Over the past three weeks, I have preached messages aimed at helping you to savor your relationship with Jesus and know the centrality of union with Him. My hope in these messages has been that, first, you would be more assured of your salvation through Jesus and, second, that we would all see and celebrate the Gospel in baptism and communion. Both are pictures of the good news of union with Christ. As we prepared to take the Lord’s Supper last week, I compared baptism to a wedding and communion to an anniversary.
We typically partake of the Lord’s Supper together on the first Sunday of every month. In order for us all to practice the things we saw in God’s Word (specifically 1 Corinthians 11:17-28) this past Sunday, I want to alert you to the plan, Lord willing, that we will have communion again this coming Sunday. I want to encourage each of us to make it a point of preparing to take communion together. I fear that many of us have wrongly been taught that participating in communion in an “unworthy manner” means to do so with either un-confessed sin or sin we are struggling to put to death. The belief here is that you must prepare your heart or ready yourself in some spiritual way to take the Lord’s Supper so that you might be acceptable to God. Please read carefully as I show you the error and lack of Gospel-centered grace that is present in this line of thinking.
When you believe this way, you are subtly attempting to make yourself acceptable to God through your own actions. Do you see how this happens? Some might even say, “I should not take communion, I have been sinful. First, I need to confess my sin or rid myself of it, then I will be acceptable to God and I will be worthy of taking communion.” This is the very opposite of the good news of the Gospel! If you are a Christian, meaning you have repented of sin and placed your faith in Jesus, in communion you should see a picture of the good news of Jesus’ death for the forgiveness of your sins. This means that all Christians should regularly take communion as a reminder and symbol of their hope in Christ.
This leaves the question of who should abstain from taking communion? The Apostle Paul’s answer, based on the context of 1 Corinthians 11, would be Christians who have division from a brother or sister in Christ. As you read this chapter, the context of Paul’s rebuke is the corporate celebration of the Lord’s Supper. There were many errors regarding the ordinance in Corinth, but one of the largest was a lack of unity in the local church. This is why Paul tells the Christians there to examine and discern themselves.
As we prepare to take the Lord’s Supper together this Sunday, I would encourage you examine your heart and consider whether or not there is division between you and another Christian. I would hope and even expect that you would regularly answer, “No” to this question. However, at times disunity may be present and in these cases God’s Word teaches us to make reconciliation a priority. We should wait in partaking of the Lord’s Supper until we have asked for or granted forgiveness, whatever each specific situation may require.
I hope and pray you would take seriously your preparation for the Supper. By all means, confess sin to God, but that should be a daily practice, not only reserved for communion. This is actually why we call it “communion,” because we take it together. I look forward to being with you all in worship this Sunday.
For the sake of His name,