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2024 Pastors' Blog

I Praise You Not - Part 2
Saturday, May 18, 2024
Tomorrow provides a special opportunity for us at Canaan Bible Chapel.  One Sunday each quarter, we pause our "normal" schedule to provide a focused time of reflection on the price that was paid to offer us salvation.  It is not that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus are not a focus of the other Sundays in the year.  It is simply that there are times when the life and finished work of Jesus should be the sole focus of our attention.  This is why Jesus gave "communion" to the church - "this do in remembrance of me," "in remembrance of me," "ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
In order to prepare us for tomorrow's intentional focus, this week's blog posts have been digging into the historical context of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.  In this segment of Paul's letter, he confronted the issues that hindered these first century Christians from celebrating the memorial service of "communion" in the way in which it was intended:  (1)  They had allowed DIVISION to infiltrate the church; and, (2) They were MISAPPROPRIATING the meal, using it as an opportunity to satisfy their fleshly needs instead of memorializing that which had led them to salvation.  We examined both of those issues in yesterday's post.
Today, we want to consider the third issue that Paul confronts:  UNREPENTANT SIN (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).
Both of the first two issues had become blatantly obvious and should have brought such grief to the church that they readily dealt with them in humility and repentance.  Yet, it is apparent that neither humility nor repentance was being exhibited.  God, in His love and mercy, could not allow them to remain in that condition (Hebrews 12:5-11).  So, He led the Apostle Paul to bring to light some of the consequences of their condition:
  1. They were claiming and celebrating the forgiveness of God, yet living in the very things from which God had saved them (v.27).
  2. They were revealing a lack of true understanding of God's grace and mercy, embodied in the gospel (v.29).
  3. They were experiencing God's hand of discipline, where they were refusing to discipline themselves (Vv.30-32).
In the light of all of this, the call was to: (1) Examine themselves, to see what role each individual was playing in the problem;  (2) Repent of those things brought to light;  and, (3) Celebrate God's forgiveness in God's way and with a Godly spirit.
So, as you make preparations to gather for worship tomorrow, are you willing to open yourself to God's inspection?  Would you ask God to bring to your attention those things that may hinder your full and sincere participation in the memorial service of "communion"?  ("Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." - Psalm 139:23-24)  Would you be willing to repent of those things brought to light, so that you can celebrate God's forgiveness, through the memorial service, in God's way and with a Godly spirit?
To God be the glory!
I Praise You Not - Part 1
Friday, May 17, 2024
In yesterday's post, I mentioned that the "memorial service," which should have united the body of believers, was instead widening an already existing schism.  M.R. DeHaan described the situation this way: "At the time Paul wrote to the Corinthians the Lord Jesus had gone back to heaven only about twenty-five years [earlier], and yet in that short period of time evil had crept in to such an extent that the Lord's Supper had lost almost every element of its sacred character," (Studies in First Corinthians, Pp.125-126).  This was because there were three primary issues at work in the church that were disrupting the relationship and operation of the church.
First, there was obvious DIVISION in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:18-19).  Now, Paul had already confronted this issue at the outset of his letter (1 Corinthians 1:11-13).  Believers were identifying themselves by their association with their favorite teacher - "I am of Paul!"  "I am of Apollos!"  "I am of Cephas!"  Those who wanted to be seen as especially spiritual, even were saying, "I am of Christ!"  However, each group was then looking down on the others, claiming they were not quite spiritual enough because their leader was not top-tier.
So, when they came together to "celebrate" the saving work of Jesus, which saved all of them the same way, they, instead, looked at one another with suspicion and even disdain.  The spirit of union within the body of Christ was replaced with a spirit of division.  Is that really a spirit fostered by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus?  Absolutely not!!
The second issue was a MISAPPROPRIATION OF THE MEAL (1 Corinthians 11:20-22).  Typically in American churches, "Communion" is incorporated as an element of a worship service - Sunday morning, Sunday evening, or Mid-week.  But in the early days of the church the memorial, reminding them of the price Jesus paid to offer them salvation, was included along with a "Love Feast" - a meal celebrating the unity of the body which salvation creates.  Some believe this is what was being referenced when Luke wrote, regarding the earliest believers, "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers," (Acts 2:42).
But, at this point, the division in the Corinthian church was so great that this feast and "celebration" were no longer about remembering Jesus.  Instead, they became opportunities to satisfy their own fleshly hunger and to leave their inferior brethren lacking.  They lost sight of why they were coming together.  This is why the most familiar portion of this whole chapter (Vv.23-26) repeatedly reminded them (and us) of communion's purpose - "this do in remembrance of me," "in remembrance of me," "ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
In tomorrow's post, I will talk about the third issue that hinders a church from celebrating communion in the way it was intended.  I hope you will join me, tomorrow, as we prepare our hearts for a very special celebration as a body of believers.
Keeping it in Context
Thursday, May 16, 2024
Examples can come in all shapes, sizes, and styles.  They can be positive examples (which provide us patterns to follow) or negative examples (which provide us patterns to avoid).  But, whether they be positive or negative, we can always learn something from an example.
After being in our "Next Steps" message series for a few weeks, it suddenly struck me that much of our instruction, in what steps to take and how to take them, has come from the first letter to the church in Corinth.  If you have studied that letter much, you know that this church had a lot of problems - theological, relational and applicational.  In fact, more than once Pastor Rod had described it as the letter about "How NOT to Do Church."  The pagan culture of the city had infiltrated the church to the point that Paul was compelled by the Holy Spirit to address factions, lawsuits, immorality, questionable practices, and wrong attitudes about spiritual gifts.
Yes, the Corinthian church could be described as a "negative example."  But, the same issues plague the church today.  So, a study of this letter can be valuable in guarding and correcting us.  (Remember 2 Timothy 3:16?  "doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness" )
One of the issues addressed in the letter involved the abuse of a "memorial service" which should have united the believers in Corinth.  Instead, it widened the already existing schism.  Today, we know that memorial as "Communion" or "The Observance of the Lord's Table."
In my Friday and Saturday posts, I will share some of the abuses which led to Paul's rebuke.  Then, on Sunday, as we gather to celebrate that of which the memorial reminds us - the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus - I will talk about the corrections that are necessary if "Communion" is to carry the significance Jesus intended.
Lord willing, I will see you back here tomorrow.
As We Prepare
Wednesday, May 15, 2024
With our Communion service coming up this Sunday morning, over the next few days we will be doing a series of blog posts to help prepare our hearts.
Today, we want to remind you of the simplicity and beauty of what Jesus did for us. "Beautiful Hands" was written by Ron Hamilton and is being sung by his daughter, Megan Morgan. We hope that its message will point your heart in the right direction.