Worship: Communion

Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Some of the verses we are looking at we often hear when we take communion. These verses are the oldest recorded instructions on communion, but the reason for this instruction is because of division in the congregation at Corinth.

Communion is to remind us that we are one in Christ, that there is but one body, one Church.

There is only one Church – many congregations, many people – but one body. In 12:25 God’s Word tells us that there should be no division in the body.

When we worship God, we should do so in unity and love, since the love of God has been poured into the hearts of believers (see Romans 5:5). Yet, here in the Corinthian church we see the congregation divided over many things. Paul has already addressed some of those and will deal with more as we go along. We should take to heart what is being told to this congregation because division is still seen in many congregations today.

Vs. 18 – There must not be divisions amongst a body of believers. Unforgiveness is one of the biggest causes of division in today’s congregations. If you have unforgiveness in your heart, it will cause you to become isolated and you will slowly withdraw from your church family. Unforgiveness becomes a root of bitterness if it is not taken care of. 

Vs. 19 – The bottom line here is unity. While there were, are, and will be people that think and act differently there will also be those that are spiritually mature, forgiving and accepting, loving and merciful, who walk the talk, so, there will be “factions” among us.  

Vs. 20-22 – The love feast, The Lords Supper… When they came together… They were dividing themselves by social status and worldly values.

 In a lot of different traditions, people do not eat in the church building. This is where that tradition comes from, and it is also why those that do have meals do so as a pot luck or carry in, where what is brought in is shared with everyone. This is also why we take communion separately from our meals, reverently, so that it is not taken for granted. 

 Vs.23-26 – These words tell us that Jesus knew of His coming sacrifice, of the new covenant, and of the atoning value his life and blood would offer all of mankind.

Vs.27 – When they were so divided, in what way was there a remembering of what Jesus had done to bring them together as one? When by their actions they showed all their lack of love for one another… He is telling them, and us, that we must remember that we are one. We should not take communion in an unworthy manner: Divided.

Vs. 28-29 – We are not being told to look to the inner most being and see if there is some sin that you have not confessed. There are none here or anywhere that I know of that are worthy outside Christ. It is His love and forgiveness, the life given and the blood shed, that makes us worthy if we are following Him. 

The focus here is not on self but on the body as a whole, “for whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on themselves.” Those who corrupt the body of Christ (His Church) by their selfish and unchristian manner – ungrateful, unforgiving, and disobedient – by partaking in communion, in which they eat and drink together, eat and drink judgment on themselves! 

But, those of us, when we become fully aware of our need and dependance on Christ for salvation, redemption, and forgiveness from our sins, then we realize that we all stand equal before God’s grace in taking communion. It is a sad thing to think that there are those that think that only the perfectly righteous can partake in communion.

Vs. 30-32 – Scripture tells us over and over that physical ailments can be a result of spiritual sin. Not all sickness comes from sin, but here we see that at least some of what we experience comes from sin and God’s discipline for it. For He does not want any to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Vs. 33-34 – None of us want to come under judgment, to be disciplined by the Lord. We are to welcome one another, to gladly receive the other person as one with us! Now is the time to examine yourself; if there is a division then seek to welcome the one you are divided from, if there is hurt seek healing, if there is sin, then repent, and receive the forgiveness that is offered you in Christ.

God’s discipline is always to bring us to repentance, to bring us back to the oneness we have in Christ. to the oneness Jesus prayed we would have.

Digging Deeper

  • Is there division in your congregation?
  • If so, what are YOU doing to bring healing?
  • When was the last time you sat down and examined yourself?
  • Who do you need to go to and make peace?

Further Reading: John 17, Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:14-15, 2 Corinthians 2:10-11, 1 John 2:1-2, Ephesians 4:4-6, 2 Timothy 2:3-4, 8, Titus 2:11-14, 2 Peter 2:20-21, 2 Peter 3:9, Hebrews 12:10-12, Proverbs 12:1, Proverbs 3:12

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