Worship By The Book: The Lord’s Supper

We come now to the last sermon in our series Worship by the Book and we are discussing the Lord’s Supper. Following our discussion of this ordinance instituted by Christ we will sing a song of preparation and then partake of the meal together to honor Christ as his people. Before we do that we need to see in Scripture the description of the proper observance of this ordinance, and that is found in a rebuke to a church that was ruining the Lord’s Supper.

We know that all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness that we, the people of God might be equipped for every good work. Paul, in this passage begins with a reproof and then teaches and corrects under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so let’s examine God’s Word together.

The Reproof/ Rebuke (17-22)

[17] But [contrast with the previous passage Read v1] in the following instructions I do not commend you [I’m not applauding you for this], because when you come together [as one church body] it is not for the better but for the worse.

[18] For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. [Schisms, cliques, those with secret grudges, offended by everything, attached to certain leaders as in ch.1, class distinctions over wealth and poverty] And I believe it in part,

[19] for there must be factions [lit. heresy] among you in order that those who are genuine (truly converted) among you may be recognized [if you want to see the true character of a church, you will see it in their commitment or lack thereof to doctrinal fidelity or their behavior during conflict. I can say without fear or hesitation, some of the nastiest, meanest things I have ever heard said or seen done have come out during church conflict. You can tell where your theological allegiance is centered at that moment. When you care more for carpet color than the Trinity or for the location or time of your Sunday School class than Jesus, or about whether we have a certain kind of service rather than the people in the service, you love your issue, not Christ. 1 John 2 says ‘They went out from us because they were not of us’].

[20] When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. [This is sarcasm. Paul is saying, “Even if you are professing to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, that’s not what you are actually about.” Why does he say that?]

[21] For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. [This refers to the fellowship meal prior to the Lord’s Supper. The early church made a practice of celebrating the Lord’s Supper after a fellowship meal, or agape feast as they have been called. They did so for many reasons, but most likely because that was how Jesus did it. Remember the Lord’s Supper comes after the Last Supper. He took the cup “after supper”. Jesus and the disciples ate first and then he instituted the Lord’s Supper. So the early church did it this way as well. They would have a potluck meal. I promise, this is true. Everyone would bring something and they would have a common table and eat together. The rebuke Paul is offering had to do with the wealthy people. They would bring lots of food and wine and rather than waiting for the day laborers who were poor and couldn’t bring a lot, they went ahead and ate and drank. Paul’s point is that there was one part of the church that had an excess and selfishly indulged and there was another part of the church that went without. Then they would take the Lord’s Supper and act like nothing was wrong.]

[22] What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? [If you want to gorge yourself, do it at home.] Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? [You’re not honoring God nor are you helping people in this. You profane the Lord’s Supper, which we will see is a very dangerous thing to do, and your brothers are humiliated and hungry because of your selfishness and excess] What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. [Paul refuses to commend them for such an abuse of this holy ordinance.]

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