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Sermon #2256[i] — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: WHO IS WORTHY?
Text: 1 Corinthians 11:27-29
Turn with me to 1st Corinthians 11:27-29 – 1st Corinthians 11:27-29. The title of my message is – Who is worthy? – 1st Corinthians 11:27-29. When you have found that passage, just hold your Bibles open there for a few minutes and listen carefully to my introduction.
I want to begin by asking you to consider this question: – What is the most important aspect of your life? What is the most important thing in the life of a believer, a heaven-born soul, a child of God? What is the most important aspect of your life and mine as God’s saints in this world?
Š Bible Study?
Š Private Prayer?
Š Prayer Meetings?
Š Home Bible Studies?
The single most important aspect of our lives in this world is public worship, the worship of God in the assembly of his saints. Nothing is more important to the children of God in this world than the public assembly of the saints for worship; and that public assembly of the saints for worship is the local church, the congregation of the Lord, the house of God.
In All Ages
In all ages the people of God have been known and identified by their public gatherings for worship. Wherever God has had a people in this world, he has had a congregation to worship him. Sheep are always found in flocks. The only sheep who are alone are either lost or sick. And God’s elect are sheep. No matter how few, they have always gathered together in public worship. In the public assembly we bear public, united testimony to the world of our Savior’s grace and glory. As an assembled body of believers we strengthen, cheer, comfort, encourage, edify, and help one another by prayer, praise, the preaching of the Gospel, and the influence of blessed fellowship.
From the beginning of the Bible to the end there is a clear line of succession in this matter of public worship. Cain and Abel came to worship God in a public assembly. Noah’s first act after the flood was an act of public worship to celebrate God’s saving grace. Wherever the patriarchs pitched their tents in days of old, they erected an altar for worship. Throughout the Mosaic economy, the Jew who did not worship God in the tabernacle or temple was cut off from the congregation. Throughout the book of Acts, wherever God’s children were scattered by persecution, they soon gathered in public assemblies for the worship of God.
Public worship is one identifying mark of true believers. With David, every saved sinner is resolved to worship God, saying, — “As for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple” (Psalm 5:7). By this let everyone examine himself or herself. Those who willingly and habitually absent themselves from the worship of God do not know God. A person may be outwardly faithful to the Church of God who does not know God, but no one is faithful to Christ who is not faithful in the public assembly of his Church for worship.
The Local Church
Yes, the most blessed privilege we have in this world is the privilege of public worship. This gathered assembly, this local church is described in the Book of God as…
Š “The House of God,”
Š “The Temple of God,” and
Š “An Habitation of God through the Spirit”
We recognize the universality of God’s Church and Kingdom. The Church, the body of Christ, his Bride is made up of all God’s elect in heaven and on earth. But that does not, in any way or to any degree, diminish the importance of the local church. Nothing is more blessed, and nothing is more needful to our souls than the gathering of God’s saints to worship him.
Š This is the only place on earth where we are assured of the presence of our Redeemer (Matthew 18:20).
(Matthew 18:20) “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Š When we come together as a local church, in the name of Christ, God the Holy Spirit comes with us and the gathered assembly of God’s saints is the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
(1 Corinthians 3:16-17) “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (17) If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
God sends out his Word through Gospel churches. God gathers his elect by the preaching of the Gospel in Gospel churches. God instructs, comforts, edifies, and establishes his people by the ministry of Gospel churches. And God is worshipped by his people in Divinely ordained ordinances of public worship maintained in Gospel churches.
Perhaps it is the very fact that the local church is so vital to the welfare of our souls that makes it a huge target for our adversary the devil. Satan constantly stirs up confusion about the local Church, its proper place and usefulness, and its ordinances. Therefore the Holy Spirit gives us crystal clear instruction concerning these things in Holy Scripture. The Bible is not ambiguous about the ordinances of Divine worship.
Š Orderly Worship
Š Reading the Word
Š Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs
Š Gospel Preaching
Š The Lord’s Supper
I am certain that few passages in the Word of God that have been more horribly misinterpreted and misused than my text this morning: — 1 Corinthians 11:27-29.
(1 Corinthians 11:27-29) “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. (29) For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
I do not doubt that these three verses of Scripture have been more troubling to sensitive souls than any others in the New Testament, simply because of the terribly poor teaching of men who do not understand the Scriptures. Many of the Lord’s people read these three verses and think, “Surely, if anyone is unworthy to receive the Lord’s Supper it is me.” 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 us turn our eyes of faith away from Christ to ourselves. 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 just one question in this message — WHO IS WORTHY? Who is and who is not worthy to receive the Lord’s Supper? But Paul’s doctrine here reaches beyond the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. Really, the question is: — Who is worthy to worship and serve God? 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 to receive and is obliged to receive the Lord’s Supper. — Every true believer, every sinner who trusts Christ alone as his wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, is worthy to worship and is obliged to worship and serve God.
Now, let’s see if I can make good on that statement from the Word of God and specifically from 1st Corinthians 11. It is not possible to understand 1st Corinthians 11:27-29 until you understand the entire context in which it is found (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 1st 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 Lord’s Supper. Hold your Bibles open and follow me through this passage, beginning at verse twenty.
Specific Time and Place
(1 Corinthians 11:20) “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper.”
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 God’s 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.
Š 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.
Š Illustration: My Conversation with Bro. Tom Harding
2. When the Corinthian church came together, at the appointed time, they claimed that they did so “to eat the Lord’s supper”.
They met in Christ’s name, according to Christ’s command, with the pretense of observing Christ’s 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 Lord’s 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, “Let’s go to church and worship God in the observance of The Lord’s Supper.” But they came to throw a party. Therefore, Paul said, “When you come together in one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.”
At home, our congregation in Danville comes together every Sunday night to observe The Lord’s Supper. This is called “the Lord’s Supper” because…
Š Christ the Lord is the Author of it.
Š He’s the Subject of it.
Š He’s the Host of it.
Š It is for his family.
Š He’s the Reason for it.
(1 Corinthians 11:21) “For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.”
Here Paul explains exactly why the Corinthians’ practice was not an act of worship and could not be considered observing the Lord’s 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.
Š Rather than waiting on one another, they rudely jumped in front of one another.
Š Instead of waiting on the poor, the poor were left hungry.
Š While the poor got nothing, those who jumped before them and gorged themselves drank insatiably, to the point of drunkenness.
(1 Corinthians 11:22) “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.”
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!”
Bread and Wine
Now, look as verses 23-26…
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: (24) And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (25) After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. (26) For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.”
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 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 Lord’s 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 God’s 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 Lord’s Supper we show forth, in a beautifully symbolic ordinance, the Lord’s 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.
(1 Corinthians 11:27) “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”
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 Lord’s Supper who has a certain amount of unconfessed sin in his life, has not prayed as he should, 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 Spirit’s 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; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Romans 8:28-39; Malachi 3:6; Psalm 23:1-6).
(John 10:27-30) “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and [my] Father are one.”
(Philippians 1:6) “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 1:5) “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:24) “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
(Romans 8:28-39) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.”
“29 ¶ For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
“31 ¶ What shall we then say to these things? — If God [be] for us, who [can be] against us? — 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? — 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? [It is] God that justifieth. 34 Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Malachi 3:6) “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
(Psalms 23:1-6) “The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
In verse 28 we are given two things to do as we prepare to receive The Lord’s Supper, as we come to the House of God to worship God.
(1 Corinthians 11:28) “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
The text does not say, Let a man be examined! It says, “Let a man examine himself”.
(2 Corinthians 13:5) “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
(2 Peter 1:10) “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”
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!
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 Lord’s Table. Now, with that in mind, look at verse 29…
(1 Corinthians 11:29) “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
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 Lord’s 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 Lord’s body. That means they do not understand…
Š The sin and depravity of their own hearts.
Š The law and justice of God.
Š The necessity of Christ’s incarnation.
Š The accomplishments of Christ in his flesh.
Š The Gospel of the grace of God.
True believers are people to whom God the Holy Spirit has given and to whom he continually gives spiritual discernment.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-16) “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (11) For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. (12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (15) But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. (16) For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 11:30) “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
Paul is here declaring that the judgment of God had fallen upon many at Corinth because, like Uzzah of old (1 Chronicles 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 they did not. They trusted their own works!
(1 Corinthians 11:31) “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
Paul’s 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 (Psalm 51:1-5) and Isaiah (Isaiah 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).
(1 John 1:7-10) “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
(1 Corinthians 11:32) “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
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. Bastards he ignores, passes by, and leaves to themselves, that the may be fitted for destruction.
(1 Corinthians 11:33-34) “Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. (34) And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.”
Wrapping up his instructions about The Lord’s Supper and our orderly observance of it, the Apostle tells us three things.
If you read 1st Corinthians you simply cannot fail to notice the carnal divisions, sensual behavior, doctrinal error, and disorderly behavior that prevailed among them. Yet, Paul calls these people “My brethren”. He was not being sarcastic or insincere.
Š True believers often behave in a terribly inconsistent manner.
Š Though Paul says and does nothing to promote or encourage inconsistencies or sinful behavior in God’s saints, he loves them still and seeks to both correct their errors and minister to the everlasting consolation by the Gospel.
Š At the same time, he solemnly warns the self-righteous Pharisee, religious ritualist, and hypocrite of the certainty of Divine judgment.
“Tarry for one another.” — Not only are we to discern the Lord’s sacrificial body, we must discern and be aware of his spiritual body (the Church), which is also represented in the bread.
(1 Corinthians 10:16) “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”
As we sit together at The Lord’s Table, let us do so as one family, in loving family unity.
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. — “And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation.”
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 in house of God, let us know our worthiness to do so is Christ alone (1 Corinthians 1:30). I urge you to do these four things…
1. Examine yourselves.
2. Remember Christ.
Š His Person!
Š His Obedience!
Š His Sacrifice!
Š The Efficacy of His Blood!
3. Worship God.
4. Love one another.
[i] Danville — Sunday Afternoon — November 30, 1997
Danville — Sunday Evening — June 27, 1999
Danville — Sunday Evening — October 8, 2000
Danville — Sunday Evening — September 26, 2010
Danville — Sunday Evening — January 10, 2016
Grace Baptist Church, Taylor, AR — Sunday AM — 09/17/06
Rescue Conference – (January 1997)
Ballymoney, N. Ireland — Monday — October 5, 2010
Providence Baptist Church — Dudley, ENG — NF Conference (SUN 03/20/11)
Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, Rocky Hill, New Jersey — (THU – 07/19/12)
Fairmont Grace Church, Sylacauga, AL — (SUN – 09/30/12)
Hurricane Rd Grace Church, Ashland, KY — Wednesday — December 30, 2015
Readings: Rex Bartley and Cody Henson
Psalms 122, 133, and 134