Disorders at the Lord's Table - Part II
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Will you open your Bibles, please, to Paul's first Corinthian letter, chapter 11. We have thought with you about the observance of the Lord's Supper according to tradition and according to the Gospel. We have considered with you Paul's account of the Lord's Supper as it is recorded in this chapter—Paul's account of what the Lord revealed to him about the manner in which the Lord's Supper should be observed.

We have noticed with you the fuller symbolism of the Lord's Supper, or the communion of the Body of Christ. We have called to your attention that every man who is a partaker at the Lord's Table must make a choice between the Table of the Lord and the table of demons. We have begun a discussion about disorders at the Lord's Table. We have found that the disorders at the Lord's Table which Paul rebuked were rooted in what was known as the love feast, or the agape. Even though the agape is not observed today, the disorders that found their roots in that feast are related to principles which suggest the wrong attitudes which are manifested by many today as they approach the Lord's Table, and we are warned against these disorders. Some of the individuals who approached the Lord's Table were divided into groups. There were divisions within the local assembly, little cliques into which individuals gathered, and which selfishly refused to welcome folk within the assembly because they were so interested in themselves. This God rebuked.

Another disorder was drunkenness. Although in our day it is not likely that many people would approach the Lord's Table inebriated, there is every possibility that individuals will approach the Lord's Table walking in the flesh instead of the spirit; when you are producing the works of the flesh, Beloved, you are no walking in the Spirit.

Another disorder we noticed was disrespect. Individuals were showing disrespect to one another as Believers. They were actually despising them, the Scripture says. They believed that some of them were a little bit better than others; they were prejudiced. As we approach the Lord's Table we should examine our hearts to be sure that we are not thinking down on people and considering ourselves a bit better than they, for whatever reason.

We will refresh our minds by reading the portion of the Word that deals with the subject which we are discussing, I Corinthians, chapter 11, beginning with 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.
18For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
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.
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.
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.

The last statement refers to the fact that there were other problems in the church at Corinth which needed correcting. Paul promised to set them in order when he should come.

There is one last disorder that I would like to consider. You will find it mentioned in verse 29:

I Corinthians 11

29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

I would describe this last disorder as a lack of discernment when we sit down at the Lord's Table. When we speak about a lack of discernment, exactly what do we have in mind? The word discern , the failure to discern, the lack of discernment, are translations of forms of a Greek verb which means to discriminate . It speaks of judging things thoroughly. You should not come to the Lord's Table without understanding what you are doing. You should discriminate between that which is profane and that which is sacred.

You should not come to the Lord's Table assuming that all you are doing is partaking of a bit of unleavened bread and a bit of Welch's grape juice. Rather, you should come to the Lord's Table recognizing that you are partaking of the broken bread as a symbol of the body of Christ which was given for us and to us; you are partaking of the fruit of the vine as a symbol of the blood that was shed for the remission of our sins.

Turn please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 10. There is an illustration here of the lack of discernment and the lack of discrimination that can be shown by individuals who do not think as they ought to think about the things of God:

Hebrews 10

24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

These verses do not refer to a born-again Believer's losing his salvation. Beloved, that is an impossibility in the light of the Word of God. They refer to individuals who are presented with the plain facts of the Gospel and who willfully sin by turning away and saying, “There is no salvation in Christ.” If there is no salvation in Christ, there is no salvation for you.

Let me offer a word of caution. When I make that statement, I do not mean that if you hear the Gospel message and for whatever reason you decide not to receive Christ and you go out without receiving Him, you have committed the unpardonable sin; that though you may spend anxious days and hours wanting to be saved, you cannot be saved. You may have believed some silly evangelistic message about somebody who left the meeting turning Christ down for the last time, but, Beloved, whosoever will may come. As long as you have breath in your body, you can come to Christ. I am not suggesting that you treat the matter lightly, because the Scripture says, “He that being often reproved and hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed (cut off) and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1). I say what I have said to comfort the hearts of some deluded souls who are going through agony of mind and spirit because they feel that they have no chance to be saved because somehow or in some way they have offended to such an extent that God said, “I am not going to save you no matter how much you beg Me to save you.” This passage of Scripture does not say that. Now let's continue our reading:

Hebrews 10

28He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Notice the statement, “He hath counted the blood of the covenant,…an unholy thing.” If you come to the Lord's Table without realizing that the elements of which you partake represent the body and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are not discerning the Lord's body, nor His blood. In like manner the first century Hebrews failed to discern that the body of Jesus of Nazareth was the body of the Son of God, and the blood that was shed on Calvary's Cross was the blood not of a carpenter's son, but of the Holy Son of God. Discern; discriminate; understand what you are doing when you come to the Lord's Table.

I would suggest that you parents who are concerned about your children's participation in the Lord's Supper be very careful that they discern the body and the blood of the Lord. Don't permit your children to participate in the Lord's Supper, even though they have given testimony of faity in Christ, if you see them giggling while they are holding the cup and the bread, if you see them whispering and smacking their lips as if they are attending a picnic. Beloved, I do not know at what age children can discern the body and the blood of the Lord. Some of them can discern it very early, You may feel that your child is able so to discern, and he may give evidence of it, but keep your eyes on him and if he indicates that he is not properly discerning, forbid him to take the Lord's Supper. The individual who does not properly discern the body and the blood of the Lord is displeasing to the Lord, if he comes to the Lord's Table.

Go back with me, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 11, in which the word unworthily is used twice, although some people feel that it should not be in verse 29 because the oldest manuscripts do not have it. whether it should be included there or not, it should be included in verse 27. It speaks of doing something in an unworthy manner. I emphasize this because many of God's dear children have denied themselves the privilege of sitting down at the Lord's Table because they have interpreted the word unworthily as referring to their own unworthiness. Beloved, we are all unworthy. That is the testimony we give when we sit down to the Lord's Table. He died for us because we are sinners. We need not worry about our worthiness when we come, but Beloved we do need to worry about whether we are coming in an unworthy manner.

How can you come in an unworthy manner? Some of the modern translations suggest a few explanatory words. Phillips, for example, suggests that when you come in an unworthy manner you are coming without due thought to what you are doing. I want to pause long enough for that to grip you. What do you think about when we gather around the Lord's Table? What do you think about while we are waiting to be served? What do you think about as the elements are being passed? It seems to me that if your mind is centered on anything but the fact that Christ died for your sins, with you heart lifted in gratitude to Him for that, you are coming without due thought. Philips also suggest that to come to the Lord's Table in an unworthy manner is to come carelessly. To come carelessly would indicate that we are not giving due thought to whether or not our lives are consistent with our testimony.

If we come to the Lord's Table with unconfessed sin in our lives we are coming carelessly; when we come we are saying that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son, has cleansed us from all sin, and if there is unconfessed sin in our lives, this is a lie.

Will you notice verse 27 of I Corinthians, chapter 11:

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.

Notice that last statement: “Shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.” That is an awesome statement, particularly if you keep in mind that the word guilty is the translation of a Greek word which means liable to a charge . If you come to the Lord's Table in an unworthy manner, you are liable to a charge—a charge of crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ.

I like the manner in which Phillips brings this whole thing to our attention: “So that whosoever eats the bread or drinks the wine without due thought is making himself like one of those who allowedd the Lord to be put to death without discerning who He was.” If you come in an unworthy manner, you are like those who allowed the Lord to be put to death, not discerning who He was.

What Paul had in mind is recorded in chapter 2 of this same letter, where he speaks concerning the lords of this world:

I Corinthians 2

6Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
7But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

Notice particularly verse 8:

Beloved, when you come to the Lord's Table in an unworthy manner, you indicate that you are sadly lacking in divine wisdom. Parents should be very conscious of how they themselves come to the Lord's Table, because they have the responsibility of guiding and directing their children. They should be very conscious of how their children come, because this passage of Scripture reminds us that although we may not think it too important, God thinks it very important.

I have a word to leave with you concerning how important He thinks it is. It is the word discipline . God says that the individual who approaches the Lord's Table in an unworthy manner can expect the disciplining hand of God.

I Corinthians 11

29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily [there is a question whether the word unworthily should be there] , eateth and drinketh damnation [condemnation] 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.

Look at the word chastening in verse 32 and understand that this is why we speak about discipline in relation to the Lord's Table. Personally, as a human being, I would not feel capable of disciplining anybody for his attitude at the Lord's Table, but God says He will and He does. I am of the opinion that many people are under the disciplining hand of God for their attitude and do not realize it.

Let us look at the reason why this discipline is necessary:

I Corinthians 11

29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation [condemnation] to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

The word damnation is an unhappy translation from the original Greek, because to most people damnation means a sentence to an eternal Hell. That is not what the Spirit of God had in mind here. Rather, He had in mind condemnation , and this word is so translated in verse 32:

I Corinthians 11

32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

When you have time, notice what is recorded in I Timothy, chapter 3, verse 6, where we are instructed never to select a novice and endue him with responsibility, lest he fall into the condemnation of the Devil. The word condemnation there is the translation of the same Greek word.

Look again at verse 31:

I Corinthians 11

31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

In verse 32 we see the result of the disciplining hand of God. Individuals are judged. The word judged is a translation of a word which suggests a state of being condemned. What form will that state take? You are to be chastened of the Lord. The word chastened in verse 32 is a translation of a Greek word which means to be trained . God trains in various ways, and the net result of His training is that you will approach the Lord's Table in the proper manner by and by.

The training that the Spirit of God is pleased to bring to our attention consists of three words. One of them is weak , a translation of a Greek word which means to be feeble in any sense whatever. I personally believe that it can refer to a weak physical condition. I believe it can refer to a weak mental condition. I believe, although not too many people agree with me, that it can refer to a loss of spiritual power if the individual does not approach the Lord's table in the manner in which he should The actual meaning of the word would permit such interpretation, because it means weak in any sense.

The next thing that is brought to our attention is that if you approach the Lord's Table unworthily, some of you will be sickly. That is one reason why I do not believe that the word weak refers primarily to a physical condition. That would seem to me to be needless repetition. Some may be weak in any number of ways; some are sickly.

The final disciplining that comes from God is described in the word sleep , a translation of a Greek word which means to die . This is no reference to soul sleeping. It is a reference to the fact that when God chastens, if individuals do not straighten up, in due season He finds it necessary to take them out of this life. They die.

I am concerned that somebody may misquote me and say, “Do you know why Joe Temple's wife had cancer? Because there was sin in her life; that's why.” Beloved, not everybody who is ill has unconfessed sin in his life. there are many reasons why individuals are ill, and many reasons why individuals die, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the disobedience of those individuals. As a matter of fact, there are a few of God's choice vessels who are chosen for the ministry of suffering. I think I have known some of them, and I am amazed at the wisdom of God. I am glad–not because I am chicken and don't like pain; but I am glad—God has not chosen me for a ministry of suffering. I am glad He has not chosen me as a vessel of pain, because I would not be a good testimony. I would not bring any glory to His name. There are some individuals whom God has chosen, and grace shines through the broken vessel.

So don't misquote me and say, “Somebody came to the Lord's Table in the wrong spirit and got sick.” Next week, if you come down with the mumps, please don't say, “I know why I got the mumps. I wasn't thinking right when I took the Lord's Supper last.” It may have absolutely nothing to do with it. Beloved, do not let me detract from the seriousness of what I have said, for I would remind you that there is a recourse that every Believer has in relation to the disciplining of God; it has a general application for whatever reason the Lord's disciplining hand may rest upon you.

What is the recourse which God in His grace and His mercy has provided? Look at verse 28:

I Corinthians 11

28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

The word examine is a translation of a Greek word which means to put to the test . It speaks of a metal's being put to the test to see whether there are any impurities in it. Examine yourself. Put yourself to the test. How? The test of the Word of God. Beloved, the Word of the living God should be the measuring stick for your life. Don't measure yourself by somebody else's ruler. Put yourself to the test of the Word. Examine yourself in the light of the Word of God, and if the Word of God condemns you, then you certainly need to be more careful how you approach the Lord's Table.

Another thing you may do is to judge according to verse 31—judge yourself and not other people. You need judging already when you gather around the Lord's Table. You say to yourself, “I don't see how he could sit down at the Lord's Table, the way he lives. I don't see how he could partake with any peace of mind, the way he feels about me.” If you have said that, brother, you need judging yourself, and it is your responsibility to judge. The word translated judge here is similar but different; it means to discern thoroughly , to discriminate . It means to clean under the bed; it means to get the dust that is on the ledge up there that nobody will see, but you know it is there if you can run your finger along the top.

A lot of us do a lot of examining, but we don't examine thoroughly. Oh, we can clean up to where we are pretty presentable. I never cease to be amazed at how my daughters are able to make their rooms presentable in a matter of minutes if they know we are to have company. If we are not having company, I might pass by the door and almost have to throw my hand up to keep from being knocked down by what may fall out if I jar the floor too much. A lot of folks clean up their lives as they clean up their rooms. But woe to the visitors if they lift up the spread on the bed; there would be an awful of stuff under the bed. You see what I am saying to you? Be sure that you judge thoroughly if you want the blessing of God to rest upon your life, for that is your recourse and your only recourse.

Look at verse 31:

I Corinthians 11

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.

I say this reverently, but it is an illustration: When our children were much younger than they are now, we might hear a disturbance in the other end of the house. At first we might not pay too much attention, but the disturbance would rise until it reached a crescendo, and my wife would say, “Honey, don't you think we had better do something about that?” So I would call from wherever I was, “You all had better get that straightened out, because if you don't, I will come in there and straighten it out.” I don't believe in a silly kind of discipline that says, “Children, if you don't mind, would you please obey me?” Do you know what usually happened? They got it straightened out. If they didn't, I did. Beloved get the illustration, and I say it reverently: That is exactly what God does. God says, “Joe Temple, something is not right in your life. You had better get straightened out.” I don't pay too much attention to Him, so He lets me get weak. I can find a lot or reasons for my weakness, so I don't do anything about the thing He is talking to me about. Then I get sick. Remember, all of this is strictly hypothetical. I still don't get too concerned, and the doctor comes along and says, “You are going to die.” If I have any sense by that time, I will get straightened out. But I might not have enough sense, so I will die.

You see what God is saying? He says, “Get it right, because if you don't, I will deal with it. Beloved, do you need to get anything right? I haven't been preaching lightly; I have been preaching solemn truth.


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