In Remembrance Of Me - 11:17-34

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1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  51:49
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One of the unique things about Scripture is that it does not cover up failures.
In fact, the entire Bible, is about God’s plan to restore His relationship with mankind after the original failure of Adam and Eve.
We could say that all of Scripture is about failure and redemption.
Failure is a fascinating study.
As we look at the failures recorded in Scripture we find something interesting.
Let me list some names. Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Peter, David, Lucifer, and Demas.
What these have in common is failure. Some of them failed in what we would consider massive ways.
When Scripture reveals their failure to us we find a common theme.
That theme is a loss of focus.
Adam and Eve stopped believing in the goodness of God. They took their eyes off of Him and put them on a perceived lack in their own lives.
Abraham took his eyes off of God’s promise and past provision and instead looked at the impossibility of his present circumstances.
Moses didn’t obey God because he allowed himself to focus on His frustration!
Jonah refused to consider his own need of God’s mercy and instead wanted God to punish Nineveh.
Peter, oh Peter. Over and over again he looked at his own desires, his own need for affirmation and acceptance instead of looking to what Christ was doing.
David stayed home instead of finishing the task God have given him. He looked with lust when he should have looked away. He lost his focus.
Lucifer - the fallen angel now known as Satan. He took his eyes off of God, off of his responsibility to bring God glory, instead he focused on his own aspirations for greatness.
Demas. Demas fell in love with the world because he took his focus off of Christ.
Here is our principle today.
A loss of focus can lead to devastating consequences.
To maintain our focus we must be reminded of what it is.
When Christ is our focus He is glorified, the church is equipped, and the gospel is advanced.
Taking our eyes off Jesus can lead us to places we swore we would never go!
That is where we find the Corinthians here in the end of Chapter 11.
The Corinthians have lost their focus.
They have started to view the Lord’s Supper, communion as something that it isn’t.
We face this same temptation today!
We celebrate communion and remember Jesus Christ every month here at Grace Church.
But I don’t want us to ever lose sight of why we do it and what it means.
Today we will work through this communion passage and next week we will have our communion service.
To correct their wrong observance of communion Paul presents three realities.
Reality #1…

1. The Wrong Way To Remember Jesus vv. 17-22

You may have noticed that the society in which we live has trouble remembering.
In the history books villains are often made to be heroes and heroes are turned into villains.
There is a wrong way to remember things.
As the title of the sermon this morning implies, communion is about remembering.
It is therefore vital that we understand how we should remember Jesus.
Paul first addresses how the Corinthians are getting it wrong.
Paul is writing to correct the Corinthians.
Before we can really understand why Paul is correcting them we have to do a little background about how the Lord’s Supper was typically observed in Paul’s day.
They had the observance of the bread and the cup as we do, but they also had a feast that they called the agape (or love) feast.
What Paul writes to them in this first section has to do with their behavior at these feasts.
The first thing that Paul does is expose just how the behavior of the Corinthians is wrong.
There are two problems with how they are observing communion.
Problem #1. They are observing communion…

a. With division vv. 17-19

1 Corinthians 11:17–19 NKJV
17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.
Paul is going to instruct them.
Instructions – παραγγέλλω (parangellō) command; give orders. to order v. — to give instructions to or direct somebody to do something with authority. Verb, present, active, circumstantial participle, singular, nominative, masculine.
Instructions – παραγγέλλω (parangellō)
Paul is issuing an authoritative command.
He needs to address something that is negative, something for which he cannot praise them.
Remember in 11:2 Paul praised them for how they remembered him and kept the traditions.
In how they have been remembering Christ, however, he cannot praise them.
The purpose of the church is to better one another! They made things worse.
The gathering of believers is for the purpose of edification and growth!
That is not what has been happening in Corinth.
Hebrews 10:24-25 show us what a church gathering is supposed to accomplish.
Hebrews 10:24-25
Hebrews 10:24–25 NKJV
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
The author of Hebrews says we are to be exhorting and encouraging one another.
Somehow the Corinthians have lost sight of this truth and when they come together it is doing more harm than good!
How did the Corinthians get to this point?
How do they go from a properly functioning body of believers to a group of people who get together and leave worse off than when they came?
How does this happen?
Paul begins to describe this process in verse 18.
Paul says when they come together in the church he has heard that there are divisions among them.
Paul is making a ironic point we miss in English.
Church – ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) church; assembly. church n. — an orderly congregation specifically of those who trust in Jesus as the Messiah (or those who compose it). Noun (prepositional object), dative, singular, feminine.
Church – ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia)
Come together – συνέρχομαι (synerchomai) come together; assemble. to meet (get together) v. — to get together for a specific purpose. Verb, present, either middle or passive, circumstantial participle, plural, genitive, masculine.
Come together – συνέρχομαι (synerchomai)
Divisions – σχίσμα (schism) division. schism n. — division of a group into opposing factions. Noun (subject), accusative, plural, neuter.
Divisions – σχίσμα (schism)
Here’s what Paul is saying.
When the assembly assembles they are divided.
This is a ridiculous notion!
If you are divided you aren’t really an assembly at all!
When Paul says he has heard this about them the word “heard” has the idea of continual action.
Paul is saying he keeps on hearing about the divisions in the Corinthian Church.
While there may be some exaggeration, the fact that he keeps on hearing about it has led him to believe it.
This is a contradiction. The ecclesia is divided. Ridiculous!
Yet, Paul says in v. 19 that some division is necessary.
Division reveals faithfulness and unfaithfulness.
Factions reveal those who are selfish and those who are selfless and others centered.
Divisions can serve a greater purpose because they reveal those who have been approved of God and those who have not.
What Paul is doing in these verses is exposing the fact that there are divisions in the Corinthian church.
Some divisions serve to show who is approved and who is not.
Are the divisions in the Corinthian church going to serve this purpose?
Here is our lesson:
Division harms the body of Christ.
Yes, division can serve to show who is and is not approved.
Yet, here in this passage Paul presents it as a negative.
Division in the body of Christ is like cutting it with a knife.
Don’t be the cause of pain in Christ’s body.
There is a wrong way to remember Jesus. In the observance of the Corinthian church there are two problems.
Problem #1. They are observing communion with division.
Problem #2. They are observing communion…

b. With selfishness vv. 20-22

1 Corinthians 11:20–22 NKJV
20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
This is where Paul explains what has been happening.
There is a problem in how they are observing the Lord’s supper.
The way they are coming together makes observing the Lord’s supper impossible.
The ESV captures Paul’s point a little better here in v. 20.
1 Corinthians 11:20 ESV
20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.
Paul is saying that the way they act makes it to where even if they observe communion it wouldn’t really be the Lord’s Supper because their hearts are not right!
Verse 21 really expresses what is at the heart of the issue.
You cannot remember the sacrifice of Christ while simultaneously ignoring the needs of others!
These feasts were supposed to be like the pot lucks or bring your own meals that we have today.
The idea was for those who had more resources available to them to bring more to make up for the little that the less well off ones could manage to bring.
But the Corinthians had basically separated into groups and the rich people would eat together and leave the poor without enough food.
The result was that some are drunk, some are hungry, and everyone is miserable.
The issue is that of selfishness and an unwillingness to share with one another.
This ties into Paul’s overall theme of unity.
This is how the body of Christ is fractured.
Paul’s exclamation in v. 22 is so appropriate.
The Corinthians had taken what was supposed to be a celebration of the selfless sacrifice of Christ and turned it into something selfish and degrading.
From the way Paul words verse 21 it almost sounds like the rich people were showing up early and eating before their poorer brothers and sisters could even arrive.
If you want to stuff yourself, do it at home.
If you want to have a party, do it at home.
Not to mention that Ephesians 5:18 makes it clear that drunkenness is sinful!
They were coming together to remember Christ’s sacrifice for sin and engaging in sinful behavior!
They shame themselves by this behavior and they shame those who are poor.
Paul accuses them of despising the church.
They are treating the people of God as if they have no value!
He repeats again that he does not praise them for what they are doing.
Paul’s goal is to make them feel a godly sorrow because of this behavior.
Paul seems horrified and almost angry at what they have done to the Lord’s Supper.
They had taken something that should have brought them closer together and allowed it to become a wedge that divided the body of Christ.
Paul reveals in this section that some division is okay. It is okay to have a difference of opinion on things that are not important.
However, the division taking place in the Corinthian church was caused by selfishness and pride.
There was no consideration of others, no thought to how outsiders would view this behavior, and a complete loss of focus on what communion was all about.
In the body of Christ we are to build one another up.
Selfishness makes this impossible.
Here’s our lesson:
Selfishness destroys unity.
There are things in the church today that it is okay to have a difference of opinion on.
But if we allow that difference of opinion to turn into a division we are failing the test!
So often churches get bent out of shape over foolish, pointless, stupid things just like the Corinthians!
Let’s not allow that to be true of Grace Church!
Let’s strive to always be unselfish towards each other!
So Paul exposes the wrong behavior of the Corinthians. He exposes their division and their selfishness.
Paul has shown them what they were doing wrong in regards to the Lord’s Supper.
To correct their wrong observance of communion Paul presents three realities.
Reality #1: The Wrong Way To Remember Jesus.
Reality #2…

2. The Right Way To Remember Jesus vv. 23-26

At one of the jobs I had in the past, our boss would constantly yell and curse about how things were done wrong, but he was terrible at explaining how to do things right.
Paul doesn’t do that.
He has shown the Corinthians what they are doing wrong and now he explains how they can do it right.
The Corinthians had taken the Lord’s Supper and the feast that went with it and turned it into a gluttonous feast.
Paul reminds them here exactly what the Lord’s Supper is all about.
There are three aspects to communion.
Aspect #1…

a. The body broken vv. 23-24

1 Corinthians 11:23–24 NKJV
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Paul is delivering to the Corinthians what he has received from the Lord.
While Jesus was on this earth Paul was not one of His disciples.
In fact Paul was then called Saul and was a Pharisee.
So how did Paul receive this instruction of the Lord?
Two schools of thought.
Some say Paul means he received it from the Apostles but it has the Lord’s authority.
Others argue that Paul received it directly from the Lord.
I’m in that last group. I believe that is what Galatians 1 is talking about.
Also, if he had meant he received it from the apostles he would have said that.