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Observing the Lord's Table

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Partaking of the Lord’s Table

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Intro: Today we commemorate a Christian institution that is 2,000 years old. In our observance of the Lord’s Supper, we participate in a form of worship that is as old as Christianity itself. In fact, the Lord’s Supper observance was inaugurated by Jesus Himself on the eve of His crucifixion, Matt. 26:26-28. This morning we will gather together around the Lord’s Table and worship Jesus Christ through the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
I believe that we should take a look at the Lord’s Supper and talk for a while about just what it means to us as believers. The first thing I would like to mention, by way of introduction, is that the Lord’s Supper is what we call an “Ordinance”. This is a word which means a prescribed practice or religious rite. Jesus only gave the church two ordinances, or religious rites, which we are to practice. One is the Lord’s Supper and the other is Baptism. So, if you want to feel religious, this is a good time to do it.
Another truth I would like to share, also by way of introduction, is how the Lord’s Supper is practiced in various churches. There are three basic ways that Christian churches observe the Lord’s Supper.
· One way is by what is called “Closed Communion”, in this, the church only allows those who are members in good standing to participate in the observance.
· A second method is that of “Open Communion”. In this, everyone present is encouraged to participate in the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
· What we practice here is the third method and it is known as “Close Communion”. In this method everyone present is invited to participate, but only after they have been warned of the consequences of partaking in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. Everyone present is urged to practice self-examination and then they can participate if they wish. In other words, only those who are in close communion with the Lord are encouraged to participate. (Ill. Deacon who took exception to my way of doing this!)
Now, with these truths in mind, I would like to consider some ideas given to us by the Apostle Paul in these verses. Hopefully, these truths will help us appreciate the blessing, power and holiness of the Lord’s Supper observance a little better.


A. Notice what Jesus, Luke 22:19, and Paul, 1 Cor. 11:25, have to say about the Lord’s Supper service. According to these two passages, the Lord’s Supper is a time of remembrance.
(Ill. There are four basic views as to what the Lord’s Supper represents.
1. Transubstantiation - The bread and wine literally change into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The recipient actually eats the Lord’s body and drinks His blood, because Jesus is literally being sacrificed in the mass. This is the Roman Catholic view and it is non-biblical!
2. Consubstantiation - The bread and wine actually contain the body and blood of Jesus, but do not literally change. Christ is actually present “with, in and under” the elements. According to this view, the recipient receives the forgiveness of sins and the confirmation of their faith through the elements. This is the Lutheran view and it too is unbiblical.
3. Reformed - Christ is not literally present in the elements, but there is the spiritual presence of Christ. The recipient receives grace through partaking of the elements. This is the Presbyterian and Reformed Church view and it is unbiblical as well.
4. Memorial - This view teaches that Jesus is not present either physically or spiritually in the elements, but that the Lord’s Supper stands as a symbolic reminder of what Jesus did for man as the cross and the tomb. This is the Baptist and Mennonite view and it alone represents the truth of what the Bible teaches about the Lord’s Supper.
B. Ill. With that in mind, allow me to share with you what the Lord’s Supper serves to remind us of.
1. v. 24-25 We Are To Remember An Agonizing Lord – The blood and juice represent the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we partake of this observance, we need to remember the awful price that Jesus paid to save our souls. Please remember that when He died on the cross, He was dying in your place, and that He suffered greatly when He did, Isa. 52:14.
(Ill. Is the crucifixion fresh in your mind? A certain family lived on a farm alongside a dirt road. Only on rare occasions would an automobile pass by. But one day as one young member of the family was crossing the road on his bicycle, a car came roaring down a nearby hill, struck the boy, and killed him.
An older brother said, “Later, when my father picked up the mangled twisted bike, I heard him sob out loud for the first time in my life. He carried it to the barn and placed it in a spot we seldom used. Father’s terrible sorrow eased with the passing of time, but for many years whenever he saw that bike, tears began streaming down his face.
The older brother continued, “Since then I have often prayed, ‘Lord, keep the memory of Your death as fresh as that to me! Every time I partake of Your memorial supper, let my heart be stirred as though You died only yesterday. Never let the communion service become a mere formality, but always a tender and touching experience.’”)
2. v. 26 We Are to Remember An Achieving Lord - As we take the bread and the juice today, we need to remember that Jesus Christ died, but that three days later, He arose from the dead. He lives, Matt. 28:1-6; Rev. 1:18!
3. v. 26 We Are To Remember An Appearing Lord - After Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended hack to Heaven and sat down at His Father’s right hand to await the day when He will return to this earth to receive His people unto Himself. Every time we take the Lord’s Supper, we are declaring to a lost world that we believe in a returning Lord.
(Ill. By the way, this is also an incentive to keep ourselves clean before the Lord, 1 John 1:1-3. If we really believe that Jesus is coming again, we will live like we are looking for Him.)
I. It Is A Symbolic Service


Ill. The Lord’s Supper service is sacred for several reasons. By sacred, I mean that it is to be held in high regard by those who participate in it. It possesses no saving power, but it is still holy unto the Lord. There are three basic reasons why the Lord’s Supper is sacred.)
A. It Was Instituted By Christ - Jesus inaugurated the first Lord’s Supper before He went to the cross and He intends for His people to follow His example. It is sacred simply because Jesus set the example.
B. It Witnesses To Christ - Paul makes it clear that when we participate in the Lord’s Supper service that we are declaring our faith in the death, burial, resurrection and return of the Lord Jesus.
(Ill. Please do not misunderstand me! Many lost people have taken the Lord’s Supper and they are just as lost after they swallow as they were before they participated in the observance. There is no saving power in the Communion. However those who are saved are proclaiming the fact that they believe in a man named Jesus Christ.)
C. It Witnesses About Christ - While the Lord’s Supper declares the faith of those who partake of it, it also points to the truth of Gospel to those who do not know the Lord. Every time we gather at the Lord’s table and observe the Lord’s Supper, we are serving up a witness to a lost and dying world that 2,000 years ago, a man named Jesus went to a cross and died for the sins of humanity, that He rose from the dead and that He lives today and will return for His people. It is a powerful witness.
I. It Is A Symbolic Service
II. It is A Sacred Service


Ill. The Lord’s Supper service offers the church an opportunity to come together, v. 17, 18, 20, 33, 34. Five times in this verse, the Apostle refers to the “coming together” of the church. Anytime the saints of God can gather themselves together and focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, is a special time. While we are together, there are two things that we should do before coming to the Lord’s Table. This observance is special to the saints because it affords us the opportunity to do two great things.
A. We Have the Opportunity To Repent - Before anyone takes part in the Lord’s Supper, they need to search their hearts and confess and repent of their sins. There are two things that need to be dealt with.
1. Our Sinsv. 27-30 – These verses paint a very solemn portrait of the Lord’s Supper service. It seems that this is something that the Lord takes very seriously. The Corinthians were guilty of taking the Lord’s Supper service lightly and as a result, some of them were sick and others had died. Folk, God hasn’t changed His mind! Before you take from the Lord’s Table this morning, please take the time to confess your sins and receive forgiveness from His hand, 1 John 1:9.
2. Our Selfishnessv. 17-22 – (Ill. The Corinthian debacle.) When we come to the Lord’s Table, we need to remember not just ourselves, but also our brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling, Gal. 6:2. We need to consider those who are outside the family of God. Those outside the faith need someone to cast them a lifeline. God help us to remember this time is a time to remember and to repent.
B. We Have The Opportunity To Renew – The Lord’s Supper service is a wonderful time for the child of God to his vows and his vision. It is a great time to remember why we are here. It is a good time to renew our vows unto the Lord. Many allow sin to creep into their lives and hinder their walk with the Lord. This is a good time to get al of that fixed up and get back on track with the Lord.
I. It Is A Symbolic Service
II. It Is A Sacred Service
III. It Is A Special Service


(Ill. The Corinthian mentality surrounding the Lord’s Supper service. For them it was a time of gluttony and selfish excess. They had lost the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper and were taking the whole thing lightly.
I would like to say that I believe that the Lord’s Supper may just be the highest form of worship we will ever engage in while here on earth. In everything else we do, there is always an element of self mixed in. Whether it is preaching, praying, praising, testifying, singing or whatever, there is always the danger that the flesh will try and get some glory.
But, when we come to the Lord’s Table, there is nothing or no one to get glory but the Lord. When His Supper is received with faith and gladness, Jesus will be glorified, the saints will be edified, sinner will be evangelized and God the Father will be exalted!
When we call to mind the price Jesus paid for us and the fact that He lives for our justification, it will bring us to the place of praise and worship.
I. It Is A Symbolic Service
II. It Is A Sacred Service
III. It Is A Special Service
IV. It Is A Solemn Service


(Ill. Verse 28 tells us that we are to examine ourselves. That verb is in the imperative mood. It is a command and not an option! Before you partake of the Lord’s Supper, be certain of a few necessary things.
A. Be Sure You Are Saved - This is a service for Christians. If you are lost, you can neither understand nor appreciate when we are doing here this morning. If you are lost, then I want to invite you to come to Jesus and be saved today.
B. Be Sure You Are Right With The Lord - If you are saved, then be sure you examine yourself and that you confess your sins before the Lord. He will receive you and forgive you and make you ready to receive the Lord’s Supper.
C. Be Sure You Take It In The Right Spirit - This is a time of worship and not a time to take things lightly. Please focus your heart and mind on the Lord and do your best to be in communion with Him as you receive His Supper.
Conc: After hearing all of this, some may wonder who is worthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper. The answer is simple, anyone who is saved and living for the Lord is worthy. We are not in ourselves, but we have been made worthy through the blood of Jesus and by the power of the Lord.
Now, if the Lord has spoken to your heart today, and you would like to wash up before we come to the Lord’s Table, I invite you to come before the Lord and make use of this cleansing station.
If you are saved, please examine yourself and do what you need to do.
If you are lost, then I want you to come to the Lord and be saved. Will you do that right now?
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