These lessons are part of a series of bulletin inserts at Blainesburg Bible Church. The online versions contain minor edits for the expanded online audience. This lesson originally released on April 21, 2019.
You should read the prior lessons before studying this one. This is especially true if you missed lesson 5 or did not do what was asked. If you have been following along and have completed a very prayerful examination of your spiritual health and fitness, then it is time to move forward.
One does not have to look far to find examples of physical illness or disabilities in the church. Personally, I have been experiencing pain in my shoulder area. Diagnostics ranging from X-Rays to MRIs sought the source of the pain not finding a definitive answer. Each specialist leans toward his own specialty trying to figure it out, but none have provided a solution that takes away the pain.
I wondered why the pain continued when I know God provides immediate physical healing today the same as when Jesus walked here in his earthly body. What God is showing me has me concerned. Our church in America is spiritually ill and in need of spiritual healing first. Then, I believe, the flood of power from the Holy Spirit will return in earnest. Rather than physical healing miracles being the exception, they will return to being the rule.
However, that requires the church and its members to walk in spiritual health as the body of Christ. Are you prepared to truly be a spiritually healthy member of the body of Christ, or do you prefer to just go through worthless motions of religion? One does not demand any real commitment from you. The other demands that you daily present yourself as a living sacrifice not being conformed to the way of the world. One leads to a form of godliness, but rejects the life-changing power (2 Timothy 3:5). The other leads to faith that moves mountains (Mark 11:22-26)!
Discerning the Lord’s Body
“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
—1 Corinthians 11:30 (KJV)
Granted, not every church in the early New Testament times was as deeply troubled as the Corinthian church that prompted Paul’s first letter to them. The city of Corinth was very corrupt. There was actually a Greek word which meant to act like a Corinthian. It was a derogatory term used to describe those who lived lives of debauchery. Corinth was an I-will-do-whatever-I-want-to-do kind of place, and this attitude, unfortunately, also invaded the church.
Corinth was so bad that even in the church there was a man who was having sex with his stepmother without receiving a rebuke from the church! Paul instructed the church to excommunicate the man in order for him and everyone else to understand that his behavior was absolutely unacceptable (1 Corinthians 5). The action of turning the man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh resulted in him repenting. The church had to be instructed by Paul in his second letter to let the repentant man return to the fellowship (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).
Paul is the one who taught us about body ministry with the main text of his teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 with additional information in Romans 12:1-8..
Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 (ISV) [emphasis mine], “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks from the cup in an unworthy manner will be held responsible for the Lord’s body and blood. A person must examine himself and then eat the bread and drink from the cup, because whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That’s why so many of you are weak and sick and a considerable number are dying.”
The Corinthian church gathered regularly, but there were divisions among them (1 Corinthians 11:18). When they gathered together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper (Communion), it was more like a drunken party where the wealthy indulged and the poor went without. Paul had to straighten out this error as it was leading to literal physical weakness, illness and death with the church members not discerning what it meant to participate in the Lord’s Supper.
Every day of your Christian life needs to be spent in service to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Do not call him Lord, Lord and ignore doing what he tells you to do (Luke 6:46-49). Eating the bread and drinking the cup of Communion “unworthily” (1 Corinthians 11:29) is not about whether you are worthy of Jesus’ saving grace. John the Baptist summed it up nicely when he said he was not even worthy enough to untie Jesus’ sandal straps. None of us is worthy of Salvation, but Paul said in Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
To partake of the Lord’s supper unworthily is to do it irreverently. It is to stand there proclaiming a lie by consuming the bread (the symbol of Jesus’ broken body) and the grape juice (the symbol of Jesus’ shed blood) while failing to daily present your own self as a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” It is possible to be committed to a religion without any commitment to actually serving Jesus.
Understand that if you have recently been overtaken in a fault (Galatians 6:1) but have repented, it does not mean you are unworthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper. On the other hand, to live a lie of just doing the church thing of honoring God with your lips but having a heart far from him (Matthew 15:7-9), is to make a mockery of the body and blood of Christ when partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
Whether there be only a few or many in a congregation doing this, it leads to God’s judgment. Paul warned the Corinthian church that their folly of not discerning the Lord’s body was causing people in the church to be weak, sick and even to die.
Note that the passage does not expressly specify that the weak, sick and dying were exclusively those who were not partaking of the Lord’s Supper appropriately. Was it just those who partook unworthily who were weak, sick or dying, or did all the members suffer because of the actions of some other members living in error (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)?
I would like to think that only those partaking in error fell subject to the physical judgment. However, what do we do about scriptures telling us we are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), that we are one body in Christ with all the members (body parts) suffering when one member suffers (1 Corinthians 12:25-26), and that we are members one of another (Romans 12:5)?
Serving God means we have committed to yielding our lives to Jesus (Romans 12:1-2). It means we have opened the door of our hearts to receive Christ as our Savior, and we take our place as members (parts) of the body of Christ. We have determined to work in unity within our local church body under subjection to Christ as the head and under the godly direction of our church leaders.
It has never been, is not now and can never be an I-will-do-whatever-I-want type of commitment. The spiritual health of the church that leads to the fire of revival begins with our full commitment to becoming exactly who Jesus wants us to be as part of his body here. Consider prayerfully the body ministry damage that failure to serve Christ with full commitment causes.