Scripture (1Cor. 11: 24, 25) commands (not an option) born again believers of the Church Age to participate in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. These commands are found in the “do this” phrases in the passage.
The same verses also identify the purposes for celebrating the Lord’s Supper. One of the stated purposes is to “bring into remembrance” (not to reproduce) the Humanity (body/blood) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Another stated purpose is to "bring into remembrance" the atoning Work that He accomplished on the cross, establishing the New Covenant through the shedding of His blood. The final stated purpose for celebrating the Lord's Supper is to, “… proclaim the Lord’s death until He returns 1Cor. 11: 26 NASB mine.” This stated proclamation purpose goes hand in hand with the Great Commission given to the Church, and to each member thereof (Matt. 28: 19, 20).
The New Covenant (contract) between God and Man was activated through the atoning shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 22: 20).
A contract must have two (or more) consenting (free will) parties. Each consenting party is responsible to fulfill all of the terms of the contract that define his part. Once a contract has been established, neither side can add to, delete from, or alter any of the terms. These legal principles can be applied and provide a clear understanding of the New Covenant (contract) between God and Man.
The divine side, in part, of the New Covenant (contract) called for God to provide the means, preseve the integrity of the means, and to make use of the means to atone for the world’s sin debt. Since the Fall, Man was not in a position to save himself, although he has tried to do so via all the "religious" practices that he has engineered throughout the course of human history.
God fulfilled the "providing of the means” part of the New Covenant (contract) through the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:35/John 1: 29) through the Work of God the Holy Spirit. God the Son, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, maintained the integrity of the means by never giving in to the temptation to sin (Matt. 4/ Luke 4/ Heb. 4: 15).
The divine side, in part ,of the New Covenant (contract) call for God to atone for the world's sin debt through the shedding of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ while on the cross. God did just that (John 19: 30).
The divine side, in part, of the New Covenant (contract) calls for God to give eternal life to every soul that enters into the New Covenant (contract) in an act of faith (John 3: 16).
The human side of the New Covenant (contract) calls for each soul to believe, that is to place his personal/individual trust and confidence in the The Gospel Message that reveals the necessity (John 3: 5, 7) of salvation and how God fulfilled and continues to fulfill the divine side of the New Covenant (Contract).
Those who enter into the New Covenant are saved from the impending wrath of God to be experienced by all unbelievers in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). Those who are saved are forever “in Christ (Romans 8: 1 NASB), and will never find themselves in the lake of fire awaiting all unbelievers (Rev. 20: 13, 15 NASB).
Although all born again believers are forever saved, taking part in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a sacred event, and is not to be neglected or taken lightly. Salvation can NEVER be lost, but there are serious consequences (1Cor. 11: 30) for receiving the symbolic elements in what Scripture call an “unworthy manner (1Cor. 11: 27 NASB).”
Participating in the Lord's Supper is NOT an option, it is a command (1Cor. 11: 24, 25). Choosing NOT to do participate is a deliberate act of willful disobedience. At the same time, receiving the Communion elements in what Scripture (1Cor. 11: 25 NASB) calls "an unworthy manner," can subject the one involved to the most severe (physical illness/death) form of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) that a born again believer can experience, here on Earth.
“But a man must examine himself, and (after) in so doing, (only then) he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup (1Cor. 11: 28 NASB italics mine).”
“For this reason (taking the elements in an unworthy manner) many among you (Church Age believers) are weak and sick, and a number sleep (have died) -1Cor. 11: 30 italics mine NASB).”
Exactly what does this self-examination involve?
The answer is found in such verses as 2Cor. 13: 5/James 1: 22/1John 1: 9/John 8: 11.
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves…(2Cor. 13: 5 NASB).”
The key phrase in this verse is “in the faith.” Faith can be a noun and can be a verb. It is a noun when it refers to WHAT one believes. It is a verb when it speaks of a state of being or the action of believing. The 2Cor. 13: 5 "faith" is a noun and is referring to the Gospel Message. Being in the faith, in this sense, refers to one that has been born again, as a result of placing his/her personal faith (trust and confidence) in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who do, make a confession (acknowledgment) of faith (Romans 10: 9, 10). This can involve an audible spoken public statement (Matt. 16, 16), or in a private, inaudible, statement made to God in private prayer, wherever it is or by whatever means that one is presented with the Gospel Message. God hears both means of communication.
"that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead (after atoning for the world's sin debt), you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness (right standing with God), and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation (Rom. 10: 9, 10 NASB italics mine)."
Peter made such a confession of faith that is recorded in Matt. 16: 16.
"You are the Christ (the anointed Savior), the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16: 16 NASB)."
The Lord Jesus Christ used this opportunity to teach His disciples (and us) that it is on such a confession of faith (not on the person of Peter) that His Church would be built.
There is a difference between the Gospels (Matthew. Mark, Luke, and John) and the Gospel Message. The "Gospels" record the entire life of Christ, while He was here on Earth. The "Gospel Message" can be summed up in just two verses (John 3: 16, 18 NASB).
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (16). He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (18)." -John 3: 16, 28 NASB.
Many other verses of New Testament Scripture that go on to further explain what it means to "believe in Him." To believe in Him goes beyond acknowledging His existence. It involves putting one's full trust and confidence in what He accomplished on the cross, and not what we do (or have done) in name (authority) of religion, human conduct, of human deeds, to obtain and to retain salvation.
There are many individuals that have learned a good amount of the information that the Gospels have to offer, but fail to truly understand the Gospel Message. Such people can't see the trees for the forest. This is evidenced by their perceived need to participate in the products and practices of Man-made religion in order to either obtain (get saved) or retain (remain saved) salvation. Salvation and its accompanying eternal security is NOT dependent on what we do, It is dependent on our faith in what God has done and what God had promised to do for all who are born again.
Likewise, the post salvation spiritual life is all about what God desires to do through Church Age believers (John 15: 5).
Until one is “in the faith” by being "born again (John 3: 5, 7 NASB)," he/she is as spiritually dead as he/she was on the day he/she came into this world. Spirit death, and not physical death, was the type of death that Adam and the woman (Eve) received "on the day" they sinned. With the exception of the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, every soul since the Fall of Man comes into this world physically alive, but spiritually dead, in need of the Titus 3:5 regeneration.
This spiritually death status is passed down through the male partner at the moment of conception (Psalms 51: 5). This is why the incarnation of the Lord's humanity could not and did not involve Joseph or any other male human being. See the Doctrine of Hypostatic Union for more detailed information on the important principle of the faith.
Here in the Church Age, one remains spiritually dead until (if) he/she is born again spiritually. According to New Testament Scripture, one is born again (if) and when he/she is presented with, and choose to believe in, the Gospel Message. The regenerating (Titus 3: 5) and the sealing (Eph. 4: 30) that takes place at the moment of salvation is the Work of God the Holy Spirit.
Just as a physically dead man can do nothing in the physical realm, a spiritually dead man can do nothing in the spiritual realm.
The religions of the world (Psalms 96: 5) and many "Christian religions" have put the cart before the horse.
The "religious" life is is not the means to either obtain or to retain salvation. There will be many religious souls in the eternal lake of fire that were just as "good," having produced as much or even more human good (behavior/deeds) that many of the souls that will be in Heaven.
Heaven is NOT for all the "good" people. There are none that have been, are now, or ever will be "good" enough (Romans 3: 10-12).
Hell (the lake of fire) is NOT for all the "bad" people. With the exception of the sin of disbelief, the entire sin debt of the entire human race was paid in full by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross (1John 2: 2). Heaven is for those who have been born again (John 3: 5, 7). Hell (the lake of fire) is for all those who did not believe (Rev. 20: 15) in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eternal life is NOT something that we receive as a reward if/when we arrive in Heaven. The gift of eternal life is received the moment one is born again, here on Earth, and continues on throughout all of eternity.
Q. Do these truths promote an ungodly lifestyle with a license to sin?
A. Not if one has also been taught the principles and purpose of the post (after) salvation spiritual life, addressing such things as glorifying God, accountability, divine disciple, and the receiving or forfeiture of rewards and privileges, etc..
Being born again and the receiving of eternal life is the beginning of one's relationship that is to be initiated here on Earth and that will continue on throughout all of eternity.
The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a post (after) salvation event, intended for souls that have already been born again. The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is NOT for the purpose of obtaining, retaining, or restoring salvation.
As we have already noted, the purpose of celebrating the Lord’s Supper is to bring into remembrance the Person and the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well then, if the issue of a born again believer's salvation has already been settled, then for what purpose does the self examination (1Cor. 11: 28) before receiving the Communion (Lord's Supper) of serve?
One, it provides the participant with the assurance that he/she is not receiving the elements in an unworthy manner.
Two, it provides to the means for the born again believer to determine if he/she is "in the faith," as it relates to both salvation and to the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
All born again believers are forever "in the faith," as far as salvation is concerned, but not all born again believers are "in the faith" as far as the post salvation spiritual life is concerned.
To be “in the faith" as far as the post salvation spiritual life is concerned, one must be involved in the o-n-g-o-i-n-g process of #1 being accurately taught the Word of God (2Pet. 3: 18), and #2 of applying (James 1: 22) the doctrine that one is being taught to the events of his/her daily life. This is evidenced by the increase in the knowledge and the application of that knowledge as one moves forward to the next level of spiritual maturity. All born again believers are equally saved, but there will always be the next level of spiritual maturity that God has in mind for each and every born again believer. All born again believers, including the one we face in mirror, are works in progress.
Taking an 1Cor. 11: 24 exam, but then not addressing the post (after) salvation issues that such examinations disclose, will not advance the born again believer in the post salvation spiritual life. There are no rest areas or plateaus along the road to spiritual maturity. One is either moving forward (upwards), or is sliding backwards at any given time throughout the course of his/her post salvation spiritual life. Taking part in the 1Cor. 11: 24 examination will reveal to the participant in which direction he/she is presently headed.
There is only ONE way to address any sin (James 2: 10) of commission (what one does) and any sin (James 2: 10) of omission (what one fails to do). Living in or with any sin (James 2: 10) that has not been so addressed, takes and keeps the one involved out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God.
Accordingly, to receive the Communion elements while out of fellowship with God is to do so in an unworthy manner (1Cor. 11: 27).
Sin is what takes the born again believer out of fellowship with God. Confession (1John 1: 9) to God is what restores fellowship. Forsaking (John 8: 11) that type of sin is how fellowship is maintained.
Being in fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God is what assures the participant that he/she is not receiving the elements in an unworthy manner, having addressed (1John 1: 9/John 8: 11) the sin(s) that the 1Cor. 11: 28 examination will (1John 1: 8) bring to mind.
The ongoing need to confess (and/or to forsake) sin will always be with us, as long as we are here on Earth (Romans 7: 18, 19).
It is when a born again believer chooses to make any James 2: 10 sin a part of his/her lifestyle that he/she will do the most damage.
In the worst case scenario, making any James 2: 10 sin a part of one's lifestyle can result in virtually spending the majority of his/her post salvation spiritual life out of fellowship with God.
I mention the James 2:10 "any" principle, because such sins as refusing to forgive others and/or looking down one's nose at others is just as much a sin and any other of the more than 300+ ways that one can sin. Many "Church-goers" are really good at detecting the "splinter" in their brothers' or sisters" eye, but fail to the "beam" in their own.
Even though the sin of looking down one's nose at others makes the Proverbs 6: 16, 17 list of the type of sin that God hates, such "sinners" can be found in virtually every local assembly.
All to often, those who do participate in these examinations find themselves in a James 1: 23, 24 scenario. By looking into the Word of God they acknowledge the sin, but as soon as they put the mirror (Bible) down, they forget what they have seen, and go right back to the 2Pet. 2: 22 "vomit" and "mire" that takes and keeps them out of fellowship with God.
"For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man that looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was (shown to be) (James 1: 23, 24 NASB italics mine)."
The amount of time of one's life that one spends out of fellowship with God is an ongoing choice that we make. It can be as brief as the amount of time it takes to confess a known sin that one has committed. At the same time, it can also be as long as the rest of one's post salvation spiritual life here on Earth if the sin(s) are not addressed. 1 Cor. 11: 28 examinations will reveal just how long any one of us have been out of fellowship with God.
Confessing, but then not forsaking the type of sin in the future, results in one being like the proverbial dog that returns to its vomit (Prov. 26: 11), or the pig that returns to the (2Pet. 2: 22) mire. Such a believer goes around and around in a revolving doorway, going in and out of fellowship with God, and never moving forward in the plan of God.
"If we say that we have no sin (to confess or to forsake), we are deceiving ourselves and the truth (concerning ourselves) is not in us (1John 1: 8 NASB italics mine)."
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1: 9 NASB).”
The "He is faithful" phrase means that the confessor can count on Him to forgive and to cleanse him/her. Contrary to what some religions would have us believe, God has delegated the function of forgiving sin to no one. There are NO third parties (1Tim. 2: 5) involved in the 1John 1: 9 process , and there is no penance (by repeating prayers) required to receive forgiveness for a sin that was already atoned for by the shed blood of Christ. The Matt. 18: 18 keys to the Kingdom is the Gospel Message. The binding/loosening being spoken of in Matt. 18: 18 refers to eternal blessings (John 3: 16) or consequences (Rev. 20: 15) that each individual will experience, as a result of his/her individual response to a presentation of the Gospel Message that the Church was/is commissioned to proclaim (Matt. 28: 19, 20), here on Earth.
When in the process of preparing ourselves to participate in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we find ourselves confessing the same type of sin(s) over and over again, it is an indication that there is a problem in the (John 8: 11) forsaking department that needs to be addressed.
The 1John 1: 9 forgiveness of God is unlimited. God cannot be untrue to His own Word (1John 1: 9). God can not acknowledge the finished (John 19: 30), atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ on one hand, and then later require further action for a sinner go through to atone for a sin that has been confessed.
Either the shed blood of Christ was sufficient or it was not. To say that it was not is not only false teaching, it amount to blasphemy.
While eternal security does means that the loss of salvation is one of the consequences that a born again believer will not have to face (Romans 8: 1), it does not mean that there are not other consequences for the sin(s) we choose to commit.
1John 1:9 forgiveness does NOT mean that can not or will not still be consequences for the sin(s) we commit. Some of the consequences that sin generates will be with us (and others) for the rest of our/their lives here, on Earth.
Some sins we commit can be the cause of our physical death (Acts 5/ 1Cor. 11: 30/Romans 13), and or the physical deaths of others.
The Gal. 6: 7 principle of reaping the seeds that we have sown (good or bad) applies to "saint" and "sinner" alike. A frequent 1Cor. 11: 28/2Cor. 13: 5 examination identifies the type of seeds that one is sowing at the present time.
God will and does impose increasing levels, in frequency and intensity, of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) to motivate a born again believer to address sin that he/she has not yet confessed or forsaken.
No matter how far a soul wanders into the darkness of the devil world, it will always be the desire of God for any lost soul to be saved (1Tim. 2: 4). No matter how far an already saved soul may later wander into the darkness of the devil's world, it will always be the desire of God for that soul to return to the plan of God. Like the father of the prodigal son, our Father in Heaven looks down the road for the return of His wandering sons and daughters.
Divine discipline that God imposes on born again believers NEVER involves the loss of salvation (Romans 8: 1). It can, however, involve anything from having to live with a guilty conscience, up to and including, physical illness and physical death (Acts 5/1Cor. 11: 30/Romans 13), while here on Earth.
As we have already noted, the type of discipline that one can receive for receiving the Communion elements in unworthy manner is of the most severe variety (1Cor. 11: 30).
Until we address (1John 1: 9/John 8: 11) any given sin(s) of commission and omission that God the Holy Spirit has already brought to our attention, we can go no further along the road to spiritual maturity.
What many "Christians" will try to do to make up for an area of sin that they are or have been involved in, by getting very active in some area of Christian service. Such involvement may impress people, but one is not in fellowship with God and cannot go forward in the post salvation spiritual life until the sin(s) that He has brought to their mind is addressed (1John 1: 9/John 8: 11).
Identifying and/or advancing in the post salvation spiritual life is NOT foremost on the minds of many who claim to Christians. Many do not even know what the post salvation spiritual life is all about. Instead, they have entered or re-entered into one of the many alternative plans that Man-made “religion” has constructed.
In this the devil is well-pleased. The devil's world (Luke 4: 6) benefits by all the 1Cor. 3: 12 "wood, hay, and straw" (human good) that such believers bring into it, while the glory and the plan that God has in mind is put on the back burner.
There is a place for good human deeds (James 2: 16), but there is a problem when such things are given more priority than spiritual issues. Atheists and non-Christians can (and many do) produce just as much human good as do their Christian counterparts, but their eternal destination is the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). All the benefits of human good that one produces or receives here on Earth are left behind and are of NO contributing value to the heavenly rewards (1Cor. 3: 14) and Revelation 2/Revelation 3 privileges .
Examining one-self to determine if one is “in the faith” will go a long way in learning the difference between Christianity and Christian Religion. Examining one-self to determine if one is “in the faith” will go a long way in learning the difference human good (wood , hay, straw) and divine good (silver, gold, precious stones). Divine good is produced by God (John 15: 5), through Spirit-filled, born again believers.
Although religion can appear to be what God desires and requires of Man, it is counterfeit. As it pertains to worship, it renders it meaningless (Matt. 15: 9). As in the case of all successful counterfeit operations, the counterfeit must have the appearance of the real thing if it is to be accepted and passed along!
Christian Religion, as opposed to Christianity, consists of all that Man in the name (authority) of religion has added to, distorted, or deleted from what the Word of God has to say on any given spiritual matter.
If something is of/from God, its roots will be found grounded in the Word of God. By tracing any teaching or practice back to its starting point, one can determine if it has come from God, or if it is something that Man has altered or produced in the name of Man-made religion.
Adding to the Word of God, in teaching and practice, was one of the great errors that the very religious Pharisees had made, rendering their worship of God meaningless (Matt. 15: 9). History has and will (1Tim. 4: 1) continue to repeat itself in this regard, here in the Church Age. Without making the 2Cor. 13:5/1Cor. 11:28 self-examinations, the weak Church Age, born again, believers are “sitting ducks” for the devil whose desire it is to destroy them (1Pet. 5: 8).
One can be a religious herculean, and yet be a spiritual weakling. One is spiritually weak when he/she is not operating from a position of strength that an accurate understanding and application of Scripture provides.
Many, many, groups and individuals have been, are, and will be willing to lay down their lives in order to take an overt stand for their religious beliefs. This is especially true when the forces of religion and politics become bed-fellows. Each one will use the other in an attempt to secure their own independent agenda.
Sincerely believing with all one’s heart will accomplish nothing in the spiritual realm if what one sincerely believes is wrong. An Acts 17: 11 type of evaluation (using the Bible) to evaluate WHAT we are being taught to believe is what can provide us with an effective 1Cor. 11: 28/2Cor.13: 5 examination. One would not feed his body with something that he suspected was contaminated, but we accept with little or no consideration the "food" that we feed our souls.
There is no human or diabolical power in the universe that can destroy, undo, or reverse the divine work (Eph. 4: 3/Titus 3:5) and its results (Romans 8: 1) that took place at the moment of salvation.
Never-the-less, there are many things that can impact the quality of one's post salvation spiritual life here on Earth. This quality can be measured by the level of spiritual maturity that one is presently experiencing. Spiritual maturity is based on the amount of accurate doctrine one has in his/her soul structure and the willingness to apply to apply it. The 1Cor. 11: 28/2Cor. 13: 5 examinations will go a long way in establishing and maintaining the type of post salvation spiritual life that God has in mind for Church Age believers.
Just as in the case of the woman that was later named Eve, what is done is often done with the best of intentions, trying to improve what God had established.
Eve had been deceived, and therefore believed the devil’s lie, that by eating of the forbidden fruit, she and Adam would experience an elevated status (Gen. 3: 5) and an improved environment.
To discern truth from error within the Christian Community-at-large, the advancing disciple will ask (#1) from Who/whom (God, the devil, man?) did the concept/proposal come from; (#2) when did the teaching/practice begin, and (#3) rather or not there there is/was any Biblical substantiation to support it. If the teaching or advice being given runs contrary, adds to, or deletes what God has said, it is NEVER the right choice.
When making a spiritual evaluation of any given advice, teaching or activity, the advancing disciple will also examine the “fruit” (results) that advice, teaching/practice is producing. Have those who followed this same advice, teaching or practice, become more focused on and appreciative of the Person and the Work of Christ, or has the glory and/or focus of attention been directed towards someone or something else (Isaiah 48: 11).
The immediate “fruit” of a 1Cor. 11: 28 examination and response (1John 1:9/John 8: 11/James 1: 22) is the assurance of being in fellowship with God when participating in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, accompanied by the assurance that one is not receiving the elements in an unworthy manner (1Cor. 11: 27 NASB).
The long-term fruit of such an examination and response is that one is moving forward in the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
If a born again believer participates in the celebration of the Lord's Supper on a regular basis (as he/she should), yet he/she is no further along the road to spiritual maturity over a period of time, there is something gone wrong.
Could it be that the "something gone wrong" is the failure to participate in the required 1Cor. 11: 28 examination, and/or to address the issues that such a self-examination will generate?
In summary, for a born again believer to participate in the celebration of the Lord's Supper when the opportunity presents itself, is a wilful act of disobedience to the "do this" commands of 1Cor. 11: 24, 25). Receiving the symbolic elements (bread/wine) in a unworthy manner opens the door to the most severe forms (1 Cor. 11: 30) of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) that a born again believer can receive, here on Earth. Engaging in a 1 Cor. 11: 28 examination is crucial part in the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Such examination and response assures the participant that he/she is in fellowship with God at the moment, and not receiving the elements in an unworthy manner, and that he/she is in a position to be moving forward in the plan of God. When the celebration of the Lord's Supper is participated in for the purposes and in the manner that God established, the participant is (#1) reminded of the Person and the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor. 11: 24, 25), (#2) reminded of his/her call to participate in the proclaiming the significance of His death (1Cor. 11: 26/Matt.28: 19, 20), and will be moving forward in his/her own individual post salvation spiritual life along the road to spiritual maturity.