A Worthy Supper

Series: Rewire

Sermon by David Strain on Nov 12, 2017

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

Well now let me invite you please, if you would, to take a copy of the holy Scriptures in your hands and to turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 11; 1 Corinthians chapter 11. We have been working our way through Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Christians and Paul, in this letter, is responding to a number of concerns that have been sent to him for his input and instruction by the Corinthians themselves, but he’s also responding to reports that have reached him directly from people who have worshipped in that congregation. And in the section we are in now in the letter, between the beginning of chapter 11 and the end of chapter 14, Paul sets his sights on an array of problems relating to the public worship, the gathered, corporate, Sunday assemblies of God’s people at Corinth.

We saw last time, if you will remember a few weeks back when we last were in 1 Corinthians, in the first half of chapter 11 he begins by addressing the question of gender relationships – how men and women are to relate to one another in the public assemblies. This week, in the second half of chapter 11 – verses 17 to 34, Paul returns to a subject that he has touched on in chapter 10 in the context of food offered to idols; and that is the question of the Lord’s Supper. The Corinthians were in some disarray when it came to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

And so if you’ll look there with me just for a moment, let me give you an outline how we’re going to approach the teaching of the apostle in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. We’ll consider it under three headings. First in verses 17 through 22, we need to pay attention to the distortion of the Supper at Corinth; the distortion of the Supper. The Corinthians were acting in ways that distorted and deformed the simple, sacramental meal of bread and wine, really with disastrous consequences. And Paul is writing to expose and to correct that distortion. The distortion of the Supper. Then in 23 to 26, the institution of the Supper. You know when you get your thinking wrong and you begin to realize you’re confused and mistaken, it’s always a good idea to go back to basics, back to the fundamentals, back to the foundation of the whole thing. And that is what Paul does here with the Lord’s Supper. He takes us back to the institution, the night on which Jesus was betrayed when He took bread, broke it, gave thanks and said, “This is My body, which is for you.” So the distortion of the Supper, the institution of the Supper, and then notice he doesn't leave them in the mess. He doesn't simply outline what's wrong or tell them how it ought to be. He gives them, in the last place, in verses 27 to the end of the chapter, a roadmap to correct it. Here is the reformation of the Supper. So the distortion, the institution, and the reformation of the Supper.

Now before we turn to read the Scriptures together and begin to work through those headings, let me ask you if you would first of all to bow your heads with me as we ask for the Lord’s help. Let’s pray together.

God our Father, before us is Your holy and authoritative Word. Also laid bare before You are our hearts. You know exactly where we need You. You know where we’re resistant to You. You know where the secret sins are lurking hidden in the dark recesses of our hearts. You know where we need comfort, where we need exhortation or rebuke or instruction or correction or training in righteousness. And so we ask You please to send us the Holy Spirit to take the Word of Christ, the Word of God now before us, and to apply it exactly where we need it as only You can. For we ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.

1 Corinthians chapter 11 at the seventeenth verse. This is the Word of Almighty God:

“But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when 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 also he took the cup, 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.

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. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another – if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home – so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.”

Amen, and we praise God that He has spoken in His holy, inerrant Word.

In the old tradition of Scottish Presbyterianism, when the church celebrated communion there would be a week of services leading up to communion Sunday with preachers from various locations invited to participate so that by the time you actually came to sit at the Lord’s Table on the communion Sunday, if you were a church member, you might have heard five or six or more sermons that week. It is against that backdrop that it was said, I think it was by Robert Murray M’Cheyne who once said after a communion service in his church, after a season of sermons, that for all the great preaching he had heard, it was the bread and wine, it was the Supper itself, “that preached the best sermon of all,” that was the most effective in communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the comfort of his heart.

And many of us who have been Christians for a while and have sat often enough at the Lord’s Table, know exactly what M’Cheyne is talking about. We’ve heard the preaching of the Word, to be sure, and it has fed us and instructed us and nourished us, and then we’ve come to sit at the Lord’s Table and as the emblems of the body and the blood of Christ, the bread and the wine are set before us and put into our hands and taken into our mouths, and as we meditate on the love-gift of God in the cross of Jesus Christ, Jesus who died and who rose for us, our hearts have melted and we’ve felt as though holding the bread and wine in our hand is almost like holding our Savior’s hand Himself as He comes to us to comfort us amidst our troubles and strengthen us along the arduous path of Christian obedience, communicating forgiveness as we’ve cried out for His mercy. There is a solemnity and a sacred sweetness to those moments, isn’t there, as our Jesus meets us by His grace in the power of the Holy Spirit as we sit at His Table and He nourishes us and He strengthens the faith that we maybe felt is like an old piece of elastic, stretched far too far, ready to break at any moment. And He comes to us and strengthens our faith and enables us to press on. Those times have become enormously precious to us, and so they ought to be.

The Distortion

And yet in the passage we are reading and studying together this morning, it’s clear, isn’t it, that although the Lord’s Table ought to be precious, it can easily suffer distortion and be undermined. And instead of it being the venue of blessing, it became for the Corinthians at least and may become for us if we’re not careful, a venue of discipline and of divine rebuke. And so I want you to think with me here what we learn, first of all, about the distortion of the Lord’s Supper that was taking place at Corinth. Back in verse 2 of chapter 11, Paul commended the Corinthians because they were remembering the tradition just as the apostle had delivered it to them. But notice here in verse 17 – look at verse 17 – now he says he cannot commend them. “In the following instructions, I do not commend you.” At the other end of this little section of the chapter in verse 22, he says the same thing again. “Shall I commend you in this? No, I shall not.” Something has gone seriously wrong at Corinth when it comes to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

For Worse

So badly wrong, in fact, that Paul has nothing good to say about their worship services at all. You see that in verse 17? That’s striking, isn’t it? See what he says in verse 17? “When you come together, it is not for the better but for the worse.” They met together on the first day of the week, they heard the preaching of the Word of God, they sang praises to the Lord, they prayed prayers, they cried out to Him, they celebrated the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They did everything externally, just as the Lord provided for them in the Scriptures. And yet, Paul says, they were worse off at the end of the service than when they first arrived. He puts a government warning right on the packet. Doesn’t he? “Warning!” he says, “Corinthian worship can seriously damage your soul.”

Division

And so we need to ask ourselves, “What is it that has made the Corinthian worship service, or any Christian congregation’s worship service for that matter, what is it that might make it into a spiritual carcinogen? What is it that makes it toxic like this?” Take a look at verse 18. Here’s how it happened at Corinth. “For in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear there are divisions among you, and I believe it in part.” So a report has reached him of division in the church. Possibly it’s the same report he mentions back in chapter 1 verse 11 when one of Chloe’s people, a member of the church, has reached Paul and shared with him about the factions and divisions that were bubbling to the surface and disrupting the Corinthian fellowship. But Paul is loath to give that report full credence. “I believe it in part,” he says. He’s forced reluctantly to concede what he can scarcely credit the church is tearing at the seams of Christian unity and in beggar’s belief. Interestingly, in verses 18 and 19, he uses two Greek words to describe what’s happening in the church. It’s translated in verses 18 and 19 in our versions as “divisions” and “factions.” The Greek words are “schismata” and “heresise.” Or, if we were using modern equivalents, the divisions at Corinth were schismatic and heretical. And Paul is stunned by the whole thing.

And yet he says something really fascinating about those divisions nevertheless. Look at verse 19, please. He says that actually “there must be factions among you.” This is the reason why, despite his desire to the contrary, he is willing to concede that the reports he has heard are actually true. It’s because he knows the church must endure this kind of division from time to time, God has a purpose even for this. You see? There must be divisions among you “in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” Division and factionalism is never good, and Paul is writing here to try and nip it in the bud at Corinth. But when it erupts, as it will from time to time, Paul is reminding us that God is still at work sifting the church, weeding out the true from the false.


Apparently an old trick that jewelers have used to tell the difference between real diamonds and fake diamonds – if you’re a jeweler, I don’t even know if this is true, if you’re a jeweler, would you come and tell me if you’ve ever done this? It’s amazing things preachers find in books. Okay? It may not be true at all! But, apparently the trick is, if you’ve got diamonds and you don’t know whether they are real or false, you immerse them in water and the fake diamonds all but disappear; you can hardly see them. But the real diamonds have a luster and a sparkle about them that, even when immersed in water, they still shine. I don’t know if that’s true at all, but if it is true, whether it’s true or not actually, it’s a good illustration of what God is doing in the divisions and in the schisms that were disrupting the fellowship of the Corinthian church.

Conflict unto Godliness

You see, from time to time, in His providence, the Lord allows the church and Christians to be submerged beneath interpersonal conflict and division so that the real thing – true faith in Christ, genuine Christian character – might shine and sparkle and be seen in all its authentic beauty and likeness to Christ. Nobody, nobody likes conflict. Do they? I certainly do not enjoy – if you enjoy conflict, you need to come and see me. You have a problem, okay?! Nobody likes conflict! And yet, isn’t it true that there are few things that reveal our characters more clearly than the way we handle ourselves in the midst of conflict. Isn’t that true? Few things reveal our characters more clearly than how we handle ourselves when conflict comes, as it inevitably will, from time to time. So here’s a principle from what Paul is teaching us. When the Lord allows conflict to come, we need to remember that He aims to bring our in our characters the authentic traits of Christian godliness. He wants the diamond of godliness to shine. He’s growing us and training us and maturing us.

Cause of Division

That’s what God is doing in the middle of it all. We still need to ask, “What is it that caused the divisions at Corinth in the first place?” Apparently, you see the custom had arisen in the Corinthian churches of eating a meal together on a Sunday when they gathered at the end of which, or somewhere in the course of the meal, they would celebrate the Lord’s Supper. But the way they were behaving at the dinner table was so problematic that the meaning of the Supper itself had been entirely obscured. And so Paul says to them in verse 20, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, one goes hungry, and another gets drunk.” Their divisions were following economic and social lines. Do you see that? The wealthy were being given privileged access to the meal while the poor were left wanting entirely.

That may seem a little shocking if you think about the public gatherings of the local church to conceive how that could even happen, but if you understand the nature of secular society in those days, at public meals and gatherings like this, that kind of social stratification, even in the way food was served, was not all that uncommon. Let me give you one example. In a letter written by the 1st-century Roman magistrate, Pliny the Younger, he gives us a description of a meal he attended with a wealthy host. And here's the description. "The best dishes were set in front of himself and a select few, and the cheap scraps of food before the rest of the company. He even put the wine into little flasks divided into three categories – one lot was intended for himself and us, presumably the best; another for his lesser friends; and a third lot for his and our freedmen" - his former slaves. You see the social stratification reflected even in the food that was served, in access to the best of the meal?

Something like that is probably happening here at Corinth. The elite and the wealthy and the prominent people were enjoying the very best of it all and indeed were indulging to excess even becoming drunk, Paul says, while the poorest of the poor, those who were on the fringes of things, had nothing and were doing hungry and were being humiliated. And Paul is absolutely horrified. “What?” he says. “Don’t you people have homes you can eat in? That’s not why we come together to church at all! You’re not here for a dinner party!” The simple ritual meal that Jesus gave us of bread and wine was being lost. Wasn’t it? What a mess. What a mess at Corinth.

The Challenge

Now just before we move on to consider how the Supper was first instituted and how it may be reformed when we’ve gone astray, we need to pause and allow the challenge that Paul sets before us, or at least to look ourselves in the mirror of the Word of God, to see if this challenge finds an echo in our own lives. We need to allow this challenge to sink in. We need to ask ourselves about the instinctive reaction of our hearts when someone whose face doesn’t fit, whose background isn’t our own, who doesn’t move in our circles, comes and sits beside us in the pew on a Sunday morning. What happens in your heart? You see, Paul is saying to us here, isn’t he, that it is perfectly possible to do everything in worship just right, externally speaking, and still, when we come together, it’s not for the better but for the worse. It’s quite possible for pride and elitism to ruin our love feasts as we privilege the haves and marginalize the have-nots. So there was a terrible distortion of the Lord’s Supper at Corinth.

The Institution

And then secondly, notice, Paul in response, takes them back to the beginning, to the way the Lord’s Supper was instituted. So the distortion first; now, the institution of the Lord’s Supper. That’s a helpful thing to do, isn’t it, when your thinking goes astray, to go back to the basics, back to the foundation, back to the instruction manual as it were and to make the corrections that are necessary. That’s what Paul is doing in verses 23 to 26. He rehearses how Christ gave us the Lord’s Supper that night at the Passover meal before His crucifixion, on the night when He was betrayed. And as you look it over, these familiar words – we repeat them whenever we celebrate the Lord’s Table together – as you look it over, I want you to notice the five things Paul tells us we are supposed to do when we come to communion. Five things we’re supposed to do. We’ll work through them very quickly.

Watch

He says we are to watch, we are to listen, we are to partake, we are to remember, and we are to proclaim. Watch. Listen. Partake. Remember. Proclaim. We are to watch. Jesus took the bread and broke it. He took the cup. There are actions we are to observe. We are passive; He is active. The emblems of the Gospel are set before us and there are actions taking place in front of us. That communicates to us, that is a reminder to us, actually of the pattern of the Gospel and of the nature of grace itself. We come hungry and God fills us. We come empty and God supplies all that we need. We come guilty and He forgives us. We are passive; He is active in the Gospel. We are spectators, as it were, as the banquet is spread and His grace is provided. We come empty-handed and we receive. We are to watch.

Listen

Secondly, we are to listen. Christ spoke. “This is my body, which is for you. This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” So the word, the written word, the spoken word interprets the bread and the wine, explains its new significance. This ordinary morsel of bread, this little cup of everyday wine, takes on a new significance. Now they communicate to us the self-giving love of Jesus for every sinner everywhere that would turn to Him at the cross. His body given up to the horror of the cross. His blood poured out to establish a new relationship, a new covenant between sinners and almighty God, a relationship that would never be broken. And so we watch and we listen.

Partake

And then we are to partake, thirdly. We are to do this, Jesus says, we are to eat this bread and drink this cup, Paul says. We take the bread and wine into ourselves. We consume it and it becomes a part of us. It gives sustenance and nourishment to us and strengthens us. And in the same way, as we eat the bread and drink the wine, believing the Gospel, we, as it were, we take Christ into ourselves. We are united to Him and He to us. He communicates Himself to us by His Spirit, by His mighty operations of grace in our hearts as we believe His promises and He nourishes us and He strengthens us for His service. As He puts it back in John 6:55, His flesh becomes true food and His blood becomes true drink. We watch. We listen. We partake.

Then, we remember. We are actively to call to mind what has been done for us at the cross. “Do this in remembrance of Me,” Jesus says. And so we are to remember and recall, as we see the bread broken and the cup before us, how our Savior gave Himself, body and soul, to the wrath and curse of God we have deserved, that by His death we might live; by His stripes, we might be healed. He gave Himself, the just for the unjust, to reconcile us to God. We are to meditate and remember and think on the Gospel.

Proclaim

And then lastly, we are to proclaim. Verse 26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Every time you take the bread or drink the cup at the Lord’s Table, you become a preacher. You become a preacher. And here’s what you are preaching. You are proclaiming to one another. You’re saying this. “As you travel, dear brother, dear sister, as you travel along the dusty path of Christian obedience, as you walk your pilgrimage in service to your Redeemer and you feel yourself weary, remember, Jesus is enough. Jesus is enough. Take Him. As you eat the bread and drink the cup, trust in Christ. Receive Christ. Believe on Christ. He will sustain you with Himself. He is enough. To help you along that pilgrimage, to keep you on the path, on the sometimes weary, trudging, one foot in front of the other in Christian obedience through toils and trials and triumphs, until at last you reach the finish line and you’re home and Jesus comes!” You’re preaching hope to one another. “He’s coming soon! Trust Him and press on! One day He will come and a better banqueting table will be spread before us. The marriage supper of the Lamb! And there we will be with Him at last, face to face with our Savior, eating and drinking to the joy of our hearts and our everlasting delight!” That’s what you’re preaching to one another. You’re saying, “Christ is enough, so press on, dear brother, dear sister. Press on. Keep going. He will sustain you. Look to Him.”

The Corinthians really have missed that this simple meal of bread and wine isn’t like any other meal. Is it? And so it had been subsumed beneath their dinner parties. It was obscured and lost in the chaos and debauchery of their celebrations. They were taking it for granted. Isn’t that easy to do with the worship of God sometimes? To take it for granted? To go through the motions, the same old same old? That’s what was happening and the Supper had lost its significance and its power among them, under all the silliness and sin of their prejudiced divisions. The distortion of the Supper. Then, the institution of the Supper.

The Reformation

And Paul doesn't leave them in their mess. He also offers them a word of encouragement and direction – the reformation of the Supper. He gives them a roadmap for putting it right. Look at verses 27 to 34, please. In verse 27 he warns them not to eat and drink the supper, notice, "in an unworthy manner, lest we be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." Right? Press "pause" there for a moment. This is one of those verses, the misunderstanding of which has caused all kinds of mischief in the lives of Christians. So let me do my best in just a few moments to try and help clarify and correct some misunderstanding. When Paul says we are not to eat or drink the cup “unworthily,” he is not suggesting that you must be morally qualified in order to have a right to come to Communion. To eat or drink unworthily doesn’t mean that you have attained some unspoken standard of holiness before you may come to the Table. Remember what the bread and wine of the Communion service are, after all. They are nothing more than the Gospel made visible. They are promises, edible and tangible. They are visible words that communicate to us that Jesus Christ is a Savior of unworthy sinners. And you need not become worthy to turn to Christ. You need only know yourself a sinner in need of a Savior to have every warrant and right to come to Him and He will be a perfect Redeemer and Savior for you.

The Qualification

And that is the same qualification and ground on the basis of which you may come to Communion. “I need Jesus and I trust Him. I am empty, helpless, bankrupt, a wretched sinner in myself! He is all in all to me. He’s everything that I need, and so I come to Him.” If that is your heart’s cry, then you are worthy, in that sense, qualified; you have every right to the Table. The right and qualification does not rest in yourself but in Him. He’s righteous, with all the righteousness you need to cover your sin and shame. Hide in Him. He’s enough.

And so when Paul says eating and drinking unworthily is the thing to avoid, he doesn’t mean attain to a certain standard of personal godliness before you may come. Of course we must strive after godliness, but your godliness doesn’t give you the right to come to the Table, but rather your need of a Savior gives you the right to come. So what does he mean by “eating or drinking unworthily?” Look at verse 19 – sorry, verse 29 rather, where he tells us exactly what he means. Verse 29 – here’s what he means by eating or drinking unworthily. He means “not discerning the body of the Lord.” Now again, there’s confusion about what that means. Some take it to be a reference to the body of Christ, the Church, and in light of the chapter where Paul is dealing with divisions, it is understood to be something like, "You should not come to the Table without understanding the unity of the Church and it's important." Discerning the body means understanding that you are one in Jesus.

And that's certainly a truth, but I don't think that's what Paul means here. Because every time until now, he has used the language of the body of Christ or the body of the Lord especially in connection with public worship and the Supper of the Lord. It is a reference not to the congregation, the body of Christ, but to the flesh and to the blood of Jesus Himself. Now in the chapter following this one, chapter 12, he will take up that language and apply it to the church as a metaphor for our unity. But he has not yet done so. In fact, as chapter 10, his discussion of the Supper in chapter 10 puts it, when he refers to the body of the Lord, he’s talking about the flesh and blood of the risen Christ, the Christ who died for sinners that we partake and participate in when we eat and drink the Supper believingly.

Jesus Nourishes Us

So here’s what I think Paul is really saying. We’re not to eat and drink unworthily. That is, we are to discern the body of the Lord. That is, we are to come to Communion understanding that even though this is merely bread and merely wine, when we eat and drink believing the Gospel, we get Jesus by faith – His body and blood. He comes to us and nourishes us and strengthens us. This is no mere memorial, but rather it is a venue, a place where Christ, by His grace in the power of the Spirit, meets sinners and encourages and comforts their hearts and strengthens them to trust Him. And if you understand that that’s what’s really going on, well then it changes everything. You would never dare come to the Lord’s Table with the kind of casual flippancy that would allow it to dissolve into factionalism and dispute at the kind of debauched dinner parties that were taking place at Corinth. No, you’ll come with reverence and awe and expectation and anticipation that as you eat and drink the bread and the cup with believing faith, clinging to Jesus, He Himself will come to you and by His Spirit sustain and strengthen you.

Examine Yourself

And so he says to us, we are to “examine ourselves.” That’s our task. It’s not a popular art today, by any means. Is it? Self-examination. But that is what we are to cultivate and ask ourselves, “How are we coming to the Table?” Or for that matter, “How are we coming to worship?” Is it the same old, same old? Is this routine? Can you take it or leave it? So what if you forget to set your alarm and you sleep in? “It’s only church, after all.” Can you be on-again, off-again with the worship of the Lord? Is that really how we are to come to a meeting with the King of kings and the Lord of lords? “Examine your hearts,” Paul says. Discern the Lord’s body. Come, believing that something more is taking place than an empty ritual. But that here, in the worship of God and here, at the Lord’s Table, you get to meet with Christ and feast upon Him for your sustenance.

Judgment

Otherwise, Paul says, “you eat and drink judgment on yourselves.” You are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. A casual flippancy, a disregard for the seriousness and the weight and the moment of public worship is not a small thing. In fact, did you notice the way that the disciplinary rebukes of God were etching themselves into the life of the Corinthian church? Look at verse 30. They were disregarding Communion, abusing it; their worship was a mess. They were worse off at the end than when they arrived at the beginning. And here are the consequences. He says, “That is why some of you are weak and ill and some of you have died.” Let that sink in for a moment! “Some of you are weak and ill and some of you have died” because of the way you approach the worship of God and the Lord’s Table in particular.

Let me ask you, “Do you have any room for that kind of thing in your theology, in your thinking about God?” Could God do that in our midst? Does He really take His worship, does He really take the way we observe the Lord’s Supper so seriously that He might send sickness or even death into our midst as a rebuke for our carelessness or our divisions? May it never be so, right? Μη γενοιτο. “May it never be.” But that is actually what Paul says He did at Corinth. And so now the question becomes, “If God takes His worship so seriously, how seriously do we?” If we’d only judge ourselves, if we’d examine ourselves, deal with ourselves honestly before God, then He wouldn’t need to judge us with a Father’s discipline at all. No, he says we are to wait for each other. Instead of privileging the haves over the have-nots, verse 33, we are to eat at home instead of making the Lord’s Supper into an unjust and unequal dinner party as the Corinthians were doing – verse 34. And that way, he says, when we come together, it won’t be for judgment. It won’t be for the worse anymore. It will now, in fact, be for the better.

And so then, brothers and sisters, we are to examine ourselves. We have heart-work to do before God. How do you come to church and how do you think of one another when you come? Where are the fault lines in our fellowship? Where does pride and elitism disrupt our unity? Where do our social conventions erupt into our fellowship without thinking? We are in danger if we are not careful of allowing the patterns of the world to so undermine and distort our worship in the church that when we arrive we are no better at the end. We may be worse off and our worship is not good for us, but worse for us, because of the way that our divisions and our pride and our cultural assumptions are infecting our fellowship and our congregational life. We are to examine ourselves. With what seriousness do you take the worship of God? After all, how seriously does He? Isn’t there work to do? And isn’t there a reminder in the middle of all of this of what’s really on offer – as we come to the Lord, as we come to worship, we don’t come to some tyrant who’s ready to beat us down. We come to one who wants to sustain us and nourish us and feed us and equip us that we might finish the race. And so let’s examine ourselves. Let’s repent where repentance is necessary. And then let’s run to Christ, who is enough for us, that trusting Him, leaning on Him, we might finish the race and make it across the finish line with joy.

Let’s pray together.

Father, we thank You for our Savior. We confess that there are times when we take for granted Your worship, when our hearts are elsewhere, our minds are elsewhere. There are times when we’re indifferent toward You or where our pride or our prejudices disrupt our fellowship and make us loveless when we ought to be loving. Please, will You save us from the kind of problems we saw in Corinth that required such harsh disciplines and rebukes from Your fatherly hand. Help us to learn from the Word that we might not need learn from hard providence. And enable us as we come to worship, and especially to the Lord’s Table, to eat and drink being nourished by Christ, His body broken and blood shed for us. For we ask it all in Jesus’ name, amen.

© 2017 First Presbyterian Church.

This transcribed message has been lightly edited and formatted for the Web site. No attempt has been made, however, to alter the basic extemporaneous delivery style, or to produce a grammatically accurate, publication-ready manuscript conforming to an established style template.

Should there be questions regarding grammar or theological content, the reader should presume any website error to be with the webmaster/transcriber/editor rather than with the original speaker. For full copyright, reproduction and permission information, please visit the First Presbyterian Church Copyright, Reproduction & Permission statement.