The Examination

Thursday, May 21, 2015, 7:45 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Realizing.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (NASB).

Shall I Praise You?

But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? 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 will not praise you.

When the true church of Jesus Christ gathers together it should be for the purpose of the teaching of the Word, for fellowship in the Spirit, for prayer, for communion, and for the mutual edification and encouragement of the body of Christ through the use of our spiritual gifts, given by the Spirit, and via us operating in our specific areas of ministry within the body (our body parts), as assigned by the Holy Spirit. The goal of our gatherings should be that we would all “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ,” so that we are no longer immature spiritually, “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching…” (Eph. 4:13-14). Instead, we are to speak the truth in love to one another, so that we can all grow up into Christ, who is the head of the church, his body. The body of Christ will then grow together to maturity, growing and building itself up in love, as each part does its work (See: Ac. 2:42-47; Ro. 12:3-8; 1 Co. 12; and Eph. 4:1-16).

Ideally, this is what the church should look like, but often it is far from this picture of us working together as one body for the mutual benefit of one another. Sometimes church gatherings have nothing to do with helping one another grow in Christ to maturity, but are all about making a name for themselves, gathering in large crowds of the unsaved, and marketing the church to the world with worldly means and methods, with Christ not being given his rightful place of honor as the head of his body, but with humans taking control and running the “church” their way. The body ends up getting all lopsided because humans are deciding who gets what gifts and what roles people play in the body, and they end up discarding those who “don’t fit” their business plans and marketing schemes, while raising others up to positions of power, rule and authority, who get their cues from humans rather than from the Holy Spirit, and who are not in submission to the cross of Jesus Christ.

In Remembrance of Him

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

If we look at the symbolic meaning of the bread and the cup, I believe we will see that this directive is concerning much more than just instructions on how to properly take communion. The bread symbolizes Jesus’ body which was given for us through death on a cross so that we might be set free of slavery to sin and have the hope of eternal life with God. The cup represents his blood shed for our sins so that we can be forgiven of our sins, and so we can now walk, no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Jesus told his followers that unless they ate of his flesh (his body) and drank his blood they had no life in them. He said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn. 6:54-56).

To eat or drink something also means to partake (participate) in something. When Jesus was about to go to the cross, he asked some of his disciples, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" Not knowing the full extent to which their reply would be fulfilled in their lives, they responded, “We are able.” Jesus then said, "The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.” Certainly he was not referring to them taking communion in remembrance of him, but he was speaking of them literally participating with him in his death to sin and in his sufferings, for they would end up being treated in much the same way in which Jesus was treated, because they obeyed Jesus Christ with their lives and they surrendered to the cross and committed themselves to following their Lord wherever he led them, even if it meant being hated, persecuted and ultimately killed for their faith and for their testimonies for Jesus Christ and for his gospel of salvation.

An Unworthy Manner

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.

So, what is this saying? Certainly this IS talking about taking communion during church gatherings, in the taking of the bread and the drink in remembrance of our Lord and in remembrance of what he did for us in dying for our sins and in being resurrected from the dead in conquering sin, Satan, death and hell on our behalf. So, what is meant by “in an unworthy manner”? I believe it goes right to the heart of what this remembrance symbolizes and how it is to be lived out in our lives on a day-to-day basis in the power of the Spirit of God within us, as we submit to our Lord in humble obedience.

If we have not died with Christ to sin, and thus we have not been born of the Spirit of God, then if we take communion, we are doing so in an unworthy manner. If we have died with Christ to sin, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and we have been born of the Spirit of God, and thus we have been given new lives in Christ to be lived for him, and no longer for the flesh, but if we have since fallen back into sin, and we have not repented, then to take communion would be to do so in an unworthy manner.

God doesn’t want our rituals and our religious activities and forms of religion. He is not interested in the mere formality of us taking the bread and drinking the drink if the reality of what those symbols mean are not evident in our lives. If we do participate in an unworthy manner, it makes a mockery of all that Jesus did for us in dying for our sins. If we claim to know Christ, but we live our lives in an “unworthy manner,” it is also a mockery of what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins. That is why we must examine ourselves before we partake of the bread and drink so we don’t bring judgment down on ourselves. We must examine ourselves to see if we have forsaken sin, turned from it, and have turned to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience, or if we are still holding on to willful sin in our lives thinking that we have the freedom to so now that we are no longer under the law but under grace.

The Measurement

The measurement we use for this examination is the word of God. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self (his self-life) die daily to sin and self and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives of sin we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly die with Christ to sin and self, we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25). He also said his sheep (his followers) listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him, he gives THEM eternal life, and THEY will never perish. No one can snatch THEM out of his hands (See: Jn. 10:27-30).

Jesus Christ “died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Co. 5:15). “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24-25). “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (See: Ro. 8:3-14). “But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24).

Realizing / An Original Work / May 14, 2011

Realizing what He did for you
Should cause you to walk with Him in truth.
Trust in Him to be your Lord today.
Turn from sin; obey without delay.

Realizing He died on a tree,
So that from sin you could be set free,
Should bring you down upon bended knee,
Repentant; humbly; submissively.

Realizing that He loves us so,
Which is why, to the cross He did go,
Is what leads us to salvation free,
Through our faith in Jesus Christ our King.