Examining Ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:27-34)

I have always been intrigued by the job of a detective. Pieces of evidence and details people may gloss over detectives stop and study. They take a closer look, examining the material. Their purpose in doing this is to find something that will expose the person guilty of the crime. Now, translate the work of a detective to Christians partaking in the Lord’s Supper. As Christians, we must hear the Apostle Paul’s exhortation, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (11:28). In other words, before we partake of remembering and proclaiming Christ by eating the bread and drinking cup, we need to examine our hearts. The reason we ought to examine ourselves is to see if there is any unconfessed sin in our lives. If there is unconfessed sin, the proper response is to repent of it. We are to do the work of a detective, if you will, by studying and examining our own hearts. If we refuse to examine and repent, then we partake in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (11:27). This does not come without consequences. These consequences of partaking unworthily speak to the significance of the Lord’s Supper.

What exactly are such results? In two words: guilt and judgment. For the person who eats the bread and drinks the cup without examining their heart, the word of the Lord says that person is guilty concerning the very thing they are supposed to be remembering and proclaiming in taking the Lord’s Supper (11:27). Put another way, in the Lord’s Supper we, Christians, remember and proclaim the death of Christ. When we partake of the elements in an unworthy manner we sin, revealing our guilt. Moreover, the Christian who fails to examine themselves eats and drinks judgment on themselves. For the Corinthians, the unexamined issue was around church unity and caring for others in the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 11:17–22, 33–34). Although division was the specific concern Paul addressed in the Corinthian church, any unconfessed sin leads to partaking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. Whatever the sin may be, what is this judgment one eats and drinks upon themselves? It is the disciplinary judgment of God (11:31–32). For Christians, they are in Christ and cannot be condemned as unbelievers in the world (see Romans 8:1). However, a follower of Christ does face the discipline of God when they have unrepentant sin in their life (see Hebrews 12:6). Simply put, to neglect examining yourself before partaking in the Lord’s Supper is to bring the disciplinary judgment of God upon yourself. For the Corinthians, this disciplinary judgment took the form of weakness, illness, and even death (11:30). For us, it may take a different form. We may not become physically ill and may not die, but there will most assuredly be serious consequences.

Therefore, the next time you partake in the Lord’s Supper, examine your heart and life. The purpose of taking the elements, the bread and cup, is to remember and proclaim the death of Christ, not to bring the judgment of God upon yourself (11:34). In examining ourselves and repenting if need be, we honor the Lord by taking His Supper in a worthy manner.

Reflection Questions:

  • How does 1 Corinthians 11:27-34 relate to the significance of the Lord’s Supper?
  • Why is it important to examine yourself before you partake of the bread and the cup in the Lord’s Supper?

This post was written by EBG Lead Writer and Founder Theron St. John. His joy is serving God and His people, both in the church and the academy. He is the associate pastor of Blue Ridge Christian Union Church in Shelbyville, Indiana and an adjunct professor at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis.

Remember and Proclaim (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

If two people say they love each other, then what is the proper step for them to take to declare that love publicly? The proper step is a wedding ceremony. In the wedding ceremony, the couple exchanges vows, verbalizing their commitment to one another. While not all vows are taken seriously, the wedding ceremony should be the occasion where the meaning of marriage and the significance of marriage is made known. Matters like this are not limited to wedding ceremonies, though. Within the church, a ceremony exists. This ceremony is an ordinance known as the Lord’s Suppe or communion. The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is not to be taken without understanding the meaning and significance of the event. If we fail to understand and apply what the Lord’s Supper means, we will fail to be taking the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Corinthians 11:20). The Apostle Paul knew this and that is why in his letter to the Corinthian church he takes space to remind and exhort the Christians in Corinth to realize the meaning and significance.

The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper: Remember and Proclaim

Before we can consider the significance of the Lord’s Supper (as we will look at next week), we need to grasp the meaning of it. This meaning precedes Paul and takes us back to the words of Jesus. In Matthew 26 we read Jesus and His disciples were making preparations to eat the Passover meal. It was within that context the Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26–29). How does knowing that contribute to the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. Well, the Passover meal was instituted by God to the people of Israel for His act of deliverance and redemption for them as they were delivered from Pharaoh and Egyptian slavery. With the Passover meal the Israelites were to remember and proclaim their redemption from Egypt (see Exodus 12:14, 25–27). Put simply, in celebrating the Passover the people of Israel remembered and proclaimed.

What Jesus does with His disciples in the Lord’s Supper, then, is He institutes a new Passover meal. The purpose of this new Passover meal is for the same purpose, to remember and to proclaim, but on a greater scale. The deliverance and redemption were not merely from physical slavery and oppression. The deliverance and redemption in this new meal was from spiritual slavery and oppression, sin and death.

How would this deliverance and redemption occur? For that, we look to the elements used to remember and proclaim. The bread and wine cup are meant to represent and symbolize the body and blood of Jesus. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “the Lord Jesus…took bread, and when he has given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (11:23–25). The bread we partake in the Lord’s Supper is meant to symbolize the body of the One who was put to death on a cross in our place. Jesus took the punishment we deserved for our sin and He absorbed the wrath of God that we may be forgiven. By the blood of Jesus we can enter into a New Covenant. This New Covenant does what the Old Covenant was not able to provide (see Romans 3:20). In the New Covenant, God gives a new heart and puts a new spirit in all who believe in Him (Jeremiah 31:31; Ezekiel 36:26–27). This means by which this can occur is through the blood of Jesus Christ.

In partaking of the bread and the cup, we not only remember the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross. We also proclaim it. The Apostle Paul continues, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (11:26). All who partake in the Lord’s Supper, that is those who have repented of their sin and have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, make a proclamation. When they take the Lord’s Supper with others Christians in the church gathering, they are proclaiming the death and, by implication, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The bread and cup portray what Christ has done for those who believe in Him. Those who believe in Him, then, proclaim until Christ returns what He has accomplished on the cross. His death on the cross was not the end, however. He has risen from the dead and He is coming back. We proclaim Him and what He has done in the gospel while we anticipate His return. That is what we remember and proclaim.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why is remembering the Lord’s Supper important to the Christian faith?
  • In what way does partaking in the Lord’s Supper proclaim Christ’s death?

15871997_10210430005099789_6580064576224717116_nThis post was written by EBG Lead Writer and Founder Theron St. John. His joy is serving God and His people, both in the church and the academy. He is the associate pastor of Blue Ridge Christian Union Church in Shelbyville, Indiana and an adjunct professor at Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis.

Death Defeated (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)

2016-Week 13Job once asked, “If mortals die, can they live again?” (Job 14:14). Well, if you asked a member of the Corinthian church, you may get a surprising response.

This congregation had many problems. There were divided over leaders. Arguments ensued regarding proper worship. Spirituals gifts were being misused. People were abusing the privileges of communion. One man was even sleeping with his stepmother. The list could go on.

The biggest problem, however, was not relational. It was theological. It seems many church members were denying the resurrection (15:12). They weren’t denying Christ’s resurrection. They were denying that believers would be raised. Their answer to Job’s question would have been a resounding “No!” To think that men live after they die was laughable in first century Corinth, especially to the educated. In their minds, once you’re dead, you’re dead.

But, in Orthodox Christian thinking this notion of non-existence doesn’t fit. In Paul’s mind, one cannot separate the resurrection of Christ from the resurrection of believers (15:13). Indeed, the entirety of the Christian faith rests upon the fact that Christ’s resurrection ensures our own (15:14-19).

The Corinthians couldn’t understand how our corruptible and decaying bodies could enter into God’s incorruptible, glorious Kingdom. Therefore, Paul sets them straight on this issue too. When Christ’s Kingdom is finally and fully established, we won’t enter into it with “flesh and blood” (15:50). In other words, the bodies we have now will not be the ones with which we will enter God’s Kingdom. Believers will undergo a radical transformation. Those who are alive when Christ returns will be transformed, and those who have died will be raised and their spirits will be reunited to their new glorified body (15:51-53; see also 15:42-49). What a great hope believers have to enjoy. If the Lord tarries, our bodies will die. They will put us into the ground, but thank be to God we will be raised to new life just as Christ was raised from the grave. Death is not the end for us.

In fact, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (15:54). One day, death will be no more (15:26). Like a predator devours its prey, Christ will swallow up death when He returns.

Last summer I performed a funeral for a 27-year-old girl who lost her life suddenly. I will never forget standing near the casket at the end of the service. Everyone had exited the funeral home except the family. One by one they said their goodbyes. The last people to approach the deceased was the husband and his two little boys. They stood over their mother and wife sobbing. With permission from the husband, the funeral director slowly lowered the lid. The husband and his boys looked upon their loved one for the last time.

With those who have no hope, death is final. It has the last word. No one can escape its grasp. One day it will find us all. But, as Christians, we place our hope in the one man who conquered death. Jesus Christ our Lord got up from the grave; consequently, He defeated death, and the good news is that He offers this victory to all who trust in Him.

Christians can be so confident that Christ’s victory is our own, that death should not feared but taunted: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” If you’re in Christ, death has no more power over you than it does our Lord. The grave could not hold Him and neither can it hold His followers. For the believer, death is no longer the end, but a passage way to life.

Christ has removed death’s power by His death on the cross (15:56-57). This gives us hope in the life to come, but it also gives us reason to press on now. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (15:58).

This week’s devotional was written by Brandon Sutton. He is married to Sherrie and they have a baby daughter, Emma. He is also the lead pastor at Blue Ridge Christian Union Church outside of Shelbyville, Indiana and executive director of The Grace House, a men’s recovery home. He is currently pursuing his Master of Divinity degree at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Restored Life (1 Corinthians 15:35-49)

2016-Week 12I played in a 3-vs-3 tournament last weekend and it was a ton of fun. I also played with my 3-year-old niece last night on some gymnastics loops where she jumped onto my chest and clung tightly as I swung around. My body was entirely sore for days after playing 5-6 games at the basketball tournament, and I woke up this morning with aches in my arms after swinging my niece. I could attribute the pain to my lack of working out the past 2 weeks or I could theologize my pain by blaming my deteriorating health on the Fall. Regardless, there is something that we recognize as we engage in physical activity or simply in the passing of time. What we recognize is that our current bodies are subject to wearing out, growing old, sickness, and disease. Our present bodies will not be completely healthy and strong forever.

In the midst of Paul explaining the importance of the resurrection of Christ from the grave, Paul describes that a result of Christ’s resurrection is our own personal resurrection from the grave, save we are found to be in Christ. Paul expounds on this idea by showing how we will have resurrected bodies. He breaks down what our resurrected bodies will be like in four simple ideas. These ideas can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44:

What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.

Imperishable

A perishable body is a body that will deteriorate to the point of disintegration. An imperishable body, on the other hand, is a body that will not. See how Wayne Grudem describes the imperishable body: “They will be completely healthy and strong forever. Moreover, since the gradual process of aging is part of the process by which our bodies now are subject to ‘corruption,’ it is appropriate to think that our resurrection bodies will have no sign of aging, but will have the characteristics of youthful but mature manhood or womanhood forever… Our resurrection bodies will show the fulfillment of God’s perfect wisdom in creating us as human beings who are the pinnacle of his creation and the appropriate bearers of his likeness and image. In these resurrection bodies, we will clearly see humanity as God intended it to be.”

In Glory

When we are raised, we will be raised as the beautiful human beings that God created originally. Wayne Grudem helps out again: “When this term is contrasted with ‘dishonor,’ as it is here, there is a suggestion of the beauty or the attractiveness of appearance that our bodies will have. Moreover, because the word ‘glory’ is so frequently used in Scripture of the bright shining radiance that surrounds the presence of God himself, this term suggests that there will also be a kind of brightness or radiance surrounding our bodies that will be an appropriate outward evidence of the position of exaltation and rule over all creation that God has given to us.”

In Power

To have a body that does not lose energy will be an extravagant thing. Our bodies are weak compared to the body we will have. Dr. Grudem details: “Our resurrection bodies will not only be free from disease and aging, they will also be given fullness of strength and power — not infinite power like God, of course, and probably not what we would think of as ‘superhuman’ power in the sense possessed by the ‘superheroes’ in modern fictional children’s writing, for example, but nonetheless full and complete human power and strength, the strength that God intended human beings to have in their bodies when he created them.”

A Spiritual Body

In thinking that our resurrection body will be a “spiritual body,” we may be mistaken to think that it will not also be physical. This is not the case, though. Finally, the distinguished professor from Phoenix Seminary, Dr. Wayne Grudem expounds: “In the Pauline epistles, the word ‘spiritual’ seldom means ‘nonphysical’ but rather ‘consistent with the character and activity of the Holy Spirit.’ The RSV translation, ‘ It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body,’ is misleading, and a more clear paraphrase would be, ‘It is sown a natural body subject to the characteristics and desires of this age, and governed by its own sinful will, but it is raised a spiritual body, completely subject to the will of the Holy Spirit and responsive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.’ Such a body is not at all ‘nonphysical,’ but it is a physical body raised to the degree of perfection for which God originally intended it.”

Conclusion

By understanding our current warped, fleshly bodies, we cannot help but to look forward to receiving the bodies that God originally intended all humans to have. A body that does not deteriorate, is truly beautiful, is not worn down by activity, and is completely subject the Spirit of God’s guidance will be truly spectacular. The restoration of the life and bodies that we should have will be a joyful experience. Timothy Keller describes the joy of resurrection in his splendid book The Reason for God like this:

“The biblical view of things is resurrection — not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater.”

So take heart and take hope in the face of present trials and difficulties, there is a joy and a glory that will be received upon our resurrection. About this glory, C. S. Lewis wrote:

“They say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”

This week’s devotional was written by Kasey Clark. He is the High School Bible Teacher at Traders Point Christian Academy. Kasey is also an aspiring pastor and currently serves as a church planting intern at New Circle Church in Downtown Indianapolis. He loves digging deeper into theology and helping his church family do the same.

The Resurrection is the Cornerstone (1 Corinthians 15:20-34)

2016-Week 11“Few people seem to realize that the resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone to a worldview that provides the perspective to all of life.” – Josh McDowell

First Corinthians was written because the Corinth congregation was being torn apart by quarreling. Therefore, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to try to bring unity to the people. One of the disagreements the Corinthians had concerned the resurrection. Some of the people did not believe in the resurrection. Since the resurrection is the cornerstone to Christianity, Paul gives four logical explanations in the beginning of chapter 15 to affirm the resurrection. Warren Wiersbe breaks them down into four proofs:

  1. The Historical Proof (eye witness accounts vs. 1-11)
  2. The Personal Proof (lives being transformed after having believed vs. 12-19)
  3. The Doctrinal Proof (the two Adams vs. 20-28)
  4. The Practical Proof (baptism vs. 29-34)

This devotion will focus on the third and fourth proofs, whereas the previous two devotionals focused on the Historical and Personal Proofs.

The Doctrinal Proof

Paul begins by going back to Genesis 3 where the fall took place (vs. 21, 22). It was through Adam’s sin and disobedience that sin entered the world. All who are born into the world are guilty and sinful. This is an overwhelming truth to know that from birth we are eternally separated from God. But there is hope! God sent His Son to this earth to die for the sins of those who put their faith in Him. Jesus was buried and rose from the grave on the third day, conquering death. Just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, through one man (Jesus) the penalty of sins was taken away, allowing all who put their faith and trust in Him to live with God for eternity. This is why Jesus is sometimes referred to as the second Adam. Paul uses this same argument in Romans 5. Without the resurrection we would have no hope in this world. We would be eternally separated from God and have no way of being with Him.

Now, what does firstfruits mean? Firstfruits is an Old Testament word found in Exodus 23:16 and Leviticus 23:10. Each person was to give an offering to the Lord, the firstfruits of their labor. This offering guaranteed the coming harvest (Lev. 23:9-11). In the same way, Christ’s resurrection guarantees the resurrection of believers (vs. 20, 23). An interesting thing to note is that the firstfruits were to be an offering the day after the Passover Sabbath. This is the same day as Christ’s resurrection. The resurrection also allows the completion of God’s purpose for the world (vs. 24-28).

The Practical Proof

Baptism is a symbol of our sins being washed away, an outward expression of our faith in Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection. If the Corinthians did not believe in the resurrection, why were they still baptizing? If there is no resurrection, baptism is meaningless (vs. 29-32). Paul summarizes this by stating, “If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!””  Paul concludes by warning the Corinthians to guard against false teachers and reprimands them for not having this knowledge of the resurrection, for this is the reason they were quarreling and in dissension (vs. 33-34).

So what does this mean? Denying the resurrection has significant consequences. If Christ’s body lies in some nameless grave, there is no hope for the believer, and the gospel is nothing but emptiness. Therefore, the resurrection is the cornerstone to our faith in Jesus Christ.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How do we know His sacrifice for sin was accepted?
  2. How can we hope for our own resurrection and immortality?[1]
  3. How does the knowledge of the resurrection affect your daily living?

[1] Keith Brooks, Summarized Bible: Complete Summary of the New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 52.

This week’s devotional was written by Ethan Thomas. Ethan is a graduate from Crossroads Bible College, where he received a B.S. in Biblical Counseling and a B.S. in Management & Ethics. He is happily married to his wife, Grace. He currently leads worship and is actively involved in other ministries at Tri-County Bible Church in Rensselaer, Indiana.

“If Christ is Not Raised…” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

2016-Week 10Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead,
how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 

Some people trust most of the Bible, but not all of it. People have issues with things like seven headed monsters, giants, or people rising from the dead. They say those “things” can be ignored for the more “modern” mind. Although the Apostle Paul is a bit older than the “modern” mind, he gives us another reason to trust the gospel the Bible presents: imagine a world without iPhones, smartphones, TV, Xbox, or even automobiles. Now, realize when Paul wrote this letter to the church of Corinth, this world you are imagining was their reality. Since that was their reality, the only way to communicate or prove anything was through eyewitnesses. They did not have tape recorders, cameras, or the SnapChat that we have today. Paul is saying that since “Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead,” why do you not believe? In our day, Paul was basically saying, “Since people pulled out their iPhones and recorded Christ’s death and resurrection, why do you not believe?”

Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio says, “What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.’ Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago.”

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Paul, an Apostle of Christ, spends six verses actually defending his opponents to prove their logical fallacies. He logically unravels what a denial of the resurrection would mean: “Since there is no resurrection from the dead, no one can rise from the dead; and since no one can rise from the dead, Christ did not rise from the dead; and since Christ did not rise from the dead, no one is forgiven by the gospel; and since no one is forgiven by the gospel, our preaching is to be pitied above all things to be pitied.”

That last conclusion makes sense because the gospel belongs to God: It is for Him, by Him, through Him, and to Him. Since the gospel belongs to God, it is the highest form of authority. Therefore, proclaiming God’s gospel of resurrection when it did not happen is the saddest belief known to mankind. It would mean that all of the church services, donations, and prayers have been in vain. But see, the critics are wrong. Paul’s logical conclusion: “we are of all people most to be pitied,” is very ironic. If Christ’s resurrection did happen, then the non-believing world is actually “of all people most to be pitied.”

Here’s the logic reversed: “Since there is no resurrection from the dead, no one can rise from the dead; and since no one can rise from the dead, what you do in the present life has no merit or value for it all ends in death; and since all of life ends in death, future life is a mere hope while death is a promise; that is, not only will your life be a meaningless vanity, but even your death will be another thing to be forgotten.” Yes, Christians ought to be pitied if there is no resurrection, but if there is no resurrection, everyone ought to be pitied.

Each of our lives deserve death because we have sinned, and death is the main consequence of sin that God warned Adam and Eve: “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). But because a perfect person who did not sin took the punishment of death that we deserve, through faith in this Savior, Jesus Christ, you will not only have life after death, but everlasting life after death. Christ is our only hope because, although we die, we shall live. Eternal life is a promise Christ can keep because the death of the eternal Son of God was bound to end in resurrection for “death could not possibly hold Him” (Acts 2:24).

Just as the tree of life was the source of everlasting life for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Christ is our new tree of life—feast on Him.

This week’s devotional was written by Cameron Fathauer. Cam is a sophomore at Boyce College participating in Southern Seminary’s “Seminary Track” program to receive His undergrad in Biblical and Theological studies and receive a Masters of Divinity. He also blogs weekly on DearMrChristian.com.

Of First Importance (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)

2016-Week 9What is the most important thing in your life? This simple question has significant implications for our lives. What we consider important will shape our life. The matters we give priority to will direct us on the decisions we make. So, what is most important to you? As we approach the Easter season, it is crucial for us to reflect on this question. If our central focus is reflected by what we see as important and what we give priority to, then we must direct our thoughts and affections toward Scripture. Indeed, it is in Scripture we see what is “of first importance”.

Of first importance is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even and especially for Christians is the importance of the gospel. The gospel that has been preached and received is the gospel which should be remembered (v. 1). Yes, the gospel is to be shared with those who do not yet know Christ but the gospel is still for believers too! This is, in part, because the gospel not only saves us (“which you received”) but also sustains us (“in which you stand”). The truth of the gospel is not something merely in the past but is at work in the present and for the future as well.

But what exactly is the gospel? The apostle Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4,

“that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”

As a result of our rebellion against our good and holy Creator God, we were destined to spend an eternity without Him and to endure His righteous wrath and judgment. By no means could humanity, could we, save ourselves from this punishment of physical and spiritual death. We were pronounced dead in our sins. Then, Christ came. He lived the sinless life we have all failed to live, He died in our place, for our sins, taking upon Himself what we deserved. But that is no the end of the story, for if the narrative stopped here, we would still be in our sins (see 1 Cor. 15:17). The glorious reality is He was raised on the third day. Because of His death and resurrection, we can be reconciled to the Father. We can have fellowship with God once again and experience the saving forgiveness of God.

We can rest in the peace that God’s promise has been fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Christ. Jesus’ appearance to various people after His resurrection gives proof of this fact (vv. 5-8). This promise and this proof demand a response. They demand the sharing of the gospel so that people may believe and receive the gospel. For the Christian, this means to remember what is “of first importance”, namely the gospel. Giving priority to the gospel means letting the gospel shape your life, which involves sharing the gospel. For the non-Christian, this means hearing the gospel preached and responding with either rejection or reception. To reject is to face the judgment of God; to receive is to receive the gospel and enter into relationship with God.

This Easter season, may we remember the gospel. May we remember the person and work of Christ. And may we say with Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain” (v. 10).

Reflection Questions:

  • Based on your thoughts and actions, would you say the gospel is “of first importance” in your life? How could you intentionally focus on the gospel this season?
  • When is the last time you shared this gospel with an unbeliever? Why not invite them to join you for church this Easter and begin having gospel conversations with them.

Don’t Play at the Table (1 Corinthians 11:17-34)

Food!  The one thing that can draw all people together.  Growing up in the South (Alabama), we majored in food.  Our Sundays centered around the meal that we would partake of that evening.  No matter what activities we had planned that day before the meal, we all knew where we better be at 6:30pm.  We all come from different locations, but we met at the Table.  There was order at the table.  There was a purpose to the table, to nourish us, to feed us, and to allow us time to fellowship.  There was an ORDER to the meal.

The Corinthians had anything but order.  The church at Corinthian held “Love Feasts.”  The problem was that some of the richer members were not sharing their food but greedily consumed the meal before the poor showed up (v.21).  Paul was saying if the purposes of the love feast were not being realized, it was better to eat at home (v.22).

The Corinthians, like many of us today, do not realize the seriousness and significance of the Lord’s Supper.  Communion is like a sermon acted out.  By partaking of the elements of the Lord’s Table, we are remembering what was used to secure our salvation.  The bread represents Jesus’s body and the “cup” represents His blood (v.25).

Paul says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26).  The Lord’s Supper is an acted sermon, looking back on Christ’s life and death and looking forward to His Second Coming.

Our salvation was accomplished on the Cross, by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  His body was broken, symbolized by the breaking of the bread, so that we can be whole.  His blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins, as pictured in the cup.

What does Communion symbolize?  Communion symbolizes:

  1. The Lord’s Death
  2. Believer’s participation in the crucifixion of Christ.
  3. Effects our union with other believers.

The most important relationship in Communion is the Vertical relationship.  The Sacrificial, Substitutionary Death of Christ on the Cross, brought us back together with God.  Sin separated us from God.  The Death of Christ was/is the bridge of reconciliation back to God.Communion

APPLICATION

Communion should be a time of reflection and reverence for the completed work(s) of Christ on the Cross.  It is time to make sure that our VERTICAL relationship is right.  Our horizontal relationships will never be right until our relationship with God is right.

When you partake of Communion, use that time to reflect on your horizontal relationships as well.  Is there someone I need to forgive?  Is there someone I need to pray for?  Most importantly, make sure your relationship with Jesus Christ is correct.  Paul warns of eating of the Lord’s Table in an “unworthy” manner.

People who have partaken of this in an irreverent manner have become sick and some have even died.  This is a solemn warning giving from the Apostle Paul to us.  Make sure your heart and hands are clean before you come to the Table to eat.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  1. Is there anything hindering or interrupting my VERTICAL relationship with God? Unconfessed sin(s)?  Disobedience?
  2. How are my horizontal relationships? Who do I need to reconcile with?
  3. What does the death of Christ mean to you? Do you value the forgiveness of sins?  What is my part in this covenant with God?

Shannon Cockrell is an ordained minister. He has a B.S. in Pastoral Theology from Crossroads Bible College and a M.Div in Theological Studies, with a minor in Greek from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Brianne and has 2 kids, Josiah and Rhys. Additionally, he teaches adjunct classes online at Austin Bible Institute and is currently teaching Greek at Post Road Christian Church.  He loves reading, studying, and teaching the Bible and his life is driven by the belief: Preach, Teach, and Reach for Christ.

[Picture Credit: http://www.greaterzionbaptist.org/ministries/deaconess-ministry]