The Lord's Chastening - Part I
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

We have been discussing a number of Scriptures that would seem to contradict the teaching of the Word of God related to the security of the believer. We have tried to emphasize to you from the Word of God that when a person is saved, he is saved eternally; that the gifts and the callings of God are without repentance.

After we established that fact from the Word of God, there are other questions in our minds that are related to the lives of Christians. We know from experience, and we know from observations that the faith of individuals does not measure up to their standing. They may be saved eternally, but they don't live like it. All of us recognize the fact that after a person receives the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior—in most instances, if not in all—certain things occur in their lives which would seem to indicate that they never did know the Lord, which would seem to indicate that their lives are displeasing to God.

Is God going to ignore that? Is He going to pat them on the head, so to speak, and say, “Well, bless your heart, little fellow, you belong to Me. You can just do anything you want to do.” Is that what God is going to do? Well, a lot of people seem to think that. A lot of people seem to think that God ignores sin in the lives of Christians.

You have often heard the statement, I am sure, “I can do anything I want to do. All I need to do is just get saved and then sin all I want to sin. All I need to do is just get saved. Nothing can happen to my relationship to God.” Is that right? Well, of course, we know from our study of the Word of God that it isn't right. And we know certainly from the principles of justice, clearly enunciated in the Word of God, that it is not right.

So we ask the question: What can happen to the Christian? If he can't be lost, what can happen to him? Though he cannot lose his salvation, what are the things that can occur in his life? We suggested some of those things to you. We suggested, for example, that though a Christian cannot lose his salvation, he can lose his fellowship, and that is a serious thing, much more serious than most of us realize.

Most of us, you know, speak rather lightly about the loss of fellowship. We say, “Now I know he is a Christian. Of course, he's out of fellowship, but I know he is a Christian,” as though it doesn't make any difference that he's out of fellowship. We tried to show you from the Word of God that it is a serious thing to be out of fellowship.

Then, we pointed out to you from the Word of God that, though a Christian cannot lose his salvation, a Christian can lose his reward, that he can stand at the judgment seat of Christ naked and ashamed before God. We emphasized to you that that is a serious thing.

Some people rather glibly say, “Just so I get to Heaven, that 's all I care about.” Well, it's not as simple as that. The Apostle Paul said in II Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 11, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, I persuade men.” If you look at that verse in the light of its context, you will find that people were criticizing Paul for his zeal and his energy. They said, “Paul, people think you have lost your mind.” Paul said, “It may look that way, but I know what an awful thing it is to stand at the judgment seat of Christ and realize I haven't done my best, and I don't want that to happen to me.”

Necessity Of Chastening

In I Corinthians, chapter 11, there is presented to us the third thing that can happen to a Christian. Though a Christian cannot lose his salvation, a Christian can be chastened, and sorely chastened indeed. And so, in this lesson we will discuss the chastening of the Lord and the part that chastening plays in the life of the child of God. I would like for us to emphasize before we're through with this discussion that chastening is absolutely necessary. If God cannot send Christians to Hell, God has to chasten the Christians. He has no other alternative. Notice, please, I Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 17:

I Corinthians 11:

17Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

He had been praising these Corinthian believers for a number of things, but he said, “There's one thing that I can't praise you about, and that is that you come together not for the better, but for the worse.” Do you realize what he's saying? He is saying, “It would be better for you people if you didn't meet. It would be better for you people if you didn't assemble together if you're going to continue doing what you're doing.” Sounds a little strange, especially in this day and time when you hear people saying, “It doesn't matter so much where you go to church, just so you go. It doesn't matter so much what you believe, just so you're headed in the right direction.” Paul says there are times when it is better not to go. If things are not going to be done in a way that will honor the Lord, then it is better not to go.

Divisions In The Assembly

Notice in verse 18. He's going to get right down to the heart of the matter.

I Corinthians 11:

18For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

Paul had had some visitors from the church at Corinth, and they said, “Paul, when they meet together on the Lord's day, they've got little divisions and sects among them. They've got little cliques. They get together with their little cliques and never speak to anyone else. Why, they could have a little assembly in that little clique, and a little assembly in this little clique. Why, they could have five assemblies in the same building, for all they know. That's how divided they are.” Notice verse 19:

I Corinthians 11:

19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

Here Paul is throwing in a little aside. You know, he was never too concerned about the disappointments. He believed that even they had a purpose. He said, “Even as discouraging and disgraceful as these cliques are, they may be a good thing. They may indicate those of you who are approved; those of you who have really passed the test; those of you who have really been born again; those of you who are really in fellowship. The very divisions themselves may point that out.” In verse 20, he said:

I Corinthians 11:

20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

Go back with me and notice verse 20.

I Corinthians 11:

20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

Isn't that a rather strange statement? Do you know why he said that? Because when the church of the apostles—the church of that era, the church of that day—met, they always had the Lord's Supper. And he said, “You're not really meeting to observe the Lord's Supper. Oh, you observe the Lord's Supper, all right, but that is really not the purpose of your meeting.” And then he explains why in the next verse.

I Corinthians 11:

21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

Wrong Attitude Related To The Lord's Supper

Here is the first mention of eating in the church, and it's condemned. It's condemned. Now I'm not going to get into a great discussion about kitchens in the church, and the hired chef, and the cafeterias, and the rest of it. But lest any of you have any misgivings about it, I'll disillusion you and say I heartily disapprove of it because the Word of God condemns it. The first time it's mentioned in the Word of God, it was a source of trouble. The first time it's mentioned in the Word of God, it was a hindrance to spirituality.

They came together. They brought their own supper. They couldn't hire a chef. They sat around and ate, and they drank wine. As fantastic as this may seem—and I even hesitate to mention it because it seems so fantastic—they ended up drunk, and this is what this means. They ate too much. That's the meaning of the word hunger here. They were just gluttons. They sampled everything on the table and got really sick, and some of them even got drunk. And in that condition, they sat down at the Lord's table. And because of these little cliques they had—keep in mind, now, that this church was principally made up of slaves—some of them overate, and some of them didn't have enough to eat. That spirit of selfishness characterized them as they went into the Lord's Supper. Notice verse 22, and I believe it applies today.

I Corinthians 11:

22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

You've got a home. Eat at home. You don't need to come to church to eat. Church is a place that is dedicated to the worship of God. Do you despise the church of God? Do you make light of it? Are you making it a social center? Or is it a place where folk meet together for the worship of God? That's what this passage of Scripture says.

Of course, if you have any argument with what I have just said, you argue with the Word until you can disprove it. That's what the Word says, and we don't make any ifs and ands about it.

Purpose Of The Lord's Supper

Now, verse 23. He's going to get down to the heart of the matter—the reason that he can't praise them for this thing; the reason he can't approve what they are doing. He said:

I Corinthians 11:

23For 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:
24And 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.
25After 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.
26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

He's reminding them here. He said, “I received of the Lord the truth that I conveyed to you about the purpose or order of the Lord's Supper. And you will remember,” he said, “that I told you it was to be a remembrance of the Lord; that it was to be a reminder that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures. It was to be a reminder that His body was broken, and His blood was shed. It was to be a reminder that Jesus was coming. It was to be a reminder to us of His great love for us.”

Can you be reminded of that too often? Oftentimes, when people learn that we remember the Lord each Lord's day here at our place of worship, they say “Don't you think that you can do that too much?” I talked to a preacher several weeks ago who asked how often we have the Lord's Supper, and I said, “Each Lord's Day.” He said, “Well, I tell you, I don't. I don't have it until they want it so badly they are willing to confess their sins and get right with God so we can have it.” I said, “How often do you have it?” He said, “About once a year.”

Wrong Attitude Invites Chastening

Can you be reminded of what the Lord has done for you too much? Well, let me say to you that if the observance of the Lord's Supper is a formality, it doesn't have to be. If the observance of the Lord's Supper is an empty thing, it need not be. It can be a precious moment each time you meet around the Lord's Table if you will let it. Now get this because it's coming right to the heart of what we want to talk about. If your attitude is what it ought to be, it can be a precious time. If your attitude is not right when you come to the Lord's Table, it can be a very serious thing. If your attitude is not right, it can be an invitation to the chastening of God.

Our purpose in studying this portion of the Word is not primarily to discuss the Lord's Supper. We notice it because this particular incident provides an illustration of the reason for chastening and of how chastening might be escaped.

Partaking In An Unworthy Manner

We are going to be able only to lay the groundwork for what I want to say to you about the subject of chastening. I would like for you to notice verse 27 of the paragraph, on through the end of the chapter. Then I want to point out a word that is repeated several times over in this chapter, so that you can get the picture of it.

I Corinthians 11:

27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
33Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
34And 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.

Going back over this paragraph, I want you to notice the word unworthily . We will be discussing it in more detail by and by. But, let me say, so that we will do away with an ordinary misunderstanding of the Word, that it has nothing to do with your unworthiness.

There are so many people who, when they come to the Lord's Table, say, “I would like to partake of these elements, but I am so unworthy.” Well, if you really mean that, you are in a better position to partake of these elements than someone who says they are not unworthy. For the Lord's Supper is for those who know they are unworthy, and who know that Christ is the only means of their salvation.

The word unworthily here could better be translated “in an unworthy manner” or “with the wrong attitude.” We'll be discussing the wrong attitude with which you can come to the Lord's Table, but as far as our text is concerned, the one that Paul had in mind was this attitude of gluttony and drunkenness with which they came to the Lord's Table. That was the wrong attitude, and he said, “If you come with the wrong attitude, you'll be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.”

And then, you will notice in verse 29, the word unworthily is mentioned again, and then the word damnation and the word discerning . Then in verse 31, you find the word judge and the word judged . And, in verse 32, notice the word judged and the word condemned .

All of these words which I have mentioned are the translation of the Greek word krino . The difference in the words lies in the preposition which goes before that word. For example, in verse 29, the word discerning is the word diakrino , which means “judged through.” The preposition dia means “through.” For a difference, without looking at all the words, the word condemned in verse 32 is katakrino , which means “judged again.” The sentence is already passed.

As you look at this paragraph, you will recognize that your attitude at the Lord's Table must be attuned in the light of judgment. There is no other way to consider it—either the judgment which is your personal responsibility, or the judgment which God assumes because you failed to assume your responsibility. And when God assumes that judgment and pronounces the verdict, the sentence is chastening.

Conclusion

We have an indication in this passage of Scripture of how chastening is a part of the Christian's life. If a Christian can't lose his salvation, but he isn't living worthy of the calling wherewith he is called, what can you expect? You can expect God to put His chastening hand upon him, and as we are going to see, no chastening for the present is pleasant. It's grievous. It is a hard thing to bear, and I trust that not too much of it will be necessary in our lives.


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