Volume 1, Number 3 – July 2021
Lord’s Supper, Not Ours
Each week, Christians gather together to partake of communion (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:23-28). We do this each Sunday because our Lord, while instituting his Supper, spoke of not partaking of it with his disciples again “until that day” when the kingdom of God comes (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18; cf. Matt. 18:20; Heb. 2:11-12). The kingdom – the church (Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 2:12; Rev. 1:4, 6, 9) – came on the day of Pen- tecost, a Sunday (Acts 2:1-42; Lev. 23:15-16), which is why the early Christians observed communion and gave of their means on that day (Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Cor. 10:16- 17; 16:1-2).
As with anything that is done with regularity, it can be very easy for “familiarity” to “breed contempt.” Each Sunday, Christians will break off a piece of unleavened bread and drink a small amount of fruit of the vine… just like last week. Most or all of us – myself included – have been guilty of offering to God the meaningless worship which consists of doing what he requires of us in praise to him on the surface while our hearts and minds are thousands of miles away (Matt. 15:7-9). We need to remember that God requires and is looking for spiritual worship based in truth (John 4:23-24). Are we really any different from the one who habitually forsakes the assembly (Heb. 10:25) when we are present in body and action but absent in mind and spirit?
For this reason, the abuse of the Lord’s Supper by the church of Corinth (1 Cor. 11:17-33) is a worthy topic for our consideration and study. Paul’s rhetorical question about them having houses to eat and drink in if they were hungry (vs. 22, 34) implies that they were looking at communion in the same way as they would an ordinary meal, something easy to start doing when partaking of it on a weekly basis. Thus, they were “digging in” without even waiting for all of their brethren to assemble (vs. 20-21, 33), leaving nothing…save humiliation…for those who came afterwards (v. 22). In this way there were despising God’s church for which his Son died (v. 22; cf. Acts 20:28) and were not worthy of Paul’s commendation (v. 22).
There was another reason they were despising the church and worship of God, the same reason they started treating communion like a common meal – They forgot the true purpose and meaning behind it. This is why Paul reminded them by talking first of the circumstances surrounding its institution by Christ, that it had begun on the night Christ was betrayed, the night before he died (v. 23). He then reminded them that the bread represents his body “which is for you” (v. 24), given to go through the horrendous pain and humiliation of scourging and crucifixion so that we would not have to pay the penalty for our sins (Rom. 5:6-11; 6:23; 1 John 2:1-2). The cup represents “the new covenant in my blood” (v. 25), the new covenant which does what the first could not: grant us forgiveness of our sins through the blood Christ freely shed on that cross (Heb. 8:7-12; 9:11-15; Eph. 1:7; cf. Acts 22:16; 1 John 1:7-9).
We are to remember these things – all that Christ accomplished for us by his death – when we partake of communion (v. 25). By doing so, we “proclaim” the great significance of the Lord’s death until he comes again (v. 26). Of course, a failure to remember the eternal significance of the Lord’s sacrifice shows that one considers that sacrifice to be “a common thing” (Heb. 10:27), a mindset that leads to willful sin that makes that sacrifice of no benefit to you (Heb. 10:26-31). This is why God considers those who partake of communion “in an unworthy manner” – i.e., without remembering his death and the significance of it – to be guilty of basically crucifying his Son again (v. 27; cf. Heb. 6:4-6). This is why we are to examine ourselves when we par- take in order to discipline ourselves and put our focus where it needs to be (1 Cor. 9:25-27).
Communion is the Lord’s supper, not ours (v. 20). Literally, it “belongs to the Lord.” When we forget that, we forget to discern the sacrifice of his body which that bread represents…and as a result we become spiritually weaker and sicker until God brings the judgment of the second death upon us (vs. 29-30; cf. Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8). We need to be reminded of this, because oftentimes we do not look at what we do the way God does (v. 31; cf. Is. 59:2). Let us not neglect the Lord’s Supper so that we will not be among those whom God condemns in the end (v. 32).
The Sacrifice of Praise
As Christians, we praise God. We do so in spoken word, in song, and in other worship. Do we understand what it means to praise God? Do we know what we are doing when we offer the sacrifice of praise?
In the Old Testament, there are different Hebrew words for praise. These different words indicate different nuances of meaning. There are at least five concepts behind the words for praise: thanksgiving, joy or rejoicing, adoration or worship, blessing and boasting. When we praise God, we do these things.
- When we praise God we give thanks. The Bible is filled with the language of gratitude. Psalm 106:1 reads “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Hebrews 13:15 also teaches the relationship between thanksgiving and praise: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Undoubtedly, praise involves thanksgiving.
- Praise also involves joy. Psalm 98:4 declares, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” In Luke 19:37 we see the two concepts used to extol Jesus in the triumphal entry. The text says, “the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen.” When the Christian appropriately praises the Lord, he does so with joy in his heart.
- The concept of praise means we also love. We can see the love for God of Paul and Silas as they sang praises in the jail at Philippi (Acts 16:25). The man at the gate in Acts 3 no doubt was filled with love for God when he was healed. The text says, “And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:8). Love and praise go hand in hand.
- Blessing is also involved in praise. Psalm 145 is a song of praise. It declares: “Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever” (145:2). “All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee” (145:10). “My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever” (145:21). When we praise God, we bless God as well.
- When we praise God we boast of His greatness. The Psalmist writes, “In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever” (Psalm 44:8). Consider Paul’s words in Romans 11:33, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Here is a praise of exclamation that boasts of God’s greatness. God is truly worthy of our boasting. Jeremiah wrote by inspiration, “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24).
Praising God is an important part of the faithful Christian’s life. Let’s resolve to know what we are doing when we offer praise to God. It will both improve our worship and our spiritual lives.
Solomon said, “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom” (Prov. 13:10).
Now, some believe that there is good pride such as be- ing proud to be called a child of God and praise Him or when you take pride knowing that you have a family that loves you so. However, foolish pride has the ability to raise contentions or discord within families, towns, countries and even the Church. Unfortunately, one who has this pride has emptied himself of knowledge and wisdom. He becomes impatient to others opinions and desires and seeks to compete with many. Now, because of the characteristics of foolish pride, quarrels comes with people seeking revenge, who will not forgive others and who have lost the art to say, “I was wrong.”
There are such who are humble and modest who will seek the counsel of God and will ask advice from those who are superior to them in knowledge and understanding. By doing this, we show that we are willing to humble ourselves. That we are able to yield before God and be ones who are peaceable because we seek such wisdom. So, guard yourself against pride. If you find yourself arguing, examine your life and see if there is pride. If so, be willing to admit your mistakes.