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The Communion of the Saints

by David A. DePra

     The word "communion" in the Bible is KOINONIA, and it means

"to share in common." The word is actually translated "fellowship"

in many places.

     For a Christian, there is really only ONE communion: Communion

in Jesus Christ. We have Jesus Christ in common -- the life of Christ

in us.

     What this really means is this: Church is all about Jesus Christ.

He is ALL that it is about. Thus, communion is all about Jesus Christ.

And despite the fact that we have other social aspects of any

church, and it is fine that it is so, Jesus Christ is the reason for the


     Once we understand that the word church is "ekkesia," which

means called out ones, and that God often refers to us as "saints,"

which is from "hagios," meaning "holy ones," we begin to see that

"church" as we often think of it is NOT the way God thinks of it. To

God, the CHURCH is people. It is THE "called out ones" -- called

out to Himself, for His purposes. (i.e., HOLY ones) It is not the

building, organization, or committees. The church is the Bride of

Christ. It is US, and we belong to Him.

     Now here we MUST be clear about something: When I say that

the church is PEOPLE, I don't mean "people on Sunday morning."

I mean PEOPLE, twenty-four hours, seven days per week. You

are the church even when you aren't IN church! And what you do

outside of your church gathering is every bit as important to the

life in that church as what you do there. ALL of it affects the health

of the Body of Christ.

Holy Communion

     God established two ordinances for the church: Baptism and

communion. Baptism does not save us, nor does communion

bring us INTO communion with Christ. Both are outward

expressions and celebrations of inward realities.

     This is not to belittle the outward expression. God instituted both,

so He takes both very seriously, and honors them. But the point is,

neither baptism nor communion does anything without the reality

to which they point. Water cannot save us, and bread and wine

cannot bring us into communion with Christ. Again -- they are

celebrations -- important celebrations -- of reality in Jesus Christ.

     Communion is supposed to be an expression of the fact that we

belong to God. It is supposed to be a proclamation of the fact that

we have "been bought with a price" -- that ALL of us have been

bought with the SAME price by the ONE Lord. It is an expression

of our union with Christ, and with each other.

     Christians by the thousands partake of "holy communion" every

week. Some do it monthly, while others much less. But ask: Do we

really know WHY we are taking communion? Do we fully grasp the

meaning and significance?

     If we look into the meaning of the communion ordinance, we will

get a big bonus. For not only will we learn the meaning of this

sacrament of God, but we will learn about His church, and about His



We must first turn our attention, not towards the actual ceremony

and elements, but towards the meaning behind them. For it is to the

reality behind communion that the symbols and ceremony point.

For instance, Paul tells us that there is ONE Bread, and that it is

in Him that our REAL communion resides:

Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to

wise men. Judge you what I say. The cup of blessing which we

bless, is it not the communion of the Blood of Christ? The bread

which we break, is it not the communion of the Body of Christ? For

we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all

partakers of that one bread. (I Corinthians 10:14-17)

     Here we see Paul likens the fact that we all share Christ in

common to sharing a loaf of bread -- which is exactly what the

holy communion service is supposed to picture. When a single

loaf of bread is broken and distributed, all are partakers of the

SAME loaf -- the SAME source of food. Applying this to the church,

we all share of that same Bread, the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

     We can here use an illustration Jesus used: That of Himself as

spiritual nourishment. Bread, in those days, was THE main source

of food. Jesus is to be that to US.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath eternal

life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the

wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down

from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the

living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this

bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh,

which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove

among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to

eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you,

Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you

have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood,

hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh

is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my

flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the

living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth

me, even he shall live by me. This is the bread which came down

from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he

that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. (John 6:47-58)

     There are other ramifications, however, to this symbol. We don't

just share the SAME Bread, or Jesus. No. Jesus is the ONE Bread.

In other words, there is no other Bread, before God, in which we can

have Christian fellowship. Jesus Christ is the ONLY name -- the

ONE name -- given under heaven by which we might be saved. He

is THE Way, THE Truth, and THE life -- THE Bread of life.

     We might not catch the importance of this point. After all, most of

us cannot imagine any other Bread than Jesus. We cannot see

how we could have fellowship in ANOTHER. But we could. In fact,

the possibility always exists. It is actually possible for a group of

people, indeed, a church, to "share in common" ERROR. It is

possible to have "fellowship" in all kinds of terrible things -- not to

mention "another Jesus."

     Cults do this all the time. Some of them even take communion

together -- doing it in the name of Christ. But the "loaf" they share

is NOT the real Christ. It is "another Jesus."

     But it is not necessary to be in a cult to have fellowship with other

Christians in the wrong things. The moment an entire church, or a

group of people, make someone or something else, other than

Jesus Christ, the center -- the focal point -- they are "having

communion" in another "loaf."

     Don't misunderstand. We are talking here about the spiritual

CENTER of the church -- not just in word. But in spirit and deed.

There is nothing wrong with a church having activities, ministries,

etc. A church should. The question here boils down to one: WHO

or WHAT is the church feeding from? WHO is the nourishment of

the church? Is it Jesus Christ? Then there is proper communion in

Him. But if the "food source" is something else instead of Christ,

then that church does not have ONE loaf. They have a couple of

them. One "might happen" to be Jesus.

     The Bible has a term for this kind of thing. It may shock you.

Paul calls it IDOLATRY. Read again the above passage from

I Corinthians 10. He says, "Flee from idolatry." He then goes on

to show them that there is only ONE Bread: Jesus Christ. And as

long as He alone is our spiritual food, then we are in communion

with Him. But if He is NOT our only source of spiritual fellowship

and food, then we are committing idolatry.

     Note how Paul goes on to explain this:

Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot

be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. Do we

provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? (I Cor. 10:


     Idolatry is the sin of having other gods -- not just BEFORE the

real God -- but BESIDES the one true God. Note the key here is the

term "gods." It is not wrong to have hobbies or interests. It IS wrong

to give them your DEVOTION in a way that casts a shadow over

Jesus Christ, or dilutes your devotion to Him. In that case, you are

in a sense worshipping these things as a "god." You are revolving

your life around them.

     Again -- from WHOM does your spiritual food come? WHO is it

that gives you LIFE -- gives you our reason for living? WHO do you

live FOR? Hopefully, Jesus Christ. And if my food is Jesus, and

your food is Jesus, then we are both partaking of the ONE loaf. We

have communion in Christ.

We Are Not Our Own

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost

which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

For ye are bought with a price. (I Cor. 6:20)

     We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. By "we," God means you

and I individually, but the church collectively. There are many

lessons and Truths we see in this, but the one which is important for

now is the fact that WE ARE NOT OUR OWN. Why? Because we

are bought with a price: The Blood of Jesus Christ.

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible

Things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received

by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ,

as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (I Pet. 1:18-19)

     Here is the point: When we drink the cup, which represents the

Blood of Christ, we are proclaiming His death; His Blood. But what

are we proclaiming? Just the FACT He died? No. We are

proclaiming the fact He died for US!

     Communion is a personalization of what Jesus has done. That is

why we PARTAKE -- eat and drink -- the elements. Otherwise, we

could just sit around and admire the elements, but never take of

them. When I eat and drink communion, I am personally

proclaiming, loud and clear, that Jesus died for ME. I am saying

that I no longer belong to myself. I have been bought with THE

price and this governs my life.

     Get the picture: I am eating -- internalizing -- the bread and wine.

I am saying that these are my food. I am, in effect, making them one

with me.

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if

one died for all, then were all dead: And that He died for all, that

they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto

him which died for them, and rose again. (II Cor. 5:14-15)

     Now here is the issue: If I belong to Jesus, and you belong to

Jesus, and everyone else belongs to Jesus, this means that we all

belong to the ONE Lord. It means that the "church" belongs to Him.

Conversely, the church does NOT belong to anyone else! Not the

local church, or the total church of the last two-thousand years. And

here we find our "common" denominator -- or point of COMMUNION.

We are all ONE in Jesus Christ. We ALL belong to Him.

The Words of Jesus

     Jesus instituted communion on the night He was betrayed at what

we usually call "The Last Supper." He said:

This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of

Me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new

testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Lk. 22:19-20)

      Here we see the first reason WHY we are to celebrate

communion: It is a remembrance, or proclamation of Jesus. But

more specifically, it is a proclamation of what He accomplished

through His body and blood: Complete victory over the enemy,

and over all sin and death.

     Now, of course, we are not merely to talk about the victory of

Jesus Christ. We are to internalize it. His victory is to become our

victory. We are to LIVE in victory.

     Here, once again, we see how the communion service is an

outward proclamation of the inward reality. What good would it do

to sit around talking about the nice loaf of bread we have? Or the

nice cup of wine? Neither is of any worth to us unless we eat and

drink, are they? Just so, Jesus Christ is of no effect for us unless

we partake of Him spiritually -- as we partake of the bread and wine


     Right here is where we see something about communion which

is vital: The outward partaking of bread and wine is only as valid

as is our inward partaking of the body and blood of Jesus Christ by

faith. You can take communion all you want, but unless you ascribe

to the Body and Blood of Christ the proper worth, communion will do

you no good. Indeed, as we shall see, it will be a violation of what

Jesus Christ did for us to partake of the outward elements, but fail

to ascribe proper worth to the REALITY of which they speak: That

of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

     Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of ME." Communion is

all about Jesus. Church is all about Jesus. That is ALL IT IS. If only

the Body of Christ would learn this.

Paul's Teaching to the Corinthians

     The most comprehensive passage on communion is found in the

epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. The passage, however, is not

merely a doctrinal teaching. It is a correction and a rebuke. Could it

be that God had it recorded for that reason, and in that way,

because He knew how much the church would violate His holiness

down through the centuries? Do we ALL need this correction?

A     s we read this passage, we will learn further on the real meaning

of communion, and what God's purpose is in it.

Now in this I declare unto you that I praise you not -- that when you

come together, it is not for the better, but for the worse. For first of

all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there are

divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also

heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made

manifest among you. (I Cor. 11:17-19)

     When God's people gather together, you have at least one thing

you don't have when we are apart: The gifts of each all in one

place. You have the possibility of one member edifying another.

Consequently, the gathering should be for the BETTER, and not for

the WORSE. But in Corinth, the opposite was true. They were the

WORSE for being together, not BETTER. Why? And how does this


     The first reason is that there were divisions and heresies. We

are not told what these were. But what is a "heresy?"

A "heresy" is not only a false doctrine. It is also false conduct. It

is a false spiritual position, based on self-will. The Greek word for

"heresy" is HAIREO, which means "to choose, or select." It means

"to form an opinion." The thought is that I independently decide

what the Truth is. My conclusion is the product of my own mind, and

my own opinion -- which is always based on my own agenda.

     The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the Truth. Thus, all teaching

or doctrine, emerges from a personal knowledge of HIM. A heresy,

on the other hand, does not emerge from Jesus Christ. It instead

independently emerges from the person teaching it.

     One way to look at this is to imagine a real person that you know.

If you taught someone about this person, and were totally accurate,

that would not be a heresy. But if you taught about this person, and

this teaching was tainted by your own bias, bitterness, agenda, or

ignorance, it would not be the truth. It would be a heresy -- simply

a product of your choice, your mind, your biased opinion.

     This all ties into communion. If I am partaking only of Christ as

my daily Bread, it means that I am surrendered to Him. I believe

and obey Him. Consequently, I will grow to know Him, and teach

the Truth about Him. But if I am NOT in communion with Christ, but

through self-will, unbelief, and disobedience, am feeding from

"another loaf," my life and my message will eventually bear the

image of what I am "eating." The result of a life NOT lived in union

with Christ will eventually be a message which reflects it: Often

heresy and error. In effect, if I have no personal knowledge of

Jesus Christ, my teaching isn't going to carry that knowledge of


     We have to get this straight: The source of heresy is NOT

stupidity. Heresy is not merely a matter of misinterpreting some

Bible verses. Heresy is a matter of not knowing Jesus Christ. It

may even be the result of rebelling against Him. Those who are

leaders in the church -- but who teach heresy -- are fully responsible

for what they are doing. They are responsible for NOT keeping

themselves in union with Jesus Christ through faith and surrender.

     The bottom line is this: The way to keep OUT of heresy is to

stay IN Jesus Christ. I'm not talking here about salvation. I'm

talking about staying in the will of God and in fellowship with God.

That is, after all, what communion IS. It is fellowship WITH GOD.

There MUST be Heresies

     Have you thought that understanding begets faith? Have you

thought that in order to know the Truth you had to study? You have

it backwards. It is BY FAITH that we grow to UNDERSTAND. And

it is by knowing the Truth that our study becomes profitable. In

effect, we don't get to eat of Jesus by first learning about Him. We

learn about Him by eating and drinking His Body and Blood. If we

reverse the order, heresy is often the result.

     A heresy is essentially a lie about God, or His Son Jesus Christ.

It is a misrepresentation of Him and His plan and purpose. It is

either openly taught as doctrine, or is a PRACTICE in conduct.

For instance, someone claiming to be a Christian, especially a

leader, who openly commits adultery, and makes it ok, is not only

teaching heresy by his conduct, but is practicing it.

     Paul tells us that God allows heresy in the church -- both the

doctrinal kind, and the conduct kind, for a reason: That those who

are GENUINE might be shown. In short, when the crisis comes,

you will be able to almost sit back and observe. People will define

themselves by their reaction. They will be shown to either want the

Truth, or to be against it.

     In the church, God allows the wheat and tares to grow together,

and this will be so until the end of the age. But occasionally, He

does do some "weeding of the garden." Amazingly, He often uses

heresy. This is not because He creates heresy, or because He

likes it. It is because God is simply exposing the tares for what

they are, so that those who are the wheat might be shown AS


     A crisis in a church exposes who is genuine in Christ, and who

is a fake. Sorry, but it does. And I don't mean that what people do

on the outside is always indicative of the "real them." I mean that,

when all is said and done, a crisis exposes where people stand,

and who they are devoted to. It gives them the opportunity to get

on their knees and to open the Word of God. And if they don't,

then they are NOT genuine. When the crisis comes, we turn to the

one to whom we ARE devoted.

     Churches are filled with people who NEVER pray, and NEVER

open the Bible. But worse, there are many leaders in churches

who are guilty of this neglect. And it is NEGLECT. It is almost

inconceivable that when a crisis arises, and when heresy is taught,

that leaders in churches either take the path of least resistance, or

attempt to handle it by the power and reasoning of the flesh. For

this, what excuse can be offered?

     Notice the point here: I am not even saying anything about

whether a problem is handled correctly or even Biblically. I am

simply talking about turning to God when the problem comes. It is

THAT, above all else, which indicates our devotion; shows us to

be genuine. If we are not turning to God in our personal lives, we

will never do it regarding heresy in the church. And this is a red

flag to the effect that our faith is NOT genuine.

     According to God, those who are "genuine" are not those who

have "all the answers" -- although God certainly wants to give us

the answers. No. Those who are genuine are those who are IN


are walking with Him. Thus, the crisis merely shows this. It SHOWS

who is walking with Christ and who isn't.

     Now, if some are shown to NOT be walking with Christ, that does

not mean God trashes them. It means that they are given the

chance to repent. That is the other side of WHY God allows

heresy and problems: To show those who are genuine, and to

bring those who are NOT to repentance. Dare we refuse these

opportunities which God gives us?

The Lord's Supper, Not Ours

     We can see in all of this that the cause of every one of these

problems is that Jesus Christ is NOT the ONE and ONLY Bread.

Some other "loaf" is introduced as "spiritual nourishment;" as the

object of DEVOTION.

     The reason Paul leads into his teaching on communion with

this issue of heresy and division should be obvious: Such

conditions are the antithesis of COMMUNION -- of unity in Christ.

He is trying to show the Corinthians that their communion supper is

little more than a farce -- indeed, a grief to God -- because they are

not LIVING in the communion of Jesus Christ.

     He expresses this concern with his next words to them:

When ye come together therefore into one place, it is not to eat

the Lord's Supper. (I Cor. 11:20)

     Get that statement. They were coming together, Paul said, but

if they thought that it was to eat the LORD's supper, they were

kidding themselves. This was not the Lord's supper if they were

going to partake of it in hypocrisy. And certainly not if they were

partaking of it in the manner he goes on to describe:

For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one

one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses

to eat and to drink in? or despise you the church of god, and shame

them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in

this? I praise you not. (I Corinthians 11:21-22)

     In those days, they didn't take communion like we do today.

They actually ate an entire meal, which included the elements of

bread and wine. But in the Corinthian church, there was evidently

complete disorder. They were rushing ahead of each other and

even getting drunk on the communion wine.

     Paul has nothing good to say about what they were doing. But he

does attempt to remind them of the real meaning of communion. He

basically reminds them of the words of Jesus which instituted this


For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you,

that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed took

bread: And when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, Take,

eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in

rememberance of Me. After the same manner also he took the cup,

when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my

blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in rememberance of me. For

as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the

Lord's death till he come. (I Corinthians 11:23-26)

     Now, we must stop here to make sure we understand the context

of what Paul is about to tell them. Paul has just repremanded them

for rushing ahead of each other -- for showing a complete disregard

for each other, and really, for communion itself. He reminds them of

Jesus' teaching on the subject. But now he is going to use some

even stronger language about what they were doing:

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the

Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and

drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and

drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

(I Corinthians 11:27-29)

     The context of this passage is that it refers BACK to the

irreverence the Corinthians were showing by rushing ahead, and

virtually competing with each other in eating the meal. THAT -- I

repeat -- THAT -- is how the Corinthians partook of communion

in an unworthy manner. If we do not see this as the context, we are

not going to understand the passage.

Examine Yourself

     When Paul speaks of eating and drinking the elements in an

"unworthy" manner, he is obviously NOT talking about you and I

being worthy enough to come to the Lord's table. If that were the

case, no one would ever be able to take communion. Rather, He is

talking about you and I ascribing proper worth to what we are doing.

He is saying that we must make sure that we value what Jesus has

done for us -- as represented by the bread and wine. To eat and

drink "unworthily," according to this correct interpretation, would

therefore mean "to eat and drink not attributing proper worth to the

reality I'm proclaiming."

     The reason to "examine" ourselves is NOT to try to see if we

can find a reason NOT to take communion. No. We examine

ourselves so that if there IS a reason we are not right with God, we

can surrender it to God, and then TAKE communion. This call to

self-examination is an INVITATION to take communion on God's

terms. It is a POSITIVE call to the Truth.

     We see this when Paul says that we are to "judge ourselves."

We "judge ourselves" by confessing to God TWO things: First,

that we are not worthy. And we surrender to Him unconditionally

any issue that our self-examination reveals. This takes about

two minutes. We do it by faith. Secondly, we confess that what

Jesus has done -- and symbolized by the communion we are about

to take -- is sufficient.

     Notice something: This preparation for communion is exactly

what we are supposed to be doing anyways! Thus, we see one of

the reasons for the actual communion service: It is a time for self-

examination and scrutiny by the Holy Spirit. That is why God has it.

It makes us stop and keep short accounts. It is one way God has

of giving us a wake-up call, and helping us to stay focused in Him.


     Remember what communion is? It is a proclamation of what

Jesus has done -- and the fact that we all share in it. Thus, if, in my

heart, what Jesus has done is of little value to me, then the

proclamation of it is a LIE -- coming from me. I am bearing false

witness. I am saying my faith is in Christ, but in reality, it is not. That

is what it means to partake of these elements "unworthily."

     This, however, is not ALL. The Corinthians had rushed ahead of

each other and completely RUINED communion. For how can we

proclaim unity in Christ, and the fact that we are all one in Him, if we

don't even take it together? But this outrage carries with it an even

more important lesson. And it would seem that it is, in fact, the whole

point as to why God had it recorded for us.

     Paul says, "For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and

drinks judgment upon himself." We have seen what "unworthily"

really refers to -- that we do not ascribe proper worth to what Jesus

has done. But the Corinthians disorder and confusion of rushing

ahead, and even of getting drunk, is really what Paul is referring to

in their case. That is how THEY expressed outwardly the small

value they placed on what Christ has done. It is how they, in fact,

expressed the small value they had on the Body of Christ.

      Note the root sin here: Putting MYSELF first. Putting myself, and

my appetites, and my desire for self-indulgence, before -- not only

others -- but even before Christ Himself. And this is certainly not a

sin which is limited to the taking of a meal. It is a spiritual sin which

has destroyed the Body of Christ. Man's interests before God's.

Man's way of doing things before God's way. MY church. MY...MY..

MY. And worst of all: ALL IN THE NAME OF GOD!

     I bet if you asked any of those at Corinth, before Paul corrected

them, whether they were practicing communion in the name of

Jesus, that they would have said YES. Of course. You probably

wouldn't even BE in church if you didn't have a notion of religion,

or at least care enough about your eternal destiny, or care enough

about your reputation! What goes on in churches ALWAYS goes

on in the name of Jesus. We have to have some way of validating

our complete disregard for Him!!

     Putting myself first, ahead of God's will, and ahead of the clear

instructions in God's Word, is nothing more than a repetition of the

sin of the Corinthian church. It is saying, "I will be the first to the table

of the Lord. I will gorge myself. I will have mine." God's answer is

this: "It is not the Lord's supper you are eating. You are eating your

own will."

     Again, Jesus is to be our nourishment. If OUR will is what we

want, then we are not eating HIS body, and drinking HIS blood. We

are instead feeding off of something else.

     Actually, this gets even worse. Paul not only tells them operating

with such a disregard means they are devaluing what Jesus has

done, but he adds to that the warning that they are, "drinking

judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." Not discerning

the Lord's body? What does that mean?

     Well, again, if I put myself ahead of others, then I do not properly

value Jesus, but I do not properly value the Body of Christ. I am

really trampling upon the things of God. Upon the Bride of Christ.

Indeed, if we just read it, Paul is saying that to eat and drink without

ascribing proper worth to what I'm doing IS equal to not discerning

the Lord's body.

For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks

judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

     To "discern" the Lord's body, is to see it for what it is. It is to know

that I am no better than anyone else -- something I will see if I come

to the Cross. If I have seen that, I will not put myself first. I will not,

in a spiritual sense, rush ahead of anyone to the Lord's table, and

feed myself for my own purposes. I will realize that what I do affects

others. I am part of a BODY.

     Did you notice that this is not even talking about immorality? That

is certainly something which is like LEAVEN in the bread, and must

be purged. But we are here only talking about "church life." We are

talking about one member's DISREGARD for another. We are

talking about a complete blindness to the holiness and value of

what Christ has done for each of us.

     There are many ways we can violate the Lord's body -- fail to

discern the Lord's body. But when all of them are added up, there

emerges one common denominator -- and it is exactly the one we

saw Paul was telling them about: TO PUT MY INTERESTS

AHEAD OF THOSE OF JESUS CHRIST. I could do this in the

church as a whole, or specifically in the lives of others.

     Notice the physical type of this at Corinth: Disregarding others

when it comes to the Lord's Supper. Well, if we put ME FIRST --

our interests first -- we do the same thing. We barge ahead of

God's purpose and establish our own agenda.

     This can be done quite politely. Or even underhandedly. The

sad fact is, there are rotten and ungodly people running many

churches today, and many of them are not ministers. They have NO

life in Christ, but have managed to rise to a level of authority and

influence in churches. When it is all said and done, THEY decide

what goes on there. THEY do. And because they have no

union with Christ, they cannot discern the Lord's body. Worse,

when they take communion, they are lying. They do not proclaim

the Lord's victory by their living or by their intent. They are asking

for the judgment of God upon them.

     Of course, the way such people rise to such levels of authority

is because someone lets them. Perhaps most of the church. Today

we have almost totally trashed the NT requirements for leadership

in the church. Mention them and people roll their eyes to the back

of their head. But this too is what it means to NOT discern the

Lord's body. This too is what it means to NOT value what Christ has


     God has a purpose in His Body, and in each believer. It is to

conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. Anytime I introduce

MY agenda, and promote MY will -- neglecting or disobeying the

Word of God -- I have sinned against God and His church. This is

NOT something to be taken lightly. But churches do, all the time.

Communion pictures our union with Jesus Christ, and with each

other. Thus, anything which hurts that union, gets it off center,

substitutes for it, or devalues it, is violating the spirit of communion.


For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many

sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we

should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren,

when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man

hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto

condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

(I Cor. 11:30-33)

     For WHAT cause are many "weak and sickly?" Because they

ate and drank judgment upon themselves, eating and drinking

without discerning the Lord's body. In other words, they had a

disregard for God's interests in the Body, in favor of their own.

     Incidentally, it is not so much that God "punishes" someone by

MAKING them sick or weak. No. But if someone refuses to examine

themselves, they remain in their spiritually sick condition. And

because God is love, He will often bring upon us a chastisement

intended to turn us to Him. That is HOW God will judge us if we don't

judge ourselves.

     Do you see how Paul makes it plain that sin is NOT ok in the

Body of Christ? How it is NOT ok in any of us? He is promising us

that if we proclaim the death of Jesus that He will take us at our

word! He will see to it that we do not escape His dealings. He will

chastise us because He loves us and is merciful. He will, in fact,

judge us by our own proclamation of the Body and Blood of Christ.

A "Gut Check"

     If you are a Christian who knows Jesus Christ, you may have

asked yourself as to WHY God instituted the communion service.

I mean, do you really need to take communion in order to remember

what Jesus has done? Or even to proclaim it? We can proclaim it

everyday in any number of ways. Why communion?

     Well, there is just something significance about public

proclamation. We see that in baptism. Baptism doesn't save you.

It is an outward proclamation of an inward reality. But God says to

do it. God takes these things seriously, or He wouldn't have

required them.

     Communion is a public proclamation of an inward reality. But it

is also a "gut check." It calls us to examine ourselves -- which

should help keep us from falling asleep and being deceived. And

clearly, if we obey God and keep it the way He says, it forces us, as

churches, to address problems. We cannot ignore them.

     For instance, it never says anywhere in the Bible that leaders in

a church should decide who is allowed to take communion. It

seems clear from our passage in I Corinthians 11 that this decision

is left up to the individual. He or she will bear the responsibility of

taking communion in a way that devalues it's meaning. But wait.

Do we not devalue it as a church by allowing those living in sin, or

by allowing those who are causing problems in the church, to take

it? What if they openly defy the Word of God? What if they go

ahead and take it -- placing no value on it at all? What is our


     First of all, if you read the passage, you see that Paul makes

room for that possibility. He would not say, "if anyone eats and

drinks not ascribing proper worth, etc.," if he intended for the church

to police communion by deciding FOR people whether they ought

to take it. No. Paul is not naive. He knows what people might do.

And he simply says, "THEY will eat and drink judgment upon


     However, isn't there a time and a place where we must draw the

line? I mean, let's suppose there was someone living in open

adultery in our congregation. Should we just let them take

communion with the rest of the Body?

     The Truth is, things should never get that far. God has already

laid down strict guidelines as to how to deal with those who are

sinning. If we obey those commands and instructions, it will reduce

the possibility of these other problems. In effect, if someone won't

judge themselves, God has already gotten it covered. And one

way God judges them is to use leadership to appeal to them, and

if necessary, they won't be IN the church if they refuse to turn.

     The reality is that God, in His wisdom, has insured a healthy and

balanced church. He has given us precise instructions which we

are supposed to follow in the attitude of love. But many won't. The

price is too high. People will get mad or offended. We might lose

membership or money. Or perhaps, the pastor might be let go for

preaching the Truth. It is much easier to take the path of least

resistance, carry a "peace at all cost" policy, and deceive oneself

that we are all doing fine. Just being "loving."

     When and if the church ever learns that God knows best, things

will start to change. When and if the church ever learns that it does

not belong to ITSELF, or to any person, or group of people, but has

been bought with an eternal price -- the Blood of the Lamb -- things

will be righted. But it is not enough to agree that we must return to

the Truth. We must believe and surrender to the fact. Pay the price.

God has given us ordinances like COMMUNION to remind us of it,

and exhort us to return to His Word.

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