A Call to Dedication

1 Cor 11:17-34

17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse.

18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.

19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.

20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper.

21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.

22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;

24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

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

29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

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

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

33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come. (NKJ)


The Background

Paul is here discussing the practice of the church at Corinth concerning the Lord's Supper. First of all he lets them know that when they come together they not the better for it but the worse. Can you imagine a church that would be better off not meeting.

The biggest problem among the Corinthians was their divisions. They were divided into numerous factions. These divisions were the cause of most of the rest of their problems. Paul spends a good deal of the book addressing these divisions. V-18

The supper had developed into a meal where the bread was broken at the beginning and the cup was taken at the end, and a big meal was eaten in between. But the Corinthians had taken this abuse even farther. They were accustomed to everyone bringing their own food and eating what they had brought.

The abuse in this was that the poor had nothing while the rich were bringing excessive amounts. The one group who might have been the slaves were shamed by the fact that they could only bring meager provisions to the supper while their masters were bringing the best of everything. V-21, 22

Their abuse had become so severe that Paul declares that when they come together to take the Lord's Supper, it is not in fact the Lord's Supper because they have desecrated it so. V-20

He instructs them that if they are going to act like this then let them eat their meals at home. Because what they are now doing despises the Church of the Living God. V-22

Next he relates to them the Lord's Supper as he had received it from the Lord, as it would seem by direct revelation.

  1. On the same night He was betrayed. V-23
    1. This was the most solemn time in the life of Jesus.
    2. His soul was exceedingly troubled.
      1. John 12:27 "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
      2. Later He will sweat drops of blood in the garden as He prays earnestly with the Father.
    3. After this night we should never question His love and care for us.
    4. Never should we question His dedication for us.
    5. He, knowing all things that were to come to pass, went full ahead into the plan of His Father.
  2. He took bread. V-23, 24
    1. As always He asked God to bless the bread.
    2. Bread was the staff of life.
    3. Bread was a representative of His body.
    4. His body was broken for us.
  3. He took the cup. V-25
    1. The cup represented His blood.
    2. His blood would be shed freely for His disciples.
    3. Can we question the concern of one who willingly, knowingly sheds His blood for us.
  4. He explained the purpose. V-26
    1. The purpose of the supper is not to give us life.
    2. It's purpose is to remind us of what it was that gave us life.
    3. There is mystical power in the cup.
    4. The Lord's Supper is no magical medicine of immorality.
    5. It is memorial and progressive.
      1. It looks back at Jesus death.
      2. It looks forward to His return.
  5. A word of warning. V-27-34
    1. What he is not saying.
      1. He is not saying that we must be worthy to eat the supper.
      2. For in that none of us would be able to come.
      3. The modifier, unworthily is an adverb.
        1. Now you English students remember that a adverb can only modify a verb not an noun.
        2. It is the manner in which the supper is taken, not the condition of the people taking it that is in view.
        3. The church at Corinth was taking the supper in an unworthy manner, a manner that made the worship void.
    2. What it is saying then?
      1. That we can do our worship in an unworthy manner.
      2. That we can take the Lord's supper in a manner that brings reproach to God's name and not praise.
    3. They were not discerning the Lord's Body v-29
      1. Paul has two thing in mind here
      2. First he has in mind the actual body of Jesus that these element represent.
        1. They were desecrating the body of Jesus by their inappropriate observance of the supper.
        2. It affected more that themselves.
        3. It affected all those who would witness such a display of unchristian character.
      3. Secondly Paul is speaking of the body of believers their at Corinth.
        1. The body was being ruined by the selfishness of the rich.
        2. The body was fractioned by the manner in which they were conducting themselves.
    4. God had already brought judgment on them.
      1. Some had fallen asleep prematurely because of their involvement in this act of desecration.
      2. Others had become ill and were in danger of dying.
      3. We must never forget that the Lord protects His church.
      4. His overall plan is to bring people into the kingdom and train them to be disciples and those who stand in the way of that are in danger.
      5. Those who put their own desires above those of God are in danger of judgment.
    5. We must examine and judge ourselves. V-31

Are we ready to take the Lord's Supper today. Can we say in our hearts that we come to this table in a worthy manner? Do we come with singleness of heart, dedicated to the one who gave His all for us?


This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com