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Self-Judgment

As we go through First Corinthians we’re continuing our look at the Lord’s Supper.  We’ve seen that it’s meant to be a powerful part of our worship.  It’s a time where we can attach our faith to what Christ has done for us on the cross.

In my last post, I talked about the need to examine ourselves before taking the Communion elements.  We need to check up on our faith.  Are we really trusting the Lord for our life?

This is a very important part of the Communion experience.

For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.  That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 11:29-30

We need to understand what Paul is saying here.  Unfortunately, the word, judgment, has some strong implications in our modern “Christianese” vocabulary.  We sometimes get the idea that God is going to curse us with problems if we do something wrong in how we receive Communion.

That’s not what’s being said.  The word judgment simply means a judicial decision.  Your attitude at the Lord’s Table determines the decision you receive.

If you understand who you are in Christ, and see yourself as receiving His provision, then you get the decision in your favor.  You will receive healing, resources, strength, or whatever it is that you’re trusting God for.

If, on the other hand, you don’t understand the payment that Christ made for you, there’s another decision.  If you don’t see Christ as Healer, then you miss out on His healing.  How we approach the Communion table determines the decisions we receive.

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.  When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32

This is another passage where we need to understand the “judging” words being used.  The first sentence tells us that we need to take a step back and look at our lives objectively.  Where’s my faith at? How far am I really trusting God?

I have to be willing to do that and take the appropriate measures to fix any problems.  If I do this, then I won’t get that negative decision.  I’ll begin placing myself in a position to receive from the Lord.

If not, then it will be the Lord’s decision to train me up as a child.  This requires His discipline.  This could include hearing teachings from those over me.  It could also be situations that God allows into my life to get my attention.  Please understand that these situations are only temporary challenges that are designed to focus my attention on Christ and His ability.

So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.  And when I come I will give further directions.
1 Corinthians 11:33-34

This closing statement from Paul is to further reinforce the fact that this meal is more than just about the food.  It’s about coming together in unity of faith, to receive our life from Christ.

Question: What’s your level of faith in who Christ is in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Unworthy?

I’m continuing my look at Paul’s teaching about the Lord’s Supper to the Corinthian church.  As we’ve already seen, this celebration in the church is more than just a mindless tradition.  It’s not just an act we do to fill the time.

There’s a power that’s released in us as we proclaim what Christ has accomplished through His death.  Through the participation in the Communion table, we embrace what Christ obtained for us on the cross.

That’s why we have to watch our attitudes as we receive the elements.

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
1 Corinthians 11:27-28

I’ve seen these verses used to beat up God’s people.  It’s important that we understand what Paul’s saying here.

The word, unworthy, means to be unfit.  In the context of this chapter of the Bible, we see a group of people who viewed the meal as an opportunity to exalt themselves.  That’s being unfit.  The Lord’s Supper is not about me, it’s about Christ.

We are to come to the table humbly, with the understanding that I have nothing to offer God.  He has everything I need.  If that’s not my attitude, then I’m “guilty of the body and blood…”  But what does that mean?

It means guilty in the sense that something wrong was done and now I’m obligated to make it right.  In other words, if I steal something from you, I’m now indebted to you.  If I claim that Christ is the Source of my life and He’s not, then God will work to bring me there.

Part of coming to the Lord’s Table with the right attitude is to examine myself.  That literally means to test and approve myself.

Unfortunately, there are some churches do the testing for you.  They let you know whether they think you’re worthy or not to receive the Communion elements.  That’s not God’s will.  He wants us all to examine ourselves.

What do I have to do?  Do I check under all the rugs?  Search for any little hidden sin that I might not have repented over?  I don’t believe that’s what’s being talked about here.

There’s only one place in Scripture that uses that same word to tell us what to examine.  It’s found in a letter that Paul wrote to this same church.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you– unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5

We must examine and approve our faith.  Are we truly trusting God with our lives?  Are we in the faith?

In order to receive the communion elements in a way that’s worthy, we need to be looking to Christ in faith.  We see Him as the one who has already purchased all we need for life and godliness.

It’s not about me striving to be good enough.  It’s about me yielding my life to Him and letting the Holy Spirit bring me to where I need to be.

Question: What have you received from Christ that you couldn’t obtain on your own?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Focusing on Christ

The Apostle Paul had a lot to say about the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  The Corinthian church needed to check their attitudes.  What about us?  How do we apply these truths?

In the early church, they had a weekly common meal that they called the Agape (Love) Feast.  The whole church would come to one place and eat together.  At the end of the meal, they would receive the Communion elements of bread and wine.

They did this because the Lord’s Supper was originally a part of the Jewish Passover meal.  When Jesus celebrated it with His disciples, it came at the end of the Passover dinner.  So in the early days of the church, Communion was celebrated in the context of a dinner.

In Corinth, this devolved into a form of divisiveness.  Look at Paul’s words to them.

When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else.  One remains hungry, another gets drunk.  Don’t you have homes 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 praise you for this?  Certainly not!
1 Corinthians 11:20-22

Apparently, what had started out as a common meal, had turned into an “every man for himself” event.  The rich would bring a lavish spread.  The poor would come with a loaf of bread or nothing at all.  But unlike our potluck dinners, where everything is shared, each family only ate what they brought.

This angered Paul.  Instead of bringing the body of Christ together, it became a way for the rich to show off.  What they were eating became the showpiece of the dinner.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Paul makes the purpose of the Lord’s Supper very clear.  It’s not about me and my exquisite taste in food.  It all revolves around remembering Christ and what He accomplished for us.

The Lord is the central figure.  We remember that His body went to the cross, bearing all of our shame, sickness, and pain.  We remember His blood that was shed for the forgiveness of our sin.  In these simple acts of eating and drinking, we show what Christ has done for us and look forward to His return.

Jesus said that if He was lifted up, He would draw everyone to Himself.  The Lord’s Supper should have brought the church together.  Instead, it focused on the rift between rich and poor.

In our culture, many churches only celebrate it once a month at the end of a service…if at all.  A lot of Christians receive it as a mere tradition of the church.  It’s more than that.

It should be an important time when we focus our attention on Christ and what He’s done for us.  We should attach our faith to it as we receive the elements.  We should see ourselves as receiving the full benefits of what Christ paid for on the cross.

When you celebrate Communion, let it draw you closer to the Lord and His work in you.

Question: How do you remember Christ in Communion?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2019 in Fellowship, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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The Blood of Covenant

In this post, I’m going to continue looking at the Last Supper as recorded in Mark’s Gospel.  Last time I talked about the bread, in this article we’ll see the cup of the covenant.

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.  “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”
Mark 14:23-25

It should be clear from this verse that the communion cup causes us to remember the covenant.  We’re in covenant with God.  Unfortunately, many Christians don’t understand what that means.

In our society, we understand contracts.  There’s a big difference between contracts and covenants.  Contracts have an ending date, covenants are in effect forever.  A contract will usually cover a specific item or job.  A covenant covers every area of our lives.

But the biggest difference is that a contract simply requires a signature for it to be valid.  A covenant requires the shedding of blood from both parties.

Communion remembers the blood of the covenant between God and us.  Hebrews, chapter 12, talks about where we’ve come by faith.

…to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Hebrews 12:24

Jesus is the Mediator, or literally the go-between of this covenant.  On the cross, the blood of God and man was shed by one person – Jesus Christ.  He offered it for us so that we could have a part in the New Covenant.

But, more than that, we need to understand that the blood SPEAKS.  Jesus was killed just like Abel.  But Abel’s blood spoke of revenge and justice.  Jesus’ blood speaks of forgiveness.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Matthew 26:28

Now that we’re in covenant with God, there’s a responsibility upon us to remember it and keep it.  In a covenant, everything that either person has is available to all parties.  In the natural, it would usually be two powerful people who would covenant together.

But, in our case, an all-powerful, holy God cut a covenant with us.  For our part, we were unrighteous, sinful, imperfect, weak, and poor.  I can’t list everything He provides for us.  On His part, He simply asks for 10% of our wealth, some time, fellowship, and some of our strength.

This is the part of the covenant we fail to think about sometimes.

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant– not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:6

In our churchy way of speaking, minister means to have authority over something.  In Scripture, it actually means to be a servant to something.  This verse really means that God has qualified us to serve the covenant.  The good news is that we don’t serve by the letter, but by the spirit.

When we come to the Lord’s Table we’re remembering this covenant.

“I’m in covenant with God.  It’s my whole life I’m giving over for Him.”

Question: What should our attitudes be when receiving the Communion elements?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Body and the Flesh

Do you know the difference between your body and your flesh?  Scripturally speaking, they’re not the same thing.  Knowing what those two Biblical words mean will help you in living for Christ.

We’re looking at the Last Supper as recorded in the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus is revealing a new concept to the disciples as they celebrate the Passover meal.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
Mark 14:22

This is the foundation for the Communion observances in our churches.  It was a small but important part of the Passover meal.  The bread, which was a hard, dry, matzo cracker, was broken and passed to each one around the table.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to know what the Lord was speaking about.  In the Greek language, there are two different words that we sometimes take for granted.  In English, they’re translated flesh and body.

In the natural seem to be speaking about the same thing – our physical body.  But when you look at how they’re used in Scripture, you get a new perspective.

The word, body, refers to our outward, physical vessel that holds who we are.  It can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.  The body is what we use to interact in the natural world.

The flesh, on the other hand, speaks of the old sin nature that’s been passed down to us from our ancestor, Adam.  It’s the desire within us to make the experience of our body the center of our life.  It wants our body to have everything it needs to feel good.

So usually, when we see the body spoken of in Scripture, we’re referring to the deeds that are being done and the outward appearance.  In this verse, Christ is speaking of imparting His body to us.  Paul talked about the importance of this.

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.
Romans 7:4

This is an incredible truth.  By taking on Christ’s body, our physical bodies are now counted as dead to the Law.  Not only is that true, but now the resurrection of Christ is credited to my account.

This means that my body is no longer bound to do what my flesh (my sin nature) wants it to do.  The control of the flesh is broken.  This is the foundation of our freedom in Christ.

Look at what Paul goes on to say.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Romans 7:6

Not only have we been released from slavery to our flesh and the Law; now our bodies can come under the direct influence of our spirit.  We don’t have to serve God by obeying a list of do’s and don’ts.  I can follow the lead of the Holy Spirit who’s taken up residence in me.

In the future, when you receive the Communion elements, meditate on this truth.  Because you’re receiving His body, you’re receiving the whole work that was done on the cross.  All the power that was released for your life and godliness is available to you right now.

Question: How does your knowing that we died and rose with Christ affect your daily walk with God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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