You can click here to go to the Internet Archive page for this sermon, or listen to the sermon using the player below.
1. Get out your Bibles and turn to I Corinthians 10. When I mention a verse look it up.
When you go home today consider what I preached and pray about it. Pray it in with your Bible open before you. Get this stuff into your very soul.
2. We are just about finished with our little series regarding the church. And we would be very wrong to not take a whole message to consider the only repeated ordinance given by Christ to the church. He gave two.
a. The first is baptism, which is a once in a lifetime event that a believer goes through at the time of his/her conversion, as a testimony of his union with Christ and as a strengthening of the faith as he begins his journey in life as one of the disciples of Christ.
b. The second is the one we look at today – The Lord’s Supper.
c. I wanted to do this on a Sunday when we would be having Communion but things did not work out that way and as I put the sermon together it proved out to be the providence of God at work. Two weeks between this message and the next Lord’s Supper service. Take the things delivered to you this morning about the Lord’s Supper and come in two weeks properly prepared for it.
3. A message on the Lord’s Supper. But does this really matter? In the face of child pornography, the slave trade, oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico … Does this really matter? Shouldn’t we bother with something that impacts our lives a little more relevantly? How is this going to help me with finding a spouse, getting into university, or giving the Gospel to my neighbour, or coping at work or paying the bills …? I think as we see what the texts that we are going to look at this morning have to say about the Lord’s Supper we will see that this is very much a relevant subject for us to be involved with this morning.
4. And yet when we look at the NT we see that this is considered important. In fact, the Lord’s Supper is one of the four things mentioned in Acts 2:42 that the church formed on the Day of Pentecost was devoted to. The Lord’s Supper ranked right up there, with that early church, with the Word of God, prayer, and the fellowship of the saints. (A look at those four things reveals to us that the only one that the evangelical church today does not do every week as a part of their worship services is the Supper. We preach the Apostles’ doctrine, we pray and we fellowship together every week. But we celebrate communion once per month … ).
a. Devoted to = to be earnest toward, to give constant diligence to … . This was a matter of great importance to the early church – and it ought to be of great importance to us.
5. Some introductory remarks regarding the Lord’s Supper. These things are important for us.
a. Two extremes when it comes to the Lord’s Supper
i. Ignore its significance altogether. Treat the Table like mere ritual. Take the elements with no thought of their symbolism or their power. Guzzle down the stuff and hope that your stomach doesn’t growl too loud. Belittle it to the point hat you think that a church can survive without it. One major denomination that does not observe the Lord’s Supper at all states that every meal is the Lord’s Supper. Every meal is not the Lord’s Supper.
ii. The other extreme is to attach magical powers to the Supper. Some churches attach saving powers to the elements themselves. I suspect that there are some here who when the Lord’s Supper is served take it because they think that it scores spiritual points for them. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the elements become the true body and blood of Jesus Christ and that to receive the host is to receive Christ Himself. The Lutheran church teaches that the elements become the body and bread of Christ when the Christian , by faith ingests them. This is taking things too far and there is no biblical warrant for it.
I The Lord’s Supper in I Corinthians 11:18-32
1. The subject is too vast to be covered in a single message, so we are zeroing in on what actually happens in the eating and drinking. But we must note the following:
a. It is for baptized believers only – all churches agree with this. The NT order is conversion, baptism, membership, Lord’s Supper – Acts 2:40-42
b. It is corporate – I Cor. 10:17. This is something that the gathered church does together.
c. It is to be celebrated division free – I Cor. 11:18-20 – Two weeks from today Pastor Bell will lead the church in the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Dear ones understand this – if there is a believer who you are not at peace with you have two weeks to set things right or stay away from the Table on June 6. This is what I Cor. 11:27 is referring to and this is what I Cor. 11:29 is referring to. And this is what verse 30 is referring to.
d. It is to be Christ focussed – I Cor. 11:24, 25, 26. Just as preaching is to be Christ centered and Christ exalting and Christ saturated, so the Table is all about Christ.
i. “… the same office as the word of God; to offer and set forth Christ to us.”
e. It is a memorial feast. It is to aid us in remembering the work of Christ to us – I
Corinthians 11:24-25 – “in remembrance of me”.
i. Now, we live in a technologically mind boggling time. Surely we can come up with something more dramatic, more gripping to the senses, more exciting than bread and wine. Want to remember the death and life of Christ? Show a video clip. Act out a drama. Do any number of things that would aid the memory better. Jesus surely would have used such things if He had had them at his disposal. No dear ones. Jesus came into the world at just the right time. And He ordained that bread and wine be used as a memorial and as that which He would use to bless us with His presence and prepare us for living the Christian life. A movie will not do what the bread and wine do – simply because Jesus has ordained the bread and wine to do it. I have not yet seen the movie “The Pasison of the Christ” and I am not one tittle less for it. But I would never willingly miss a Lord’s Supper service because it is one of the four most important things I can do to help me in my spiritual walk. It is what Jesus has given so that I do not fall, so that I can fellowship properly with my fellow believers, so that we can share in Christ together.
f. It is a visible reminder of what Christ did for us.
i. The Lord made us and He knows what we need. We are tactile. We like to touch and feel things. Jesus leaves us the bread and wine to help us stay connected with Him. We touch Him and feel Him. It meets a need for us.
g. It is a dramatic reminder of what it means to be a believer – You ingest Christ. Christ in you, the hope of glory.
i. A testimony of the continuing provision of God for all our spiritual needs. As baptism symbolizes our coming into the faith by Christ, so the Supper symbolizes our being sustained in the faith by Christ.
ii. Jesus Christ is the only food for our souls. As food is what prevents us from dying so it is that Christ is what prevents us from dying. He is our life. He is our hope. He is our sustenance … . When we take in the wine and the bread we are to have our hearts and minds drawn to this, that it is Christ and Christ alone who gives us life and keeps us from dying. It reminds us that we are in constant need of Him. As we can be comfortable but for a few hours without food so we cannot survive without a constant supply of Christ and the merits of His death and resurrection and return for us.
iii. In the Supper Christ comes and says “I am with you, in you, sustaining you, feeding you, saving you …” And we are reminded that all the blessings of Christ are because of His death for us.
(1) Are you going to heaven? That is because of the shed blood.
(2) Are you able to pray? “”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”
(3) Have you been gifted to serve? “”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”“”
(4) Do you have every spiritual blessing in Christ? “”“”“”“”“”
(5) Do you have Jesus in you the hope of glory?”“”“”“”“”“”“”
h. It is a testimony that Jesus is returning – I Cor. 11:26 – “until He comes”.
i. It is a service of community and unity that testifies that the work of Christ is for all people without distinction – I Cor. 11:27. The ground at the foot of the cross dear ones is level. There are no distinctions there of wealth, or position in society, or education (those who cannot read sit next to people who are PhDs receiving the bread and wine together with no distinction), or intelligence (the smart and the stupid, the mentally disabled, the slow, the mentally ill and the mentally well, share the same loaf and the same cup, because Christ has united them in Him), or of gender or past sins … . The only requirement is that all participants be baptized believers.
i. Verse 27 is the one that makes people think that they have to be worthy to participate. Nothing could be further from the truth. No one is worthy to receive the benefits of the death of Christ. This verse is talking about eating in a worthy manner. The unworthy manner at Corinth was class distinction. They were denying that the death of Christ was for sinners plus nothing – see I Cor. 11:21-22 … THEREFORE (verse 27) whoever eats in an unworthy manner … meaning that if all the saints are not welcome and equal at the Table then you have eaten in an unworthy manner.
j. It is a service of self examination – I Cor. 11:28. The Lord’s Table is part of what God has given us to keep short records with Him.
i. In the context of the passage here – “Am I maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? Am I at peace with my fellow believers. Have I refused to say “I’m sorry” for something that I have done wrong? Have I refused to forgive someone who has wronged me?”
ii. Do I think that I am better than the others who gather here with me? Am I bitter, sinfully angry, resentful … .
(1) Dear ones, what do you do during those moments when the bread and cup are being passed? You write little notes to your neighbour? You wonder why we aren’t singing? You think about the report due at work or the laundry that’s piled up or a host of other things? Examine yourself.
k. It is a service of discernment of the body of Christ – I Cor. 11:29
i. Does this mean Jesus, or the church? Think of it along the lines of I Cor.
10:16-17 – We participate in one body and blood and therefore we are one in Him. That is where our minds are to be focussed.
ii. But surely this verse isn’t teaching that if we think about the laundry we are going to be judged by God, does it? No. But it does mean that a flippant attitude to the supper is serious. It means that if we participate in this service pf fellowship and are not in fellowship with either Christ or our fellow believers then we are in danger of judgement from God. Not hell, if we are true believers. But certainly death.
iii. It also states that this is why many are weak and sickly. There are far too many believers who have not grown up in the faith. And there are many reasons why. One of them is that their hearts are wrong at the Table. And dear ones – God knows the heart. We are so prone to wander. We are so prone to carry grudges, harbour resentments. “There is one I won’t talk to. There is one who has to make the first move. There is one who better stay away if they know what is good for them.” And the cure? The Table of Christ. And if a participation in the body and blood of Christ (10:16) isn’t enough to bring you to repentance then you are very weak in the faith and God may just take you home, rather than have you be the hindrance that you are.
(1) The church I was a member of in St. John’s Newfoundland in my last year of university decided to hold communion once a year. But that is not how we should respond to these warnings. The warnings are there to bring us back, to correct us. If we only have Communion once a year, the animosities, the angers … will never be dealt with properly. No! These warnings do not drive us away from the Table. They drive us to Christ when we are at the Table. Dear ones – fulfill the purposes of the Lord’s Supper. Repent of sin and fellowship with Christ and your fellow believers as He has called us to and enables us to.
II I Corinthians 10:16-17 Participation in the Blood and Body of Christ
1. Matthew 26: 26-29 – (Also note Mark14:22-25 and Luke 22:18-20) Verse 16 – Participation in his blood … . Whose idea is the Lord’s Supper? It is Christ’s. “On the night that Jesus was betrayed HE took bread and broke it and said ‘this is my body … eat it’ …” And it is Jesus Christ the Lord of glory who has declared this supper to be a perpetual thing until He comes. And what are we doing in the supper? Communing with Him. Jesus, the sovereign Ruler of all that is , is saying “Come dine with Me”, Nay, He says “Come dine on Me”! We will lose the wonder of this ordinance if we do not keep at the forefront of our minds that this fellowship in the death and life of Jesus Christ is by His invitation. No One else could invite us. No one else would.
a. This invitation form Christ is for all who know Him. There is an invitation you need to hear first before you hear this one. It is the invitation to come and know him. Fellowship with Christ at the Table is for those who have fellowship with Him through faith. Have you been coming to the Table yet have never come to Him in repentance from sin and trust as the only Saviour from the penalty for sin? The Lord’s Supper is a banquet with Christ. It is not a meal at McDonald’s. It is formal. You are not fit to come if you are not dressed properly. And the clothing for this meal is the sinless righteousness of Jesus Christ. All your righteousness is as filthy rags – tattered jeans, dirty work clothes … . You cannot come to THIS banquet unless you dress for it. And only Christ can get you dressed properly. He will put His sinless righteousness upon you if you come to Him repenting of your sins and trusting Him for forgiveness. Then and only then are you ready for this meal.
b. “Participation = koinonia – fellowship”
c. This is more than just a memorial. This is more than just a Remembrance Day service. This is fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Lord’s Supper Jesus comes and fellowships with us in a way that He normally does not. He has ordained it to be so. Dear Christian, this is for your growth in faith. It is for your strengthening (remember that the improper use of the Supper is why many are weak …)
i. We hear so many ideas, have so many books written, so much counselling taking place … to help Christians grow in the faith. And hardly ever if at all, will you find any reference to the Lord’s Supper. We can have fellowship with Christ through prayer. And we can have fellowship with Christ through prayer. But why do we think that we cannot have it developed and grow in the Supper? The Bible says that we do.
2. Participation in the blood
a. We fellowship with Christ in His death. It is because of His death that we can know Him. And He uses the Supper to bring that home to us.
b. The participant shares and participates in Christ’s saving work on Calvary. To share in the benefits of Christ’s saving work on Calvary. That sounds to many like the teaching that says that Jesus becomes the bread and wine. But it is not. But at the Table we share with Christ in His saving work. But only if oyu participate in faith.
1. The Lord’s Supper dear ones. It is a marvel of free and sovereign grace. Treat it like it should be treated. Come to the Table as a blood bought sinner who is saved by great grace. Come discerning the body and blood of the eternal covenant.