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Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, a Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.
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SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 11:23-34
INTRODUCTION: The Corinthian church had spoiled their Communion service.
· The Sin.
In 1 Corinthians 11:20 it tells us that the Corinthian church had corrupted the holy observance of Communion. The Corinthians apparently had a "love feast," a kind of potluck dinner, as part of their Lord's Supper observance. Some ate without waiting for others. Some went hungry while others got drunk.
· The Rebuke.
This was not merely bad behavior – the apostle Paul accused them of despising the church and humiliating those who had nothing to eat. The Corinthian church was rebuked for the manner in which they conducted themselves during Communion (see1 Corinthians 11: 21).
· The Order.
Therefore, the Corinthian church was ordered to correct their bad behavior and eat to their meals at home instead of humiliating those who had nothing (see 1 Corinthians 11:22).
I. THE COMMUNION CELEBRATION. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
INSIGHT: It was the night when the forces of hell met to destroy our Savior. Paul wasn’t present in the Upper Room. He got this as a direct revelation from the Lord.
A. The Lord's Supper was instituted by Christ Himself on the same night in which He was betrayed. (1 Corinthians 11:23)
(1 Corinthians 11:23) For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread.
Sometimes people say they want to celebrate the Lord’s Supper exactly as the Lord did -- then they have it at a ten-thirty or eleven o’clock morning service. If you want to have it at the time the Lord had it, it must be at night. They went in at night to eat the Passover supper, and it was at that Passover supper that the Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper -- the very same night in which Jesus Christ was betrayed.
B. The Lord's Supper was to be a time of remembering and thanksgiving. (1 Corinthians 11:24)
(1 Corinthians 11:24) And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
Notice that it says, “when He had given thanks.” He gave thanks that night while the shadow of the cross hung over the Upper Room. Sin was knocking at the door of the Upper Room, demanding its pound of flesh. And Jesus Christ gave thanks. He gave thanks to God the Father.
Then, “He brake it.” The breaking of the bread indicates that this is something that is to be shared. Dr. Bengal, a German Lutheran theologian, made this statement: “The very mention of the breaking involves distribution, and rebukes the Corinthian plan of every man his own.”
C. The Lord's Supper was to be a memorializing of the broken BODY and shed BLOOD and promised RETURN of the Savior. (1 Corinthians 11:25-26)
(1 Corinthians 11: 25-26) 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
· The bread speaks of His broken body; the cup speaks of the New Covenant. Have you noticed that it is called the cup? (It is also called the fruit of the vine in some instances, but it is never called wine).
By Vernon McGee
[Have I heard people ask:] “Should we have fermented or unfermented wine for the Lord’s Supper?” That is baby talk to ask questions like that. My friend, we can know it was unfermented. This is Passover, the time of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Do you think that they had unleavened bread and leavened grape juice (wine is leavened grape juice)? The whole business was unleavened -- it had to be at the Passover feast. But the interesting thing is that here Jesus calls it the cup.
His body was the cup that held the blood. He was born to die and to shed that blood. Again and again the apostles remind us that we have forgiveness of sins because of the blood, that He has extended mercy to us because of the blood. He did not open the back door of heaven and slip us in under cover of darkness. He brings us in the front door as sons because the penalty of sin was paid when the demands of a holy God were met. Let’s not forget that, my beloved, in this day when the notion is that God can shut His eyes to sin and do nothing about it. He has done something about it. This is the cup; it holds the blood of the New Covenant. – J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J Vernon McGee
(1 Corinthians 11:26) For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
· Paul here adds something new. Here it is “till he come.” When we observe the Lord’s Supper, that table looks in three different directions:
(1) The table is a commemoration. He repeats, “This do … in remembrance of me.” This table looks back over two thousand years to His death upon the cross. He says, “Don’t forget that. It is important.” That is to the past.
(2) The table is a communion (sometimes we call it a communion service). It speaks of the present, of the fact that today there is a living Christ.
(3) The table is a commitment. It looks to the future -- Jesus Christ is coming again! This table won’t last forever; it is temporary. After the service the bread and grape juice are removed, and we may not celebrate it again because we just do it until He comes. It speaks of an absent Lord who is coming back. It looks to the future.
II. A SELF-EXAMINATION. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)
A. A Christian must examine himself as he approaches the table of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 11:27)
(1 Corinthians 11:27) Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
Paul made it clear that we as Christians are to closely examine our hearts before partaking of Communion. We should examine our actions and innermost attitudes. We should seek God’s forgiveness and God’s help to correct anything that does not glorify the Lord. The important rule here is to look in the mirror at ourselves, not out the window at our neighbor!
B. A Christian must partake of Communion in a manner worthy of the holy ordinance. (1 Corinthians 11:28)
(1 Corinthians 11:28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
The Lord’s Supper had ceased to be a blessing to the church at Corinth, for the way they abused it was a cause of judgment. The Lord’s Supper is holy, not an occasion to party!
· If a Christian takes Communion in an unworthy manner, he "eats and drinks judgment on himself." (1 Corinthians 11:29)
(1 Corinthians 11:29) For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
God allowed sickness and even death to come to the Corinthian church because it was partaking of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. Paul never tells us we must be “worthy” to eat at the Lord’s Table; for if that were the case, no one would be able to partake.
· If a Christian neglects to examine himself and takes Communion in an unworthy manner, he may become weak or sick or even die. (1 Corinthians 11:30)
(1 Corinthians 11:30) For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
We can partake in a worthy manner by understanding what the Supper means: (1) having a heart free from sin; (2) being filled with love for Christ and His people; and (3) being willing to obey His Word. Christians often think they can “get away” with carelessness in church, but this is impossible. If our hearts are not right, God has to chasten us to bring us to the place of blessing.
III. JUDGE OURSELVES. (1 Corinthians 11:31-34)
A. A Christian must judge himself before he eats of the Communion meal. (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)
(1 Corinthians 11:31-32) 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
This is talking about believers. We can judge ourselves when we are wrong. If we don’t, God will judge us. When we are judged of the Lord, we are chastened so that we shall not be condemned with the world. He is going to judge the world in the future. Therefore He has to deal with His own now.
B. A Christian must be courteous and considerate of his neighbor in celebrating Communion. (1 Corinthians 11:33-34)
(1 Corinthians 11:33-34) 33 Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.
There were other things wrong in the Corinthian church, but Paul is not going to write about them now. He says that he will straighten out those things when he gets there.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. (1 Corinthians 11:28)
The Lord's Supper. Communion. Whatever you call it, there's nothing quite like this solemn and important act of worship.
Oh, it's possible to participate in Communion without even thinking about God. It can become a ritual full of action but empty of meaning. If we let that happen, we miss out on a time of gratitude and fellowship. And we miss the blessing that comes with a serious examination of our spiritual condition (1 Corinthians 11:28).
One Sunday morning, I wasn't very happy with my wife. You don't need to know the details, but it was my fault that we didn't have a newlywed feeling that day. Sue was on duty at the nursing home where she serves so diligently while I took the rest of the family to church. When the Communion elements were distributed, I realized that I needed to apologize to her. My wrong attitude was both hurting her and harming my relationship with the Lord (see Matthew 5:23-24). So after church I stopped by the nursing home and asked my wife to forgive me.
Communion, that solemn time of self-examination before God, reminds us of our responsibility to check the attitude of our heart. And it helps us to keep the slate clean. Be sure to experience the benefits of Communion.
I pause, and in fresh honesty confess
The sins I've tried to hide but Christ can see;
And then, in holy hush I taste the meal
And gratefully recall His death for me. — Gustafson
– Adapted from Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread, December 1, 2002
CONCLUSION: The Lord Jesus asks us to celebrate Communion to remember Him. He also asks us to examine ourselves so that we do not come to His table unworthily.
The sacrifice that the Lord Jesus made was incredible! Jesus Christ gave His life so that we could be redeemed and have the forgiveness of sins. This kind of love is beyond human understanding. This has to be the love of God! Therefore, we should remember and honor Jesus’ death every time we celebrate Communion.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Remembering Christ's death for us should cause us to live for Him.”
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REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook ( www.sermonnotebook.org ), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.
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