Introduction: Need to offer a more thorough teaching on what, why and how of communion. Read I Corinthians 10:14-22 Be aware that the instruction concerning communion is in the context of correction.
Transition: What is communion?
A reminder to the gathered body of Christ of our union with Christ.
To partake of the elements of the bread and juice is to symbolize the partaking of fellowship with Christ. How so??
The bread of His body. Matthew 26:26. Explain connection with Genesis 3:5. Point: As much as taking the bread reminds us of our union with Christ it also should remind us of why that union was necessary. Because of our separation from God in our sin. And as much as feasting upon forbidden fruit broke our relationship with God, feasting upon the broken body of Christ is our only reconciliation with God.
The Cup of His blood. (Luke 22:20, Explain the history of Passover and the cup after the meal as the cup of redemption. Jesus says that this cup is the New Covenant that was promised in Jeremiah 31 and will be provided by Himself as total and complete sacrifice for sin. And so when we partake of this union with Christ and then remember His bleeding death on the cross by drinking from the cup we are proclaiming His death until He comes. Which takes us to our next passage of Scripture.
Transition: Turn to I Cor 11:17-34 read. Not only is communion a reminder of our union with Christ but it is also...
2. A reminder to the gathered body of Christ of our union with one another.
a. To partake in the elements of the bread an juice is to symbolize the partaking of fellowship with Christ and one another. How so?
i. I Cor 10:17 We who are many are one because of our common union with Christ.
ii. The context of instruction in chapter 11 is correction concerning their divisions and selfishness. His point is that to go through the symbolism of the wine and bread as a reflection of our unity with Christ and not be sharing with one another is an affront to the Lords table.
iii. The point then is to remind us that in coming to the table we come together as a people called out by God by the same means as everyone else. We do not partake as individuals who nominal identify with one another through flippant unity. No rather, we partake as those who are partakers of Christ. As those who identify with Christ’s death burial and Resurrection. As those who all b the same way have been reconciled by God and therefore have no reason to show favoritism or division or disunity but rather celebrate the great way that we have been brought together in Christ.
How does this truth help us examine ourselves for participating in communion?
Teaches us to flee idolatry. 10:14. How so? We cannot be united with Christ and idols? We cannot say I belong to Christ and serve other gods. If we partake of communion while at the same time participating in sinful idolatry we will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 11:27.
this is why we need time to honestly examine. The regular opportunity to prepare for communion through examination is a means of great love and discipline from the Lord to help preserve our soul and body. (11:30)
This is why we must not be causal or flippant with the Lords table.
God takes His worship seriously and so must we.
Transition: Sometime this examination is very intense. But keep in mind that were it not for the grace of God no any person would ever be partakers of the provisions that Christ has made through His broken body and shed blood. Point is not to exclude from the table but rather according to 11:28 give examination and then eat the bread and drink the cup. Abstaining in order to settle some accounts or to pursue some first directions of obedience is one thing, but abstaining in order to avoid repenting or so one can remain in idolatry is danger to the soul.
2. Teaches us to preserve and practice unity. Why? Because we cannot partake in a demonstration of the unity of the body of Christ and at the same time be at odds with one another.
This is why it is so important to be hospitable and gracious with one another. To treat one another the way we have been treated by Christ.
This is why it is so important to settle offences and offer or initiate forgiveness with one another.
This is why is so absolutely important that we are aware of who actually belongs to one another. If I have offended a brother in Christ then I need to know that brother is a brother so we can reconcile and then partake and proclaim the gospel together. Which leads us into some practical points of discussion.
Should I partake in communion if I haven't been baptized? I've had a bit of a change of mind in studying this out. Because of what communion is announcing it should be no concern of mine if I haven't first been willing to publicly identify with Christ in baptism. I think Jesus Himself helps us see this same point when he gives an order to the process of making disciples in Mathew 28:19-20 The ordinance of baptism should be obeyed so that obedience to the order of communion can be obeyed with a clear conscience. Baptism is a one time commitment of publicly identifying with the death burial and Resurrection of Jesus. Communion is the regular reminder of that ongoing commitment.
Should I partake in communion if I am not a formal member of this local church? Again, because of what communion is announcing it should be no concern of mine to display the unity of the body of Christ if I am not commited to other local members of this body. The Biblical teaching about the examination of communion helps us see another reason why having some type of formal awareness of who is commited to one another is so important. In other words, Should I really be concerned with announcing the unit of the body of Christ if I am not willing to actually unify with the body of Christ? Again, keeping in mind that the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul was appealing to a local church offering correction of disunity in regards to the way the were practicing communion. Having said that, there is no doubt that this could be taken to far. It begs the question of how much should the table be guarded? As one who has to give an account for souls at the end of my race I would highly encourage to the deeply consider these Scriptures and what has been said concerning them before partaking. And then with a clear conscience before the Lord and your fellow members take and eat and drink accordingly.
Closing. Encourage you to hear words of this song as we spend some time in prayerful examination together. Afterward, I will pray and the the deacons will come to help serve the elements together. Please, consider that even if you should refrain from participating in communion this morning consider coming up and asking for prayer, or sharing a desire to make the commitment of baptism, or membership. This is a time to worship and respond to Christ and so lets do that in a way that would please Him.