did not treat us, should not expect to hear Jesus say those words to him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," but should in all reality, have a serious examination of their position in Christ, to make sure they at least will not hear the words, "I never knew you, depart from me [Jesus], ye that work iniquity."

4. The Destruction of Those Despising the Ordinance (v. 30).

1 Corinthians 11:30 KJV 1900
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
Note - the Lord will only tolerate your selfish idea of Christianty for so long before He starts allowing things in your life to try to get your attention.

5. Discerning Our Own Sinful Dispositions Toward the Ordinance (v. 31).

1 Corinthians 11:31 KJV 1900
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
1 Peter 4:12–19 KJV 1900
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

B. The Discipline of the Savior (1 Cor. 11:32).

1 Corinthians 11:32 KJV 1900
But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
Hebrews 12:5ff KJV 1900
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.

IV. The Corinthian Problem Expunged (1 Cor. 11:33-34).

A Polite Perspective

A. A Delayed Consumption (1 Cor. 11:33).

1 Corinthians 11:33 KJV 1900
Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
Note the connection that this imperative to wait has to correcting the problem of their indiscretion in verses 21-22 prior.

B. A Diverted Condemnation (1 Cor. 11:34).

1 Corinthians 11:34 KJV 1900
And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.
Note - surely we can be adults, and have more discretion toward the needs of those around us, especially when it comes to our church family.
Note - one of the things that I appreciate about our church is how sensative we are to meeting the needs of those in our fellowship in a way that brings God glory. Let's not lose that.

Conclusion:

If the Lord Jesus were here in person today, what would He have to say about how you are treating the Ordinance of the Lord's Supper? What problems might He expose in your heart as you have either neglected keeping it altogether, or when you do observe it, you really aren't at His Table, but at one you have formulated in your own heart, making excuses as to how spritual you are, but really, you are hurting the cause of Christ? Don't excuse yourself by saying, "Well, my problem is not the same as the Corinthians, I mean, I'm not disgracing Christ's testimony by practicing the segragation that the Roman Culture promoted..." Friend, don't do yourself a spiritual disservice and ignore what the Holy Spirit is revealing to your heart. Can you instead listen to Him, and agree with Him that you have missed the mark that Jesus set for the Lord's Table? When is the last time you came? If at all? When you did come, did you come to a table that you made up in your mind because you didn't want to deal the sin in your life necessary to truly call it His Table?
Do you count the Lord's Supper precious, and really consider what it meant when Jesus broke the picture of His Body at the Paschal Meal with His disciples on that fateful night when He would be handed over for the sins of the world, laying down His life as a ransom for many? Do you feel loved by that? You ought to. It ought to change how you live your life, in gratitude for what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for you, as the Lamb of God and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
When you have the opportunity to gather around the Table of the Lord, don't be guilty of presuming upon Jesus like they were at Corinth. Take a good look inside, and do your part to examine yourself. It's okay, everyone else will wait for you. Stop making excuses as to how spiritual you look to everyone else, and start seeing how unspiritual you've been before the Lord God who sees you, even when no one else does.
If you aren't honoring the Ordinance of Communion, then why not? Are you simply being mindless toward what Jesus did for you? or are you living in blatant sin and are obstinately disobeying His command? Give yourself a self-test, and then get yourself around the Table, and Come & Dine!
If you are trying to honor the Lord by partaking in Communion as often as you can, make sure that when you come, you haven't excused some selfish and silly sin in your life that has put you in danger of redefining what this Table means.
Main Thought: Getting the Lord's Table right means getting real with God's Word about your sinful self.
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