Tuesday, October 03, 2006

1 Corinthians 11:17 – 32
World Communion Day

[Please note all Scripture referred to and given is NIV unless marked otherwise.]

I. Churches are diverted by division.

A. The Corinthians were divided.

1. 1 Corinthians 3:3 – “You are still worldly.” “You are still carnal.” [NKJV]

a. The Message notes that worldly/carnal Christians are “content only when everything’s going your way.”

b. The ROOT CONDITION of worldliness/carnality creates all sorts of problems.

2. 1 Corinthians 3:3 – “jealousy and quarreling.”

a. Rather than acting like Saints, these sinful behaviors indicate carnality.

b. The behavior is infantile.

3. I Corinthians 3:4 – “I follow... I follow.”

a. The symptom of the sins, which is rooted in carnality, is division.

b. What happens is the eyes are off Jesus and put on human teachers.

B. Division has a certain set of problems.

1. Division does more harm than good.

2. Division brings out the worst side of (otherwise good) people.

3. When brought to worship, division profanes the name of God and desecrates God’s church.

C. The image of the offering is important.

1. Between the Old Testament and the New Testament there is an important shift in the role of the offering and who offers it.

a. In the Old Testament the offering/sacrifice was offered as a reminder of sin and an expectation of Jesus work. It was BROUGHT BY PEOPLE TO GOD.

b. In the New Testament the offering/sacrifice was offered for permanently atonement for sin. It was GIVEN BY GOD AND IS TO BE CELEBRATED BY PEOPLE (communion).

c. In both the O. T. and the N. T. The right heart is seen in doing it the right way.

2. Malachi addressed this issue:

a. The offerings being offered were “defiled” [Malachi 1:7] because they were less than the best that could be offered. God saw this has “contemptible.”

b. The priests encouraged it!

1.) God was not the priority.

2.) Worship was second place to convenience, ease, being non-offensive, etc...

II. Churches are delivered through discipline.

A. Sickness and death are a result of sin BUT sometimes it is the result of discipline/judgement.

1. At “the Fall,” when Adam and Eve first sinned, we were plunged into “the Curse.”

a. It means we are separated from God.

b. It means that separation has physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences that are beyond our control.

2. This Curse is a mild form of relief.

a. Imagine the most evil people never dying.

b. Death has a limiting effect on the evil we are capable of achieving.

B. Discipline is a GOOD thing!

1. The Bible says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. . . If you are not disciplined, . . . then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” [Hebrews 12:7a, 8]

a. Discipline can be painful.

b. Discipline is directional [God is attempting to bring change].

c. Discipline indicates ownership (the father/son relationship) and is driven by love.

2. What are the steps God uses?

a. It starts with weakness, moves to sickness, and may end in death (assuming there is no repentance).

b. God starts with a gentle nudge (weakness), then a painful reminder (sickness), and may have to take extreme measures (death).

***** We can take this to mean the individual (who celebrate communion as individuals) BUT THE CONTEXT IS CORPORATE! In other words, this process HAPPENS TO CHURCHES.

C. How do churches cycle?

1. A church becomes spiritually weakened when God is not the priority.
Jesus told the Ephesian church: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” [Revelation 2:4]

2. A church becomes seriously sick when God is left out.

Jesus pleaded with the Laodicean church: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! . . . Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” [Revelation 3:15, 20]

3. Extreme measures must be eventually taken against an unrepentant church to protect the honor of God and the true church.

Jesus warned: “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I WILL COME TO YOU AND REMOVE YOUR LAMPSTAND FROM ITS PLACE.” [Revelation 2:5] [emphasis mine]

III. Churches will dispute this to their death bed.
A. Isn’t this really about “leadership?” [If we only had the right pastor...]

1. Yes, when spiritual leaders look the other way while churches are being torn apart by jealousy and division.

2. Yes, when spiritual leader settle for less than the best.

3. No, these are individual decisions (made by people) that shape the corporate identity.

B. But, I am right, “they” are wrong!

1. What does it matter? Infant behavior wants its own way, adult behavior refuses to throw a temp tantrum because it was offended or didn’t get their own way.

2. Grumbling against someone else is an attempt to shift responsibility and ownership to others. This causes division because people have to take sides and sit in judgement on hearsay and fragments of information.

“Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” [Titus 3:10 – 11]

IV. What does this have to do with communion?

A. To come to this table, you must come with a right heart. [v 27]

1. “Unworthy manner = guilty of sinning.”

2. Not doing so puts us in the same crowd that mocked Jesus at the cross.

B. To come to this table, you must examine your motives. [v 28]

1. Paul instructed, “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”

2. A wrong heart will never lead us to the right way.

3. A right heart will move us away from our carnality, the sin it causes, and the symptomatic problems they cause.

C. Honor Jesus. [v 29]

1. Recognizing what is happening restores “holy awe.”

2. Stop chasing the emotional high that comes from the divisive games we play with on another.

D. Accept discipline by repenting (before it is too late). [v 32]

1. God loves us to much to let us get away with destructive behavior patterns.

2. When we engage in destructive behavior patterns, we don’t just hurt each other, we dishonor God and desecrate God’s church.

The Bible says, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? [17] Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” [1 Corinthians 10:16 – 17]

***** You see, in communion, we are united. Divided communion is impossible. Yet, there will be those who come to this table today who are divided. We are divided by denominational lines and theological distinctives; better known as labels. We are divided by personal likes and dislikes. We are divided by personal histories and an unforgiving spirit. Maybe that is why so many of us are weak, sick, and dying. Maybe that is why so many churches are weak, sick, and dying.

You see, in communion, we have opportunity to repent. When we repent, we set wrong thing right.
You see, in communion, we also have the release and joy of forgiveness... both asked for and given. *****

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