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The Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:17-34)

The Lord's Table  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Let's remind ourselves of the Basics of the Biblical Ordinance and what it means to Christ's Church

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Introduction:

1 Corinthians 11:1–2 KJV 1900
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
A Christian who keeps the ordinances is praiseworthy. We’ve recently had the ordinance of baptism, and now, tonight, we’re going to have the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. And, the New Testament church has two ordinances: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. And, if you fail to keep these, you’re not praiseworthy; you’re blameworthy. If you keep these ordinances, according to the Word of God, you are praiseworthy.
Now, in some churches, the Lord’s Supper is over-exalted, and in other churches, the Lord’s Supper is denigrated and lowly treated. Some churches have doctrines that I believe are not taught in the Bible. They have the doctrine of transubstantiation, where they teach that these elements—this broken bread and this blood of the grape—literally, actually, becomes the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus; and that each time we take the Lord’s Supper, that the priest in some way transforms or presides over the transformation of these elements; and, therefore, a sacrifice is taking place and that Jesus is being sacrificed again—that His body and His blood one more time are being sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins. Now, not only do I believe that is a mistake; I reject that with all ...of my soul. Jesus died once for all. It is done. It is paid in full. “It is finished.” (John 19:30) I believe that with all of my heart, all of my soul. I believe it to be true. That’s one side, and that is an error.
The other side is a grave error, also. There are Christians who deliberately neglect taking the Lord’s Supper. They stay at home when they could come or they’re casual or cavalier or indifferent about taking the Lord’s Supper. They say, “Well, since it doesn’t save and it doesn’t help save, what difference does it make? It’s only a ritual.” Well, my dear friend, I want to tell you that taking the Lord’s Supper is more than a ritual. It is necessary for obedience. It is necessary for maturity. It is necessary for testimony. It is necessary for growth in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I. The Place of Communion in the Christian’s Life (1 Cor. 11:20-24).

A. To Remember - The Lord Is In the Midst of Us (1 Cor. 11:24).

1 Corinthians 11:24 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.
Now, when we say, “in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ,” we’re not talking about remembering someone who has died and has gone from us but to remember someone who is now present with us. Jesus Christ was speaking to those who were in His presence, and He said, “This do in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24) It wasn’t that He was away from them when He said that. He was with them when He said that to them. Now remember this about the Lord’s Supper tonight: we are remembering His presence. What we’re doing tonight is not a moment of silence for the dead; it is an act of fellowship with a friend. Jesus Christ is here tonight. This is His table. He is the host. We are fellowshipping with the Lord Jesus Christ.
And, therefore, we need to see beyond these symbols to the Savior.
Leonardo da Vinci was a great artist. At the age of forty-two, the Duke of Milan said to Leonardo, “I want you to paint for me a painting of the Last Supper,” and Leonardo da Vinci painted that marvelous, marvelous painting of the Last Supper. When he had finished, he felt it was a masterpiece, and he was grateful for it. And, he asked a friend—he said, “I would like for you to look at this painting, and I would like for you to give me your honest evaluation.” The friend looked at it for a while. He said, “It is magnificent.” He said, “I believe the most magnificent part of the painting is the cup, the chalice.” He said, “I can’t take my eyes from it. It is incredibly captivating.” When he said that, Leonardo da Vinci took his paintbrush, according to the account that I read, and drew it across the cup, and said, “Nothing in this picture shall detract from the face of my Savior.”
Think about it. Friend, it is not the cup; it is not the bread. These are emblems and symbols, and we need to look past the symbols to the Savior.

B. To Remember - The Lord Died for Us (1 Cor. 11:24, 26).

1 Corinthians 11:24 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.
Why did He do it? He did it for you. We say, “Christ died for my sins,” and that is true. But, try saying it this way: “Christ died because of my sins.” We say, “Christ died for me.” Say it this way: “Christ died instead of me.” “This is my body, which is broken [because of] you.” (1 Corinthians 11:24)
O to grace, how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
—Robert Robinson
How could I carelessly, or in a cavalier manner, take into my hands this cup and this bread that represents such provision without bowing my head in the greatest of gratitude, without a heart that leaps up in joy and praise to say, “Lord Jesus, I thank you”?
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.
We are taking in our hands bread that represents wheat that has been crushed and ground fine and put in an oven and baked. We take into and ingest into our mouths the grape juice, which speaks of the grape that has been pressed. And, the Bible calls this very grape juice the “blood of the grape.” (Deuteronomy 32:14) Yes, we need to anticipate. Yes, we need to meditate. Yes, we need to participate and think about what Jesus did. And tonight, don’t be careless. Say:
Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer,
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree,
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading.
[They were] blind and unheeding, [but He was] dying for me.
—Avis Christiansen

C. To Remember - to Discern the Lord’s Body (1 Cor. 11:29).

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.
Now, what body is he talking about? Is he talking about the body that walked with sandaled shoes on the shoes of Galilee? Oh, no. He’s talking about the Church. You see, what had happened here was people had come to take the Lord’s Supper, and rather than taking the Lord’s Supper, they had made a drunken brawl out of it. And, one would bring a big feast, and they would eat a feast. And, some actually were getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper—not with the communion but with wine that they had brought along. And, they would get drunk, and Paul said, “What you’re doing when you do such a thing is you are eating and drinking judgment and damnation because you have not discerned the Lord’s Body.” (1 Corinthians 11:29) What body is he talking about? He’s talking about the Church—He’s talking about the Church.
That’s the reason that the Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance: it is here to bind us together, to say that we are one in the bond of love.
1 Corinthians 10:17 KJV 1900
For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
Go back to 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 17; look at it: “For we being many are one bread”—that is, “one loaf of bread.” All of the grains ground together make one loaf—“and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1 Corinthians 10:17) And, the word partaker means “fellowshipping in that one bread.” We—all of us, dear friend—are the Lord’s Body. That’s what he’s saying.
1 Corinthians 12:13 KJV 1900
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Look in chapter 12, and you’ll see the same thing in verse 13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:13) That’s why it’s so important that you come together when we take the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance. It’s not something that individuals do. It’s not something nice that some people might do at a wedding. It shows that we are one in the bond of love. And that, my friend, is the place of the Lord’s Supper in the life of a Christian.

II. Preparing the Lord’s Table (1 Cor. 11:28).

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.
Are you ready for an examination? Not everyone here tonight is prepared to take the Lord’s Supper. And some, if you do take it, you’ll take it to your harm and to your hurt: you will be ingesting judgment, damnation, into your body, and I would beg you and warn you not to participate unless you are prepared. All right. You say, “Pastor, tell me how I can be prepared? Who is the Lord’s Supper for?”

A. It Is for the Redeemed (1 Cor. 10:20).

1 Corinthians 10:20 KJV 1900
But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
Now, my dear friend, if you’ve not made a clean break with the world; if you have not given yourself over to Jesus Christ one hundred percent, lock, stock, and barrel; if you’re not committed to His Lordship, do not—I say, I do not—take of this supper, yet. It is for the redeemed.

B. It Is for the Reconciled (1 Cor. 11:18).

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.
If there is in your heart tonight any animosity toward any human being upon the face of this earth, do not take the Lord’s Supper, yet. If there’s bitterness, haughtiness, a grudge, do not take the Lord’s Supper, yet. You are living in danger if you do. That does not mean that you have to agree with what others have done. It does not mean that you have to approve what others have done. But, I am telling you, my dear friend, that if, in your heart, there is a lack of reconciliation, a non-reconcilable spirit in your heart, you’re dealing dangerously to take the Lord’s Supper.

C. It Is for the Reverent (1 Cor. 11:20-21).

1 Corinthians 11:20–21 KJV 1900
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.
They were approaching this table flippant, and Paul corrected them to get back to approaching this table with the reverence it deserves. Do not treat this lightly, this is the Lord’s House, and we approach as guests at His table. Have some dignity and some manners as His blood-bought bride.

D. It Is for the Repentant (1 Cor. 11:28-32).

1 Corinthians 11:28–30 KJV 1900
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.
Perhaps your physical illness or perhaps your weakness has been caused because you have irreverently taken the Lord’s Supper. Perhaps some in our church have died prematurely because they have irreverently taken the Lord’s Supper. Verse 30 is one of the most challenging verses in the Bible: “For this cause”—irreverence at the Lord’s Table—“some are weak, some are sick, and some are dead.” (1 Corinthians 11:30)
1 Corinthians 11:31–32 KJV 1900
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.
But, so what does He say? He says in verse 31: “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged”—now, you have the choice tonight to judge yourself or let God judge you—“if [you] would judge [yourself], [you would] not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:31–32) God doesn’t judge you because He hates you; He judges you because He loves you. God loves you just like you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way. And so, when you are chastened, it is so that you will not be overtaken with the world.
And so, who should take the Lord’s Supper? The redeemed, the reconciled, the reverent, and the repentant. That, my dear friend, are those who should take the Lord’s Supper. The preparation for the Lord’s Supper.

III. Partaking in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:2, 28).

1 Corinthians 11:2 KJV 1900
Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
Why should we partake? Well, in verse 2, the Apostle Paul says, “I praise you … that [you] … keep the ordinances.” (1 Corinthians 11:2)
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.
And then, also, in verse 28: “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” (1 Corinthians 11:28) He doesn’t say to examine yourself and then not eat. He says to examine yourself and eat. Why would we examine ourselves and then eat? Well, because when we examine ourselves, we can confess our sin, we can judge our sin. And, when we judge it, God forgives it. What we uncover God covers, but what we try to cover God uncovers. And so, the reason the Lord’s Supper is such a blessing—it brings us to the place where we let the Holy Spirit of God do radical surgery on us and expose anything in our hearts and lives that ought not to be there.

A. It Is a Time of Covenant (1 Cor. 11:25).

1 Corinthians 11:25 KJV 1900
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.
Now, the Lord’s Supper is, therefore, a time of covenant and it is a time of communion. Look in verse 25: “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood.” (1 Corinthians 11:25) The word testament means “covenant.” It is a covenant—a blood covenant. And, what it means is, it is an agreement with God and an agreement with one another. When I take this cup, when I take this bread, I’m saying to God, “Dear God, I am in covenant with you and I’m in covenant with all of these, my brothers and sisters.”

B. We are to Commune Till the Lord Comes (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.
You eat what I eat. You drink what I drink. We are in covenant and communion because of our common love, our common respect, our common commitment to Jesus Christ, Who promised that He would come for us, and take us to be where He is, with God, in that eternal day! Oh, how beautiful heaven must be! Jesus is coming again, and He’s coming for me!

Conclusion:

Now, I want you to bow your heads in prayer. Heads are bowed, and eyes are closed. And, while heads are bowed and eyes are closed, I want you to remember that the the Lord is in the midst of us: He is here tonight. I want you to remember that the Lord died for you, and He died for me: His body was broken for you. No one has ever suffered like Jesus suffered, and He suffered for you. And, I want you to remember to discern the body of the Lord: that we might be one body, His Body, “members one of another.” (Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:25)
Romans 12:5 KJV 1900
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Ephesians 4:5 KJV 1900
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
I want you to ask yourself this question: Are you redeemed? If not, don’t take, until you grab the hand of the person next to you, and let him or her show you how the Bible says to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved, and you can take care of that in just a few brief moments of prayer together, and then you can come to this Table and partake with others who have already taken that step of faith, and believe like you do, that there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.
The second thing I want you to ask during this time of prayer is, are you reconciled? Is there someone that you are holding resentment or bitterness toward? Then confess that to God and ask Him to forgive you and cleanse you right now. Again, I want to ask you, do you realize the seriousness and the solemnity of this supper? Are you reverent? And, last of all, are you repentant? How dare any of us take this supper into our mouths, much less into our hands, with unconfessed, un-repented-of sin—the same sin that nailed Jesus to the tree. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our [sin], and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) So, the Bible says, “Let a man examine himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:28) We’ll take a few moments, and then we will have the Lord’s Supper. Now, you’re going to examine your heart as I will examine mine.
[Adapted from: Adrian Rogers, “Thoughts for the Lord’s Supper,” in Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust, 2017), 1 Co 11:18–32.]
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