Abuses Of The Lord's Supper

The church of God at Corinth had many problems that the apostle Paul dealt with in his two epistles to the Corinthians. Among the challenges faced by the brethren, the memorial of the Lord was being treated as a common thing. Paul wrote to the church and admonished them strongly to reflect upon the sanctity and holiness of the remembrance of Christ's sacrifice. (1 Corinthians 11) Their actions were showing despite to the church and causing shame to be brought upon the body of Christ.

He warns the brethren to remember the examination of the supper and that careless actions of the supper would cause one to be "guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord." (1 Corinthians 11:27) The admonition of Paul applies to every child of God today who seeks to worship God in truth. The supper of the Lord is a solemn and joyful occasion to reflect upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and to long for his return. (v26)

Abuses continue today in the Lord's supper as the challenge to properly discern the body and blood is practiced. During the presentation of the emblems, the minds and hearts of each one partaking must be upon the message of the supper. "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. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (vv27-29)

This is not a time to play with the babies or share notes with those sitting nearby. Reflecting upon the Lord's supper is not a time to laugh or giggle or whisper to one another. Our actions reflect what we are thinking about during the supper and failure to understand this will cause us to bring judgment upon ourselves. Children must be taught to be quiet and reverent. Adults must not look around and see what is going on or flip through the song book (unless looking for a song (s) to help the mind).

The quiet time of the partaking is not a time to write the check for the contribution or to pull out the purse or wallet to see how much money is available for the plate. Children should not be getting up to go to the bathroom or getting a drink of water. Paul chided the Corinthians when he said: "Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse." (v17) By the example of some (if not many) the coming together on Sunday is not for the better but for the worse.

One of the arguments made against partaking of the supper each Lord's day is that it will become routine. We answer in truth that the Lord commands it upon the first day of every week. The actions of those who do not partake in a solemn manner would lend credence to those who argue it becomes common place. The actions of those who abuse the supper of the Lord show the world that the supper is common. The Lord says that judgment awaits those who believe and practice such things.

We have "painted ourselves in a corner" as well because of having two services on Sunday and in many places, the supper is offered again. This has given rise to further abuses of the supper by those who feel that since the supper is given at the 6:00pm hour, they can go to the beach, attend the fair, sleep in, shop at the mall or stay home to cook for company and then come on Sunday night to "examine himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the cup" in a worthy manner. The commitment to the Church and to Christ is only based upon convenience.

Jeroboam made worship more convenient for the children of Israel when he said, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!" (1 Kings 12:27) And he set up a golden calf in Bethel, and he put another one in Dan. This was the 'Religion of Convenience.' The people liked the idea and flocked to him.

Churches today have made the Lord's supper a matter of convenience for those who are not willing to dedicate their lives to the Truth and the sacrifice of Christ. It would be a better thing to remove the offering of convenience and have the supper presented on a single occasion in full worship of the sacrifice of Christ. The services in addition to the morning service is a novelty created only in the last 75 years. Have we created a religion of convenience?

Elders should rebuke, exhort and encourage those who abuse the Lord's supper in this manner for they stand in judgment. The supper is not a common thing and should never be treated as such. Jesus Christ died on a tree of wood in such pain and suffering that words cannot express the hint of what he felt. If we disregard the memorial of that sacrifice with the abuses seen today, how great the judgment.

Remember the words of Jesus: "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and said, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matthew 26:26,28) The Hebrew writer warned of the abuse of the remembrance of Christ in Hebrews 10:29-31 - "Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,' says the Lord. And again, 'The Lord will judge His people.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

By Kent E. Heaton Sr.

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