Who Should Come to the Lord's Table & How? 1 Cor 11

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Dear Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
Remember Melchizedek - King of what? Peace, Salem. Remember he is also high priest of Elyon, God Most Hight. Remember how he prefiguring Jesus sets out a victory meal with Abram. A banquet. You can bet that this is not just an empty ceremony - but recognized participation. So too the meal Jesus who is both King and high Priest - sets out bread and wine - those elements together symbolizing all the blessing he secures and shares. Covenantal meal - partners and participate together. Well congregation we too have seen in the first Lord’s Day of the catechism - that Christ’s table ehre isn’t an empty table - not a bare memorial… taht even the remembering of hsi sacrfice - is one of truly putting your faith and spiritually derving the benefitss of his poured out blood and broken body - We saw from that it is a r3eal partidcipation in Christ, jsut like going to pagan banquet even though idols are nothing - is a real dienitfiying with that idol and paritcipating in demons! Our catechism then makes clear that its a spiritual eating and drinking by faith - that brings us into a deep commuion at the table, not a phsyical one - the sacrament doesn’t work wihtout faith, it is not as the RC chuch puts it a the exact same sacrfice as Christ’s on the Cross = done againa an dagain for living and dead. It is memorial meal that commuiniates Christ and His benefits as presented in the gospel, now crystalized as iti were the gospel in a nut shell - for faith to feed upon! And because this is not an eempty table - it is also not an open table!
And this brings us beyond the insittuiion the what and why what good comes from keeping the Lords’ Supper. To the Who and teh How. In Paul moves onto the attitude with which the Lord’s Supper must be taken. When we see how full the table is, we must also understand that its fulnessness means that it’snot just a universl ameal anyone can atend. It is not open, but closed or fenced communion. What do I mean by open - I mean the table is only open and it is wide open for those who eat it in true and active faith! And this table is closed, to those who are coming without a true and active faith in Christ crucified. So tonight we must discern three groups of people in regard tot he Lords’ Supper - which group am I part of? Children which group are you gorwing towards? In Paul describe two groups to whom the table is closed.
A. The Table is for Weak Sinners BUT NOT Hypocrites
In v.27 he describes some who drink in an unworthy manner -
1 Corinthians 11:27 ESV
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.
The idea is not that they feel unowrthy, feeling ashamed about how bad they are yet contrite also. But the diea is that this person has no real interest in the things of God. They are there but they are there like a hypocrite!
The problem is not in the gospel they profess to believe, but in thier lack of faith in it. Paul said of the gospel itself in
2 Corinthians 2:16 ESV
to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
So too withthe Lord’s suppper - nothing wrong with the Supper but the lack of faith in what the Supper represents, the flippant, hypocritical attitude . This is describing those who regardless of what they look like on the outside, behaviour, church membership, way they talk… no real inward faith in what the body and blood fo Christ mean. Just the same way the gospel will become a curse to those who will not live by it, sotoo for the hypocirtre, play actor - won’t take holdof what the body and blood of the Lord relaly mean.
To partake of this Supper unworthily - is to show contempt for the covenant - Christ set up with his belivers - so that its not the blessing that wil come into their lives and grow in, but the curses of the covenant! But there is a second group, mentioned both in the catechism and in this passage.
B. The Table is for Weak Sinners, BUT NOT Unrepentant Sinners who disregard the body and blood of Christ!
1 Corinthians 11:29 ESV
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
Those who eat and drink wihtout deicerning the the body and blood fo Christ. Here it is not som uch the unworhtymanner, flippantly, but lack of discernment while eating as to the necessityof Christ’s death, His work on the Corss. - some sick, some died.. Theese are people who may be believers but they have not come jusging themselves - but are associated withthe b\church, have \porfessed faith and could e\scape condemenation withthe world Who is this second group> The catehcism says they are the UNREPENTANT. They may be baptized, and are counted in the fellowship of the church, been brought into discipleship of the church. But they flagrantly go on living in sin without discerning what their sins required of the Lord Jeuss, they don’t see the punishment of their own sins in him, nor do they see His gift of new standing with Father, of reard fo the Holy Spirit now shared -
Here it is not som uch the unworhtymanner, flippantly, but lack of discernment while eating. They don’t discern in themselves or in Christ the necessity of Christ’s death, of His work on the Crrss. - some sick, some died. These peole come with little apprectiation for Calvary and it signifance. Porbably also with a corresponding lack of cocnern for Christ earthly body he church, particularly those poorer, with less resources. Theese are people who may be believers but they have not come jusging themselves - but are associated withthe b\church, have \porfessed faith and could e\scape condemenation withthe world Who is this second group> The catehcism says they are the UNREPENTANT. They may be baptized, and are counted in the fellowship of the church, been brought into discipleship of the church. But they flagrantly go on living in sin without discerning what their sins required of the Lord Jeuss, they don’t see the punishment of their own sins in him, nor do they see His gift of new standing with Father, of reard fo the Holy Spirit now shared -
There is that participation again, idscierning the body of Christ, likethe wrod of instittiuon saysin
1 Corinthians 11:26 ESV
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
But these people are comiong and have no perosnal statement testifying to whta the Cross means to them or waht it is doing in them! The Lord’s death has left them unchanged! The Aim of their life isn’t holiness wihtout which we can’t see the LORD. Their partiicpation at the table is supposed to be a recognitionof Christ’s life giving rule in their lives - and more an appropriation, a taking of that life-g9vign salvation! And the church is soimportant that the LORD will discipline those who don’t recognize and discern and repentnatly livein light of Christ!
Iti s the businness of the church to gaurd this table from those who live in hypocrisy (though hard to tell and can only ulitimately go on their word and their actions), and those who live wihtout repentnance. We must do so for two reasons - the first is for the glory of Christ and upholding what His life and death were really about. We don’t want to be found guilty concerning His body and blood. Those but the second si for the sake of those who think that because thery are religiosus, physically come tot he table - thatthe hypocrite is safe now and in eternity; or that an unrepentant person is inline tolive in communion and in the blessingo f the Lord! Why when you fall into unrepentant sin, not just sining but living in sin, first step of church disicpline si to sya - you need to make this right - until then refrain from Lord’s Table!
But that leaves us with the question of who is this table open to? and how shoudl tehy come? And I want to give a two-fold answer on this side as well. The first half correcting a misunderstanding and the scond half giving you a helpful and hopeful answer to prepare yourself to come!
C. A Common Misunderstanding: The Table is NOT for the ‘Worthy-Enough’ (by their own faith or repentance)
Prbolem see in Catholicism but also in Protestant circles. Many have wrongly interpreted unworthily with sinner instead of manner of taking the supper. One does not become unworhty becauseof sin per se, or unconfessed sin. Sin is bad, unconfessed sin even more a problem. But the problem in Corinth was the breaking of the unity of Christ’s body, the church. And worhty partaking would centre not on confessing sin but recognizing Christ, his work, His people. but some want to make worthy partaking not about Christ and sharing in him and his church, but about their performance!
Think of Luther with his RC before his rediscovery of the gopsel.
What;’s the sacramento f penance? …by which sisn committeed after baptism are forgiven. Priest msut know them, and if you are truly sorry, or hem ust retiaan them. Priest actually takes them off your soul. Can you be sure your sins are forgiven? Yes, if you are truly soorry for you your sins. What is meant by being truly sorry for your sins? i. whish you han’t commtited them, ii sincerely promise not to commit those sins agains; iii. promise to stay away from anyperson, place or thing that easily lead you into sin. - = Luther stuck - how do i truly know I am sorry for my sin… Martin Martin don’t take tihngs too seriously..
Problem is that they think forgivenesss is based not on their faith in Christ’s mercyon the Cross, but on the merit of their being sorry, of how strong their faith is, of how perfect their repetnance is. Who is worthy to come to the Lord’s Supper? None of us on our own merit. It is true jesus teaches us not to have a judgmental attitude , judge not lest you be judged, by same measure… Jesus ju8dges, tells his church too. Not absolute bannon judging, but kindo f judgin we do. And like John the Bpaitist justges the Pharisees -something wrong in how they judge straniign out mosquitoes, but swallowing whole camels.
What did JOh the Baptist says:
Luke 3:8 ESV
Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.
Understand that our worhtiness can never be from the quanitty of our merits. What John and Jesus are after whenthey say check out the fruit of your own repetnance, sitaht qualityo f correspondence. How dows your repenatnace match upwith the faith that porducing it. The NT teaches that it is imposssible to be born again and not bring forth fruit of repentance. But the ground is the simpole faith not in our own impoerfect faitha ro repeentnace but simpole faith in Jesus crcufied and risen, Jesus who we are trusting not only to forgive but trasnform!
Do you see that wihtout this - Protestant peole who come just looking to themselves to be worthy enough, same error as the RC - ultiamtely never knwo if repentanted enoguh, and safer not to come than to come tot he Table! John Calvin in his Insittutes putsit so well: “On what groundare we confirmed inthe assurance that those who have done their best have performed their duty to God? But even if this were so, when will it come about that anyone dare to assure himself that he has done his best? So, since, no definite assurance of our worthiness appears, teh ddoor will alrways remain locked.” He goes on isn’t it excessive stupidity not to mention foolishness - to require such perfection in receiving the Sacrament as would make the sacrament void and surperfluous. For the Sacrament is not ordained for the perfect but for the weak and feeble, to awaken, arouse, stimulate and exercise feeling of faith and love, indeed to correct the defect of both.!
That’s what we are after - how to use the tools of these two ordinances Christ commands to cofirmand to grow our faith in the gospel!
And taht brings us to who this table full of partiicpation in Christ, is open to, How are true belkivers to be disposed to and prpeared forthe blessings at the Table? how should you be preparing yourself checking your disposition?
D) The Table is for Weak Sinners Who Discern Themselves & Christ with Faith & Repentance
rch discipline is required to fence the table -so to protect the unrepentant and the hypocrite, realize that it is self-disicpline that is required to wrthily approach this table. Not the kind that just musters up omre holiness from ourselves. Nor the kind that just soberly, subjectively self-introspection. But what is Paul’s first comand in our passage:
If church disicpline is required to fence the table -so to portect the unrepenant and the hypocrite, realize that it is self-disicpline that is required to wrthily approach this table. Not the kind that just musters up omre holiness from ourselves. Nor the kind that just soberly, subejectlively self-i\ntrospection. But what is Paul’s first comand in our passage:
If church disicpline is required to fence the table -so to portect the unrepenant and the hypocrite, realize that it is self-disicpline that is required to wrthily approach this table. Not the kind that just musters up omre holiness from ourselves. Nor the kind that just soberly, subejectlively self-i\ntrospection. But what is Paul’s first comand in our passage:
1 Corinthians 11:28 ESV
Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
We don’t just come tot he table, we come reflexively looking from Christ in the bread and wine - to looking at ourselves. Saying is my heart into what God did in Christ- Iam I disoposed to reach from his hand blessings pictured here? Like pastor Martin before me stressed, there is preparation wrok must do before comign tothe table. Our catechism describes what we ares supposed to examine in ourselves and in the body of Christ.
Like pastor Martin before me stressed, there is preparation wrok must do before comign tothe table. Our catechism describes what we ares supposed to examine in ourselves and in the body of Christ.
The word paul uses is that of a godlsmith who diligently investigates the gold and silver to discern teh treu coni from a counterfeit. Searching for the godl of who Christ is and what he has done, and what he conitinues to do for and in me! I am searching myself!
i. SIN Am I displeased with myself for my sins? Not just word, thought deeds, not just my origina sin,my sinful nature; but am I also sorrowful of my actual sins - Can I look at Christ’s suffering and death and even if I don’t feel that bad abvout partituclar sins in my life right now -
The Supper is not for those who smile all the time and have great self-esteem. It is for weak sinners. Can I say if my sins even the little ones caused him to suffer like this for me - they must be a big deal - I am sorry! When I don’t feel my unworhtiness that badly, yet also see and feel Christ willingess - am I filled with a deep and true humility!?
What means:
1 Corinthians 11:28 ESV
Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Kooistra tells the story of an old lady who was very pious. One day the new minister visited her. She opened the converstation by saying: “O Rverened I am such a bad sinner! I am so sinful! To which the minister repsonded immediately: “Yes, I believe you, some people told me this already.” Butnow the lady got up in arms, and very angry shouted: “What?! Whose business is it to talk about me? “ Q is how humble are we..
Table for sinners, who are repentnat buut also recognize come like anythother desperate sinner - for mercy! It is a table for sinners who can say I sin, yet I bleive, even though I struggle and I doubt .. I believ what this says about my sin and about my Saviour!
ii. SALVATION: Do I trust that my sins are forgiven for the sakeo f Christ, eventhough continuing weakness in me - even that is covered
It is to see judgment of God on sin yours and ine, and to agree witht hat judgment - but by faith to recgonize Christ took it. As I come tot he table is there a reverence that flows from my heart to Crhsti for what he did? d warns the hypocrite that such judgment awaits unless he fless to Christ
I am to be looking not so much at the externeal signs and actions - bread and wine and eating and drinking, I am to discern in them the spiritual bodya nd blood of Christ! As the spiritual noruishment that we are to take, eas, remember and belive - that’s the difference beteen a s re-sacrfie of Christ, and a sacrament offering real gifts to believers from God! There is a real spiritual presence of Christ as by faith lifted up to Christ with all his benefits, but not a physical presence. And because of that real presence of Christ by faith for those who come discerning, you must come with a vehement desire for the good things Jesus Christ has for me and offers in the sacrament.
I coime with a vehement desire for the good things Jesus Christ has for me and offers in the sacrament.
I am to be looking not so much at the externeal signs and actions - bread and wine and eating and drinking, as the spiritual noruishment that we are to take, eas, remember and belive - that’s the difference beteen a s re-sacrfie of Christ, and a sacrament offering real gifts to believers from God!
This is the second tyup-e of dicernment decrbied in
1 Corinthians 11:29 ESV
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
This is why someone coming even if made a commitment to Christ at some point, even if baptized, if they don’t also have this sense and perception of grace the sacrament doesn’t really work! And our preparation for coming to the Table involves coming with that desire and hope and belivef in what jesus offrrs now on the basis of his body and blood given for us!
This is why children - you are to give a credible profession of faith before coming to the Table - this isn’t like baptism in the sense that it initatees you into the life of dicipleship and living by the promises of Christ; this is the Super that says I am not only experiecning those porimses, but I am seeking forthem right now as i come tot he table!
Just like when you profess your faith, that is done freeely and after examining yourself, so too we renew that profession of who Christ is and what we experience in him - we ernew our covenant with Him every time we come to the table! So too children - though we can’t see like the LORD does, we will receive your credible profession of faith and affirm your walk, conversation, your lifestyle as one - invite you to the table -but that’s when you have cove4nanted back tothe LORD - Yes as a result of your Grace Believed and Experienced - I want ot live my life for you!
iii. SERVICE Do I desire more and more to strengthen my faith and live a better life?
Do you see it the place of eacho f these SSS in the belivers life - you come to the table withJeuss, whom you actively and cintonually live with - seeing him to strengthen his dealins in each of these areas! Out of gratitude for the GOOD THINGS gOD BESTOWS AND COMMUNICATES THROUGH cHRIST - COME READY TO AMKE YOUR LIFE A THANK OFFERING…
A huge part of this in 1Cor 11 where rich and poor were not eating together andin love, but advantage of not working - having more - Paul has to say
1 Corinthians 11:33 ESV
So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—
We are to look outward over the congreation around us, and with a love flowing out tot hte body of Christ, these brothers and sisters who are participants with you in Christ’s blessing - you are to be one with them, serve them, gie youself to others in need , discerinign the body of Christ!
Dear Congregation, this table is not an empty table, loaded with Christ and all the blessing in Him - come actively and by faith to partake. And because that’s the natureof the communion this table that is not empty, is also not an open communion but only for believers walking with the LORD. But though it is a closd commmuinion it is a table welcome to all who belive . The wjoy istath believers are always welcome here, and there is always room for the guest even at the elventh hour! Jesus our King and our High Priest has set a table, it is His and we ought not only to keep it holy - but to derive from it the soul strengthening grace he desires to feed us with. We ought to come and be strengthened as we give ourselves to this fellowship with Himand with each other. Amen.
Dear Congregation, this table is not an empty table, loaded with Christ and all the blessing in Him - come actively and by faith to partake. And because that’s the natureof the communion this table that is not empty, is also not an open communion but only for believers walking with the LORD. But though it is a closd commmuinion it is a table welcome to all who belive . The wjoy istath believers are always weoclme here, and there is always room for the guest even at the elventh hour!
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