Tuesday in the Twenty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 11:17-22

That’s Not the Lord’s Supper

It is a sad state of affairs throughout Christendom that we are so divided over the one observance commanded by our Lord that is supposed to bring us together: The Lord’s Supper.  We are divided along denominational lines and even within our churches.  Division is both sin and curse while unity is blessing.  And yet, such unity must be a unity in the truth of both doctrine and life.  And this is why Paul adds that “there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”  As Paul reminded us in Romans, “Not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (9:6), so not all who are in the Church belong to the Church.  Thus, as painful as it may be, unity in either the universal or local church shall never be complete in this life but awaits fulfillment in heaven.

Paul notes their divisions here as he has before; however, in this case, the divisions are especially egregious as they concern the Lord’s Supper, again, that observance commanded by Christ (be it called “ordinance” or “sacrament”) which is supposed to be the sign of Christian unity, par excellence.  Only it wasn’t.  And, as with the matter of the head coverings in the last chapter, it is hard to know exactly what was happening; however, what is obvious enough is that the wealthier members of the church were arriving earlier and enjoying some sort of meal, which they referred to as the Lord’s Supper, but which Paul flatly denies on account of their uncharitable behavior towards their poorer brethren.  Many claim that the New Testament Church observed some sort of “agape meal” or “love feast” in conjunction with the Lord’s Supper.  Is this what the wealthier members were enjoying before the others?  If so, there was nothing loving about it.

This is what we do know: 1) “Love Feasts” notwithstanding, the Lord’s Supper itself is not a fellowship meal but a sacred event to be observed with the utmost decorum and dignity, which is to add that it is not something intended to fill the belly but the spirit; and, 2) The Lord’s Supper is for everyone in a saving relationship with the Lord and, we used to think, living a life in obedience, or having repented of sin before partaking thereof, which is to say that there is no sociological bar to the Supper, the only bars being regeneration and discipleship, restrictions upon which we must insist to guard the integrity of the sacred observance.  The Corinthians desacralized the Supper one way, we have desacralized the supper another by tacking it on to the end of the service and letting anyone participate, regardless of faith or manner of life, so as not to offend or exclude—i.e., worldly values.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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