Todd teaches on the history and implications of communion and how it is a crucial practice for believers today to do correctly. Communion or the Lord's Supper is done in remembrance of Christ's love and sacrifice for us and an acknowledgement of his grace. Whenever we come together as believers, we can take the Lord's Supper, to remember and celebrate Christ's body broken and shed, his death, burial, and resurrection.
Death to Self: the Truest Fruit of All the Disciplines
Baptism: Why You Should Why You Shouldn't and What it's For
The Discipline of the Lord's Supper
True Test of Being a Servant
The Secret Place as the Secret to Christlikeness
The Activity and Attitude of Prayer
The Spiritual Disciplines: Spending Time in God's Word
The Key to Knowing and Serving the God Who Loves You
What I want to teach you on this morning is a right and proper understanding of the Lord's Supper. I'm going to explain to you why it's called the Lord's Supper. Other terms for it are the Eucharist or Holy Communion. I'm going to shatter some probably long-held beliefs you've had by taking you to Scripture and rightly teaching it. That is my goal. There are two places I tell people if they're struggling they might want to go in God's Word to be encouraged.
One of them is the Psalms, just because David is living his life out there before you and showing you how to engage God for comfort, for hope, for reminder, and to just be strengthened as you meditate on the attentiveness of God. The other place you should go if you want to really be encouraged in Scripture is Corinthians, because they are so stinkin' screwed up you can't help but feel good about yourself.
What I'm going to do this morning is take you through a little section in the book of 1 Corinthians. It is the longest teaching on the Lord's Supper. It is the longest teaching to the church in order to help us rightly understand what is going on at this thing we call Communion. Let me take a moment as I set all this up with you and explain a few terms, terms like sacrament. You hear that term a lot. What is a sacrament? I would tell you what we're about to partake in today is a sacrament.
The reason I'm doing this in this inTIMEacy series, the reason I'm teaching on Communion today and want to take a whole Sunday to do it is because it's a discipline you need to weave into your life with other believers who will help you walk with God in the fullness of grace he intends. I'm going to show you that I think Jesus gave you something that will constantly re-center you and remind you of his love, his care, his provision, his perfection, the deliverance, the freedom, the joy, and the calling on your life.
One of the reasons the church is so weak and feckless, powerless, ineffective is because we have messed up this meal for a long time. And I mean big-time messed it up. So I want to just share with you some biblical truth that I hope, like all truth does, will set you free. It is countercultural. It is even counter-institutional "church-ial." Let's pray.
Father, would you protect people from error, but would you help them not miss truth, truth you intended them to understand and see, that they might be set free and walk in all fullness with you? We thank you for what you did in our lives, that you in your sovereignty stirred us up out of bed to persevere through a chilly April morning, that we might come and be chilled to the bone with truth and that we might see you and that, in seeing you, we might respond more fully as you intend.
I pray this for the glory of Jesus, for the good of our hearts, and for the salvation of all those that you intend to hear of your goodness through us. Stir us. Teach us. Open the eyes of our hearts. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our collective hearts on the words from you be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our God and our Redeemer, amen.
What is a sacrament? The easiest way to remember and learn what a sacrament is is to almost put together two words. It's a sacred moment. It's when you go through a rite. That's another word you often hear. This is a rite, which is an act. That's what the word rite means. It's a customary procedure, but this is no customary procedure here that we're celebrating. We are celebrating the most sacred moment in all of human history.
I think the church has really made a mistake by trying to take away from you what God intended that you would have as his people, as his sheep. If you're a part of the flock of God, you are a part of the kingdom of priests. One of the greatest, most damaging things that ever happened in the history of the church is that there was this divide between the clergy and the laity and that somehow there was a group of people who were set apart to do ministry within Christendom.
"There's the lost world, there are the laypeople, and then there are the pastors." That is heresy. That is an unholy divide. There is only one divide in Scripture. We are all set-apart people. We are a kingdom of priests. In the early days of Watermark, whenever somebody would come to me… I take that back. In every day of Watermark… I had to do it more at the beginning because there were just two of us, me and a half-time girl.
Folks showed up, and they would ask, "Why doesn't the church…?" I go, "That is an excellent question." They go, "Why doesn't the church do this thing?" Do you know that every ministry in your Watermark News, every single one except our ministry to children, which was never a holding pen so we could gather… It was always intentional excellence in giving to children what God says they deserve, which is our very best.
We have never just managed kids. We have ministered to kids from day one here. Isn't it a blessing to have kids who grow up under people who are ministers of the gospel over there every week that we're here? You can't thank them enough, and I can't thank you enough if you're one of them. What an incredibly high and holy calling to introduce the glory of God to children for the very first time and never bore them.
It drives me crazy to watch a bunch of guys bore people with the way they talk up here, and it really drives me crazy when you bore children with great truth. God intended for us to have a continual visual aid that would lead us into great understanding of who he is.
In the early days of Watermark, when people would ask, "Why doesn't the church have this ministry? Why doesn't the church love people in this life stage, with this area of crisis?" I would always go, "You know what? I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do using my gifts for the good of the body. That's an excellent question. You're a member of this church, right? Good.
So what you're really asking is 'Why don't I do something about this opportunity?' The answer might be because you're not really mature enough. You're not a godly leader we should lay our hands on and say, 'This is a representative of the Lord' as he leads you in this area or you're not passionate enough about it." We always believed that if God wanted us, as his body, to do something he would bring us godly, gifted, passionate people.
So if you come to us today and go, "Why isn't there a ministry to older singles at Watermark?" Answer: Because God has never raised up a godly, passionate, gifted older single who didn't want to start a ministry until they met a mate and bail out. We've never had one who said, "I'm going to be here. I don't care if I get married and have 12 kids. This is what I'm called to do." We're not going to start stuff that starts and stops.
What we've always done is tell our older single friends, "Listen. There are all kinds of places for you to plug in, connect, fellowship with others, use your gifts, be a source of glory, but the reason there's not a ministry specifically to you is that there is not yet somebody God has raised up to minister in that way to you." Every single ministry here has started that way. There has been a heresy in the church that there is this unholy people and then holy people with really holy people.
You can't find that in the Bible. That's why I keep telling you guys to stop… I don't mind that you call me "pastor," because I am, but I should look at you and go, "Hey, Pastor" right back at you. We have different offices, but we all share the same responsibility. The divide between clergy and laity is a real problem in the church.
That's why at Watermark we're telling you don't come and sail along and applaud for us who do the work. This is not a cruise ship where if you like the captain, largely like the food served in the dining hall, like the music played in the dance room, you'll sail with us again. That is a heretical view of the church.
We are a battleship where we serve a mission that is not ours underneath a commander-in-chief who is not among us. We have captains and officers who serve a higher calling and a higher will, and every single one of us is commissioned for his glory. We work together, each using our gifts, manning our stations, so that we might accomplish what he wants.
We're not looking for ease and comfort here. We're looking to get the job done. What we're doing is stopping at all kinds of ports and saying, "Do you want to sail on the greatest mission ever? Come on." There has been another great divide in the church that has been a tremendous heresy, and that is between the Word of God and the work of God. People are all excited about the Word, but they don't do the work.
Part of the heresy that was created when you had this separate class of holy people is that they could do something with elements that would make these elements really meaningful to you. Let me just tell you something. Jesus is the one who made these elements meaningful. They are a reminder of a sacred moment.
What happened was there was a group of men, as the church spun off its biblical course, who said, "No, you need to come to me. In fact, you can't even read God's Word." Do you guys know this? A thousand years ago, men were killed, burned at the stake, chopped up, buried, dug back up, burned again, and spread in rivers all over Europe because they had the audacity to take the Word of God and translate it into the common language of people so they could read it for themselves. That was just a thousand years ago.
The educated ruling class that had perverted and confused religion and politics and power told people, "We hold the keys to the kingdom, and you can't get into heaven unless we say you can get into heaven." That's why to be excommunicated from the ruling universal church, which at the time was the Roman universal church… The word universal is catholic, so the most influential church came from the most influential city in ancient times. It was the Roman Catholic Church.
They did a lot of things that one day a young priest looked at and said, "This ain't right." So he protested and nailed on a door in Wittenberg, Germany, all of the things he saw his church doing that were inconsistent with God's Word, and it started a re-formation of the true church. Those who followed Luther were pro-testants. They protested the wrong and godless and heretical leadership of that church.
Now Luther in his reformation didn't reform everything. He had a lot on his plate. He held on to the idea that in the Lord's Supper there was something amazing that happened here, that when a priest blessed it… You'll hear the term Eucharist. Have you ever heard Eucharist used for the Lord's Supper? The term Eucharist literally means… Eu in Greek. A eu-logy. Logos is the word for word. The logos became flesh and dwelt among us, meaning Jesus.
When you eulogize somebody at a funeral, you're speaking well. That's what the word eu means. Well word. It's a well-spoken word. That's a eulogy. Eucharist is a celebrated or a well-spoken gift or blessing, usually divinely apportioned. So what we're celebrating in this Eucharist is this amazing gift. Now what happened within that church is they told you the priest has to get it, he has to pray over it, and then in that particular moment it becomes the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. I want you to hear that.
It was a miracle of what is called transubstantiationism. The Roman Catholic Church believed that exactly the same sacrifice as Jesus made on the cross was made every time they did Mass. The word Mass comes from the Latin word missa. They would say at the very end of their service "Ite, missa est," which is basically "Go; it is dismissal time." From that word missa it evolved to be "Come to Mass until we dismiss you," and later that word dismissal became "Go; it is the mission," to be very generous with an interpretation.
It is the mission that we would go and make disciples, but they would tell you if you wanted to be a good disciple you would come to Mass, and they would tell you it's where the body of Christ was continually massacred. That is why if you go into a Roman Catholic Church you see what's called a crucifix and not a cross. What is a crucifix? It is a cross with Jesus on it.
Why is Jesus always on the cross in a Roman Catholic Church? Answer: Because they believe through the prayer of the priest, which is called an epiclesis, which is just a word that means basically to call from (that's what a prayer is)… The priest calls from his heart, and in that moment there is a miracle that happens. It is called the miracle of transubstantiation. You're like, "What in the world?" Well, let me explain transubstantiationism.
They believe that at the moment the priest prays these elements become the literal body and literal blood of Jesus Christ. This is true even today. That's why they will tell you you can't receive Holy Communion without a priest who calls from his heart to God where God performs the miracle where Christ, in the exact same way he was crucified on the cross, is crucified for you, that you might receive the grace and atoning provision of Jesus. You need the church for that to happen.
Folks, that is what is called a perversion, and that is not as it should be. That's why they'll tell you if you're not a Roman Catholic you shouldn't receive Communion there. I'm going to tell you the intention of the Lord's Supper was for the holy catholic church, not one local church's expression and understanding. There was a guy in the sixteenth century who came along, and he was a Roman Catholic priest.
He said, "I protest what we are doing. I am studying the Scripture. I am reading the Scripture, and we have to tell these people that they're not righteous because they come to Mass. They're not righteous because of indulgences. They're not righteous because of anything they do. They're righteous by faith, just like Abraham."
His name was Martin Luther, and he hammered a thesis on the door in Wittenberg and said, "I protest these things about my church." It led to a group of people who were called protestants (Protestants). It was the beginning of the reforming of the church. Now this is serious stuff. This idea of transubstantiation, where the actual physical presence of Christ was there, Luther held onto for a while.
Zwingli, another Reformer who stood on the shoulders of Martin Luther, came along and said, "No, no, no. It is not that. It was never that in the early church. It has been confused. It is actually just a spiritual presence that's there. It's powerful and meaningful, but it's not the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is a symbol. It is a sign, a remembrance of a sacred moment." Jesus said for sure, "Do this in remembrance of me."
There were other times… At the feeding of the 5,000 he said, "I am the Bread of Life." He said basically, "Unless you eat of me…" People were like, "Whoa! That is really crazy." By the way, that's one of the reasons Christians in the early church were thought to be cannibals. Literally, they were accused of being cannibals because they ate the literal, at times, body and blood of Jesus Christ because of a misunderstanding of that within the secular world that later became a misunderstanding within the spiritual world.
Gang, let me just take you here and show you, as he wrote to the Corinthians, a basic explanation of the Eucharist/sacrament/Communion/the Lord's Supper, this rite we're to share on a regular basis. Are you all ready? Here we go. I'm going to make a case, O kingdom of priests, that you don't need me to do anything to this in order to make it more useful to you. It is your job to make it useful to you.
If you don't do your job, when you take of this you are not blessing yourself; you are bringing a curse on yourself, or to use scriptural language, you are eating and drinking judgment to yourself. This is no small thing. I want to say one last thing. I think one of the reasons the church is so ineffective is because of what it has done with Communion. They have siloed it off to something you go and do instead of it being a continual reminder of the servant example…
Do you remember I told you last week what my two spiritual disciplines were? Worship and service, those two things. Somebody goes, "I didn't hear you separate those very clearly." I go, "Exactly," because everything we do is worship. The idea that I could go and take Holy Communion or go and do some other sacrament or rite that had some meritorious value to me, and having done that, I can go out and live as if I don't know this God…that's a problem. The fact that we would say we need to do this on a weekly basis is a problem.
By the way, Paul doesn't really rebuke the Corinthian church for the frequency or lack of frequency they do this but, rather, for the lack of faithfulness. Some people say, "If you don't do this every week, you're not a true church." Some people say, "Well, we just do it the first Sunday of the month." Some people say, "You have to do it every day." I'm going to tell you this morning you'd better do it right, and you'd better make sure you understand what's happening here, because if you don't understand, it is going to have significant temporal and, for some of us, eternal consequences in our lives. It's a big deal.
First Corinthians 11. I'm going to start with you in verse 17. Paul is addressing a series of problems in the way the church is gathering together. He just got through dealing with one where there was confusion about roles, about the complementarian view of men and women. Then he goes on. He's shifting now from the way they related to one another, male and female, in the worship service for the glory of God in a right response to creation order and God's sovereign decree.
He says, "Now let me take on a new topic." In verse 17 he says, "But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you…" In other words, what we're about to go into is not going to be a compliment. "…because you come together not for the better but for the worse." He's saying, "Listen. When you guys come together as the church, it is not bringing glory to God."
There's this thing he's going to talk about that is commonly called an agape feast or a love feast. Early on, it is really, really hard to separate this love feast. Think early church potlucks, time when they would all gather together. They would come together, and in coming together they would have these feasts where they would fellowship with one another. In fact, let me just do this. See if this looks a little bit familiar.
In Acts, chapter 2, verses 42-47, it says, "They [the very first church] were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching…" This is the very first description of the church. The church was continually devoting itself to the apostles' teaching "…and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." It goes on a little bit later and says, "Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house…"
Understand there were no church buildings. This is a facility. I kept telling architects, "Stop trying to build me a church. It's my job to build a church. People are the church. I want you to build me a building where people want to gather, where people will feel welcomed, where people will be able to assemble so we can remind ourselves of the greatness of our God and remember how we're supposed to respond to him.
Stop drawing me this thing that Aunt Bee went to that you think is the church. The church is people, and I'm going to build the church. You're an architect. You build the church a place we can use to serve the community, equip the saints, and love others." That's why it looks the way it does. It was very intentional.
They didn't have buildings like that. They used houses. That's where the people of God gathered together. When they would get together they would break bread. "Now what's 'break bread,' Todd? Is that the Lord's Supper? Is that Communion? Is that the Eucharist? Is that the sacrament? Is that the rite or is that this thing called a 'love feast'?" Early on I think it was both.
I think there was one particular moment in the love feast they did exactly what Jesus said they should do in the book of Mark, in the book of Matthew, in the book of Luke, and most famously unfolded in John, where Jesus, on the night before he was betrayed, gathered his disciples for the Passover Seder.
Inside that Passover Seder, he took unleavened bread, which is a sign of bread without sin, striped and pierced, just like the Messiah would be striped and pierced for our transgressions. It was broken, and when it was broken, this pure, striped, and pierced bread, he said, "This is my body which is broken for you. Whenever you eat it, do it in remembrance of me." A little bit later, he took another cup. There were four cups at the Passover Seder.
By the way, a week from Thursday (another amazing equipping opportunity), our friends who are Jewish who are completed in their Judaism, which means they believe in their Messiah being Jesus the Messiah… One of them will be here with us on a Thursday night before Easter to celebrate the Passover Seder right here. You can watch a Jew take a Passover Seder and explain to you how God shows you in the Passover Seder this coming Messiah and what he was going to do. It's there constantly.
It was at the Passover Seder that Jesus instituted this thing we call the Lord's Supper. Why? Because it was the Lord who told us, "When you sup, sup this way." So when we're his people, whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, we do all to the glory of God, including how we eat every time we eat. This is where I'm going, "Whoa! What did you just say?"
I just said when you come together as believers, not in your car by yourself driving through McDonald's but when you're coming together with other believers… I have a family of believers. Every time we gather together to eat, every time I'm with the elders, my Community Group, when we gather together, we take our time and remember Christ's body broken, Christ's blood shed, his death, his burial, and his resurrection, and we proclaim it to one another. We pause and make sure we do it correctly, and I'm going to teach you what that means.
You don't need some guy who has an office to do something to your meal to make it useful to you. You have to do something, which is to stop, take time, meditate, remember. I am a firm believer that if you did Communion every time you got together with other believers… That means if you are married to a believing spouse, as you should be, every time the two of you eat, before you dive in, you don't take that meal in an unworthy manner. I'm going to explain that.
Do you want to see your marriage change? Understand what I'm teaching you today. Do you want to see your family move from dysfunctional to unity? Pay attention to what I'm saying today. There were these things called love feasts. At these love feasts they would come together, not for the better but for the worse. Can you imagine that? God's people, redeemed, reconciled to God.
Jesus says, "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, so you should also love one another. By this people will know you're my disciples." What is this? What's the sign? It's not that we take Communion. This is not the sign. This is not the rite. This is not the sacred moment, the thing we do. The way people are going to know we are his people is by our love for one another.
What a better way to be reminded of how we should love than to be reminded every time we, in our fleshly deterioration, need something outside of us to come into us to give us physical strength, to be reminded that there's a greater provision. It's a spiritual provision that comes only from Jesus Christ, something outside of us that, rightly relating to it, will make us strong and righteous and able to love.
Because we are united to him by the grace of his worshipful service and sacrificial life, we're reconciled to God; therefore, we now have the Spirit of truth, which is the Spirit of Christ, which is the Holy Spirit, and we then bear fruit in keeping with our repentance. So love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control should define us. Jesus said, "Hey, this is the sign, that you love one another."
What he's saying is "Hey, listen, Corinthians. You're getting together, and you're not loving one another. That's not helping Jesus. That's hurting him. You're factious. You're self-serving. You're feeding your stomachs and not serving the Lord." Here we go. Let's read it. "For, in the first place, when you come together as a church…"
At Watermark, when you meet with your Community Group, guess what you're doing. You're coming together as a church. When my family who are all believers gather, we're coming together as an expression of the church of Jesus Christ, the catholic church. Catholic means universal. I'm a part of the universal church.
You are called to be a part of a smaller local assembly, where you're underneath the authority of elders, where some people do shepherd and pastor you, but we make the case here at Watermark all the time you ought to be pastoring one another. You might go, "Man, I don't know come from sic 'em, Todd. I don't even know if there are two testaments or six. I don't know anything about any books of the Bible." So I say to you come, let us equip you. Let us teach you the Bible from cover to cover. Let us teach you to observe everything it commanded you so you can be a shepherd of other people.
Verse 18: "For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it." The word division in Greek is schisma. Can you think of an English word we use? "There's a schism here. It isn't right. There's a divide. We're not unified." What a terrible thing that the God who calls us into oneness and together is divided because of our petty differences.
He says in verse 19, "For there must also be [hairesis] …" That's the Greek word. "For there must also be [hairesis] among you." Think about that. Can you hear another word in that? The word in the English we have here is "There also must be factions [hairesis, heresies] among you." That's what a heresy is. It's a faction that breaks off from the one true church, and the way they believe and live and act is heretical. It is factious. It is not unified with the true whole.
There are factions within the true church, the true catholic…hear, universal…that do not teach the full counsel of God's Word, that do not practice the full intention of God for them, and they are hairesis, heretics, factious. Paul is saying, "You have to call that stuff out, because that's how you know what is approved (verse 19) so that it might become evident among you."
This is what he's saying. Remember that guy who was sleeping with his mother-in-law? He goes, "That is hairesis." We have churches today where guys are sleeping with all kinds of things, and people are saying that's normal and okay and we shouldn't divide ourselves based on those things. Paul is very clear. The way you keep the approved the approved is you acknowledge that's not approved by God. That is contrary to his desire and will.
In love, in a winsome way, we need to speak about that. I don't care if it's "Hey, we're the church of the holy gossipers. We're the church of the holy liars. We're the church of the holy materialists, and it's okay." You need to go, "No, that is factious and heretical. God's people are never gossips, liars, and materialists." Let me ask you a question. Do you know any Christians who struggle with gossip? You bet. Do you know any Christians who might struggle with materialism? You bet.
But struggling with it, saying, "Yes, this is a constant pull on my life" is different than surrendering to it and saying, "God is going to be okay with me. He loves me just the way I am, and he made me this way. He made me a guy who just exaggerates and acts arrogantly to draw attention to myself, and what am I going to do about that? God loves me. I'm not going to change, and you shouldn't tell me I need to change either." That is hairesis. I think you can draw other analogies.
I don't have time to go there, but I wish I could take you all the way back through 1 Corinthians 10, because all of 1 Corinthians 10 is…guess what. In 1 Corinthians 10, he goes back to Israel. He says, "Remember Israel? All of Israel came out and came through the sea. Remember Israel? All Israel drank from that holy rock.
Remember Israel? Not all Israel went into the Promised Land. In fact, there were only two who were approved by God who went into the Promised Land. The rest were judged, even though they ate of the holy food and drank of the holy water and came through the holy baptism through the Red Sea. Only two made it to the Promised Land. Why? Because they were approved, not as factious heretics who scoffed at God and grumbled against him."
He says in verse 20, "Therefore when you meet together…" There it is. The third time already in four verses. "…it is not to eat the Lord's Supper…" In other words, if it doesn't produce unity and show love and honor to Christ, it is not the Lord's Supper. Let me ask you a question, father, pastor of a family. When your family gets together at a meal, is it the Lord's Supper?
"Are you kidding me? We're rude. I'm un-reconciled to my wife. The kids know it. We hardly talk. When we do, it's constant legalism and rebuke. There's no affirmation celebration. There is no grace, reminder of God's kindness, or if there is, it's a fleeting moment at the beginning that is dead religion that has no power in the way we really love and relate to one another, and it starts with me and mama."
Do you want to change your family when you gather together as a family that says they know Christ and have been set apart for him? You pay attention to what I'm teaching you. Do you want your kids to hate church? You pray before your meals and don't love your wife. You pray before your meals and don't model sacrificial service in your family.
Your kids' eyes will roll to the back of their heads, and they will say, "This is such a joke, but I'm going to listen, because that brother right there has the power of the sword, and he will whup me if I say to him what he knows I should say. So I'll just wait my time until I'm away from him, and then I'll worship the way I want to worship, and it won't be like Daddy, because I see nothing in him that tells me that's what a disciple should do. He assures me he knows Jesus, so Jesus ain't worth knowing."
"But I take Communion the very first Sunday of every month. We pray before every meal." He says here, specific to them, in verse 21, "…for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk." In other words, you're just rushing into this love feast, and all you're concerned about is feeding your face. "What!" Like Chris Berman. "What?!" That's what he says right there.
"Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink?" In other words, if you're so unable to control your flesh that you can't wait to, in an honorable manner, care for other people, eat before you come to the love feast so you don't gorge. Even worse, what he's going to say right here… "Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing?"
What would happen is the folks who would bring the potluck would go, "Hey, my family is going to eat first because we brought the most." There wasn't unity, and they weren't practicing what the church had practiced, which is ministering to each other and caring for each other and selling their possessions to meet the needs of each other, as anyone had need.
It wasn't a commune. It wasn't socialism. It was just "I have more than I need. You have less than you need. That means you meet a need I have, which is I have more than I need, so my need is to find out who needs it. So thank you for being here in your need, because that meets my need, so that in all things God might be glorified." But no, some people were coming saying, "When I'm done with my bucket of chicken, if there's anything left, you can glean through my KFC, once I'm full and satisfied." Paul says, "What?"
"Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you." Now he says this. We're done with the rebuke, and now he's going to get to the reminder. "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread…" This is John 13 when Jesus actually did this. It's not just John 13. We find the same story in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22.
"…and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'" I really believe that what happened is maybe because of specifically 1 Corinthians 11:22 and 1 Corinthians 11:34, where he basically is saying, "Look, man, eat at home," that the love feast and the Lord's Supper got separated. I think they were, in effect, two different things, but I think the Lord's Supper is what they were supposed to do before they had their love feast.
What he was saying was, "You're doing the Lord's Supper. You're gathering together and breaking bread. You gather the church and go through this little sanctimonious moment where you say, 'This is the body of Christ broken for you,' and you take some of the cup before you dive in and say, 'This is the blood of Christ shed for you,' and then you dive in like you don't care for one another and you're not all part of one family.
The rich are eating more than the poor, and there are factions among you, and that is not approved by God, because your mark is supposed to be not that you pray before you eat or not that you break bread and remember Jesus but that you love one another. It's not the Lord's Supper if you don't love one another."
Are you guys catching a theme here? You're not the Lord's people if you go to a church where his body is massacred every day and you don't love one another, but you're covered because you did something in the morning. It's not the Lord's church if you do it the first Sunday of every month or every Sunday. It's the Lord's Supper when you meditate and take time to realize I think every time you break bread.
Jesus took the two most common elements that were in every single meal, and I think he was saying, "Every time you're about to feed your face, feed your spirit. Remember me." Remember I told you solitude is a key thing, that we're supposed to divert daily, withdraw weekly, abandon annually? I think what Jesus was doing was saying, "Every day, I'm going to give you a constant reminder of what a lover looks like, that you would remember what worship looks like when you pour your life out as a suffering servant." He wants you to respond to it.
"…and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for you…' In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes."
This is a proclamation. One of the reasons he wants us to continually proclaim what he has done and proclaim who he is and proclaim his kindness to us is because in that proclamation we're going to go, "Woe be to us if we don't follow the servant example of our leader." By the way, the reason you're called to share your faith is basically the exact same reason.
Every time I'm sharing my faith, I'm telling people, "Do you realize that though you were a wretch, despised by God, because you're not perfect and that's the standard, that God left the comfort of heaven, and being found in the appearance of man and being made in the likeness of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross, that he might die for you that you would be reconciled to him, because God is just and he must execute judgment against sin, but he's also the justifier of those who love him, and he gave his life for you."
I'm sitting there talking to that, and I'm just going, "Are you kidding me? Todd, did you hear what you just said? Do you believe that? If it's true that there's a God and he is there and he left comfort in order to reconcile you to him, the author and giver of life, you ought to follow him, bro. You ought to love that God. That God who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for you, will he not also with you probably give you everything else?" I'm like, "Yes."
This is exactly what Philemon, verse 6, says. He says, "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing you have in Christ." The reason some of you are not that excited about your Savior is you haven't talked about him to anybody in a long time. I think you haven't eaten meals correctly in a long time with other believers.
By the way, this is why I don't freak out if I'm with a nonbeliever. I don't ask him to have Communion with me. I'll love him. I'll reach out to him. Remember how we start every service here? "Hey, man, we're not going to ask you to sing love songs to a God you don't know, so just listen. We're going to declare his greatness to you through song, but you don't need to sing it, because you don't know it yet."
This is for believers. Believers start their meals this way, not dead "churchianites," not people who have a said faith but no saving understanding of what Jesus has done. What he says is, "Do you know who Jesus is?" By the way, when I'm with my nonbelieving friends I go, "Hey, I'm not going to ask you to pray." They're like, "Good."
"Do you know why? Do you know why believers pray?
I have half a cheeseburger in my mouth when I'm asking him, having already, in my own heart, not taken Communion, because I'm not gathering with the church, but reminding myself that Christ's body is my bread and satisfaction, and as much as I love that cheeseburger I love even more my Lord who died for me. I tell him, "Here's the reason why," and I just walk him through. I get to share the gospel with him.
They go, "That's really interesting. I never heard that." And I think to myself, "Clearly." No, I don't. It's a great chance to share with my nonbelieving friends. I don't guilt them into doing my worship service when they're not worshipers. By the way, when we pray we don't bless the food. "O God, make this food happy that I'm about to masticate, process down through my esophagus, fill with acid in my stomach, and crap and flush. Make it happy."
We don't bless the food. We don't speak well of the food. We speak well of the God who is our food and who is our life. "O God, thank you so much. As much as I'm looking forward to this amazing meal, I want to never delight in anything more than you." Do you know what he should say to you? "Before you say that to me, Todd, before you worship me, how about if you execute on this?"
See if this sounds familiar. This is Matthew 5:23-24. "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your [wife and you have had a tough go of it lately, that you spoke harshly and exasperated your children] , leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering."
Can you imagine how amazing your marriage would be if between every meal, before you ate, you pursued oneness through repentance, a seeking of forgiveness, and the granting of it? Come on. It's right here before you. First Corinthians 11:27-34: "Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner…" What's an unworthy manner? It means not treasuring it, not responding appropriately.
Remember, the first casualty of sin was relationship, and we are celebrating that we've been restored to God. Who is God? He's the great lover and forgiver. Do you have anybody you need to seek forgiveness from or you need to seek to forgive? Before you keep worshiping in your little Christianized, Bible Belt way, how about if you worship him?
Verse 28: "But a man must examine himself…" That doesn't mean make sure he's good enough. None of us are good enough. It means Matthew 5:23-24. Before you go through this rite, this sacred moment of remembering the God who saved you, repent and reconcile to him and reconcile to your brother, because that commandment, loving others, cannot be separated from the commandment of loving God.
Verse 29: "For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly." What does that mean? It means if you just mow through this stuff, if you don't judge the body rightly… What's the body? The body here is not your body. The body here is the body of Christ. "What God has joined together let no man separate."
If you go, "It's not that big a deal if there are factions and divisions among us," then you're not judging the body rightly. Who is the body? The body is the children of God who were called together by his holy name who he purchased with his own blood, and it's a big deal to him if you don't care if you're reconciled to them. What God is going to say is "You have a diseased disunity? I'm going to bring disease into your own personal body."
"For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged." What Paul is saying is "Some of you guys are dead." That's how seriously he took this. A lot of you guys have diseased, dysfunctional families because you just mow through your little sanctimonious prayer. No one has ever taught you the truth.
"But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world." That's why God makes you that way. It should make you stop. "Why is my marriage not working? Probably because I'm not worshiping God the way I should. That's why. Probably because I'm not being a servant who sacrifices himself and cherishes others and considers others as more important than himself. It has been all about me." That'll destroy any family.
He's saying, "Before you eat, reconcile." Especially when you're in community and are gathering together, are you speaking up and saying, "Hey, man, we can't have this kind of disunity in the church. We're watching you two. It doesn't look like you guys are pursuing the oneness Jesus said. In fact, we've hurt each other's feelings. We've disappointed each other. We haven't lived up to our expectations. We've not communicated well." God says, "Stop what you're doing. Reconcile. Love each other."
"So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another." There have been more than a few meals at the Wagner household that have grown cold waiting for one another, and that is a fact. Sometimes they're waiting on me because I'm angry, selfish, frustrated, embarrassed. I'm not just going to pray; I'm going to repent. I'm going to look at my kids and say, "Man, I have been a terrible example."
Sometimes when we're carrying the food in someone raises their voice or someone does something petty. Maybe I'm not doing well with my bride, and we sit there until we reconcile and eat cold asparagus for the glory of Jesus Christ. It heals us. That's true here. I want you to look around. Are you okay? Are you doing all right? Have you judged that this is a big deal?
Some of you guys think the body of Christ is such a non-big deal you're regular attenders. You don't think you need to be a part of one. I rebuke you. You need to get yourself in a body. You need to get yourself in a relationship with people who are tough to live with so you can practice the spiritual discipline of humility and love.
The reason you're not growing is you're isolated. I rebuke you. You can't just come through here through some sanctimonious moment and act like you're pleasing God. You're not pleasing God unless you're loving his body and doing good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Gang, I want to remind you this morning, as we get ready to sup here, if you're not doing well with your wife, you have time right here. Just go, "Sweetie, would you forgive me? I can't work through all these years of being an idiot, but I want you to know I'm committed to it. The first thing we're going to do when we're done is go find some folks and say, 'You have to help us.'" Welcome to the Table.
If you're here and you take this, what you're saying is, "I know there's a God. He takes sin very seriously. Blood must be shed." If you have never personally appropriated Jesus Christ into your life as your Lord and Savior, then I wouldn't take a testimony that you believe it's true, because what you're going to do is stand before the Lord and say, "Well, I knew it was true. I just never dealt with it."
But anybody who has dealt with that, who by grace through faith has received Christ as their Lord and Savior is welcome here. This is not Watermark's table; it's the Lord's Table. I don't care what denomination you're from, but if you're from the Lord's denomination you'll be a part of a body, and it ought to be a Bible-believing, repenting body.
So this morning if you're here and you know Jesus Christ… By the way, I'm fine if this is your profession of faith. I'm fine if this morning you're going to testify to those in your row, "I'm a follower of Jesus Christ. His body was broken. His blood was shed. By grace and faith I receive that." Not through this but through the remembrance of this, you're testifying to that.
If you've done that, we have this thing called baptism. This is when we sing as a choir; baptism is when you sing solo. He tells you to do it one time. I'm not telling you you can't do this if you haven't done that. I'm just telling you it doesn't make any sense that you do this if you have no commitment to do that.
In May, a bunch of us are going to do it. If you can't wait till May, we'll do it this afternoon. What you're doing is you're saying in baptism, "Hey, Father, my sacred moment is right now where I'm testifying before others I personally believe in Jesus, and his death, burial, and resurrection is what is my hope." That's what you're testifying here, and we're about to proclaim it to you.
If you have done your Matthew 5:23-24 work, if you understand how serious Christ takes unity and repentance… You might need to repent that you've never joined a church. We welcome you to this one, but you'd better be intent on doing it and not just mocking what Jesus says we should do. This is the Lord's Supper, and the Lord's people take it, and the Lord's people follow him in all seriousness and passion.
I think that is the perfect thing to say before you take this bread and this cup as a remembrance of him. May I never lose the wonder. May I take very seriously what I am professing, that God died for me on the cross and was buried and was resurrected, that I might be one with him, and as a person who is one with him, may I live in that mercy, may I extend that mercy, may I repent of my unrighteousness, may I reconcile with my fellow rescued ones.
On the night on which our Lord Jesus was betrayed, he took the bread, that unleavened, pierced, striped bread, and he broke it. He said, "This is my body which is broken for you. As often as you eat it and find satisfaction in it, remember me and the satisfaction of my body before a holy God." Broken for you, the body of Christ.
As we enjoy the meal, and I believe that even in Christ's institution of this there was a meal then and much laughter. It was a celebration. That Passover Seder is a celebration. There's a specific cup that in that Passover Seder Christ lifted up. It was the cup of anticipation, of hope, of celebration of the coming of the kingdom. When he lifted it up, it wasn't some scary, sad moment that we're really quiet. It was a raucous cheer.
He said, "Let me tell you something. That law you could never fulfill that was a tutor to teach you about the holiness of God and your inability to meet it? I'm going to meet it! There's going to be a new covenant, which is my blood shed for you. I'm the sacrificial Lamb. I'm the one who's going to be sacrificed. I didn't come to get rid of the law; I came to fulfill it.
It will be finished, and you'll be one with God. There will be a day when I will return and you'll be with him forever. I'm going to leave you here to be a sacrificial servant yourself until that day, but let me just tell you something: it is about to be done. It is the cup of gladness, the cup of release. It is my blood shed for you, the new covenant accomplished by God for you, that you might be free." The blood of Christ shed for you. Amen.
It is sweet. It should make you want more, and it should make you want to live for the God who brought you there. That's the Lord's Supper. That is the well gift, the good blessing. That is the divine act that ought to produce in us a divine response. Amen? Can you believe you've been in church for a lifetime and never understood that? Can you see why the church in this world has been perverted to just ritual and acts that disconnect from life? Does that sound like Jesus? No. Let's follow him with all humility. Let's love others. Let's proclaim that Christ alone is our hope.
Hey, if you take Communion and you don't pause when you sing, "I give my life, I give my all…" This is what giving my life and giving my all looks like. So don't tell me that your marriage is hard. Don't tell me it's hard to be kind and generous. Don't tell me it's hard to share your faith.
What you're saying is, "I follow a God who by his resurrection power allows me to walk as he walked and do as he did, and in all of the ways I fall short, I follow a God who made provision for me. I want to worship him. Maybe I've done a lousy job since breakfast, and now it's lunch, but I'm going to re-center."
It's okay to use food to re-center yourself, and you ought to gather with other believers, come together, and ask them to speak into your life. "Are we really connected here, sweetie? Is this an expression of the universal church? Are we one? Are we ready? Can we receive this and bless this in a holy manner?"
We ought to do it together, and when we do we ought to just love each other. The world will rush to our door, saying, "Who is your Father?" and we'll say, "Let me show you the Father. He gave us his Son." If you don't know the Son, would you come? If you know him, will you worship him this week? Would you give him your life? Would you give him your all as your spiritual service of worship? God bless you.