Updated: Nov 22, 2019
In a recent small group meeting, the host and I presented a discussion on Communion.
My approach was to briefly examine the blessings available to us through the taking of Communion, as well as examining the touchy subject of how the caution of not taking Communion in an unworthy manner is taught and practiced within formal church services.
(1) The Blessing of Communion
Our understanding of Communion comes primarily from the gospels and 1 Corinthians 11.
Jesus said to his disciples at the Passover meal, to eat both the bread and wine in remembrance of him, and to do this as often as they met together, to which the early church complied.
The bread and the wine were to remind us of the price of the sacrifice as well as the redeeming power of the cross and the One who died for us.
But Communion is more than just a memorial, the healing power of Communion is made evident in the prophesy of Isaiah 53:4-5 states, the suffering Jesus experienced was on our behalf, and by his wounds we are healed. Furthermore the blood that Jesus shed as the lamb of God cleanses as from all sin.
However, the precursor and blessings of what we now understand to be Communion are first seen in the life of Abraham.
In Genesis 14, Abram (he is not yet the father of many) learns that his nephew Lot and his family have been taken captive; and like a good uncle Abram musters his vastly out numbered 318 men to go up against several armies to rescue him.
On his victorious return home, Abram has a christophanic encounter with Melchizedek the King of Salem, the Priest of God Most High.
It is written that Melchizedek brought out bread and wine and shares them with Abram. During which Abram receives a blessing, followed by him responding by giving a tithe of the plunder to Melchizedek.
The nature of Abrams blessings were:
An overarching blessing from God.
A declaration of victory over his enemies.
The result was:
Wisdom against Satan’s strategies, in the form of the King of Sodom’s schemes.
A vision for the future.
A covenant promise between himself and God.
As Christians when we take Communion we share in these ordinances and are also recipients of the same benefits.
(2) Taking Communion in an unworthy manner.
It is unfortunate that in many churches, our practice is to preach the denying of ourselves from taking Communion if there is sin in our lives.
The question therefore has to be asked, ‘Is this really what Paul intended when he wrote 1 Corinthians 11?’ Within the context of this passage, to be denied the opportunity to take Communion is to be cut off from the great physician.
How else are we to be cleansed?
Paul makes the direct correlation between taking Communion and God’s approval as it is made evident in the lives of those who value the members of the body-the church and the sacrament of Communion,
1 Corinthians 11:19.
The taking of Communion is not the pass or fail test as many churches have practiced it. If that were the case we all fail, we are non of us without sin.
Religion and the lies of Satan have kept us from receiving and fully appreciating the gospel message contained in Communion.
As stated previously:
The shed blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins.
His broken body heals all our diseases.
Denying the unsaved from participating in taking Communion, is a strange practice. It has the appearance of both holiness and offering protection to the unsaved from bringing some kind of additional, more deadly wrath of God on themselves.
Yet as we examine the life of Jesus, who ate and lived with the sinful. As they earnestly sought him, Jesus healed the unsaved in every area of their lives, never once excluding anyone from approaching him with their need. Rather it was the religious who saw themselves as righteous who were criticised and challenged by Jesus Mark 2:13-17.
A further powerful example of God’s grace is demonstrated when Jesus chose to share communion with Judas, who even at the table was filled with Satan, and yet Jesus continued to minister to him.
In a typical church service it is impossible to truly discern who is saved or unsaved; or even what part of their journey any one individual is on. Matthew 7:21, is one example of the phenomena. There are a number of additional parables where Jesus speaks about the sorting of the saved from the unbeliever. We therefore can not presume to know at what stage of conversion anyone is on.
This then raises the question, ‘isn’t Communion a Holy Rite reserved solely for the Saints?’
Well, we have a responsibility to clearly communicate the significance of Communion at every opportunity that it is shared.
After all Communion is The Gospel – Healing and Salvation, and at all times we all need more of the healing power of Christ in our lives.
As for Communion being reserved only for the Saints, this concept is simply not upheld in the new testament scriptures.
So, what is The Unworthy Manner that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34?
The unworthy manner is twofold.
During the supposed sharing of the Lords supper, the Corinthian church not only disrespected the poor members of their congregation, demonstrated through the perverse practice of drunkenness and gluttony while the poor remained hungry. Paul states in verse 20 when they met together it was not the Lords supper they ate.
But this behaviour also demonstrated an attitude of contempt towards the message of the cross, as they ate and drank without discerning the value of the crucifixion.
As children of God, the result for them was judgement through the continuation of the lack of relief from weakness, disease and premature death, all this Paul describes as God’s discipline. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32.
Unlike the holy ground of the old covenant that required us to cleans ourselves. When fully appreciated Communion makes us clean and offers healing, blessing, wisdom and a closer relationship to our loving Lord Jesus.
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