Sermon #1305††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †† Miscellaneous Sermons
††††††††† Title:† ††††††††† WHO IS WORTHY?
††††††††† Text:††††††††††† 1 Corinthians 11:27-29
††††††††† Readings:†††† David Coleman and Ron Wood
††††††††† Subject:†††††† Who is worthy to receive the Lordís Supper?
††††††††† Date:††††††††††† Sunday Evening Ė October 8, 2000
††††††††† Tape #†††††††† W-5a
††††††††† I want us to begin by reading 1 Corinthians 11:27-29.
These three verses of Scripture have been, perhaps, more troubling to sensitive souls than any others in the New Testament. Many of the Lordís people read them and think, ďSurely, if anyone is unworthy to receive the Lordís Supper it is me.Ē Satan roars against the weak, untaught, or poorly taught believer, accuses him of sin and guilt, and tries to put him upon a legal footing before God. The old serpent is hellishly subtle and clever. Under the guise of humility and holiness, he would have you turn your eyes of faith away from Christ to yourself. He seeks to make us look to ourselves rather than to Christ alone for our worthiness and acceptance before God.
††††††††† Therefore, I want to answer this question in this message - WHO IS WORTHY? Who is and who is not worthy to receive the Lordís Supper. Let me answer that question clearly and distinctly now. Then I will show you the answer from the context in which our text is found.
Proposition: †††††††† Every true believer, every sinner who trusts Christ alone as his wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, is worthy of receiving and is obliged to receive the Lordís Supper.
††††††††† Now, letís see if I can make good on that statement from this context. The fact is, it is not possible to understand 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 until you understand the entire context of verses 20-34. For that matter, it is not possible to understand any text of Scripture isolated from its immediate context and from the larger context of the entire Volume of Inspiration.
††††††††† In this part of 1 Corinthians Paul is, by divine inspiration, setting in order the disorderly affairs in the local church at Corinth. But, more importantly, he sets before us the proper order of public worship in all gospel churches. Particularly, in chapter 11 verses 20-34, the Holy Spirit tells us exactly what we should and should not do in the observance of the Lordís Supper. Hold your Bibles open and follow me through this passage, beginning at verse twenty.
††††††††† Three things are obvious in this verse.
1. There was a specific place where the Corinthian church assembled for public worship.
††††††††† There are some who fancy themselves learned, spiritual people, who care nothing for commitment. They like to run from one place to another, or go no place at all, or meet together with Godís saints when they please. This they call freedom. I call it irresponsibility. When the local church where you are, to which you belong, meets together, it is both your privilege and responsibility to be present. The local church would soon cease to exist if everybody decided run to this place or that, or to no place at all, according to their own whims.
2. When the Corinthian church came together, at the appointed time, they claimed that they did so ďto eat the Lordís supperĒ.
††††††††† They met in Christís name, according to Christís command, with the pretense of observing Christís ordinance. But that was not the case at all. No doubt, there were some, maybe many, in the congregation who were sincere worshippers; but in so far as the bulk of the congregation was concerned, their assembling together at these appointed times was not to observe The Lordís Supper, but the festivities of their own love feasts.
3. If we do not observe the ordinances of Divine worship in the manner prescribe by God, we cannot observe them at all.
††††††††† The Corinthians said, ďLetís go to church and worship God in the observance of The Lordís Supper.Ē But they came to throw a party. Therefore, Paul said, ďWhen you come together in one place, this is not to eat the Lordís supper.Ē
††††††††† We have come together this evening to observe The Lordís Supper. This is called ďthe Lordís supperĒ becauseÖ
∑ Christ the Lord is the Author of it.
∑ Heís the Subject of it.
∑ Heís the Host of it.
∑ Heís the Reason for it.
††††††††† Here Paul explains exactly why the Corinthiansí practice was not an act of worship and could not be considered observing the Lordís Supper. They added to the ordinance of Christ a gaudy feast which soon got out of hand. They came not to worship but to feast, not to serve one another but each to eat his own supper. Their love feast was a rude, cruel, self-serving, self-gratifying party.
∑ Rather than waiting on one another, they rudely jumped in front of one another.
∑ Instead of waiting on the poor, the poor were left hungry.
∑ While the poor got nothing, those who jumped before them and gorged themselves drank insatiably, to the point of drunkenness.
††††††††† This is not a prohibition to having church dinners or to eating in church buildings. We are not idolaters. We do not worship buildings! Paul is simply shaming the Corinthians for behaving as they did, while claiming to worship Christ and keep his ordinance. It is as if he had said, If you are going to behave like this, at least stay at home! Do not treat the church of God with such contempt! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves for so shamefully embarrassing your poor brethren!
††††††††† Now, look as verses 23-26Ö
††††††††† Be sure you do not miss this - Here the Holy Spirit tells us that when the gospel writers say that Christ blessed the bread and cup there is no implication that he mysteriously consecrated them or changed them. He simply gave thanks for them. Having said that, I will just touch the highlights in these verses. I have expounded them to you many times and, the Lord willing, will do so many more times. But, for now, let me just remind you of what the Holy Spirit teaches in them.
1. We are to observe The Lordís Supper the same way our Lord did it with his disciples on the night in which he was betrayed.
2. That means we are to do so using unleavened bread and wine.
3. The unleavened bread represents (only represents) the body of Christ, which was crushed beneath the infinite wheel of Godís infinite wrath and justice for his people.
4. The wine represents (only represents) the precious blood of Christ, the blood of the everlasting covenant, shed for many for the remission of their sins.
5. We are to observe this blessed ordinance often.
6. As often as we eat this bread and drink this wine we are to do so in remembrance of our dear Redeemer and Savior.
7. In the true observance of The Lordís Supper we show forth, in a beautifully symbolic ordinance, the Lordís death until he comes again to receive us unto himself.
††††††††† Now read verse 27, where Paul speaks of those who eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily.
††††††††† Without question, there is a sense in which it may be said that we eat and drink the bread and wine unworthily, if we use the wrong elements, observe the ordinance without proper reverence, fail to properly think of and remember Christ our Lord, or do not clearly understand the meaning of the ordinance. All of those things are unworthy of men and women who claim to worship our God and unworthy of our great and glorious Christ. But none of those things can be found in this text.
††††††††† Commonly, this verse is interpreted to mean that a person is unworthy to receive The Lordís Supper who has a certain amount of unconfessed sin in his life, has not prayed right, read the Bible enough, or lived as he should. Again, I grant, there is certainly a sense in which we are all unworthy to observe this ordinance or any other ordinance of Divine service, because we are sinners! But that certainly is not the meaning of the Holy Spiritís words in this text.
††††††††† I know, with absolute certainty, that the unworthiness spoken of in this text has absolutely nothing to do with the manner in which we keep the ordinance or the depravity, sinfulness, and corruption of our hearts, or even the sins and evil behavior of our lives for one simple reason. That person who eats and drinks unworthily is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, according to verse 29, he eats and drinks damnation unto himself. Those things simply cannot be said of any true believer. No true believer can ever become reprobate and be damned (John 10:27-30; Phil. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:5; 1 Thess. 5:24; Rom. 8:28-39; Mal. 3:6; Ps. 23:1-6).
††††††††† In verse 28 we are given two things to do as we prepare to receive The Lordís Supper.
1. ďLet a man examine himself.Ē
††††††††† The text does not say, Let a man be examined! It says, ďLet a man examine himselfĒ.
We have neither the right nor the ability to examine one another., neither as individuals nor collectively as a church. I pray that God will give us the grace to get beyond the haughty pompous, self-righteous desire and habit of doing so!
2. Once we have been made to know that we are in the faith, that Christ is in us and we are in Christ, because we trust Christ alone, then we are told to eat.
††††††††† For believers the ordinances of Christ are not optional. They are matters of obedience to the revealed will of God. Every true believer is here specifically told by God to eat the bread and drink the wine of the Lordís Table. Now, with that in mind, look at verse 29Ö
††††††††† In this verse the Holy Spirit tells us exactly what it is to eat and drink unworthily. Those who eat and drink unworthily are those who do not discern the Lordís body. They are religious, but lost. They may know their church creed backwards and forwards, but they do not know God. They may be very smart and have much discernment about many things, but they have no spiritual discernment. They profess faith, but do not possess faith. They do not discern the Lordís body. That means they do not understandÖ
∑ The sin and depravity of their own hearts.
∑ The law and justice of God.
∑ The necessity of Christís incarnation.
∑ The accomplishments of Christ in his flesh.
∑ The gospel of the grace of God.
††††††††† The presumption of redemption, righteousness, regeneration, and acceptance with God without the knowledge of and a God given faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is damning.
††††††††† True believers are people to whom God the Holy Spirit has given and to whom he continually gives spiritual discernment.
††††††††† Paul is here declaring that the judgment of God had fallen upon many at Corinth because, like Uzzah of old (1 Chron. 13-15), they sought him not after the due order.
1. They claimed to be worshipping God, but they were not. They were worshipping themselves (vv. 19-20).
2. They claimed that they trusted Christ alone as their Savior, but hey did not. They trusted their own works!
††††††††† Paulís language is simple and clear. It is altogether in line with the interpretation I have given of this passage. If you and I will sit in judgment with God against ourselves, as did David (Ps. 51:1-5) and Isaiah (Isa. 6:1-6), we will not be judged and condemned by God.
††††††††† That person who genuinely acknowledges and confesses his sin before God is a recipient of and has experienced the grace of God in Christ (1 John 1:7-10).
††††††††† When God deals with us, his elect, for sin, when he appears to be sitting in judgment against us, he is not punishing us for our sins as an angry judge, but chastening us as our wise, gracious, good, and loving heavenly Father.
††††††††† He chastens us as a Father that we might not be condemned with the world, whom he chastens not. He chastens us as sons, that we might be partakers of his righteousness. The bastards he ignores, passes by, and leaves to themselves, that the may be fitted for destruction.
††††††††† Wrapping up his instructions about The Lordís Supper and our orderly observance of it, the Apostle tells us three things.
1. We are to deal with professed brethren as brethren until we have absolutely no reason to believe their profession.
††††††††† If you read 1 Corinthians you simply cannot fail to notice he carnal divisions, sensual behavior, doctrinal error, and unorderly behavior that prevailed among them. Yet, Paul calls these people ďMy brethrenĒ. He was not being sarcastic or insincere.
∑ True believers often behave in a terribly inconsistent manner.
∑ Though Paul says and does nothing to promote or encourage inconsistencies or sinful behavior in Godís saints, he loves them still and seeks to both correct their errors and minister to the everlasting consolation of the gospel.
∑ At the same time, he solemnly warns the self-righteous Pharisee, religious ritualist, and hypocrite of the certainty of divine judgment.
2. Wen we come together to eat The Lordís Supper, we ought to always be thoughtful of and show loving consideration for one another.
††††††††† ďTarry for one another.Ē Not only are we to discern the Lordís sacrificial body, we must discern and be aware of his spiritual body (the church), which is also represented in the bread.
As we sit together at The Lordís Table, let us do so as one family, in loving family unity.
3. We must not mingle the worship of God with carnal pleasure, or interject into the worship of God that which God has not ordained.
††††††††† To mingle human inventions, carnal traditions, and ceremonial religious customs with the worship of God is to run the risk of bringing upon unregenerate men and women the added condemnation of smug, religious self-righteousness. ďAnd if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation.Ē
††††††††† Again, Paul is not here forbidding eating in the church building. He forbids the interjection of anything into the worship of God. One reason for this prohibition is the fact that those who engage in religious activity, in the pretense and guise of worship, who do not know God eat and drink damnation to themselves!
††††††††† Now, as we sit together at The Lordís Table and prepare to receive the bread and wine in remembrance of our dear Savior, I urge you once more to do three thingsÖ
1. Examine yourselves.
2. Remember Christ.
∑ His Person!
∑ His Obedience!
∑ His Sacrifice!
∑ The Efficacy of His Blood!
3. Love one another.
 Danville -- Sunday Afternoon - (November 30, 1997)
† Rescue Conference Ė (January 1997)