Unworthy Manner

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Friday Day 15

Unworthy Manner


Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another–if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home–so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. – 1 Corinthians 11:27-34


The Apostle Paul had some concerns about the way in which the Corinthian church was participating in the Lord’s Supper. His concerns tell us two things: There is a right way to take the supper and there are many wrong ways to take the supper. The Corinthian Church was doing a number of things wrong surrounding the practice of the Lord’s Supper. Paul’s warning to them is also an instruction for us today.


Jesus instituted the supper at the end of a Passover meal. Perhaps the Corinthians thought every Lord’s Supper should be after a meal, so they were engaging in a meal before the Lord’s Supper and then adding the supper to the meal. However, in their meal they were not waiting for one another, some had plenty to eat and others had little, some were getting intoxicated at the meal and there were divisions and open conflict. Paul tells them “if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home–so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.”


God was judging their behavior and condemning them for it. Paul was in effect saying, “Take a look at what you are doing. Do you think your activity is worthy of such a sacred rite?”


I’m convinced that every Christian who heard Paul’s letter understood exactly what he meant. Unfortunately, there are many today who misapply it to their lives and as a result create all sorts of anxiety in their minds and hearts as they come to take the Lord’s Supper.


What does it mean to take the Supper “unworthily”? Does it mean that we are to be unworthy of such a sacrifice? Does it mean that those who do not have perfect lives should not participate? Does it mean that if we can think of any way in which we do not measure up that we should not participate? The answer to all these questions is “no.”


This is not a discussion of the character of the worshipper but the conduct of the worship. Paul says, Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty…” In an unworthy manner is the “way” we take the supper, the attitude of the heart during the supper, the care for one another at the Lord’s Table. Paul even says to wait for one another… meaning they knew each other and who they were waiting for. It was for members only. Unbelievers and people excluded from fellowship were not allowed to partake in the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Corinthians 5).


The Lord’s Supper is a continuing reminder that there is forgiveness for the sinner and strength for the weak and weary, therefore discern the body. But the warning is not to come to it when we are insensitive to His presence, unloving to our fellow church members, or regretful for His great sacrifice on our behalf.


If we truly enter into the spirit of the Supper we will have a heightened sense of our own unworthiness and of God’s grace. This awareness of God’s love for us ought to make it easier for us to love one another. It also should make us value this ordinance to the degree that every member would participate every time the Lord’s Supper is offered. United in love for Christ, discerning the body, fellowshipping in the spirit together as the Local Church.


The Lord’s Table

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Thursday Day 14

The Lord’s Table


Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:26-29


The second ordinance given to the church is the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. Remember that, like baptism, the Lord’s Supper is not ours to change as we see fit. An ordinance by definition is an authoritative order; a decree. We don’t choose the ordinances, God has chosen them for us. We don’t get to decide how we carry out the ordinances, God has already given us specific instruction as to how to carry out these ordinances. We don’t get to change them to suit our individual tastes and preferences because they do not belong to us… they are given to us by God.


Notice that Jesus instituted the supper, it is His table. He selected the people he wanted to be there, his church, and He selected the menu of the bread and fruit of the vine and he even selected the order of how the meal is to be eaten. He blessed the bread and the cup in separate prayers, He passed them out to be shared by everyone present, and He reminded them of the next occasion he would have to share the supper again with His church which is in the future kingdom when He returns.


The Lord’s Supper is rooted in history. It was a certain man, the Lord Jesus, and it was a certain night, “the same night in which He was betrayed” (1Co_11:23), and it was a certain event in which He took real bread and real fruit of the vine and instituted the supper. The Passover meal that had preceded the Lord’s Supper looked back in Israel’s history to the event by which God delivered Israel out of the bondage of Egypt. The Lord’s Supper at the time of its beginning looked forward to an event of deliverance for all mankind, Christ’s death on the Cross and His Resurrection.


The Lord’s Supper is about God’s gift. We catch the work of sacrifice in Christ’s words “this is My body which is broken for you.” In this statement He is identifying Himself with the Paschal Lamb, the lamb that was sacrificed in connection with the Passover. But we make a mistake if we interpret the admonition to “do this in remembrance of Me” (1Co_11:24) as a call to remember only His death. We are to remember that His death brings life. But we are to remember His life and His teaching, His Resurrection and the hope that it brings, and we are to remember His purpose in the world.


Therefore there is in the observing of the Lord’s Supper a proclamation. Christ had said to them that every time they shared the supper together they “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1Co_11:26). This is a word of evangelism and also a word of hope. In this Supper, Christ gave the church another way of being touched by the gospel, a way for the eyes to see as well as for the ears to hear. A way for the senses to feel and smell and taste. It is an illustration… for as the physical body partakes of the elements of the supper and they become a part of the person eating and drinking. It is a physical reminder of the reality of Christ’s death on a cross for us and of the spiritual results of faith in Christ. It reminds us that Christ is in us, living in us because of the new birth.


Symbolic of a New Reality

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Wednesday Day 13

Symbolic of a New Reality


Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:37-38


When we accepted Christ as our personal savior a number of things happened to us that we may not have been aware of. The specific order of events happened in a moment, but they happened in a particular order, according to the scriptures.


First of all, before you believed that Jesus was the Son of God and before you placed your faith in him as your own personal savior the Holy Spirit was at work in your heart convicting you of truth and convicting you of your sin and your need for a savior. Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit there can be no salvation. The Holy Spirit revealed truth to you and at the moment you believed you became a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ.


The moment you believed you were given the righteousness (right standing) of Christ and the Holy Spirit began to dwell in you. You were immersed (baptized) by the Holy Spirit into Christ. Paul says in Ephesians we were “placed into Christ” and “in Christ” we have forgiveness and peace with God.


Paul also says in Romans that since we have been placed into Christ through the Spirit we have retroactively been crucified with Him.


We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4


And if we were buried with Him through this baptism into Christ then we were also raised with him at his resurrection. Paul says this is to give us power to walk in newness of life.


There are many Christians who have not fully embraced this truth and live defeated lives, not allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them or even recognize that there is a better way to live life now that you have become a child of God. This is why the divine order of salvation, baptism, church membership and personal accountability is so important.


We need the love of other believers to guide us into all truth. We need the experience of corporate worship and preaching to open our hearts to the things of God and to remind us of the beautiful things God has done for us.


Peter told the men and women who were convicted by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost exactly what to do. Repent means to turn away from confidence in yourself and place your confidence in what God has done for you. Just like the people of Peter’s day, it was our sin that caused Jesus to die on a cross.


Then Peter tells them to be baptized for (because of) the forgiveness of sins. Not to get forgiveness, but rather because you have been forgiven. And on that day 3000 people were baptized and added to the church.


The physical baptism was an illustration of the spiritual baptism that had already taken place. It is still a public confession of our faith in Jesus Christ and an act of obedience in following Jesus which symbolizes our old life has been crucified with him and we have died to our old way of life and we have been raised to walk in newness of life.


This is what is required to follow Christ. This is baptism and it is the first thing we are to do after we believe. This is the reality of our new way of life and it begins with baptism.


God Given Authority

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Tuesday Day 12

God Given Authority


The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

John 1:29-34


When I was a kid we had a small pool in the backyard where I spent a lot of my time. We played all kinds of games in that tiny pool, and I did a fair amount of baptizing my brothers and friends. Having grown up in church I knew how to do it. I said the right words, I held up my hand and waved it to heaven and then I tipped them backward into the water and brought them right back up. Baptism right?


Not exactly. Christian baptism requires a proper candidate, the proper mode and the proper authority. We occasionally had a proper candidate for baptism, a born again believer who wants to follow Jesus. We had the proper mode of baptism, immersion in water. But nobody was successfully baptized in that pool because we had no authority to baptize. That authority can only come from God through one of His local New Testament churches. Without the proper authority, the person being baptized is just getting wet.


John the Baptist was set aside by God from his mother’s womb to present Jesus Christ to the world. He was sent by God to prepare the way for the messiah by calling Israel to repentance and then baptizing all who confessed their sins and turned towards God. He was preparing a people for the coming messiah Jesus Christ. This was something new, this was not the same old washings of consecration that Israel was used to… this was public and it demanded personal sacrifice and commitment.


John’s ministry came to a climax on the day he baptized Jesus. This is what he was called to do and he was faithful to his calling. After John baptized Jesus his ministry began to diminish. He continued to baptize others but most of the ones he baptized began to follow Jesus. The authority John had been given to baptize was never handed down to John’s disciples, they had no calling or authority to continue baptizing after John died. However, we are told that Jesus began to baptize those who believed in Him as savior, although Jesus never personally baptized anyone, but His disciples did the baptizing.


We can see that the line of authority was very clear: From God to John to Jesus to His church. Anyone outside of that line has no authority to baptize. Believers who are not part of the church have no authority to baptize.


In Acts 19 Paul encounters some believers in Ephesus who wanted to serve God in the church there but they had no gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul inquired about their baptism and found out they had not been baptized by the proper authority. They were likely baptized by some of John’s disciples and God had held back the gifts of the Holy Spirit from them until they had proper baptism. After their “re-baptism” they received the gifts of the Holy Spirit and were able to exercise them in the church at Ephesus.


How important is proper authority? If it was important in Paul’s day it is still important to us today. Proper candidate, proper mode and proper authority.



Scripture and Tradition

I Don’t Know What I Believe – Monday Day 11

Scripture and Tradition


So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. – 2 Thessalonians 2:15


We are closing out the series called I Don’t Know What I Believe with a look at Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We could easily do a series on each of these topics but we are looked at these two very important ordinances of the church in one message yesterday and will examine them this week with a little closer look.


An ordinance by definition is an authoritative order; a decree. When it comes to the church, we don’t choose the ordinances, God has chosen them for us. We don’t get to decide how we carry out the ordinances, God has already given us specific instruction as to how to carry out these ordinances. We don’t get to change them to suit our individual tastes and preferences because they do not belong to us… they are given to us by God.


The ordinances were given to the church by Jesus. He gave the apostles instructions regarding these ordinance during His personal ministry. We have these instructions passed down to us in two forms: Scripture and tradition.


Scripture is the word of God passed down in written language.

Tradition is the word of God passed down by observation and repetition.


There was a time, before the Bible was produced where churches everywhere conducted themselves by tradition, oral tradition and physical example. They did things like they had been instructed and continued to do things the way they saw the Apostles model them. These became the traditions of the early churches. And these traditions were considered to be as authoritative as scripture.


So why do we baptize like we do? Why do we observe the Lord’s Supper in the way we do? The answer is scripture and tradition. “We have always done it this way” is a perfectly appropriate reason for the way we conduct the celebration of the ordinances.


We have a long celebrated history as English speaking Baptists, going all the way back to the first century converts who were instructed by Paul and returned home the Wales. There is a long celebrated history of the Baptist churches in Wales going all the way back to 93 AD. Prior to the year 300 Baptist churches in Wales flourished and were making many converts of the pagan religions. But beginning in 300 AD these churches were being forced underground because of persecution by Roman Catholics, their leaders were killed, their histories were destroyed… all because these Baptist churches refused to submit to Catholic teaching and baptism. They were called ana-baptists because they re-baptized the converts from Catholicism, refusing to accept their infant baptism as scriptural. This is the heritage we have as Baptists. We are not Protestants, because we never came out of the Catholic Church (protesting the church) we were throughout history, in various places in the world, local New Testament Churches, separate and distinct by their tradition and doctrine. They held fast to the traditions and to the scriptures and refused to change the ordinances given to them by Christ.


This is our heritage, holding fast to the traditions and standing on the truth of scripture we move into the future… knowing what we believe and why we believe it.