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 Is Taking Communion Dangerous?

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Statesman63
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PostSubject: Is Taking Communion Dangerous?   Fri Sep 25, 2015 1:34 pm

Is Taking Communion Dangerous?

Sadly, many Christians believe that taking Communion is dangerous. I know of one person who refuses to take it. When the time comes for the Communion, this person leaves the choir, goes to the basement of the church and comes back only when Communion is over. The fear of taking Communion is derived from 1 Corinthians 11:27-30. The problem persists because most Pastors do not interpret this passage correctly to their congregation and they often quote only these verses before taking Communion. The passage reads as follows: “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” This passage says that taking the Communion in an unworthy manner is sinning against the body and blood of the Lord, which results in some becoming sick and weak, and even dying. The phrase “fallen asleep” is the biblical way of saying the people physically died. It says “asleep” because the Christian does not actually die. Only non-believers die. The biblical definition of death is separation from the life of God. When a Christian takes his or her last breath, they are immediately in the presence of the Lord, because the bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

So a quick reading of this passage can lead one to conclude that taking Communion is very dangerous, but let’s first examine this view (which is incorrect, because taking Communion is not dangerous at all). Taking Communion is a command from Jesus. Would Jesus command us to do something dangerous? Not likely. And what about the part that says, “a man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup”? What type of examination is this? Are not we all guilty of sin? Since that is the case, the question could be raised, “Who, then, is worthy to take Communion?” If this is to be interpreted this way (which it’s not), then we could easily come to the conclusion that no one is worthy to take Communion and no one therefore should be taking it even though Jesus commanded us to take it. See what type of paradoxes this misinterpretation leads to? Trust me, if we are talking about worthiness, then even Pastors are not worthy enough to take it, for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. So worthiness is not what this passage could be talking about because Jesus would have commanded a paradox.

The truth is that the Communion adds a blessing to the one who takes it. Luke 22:17-20 says, “After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And he took break, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” Let’s review what we just read. Jesus takes the Communion cup and gives thanks over it. Giving thanks means that the Communion is a blessing, not a curse. He then says that this is the last time Jesus will physically be there with them to take Communion until the Millennium comes—that is, the Kingdom comes. The Kingdom will come some time in the future at the Millennium, which will happen just after the 7 year Tribulation. During the Millennium, one thing we will be doing is taking Communion with Jesus. He will again be physically with us when that time comes. It goes on to say that he gave thanks for the bread. So the bread is a blessing, not a curse. He then gives the command regarding the bread: “this is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Note that the bread is given. You don’t earn it. And he says of the cup: “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” The New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant, which is the Old Testament, in that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament for us.

A note about the Old Covenant: the Old Covenant, or Old Testament has not been abolished. It is still active. Remember Jesus said, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law of the prophets. I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” The Old Covenant is no longer required for us, not because those commands are obsolete, outdated, or ended. The OT is no longer required only because Jesus fulfilled it for us. So actually, everything the Old Testament says still stands for us to observe and we can thank God that Jesus is continually fulfilling it for us. The 10 Commandments are still active for us to follow. All of the commands are still active. But the reason why we do not have to stone our child when they rebel against us today is not because the law does not exist, but rather because Jesus fulfilled the law and He now stands in place of the child so that the stones fall on Him at the cross instead of on the child.

Back to our topic: Look at Luke 22:29. It says, “And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” The disciples benefitted from the Communion also by having the Kingdom conferred on them. So, if you want Kingdom power, one way to get it is by taking Communion. It is a blessing and it gives you access to the power of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is a place. During the Millennium, Jesus will come back down to this Earth and establish His Kingdom in Jerusalem for 1,000 years. About 7 years after that, God is going to do away with this Earth all together and create the New Earth. God is going to establish His new Kingdom, called the New Jerusalem, on this new Earth, and the New Jerusalem will serve as the capital city of the entire New Earth. But in the meantime for us, the Kingdom is currently located in Heaven where God now resides. And our power is located in the Heavenly places (according to Ephesians 1:3). Ephesians 1:3 says that all blessings are located in the heavenly realms. Taking Communion is one way that we can access our power that is currently located in the Heavenly realms. During Communion, you are allowed to pray a special prayer that God will give special recognition to because it is being asked during the partaking of the blood and the bread of Christ.

Moreover, Matthew 26:28 says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” That’s interesting. Remember the initial fear? The fear is taking Communion is dangerous because if one is not worthy of taking it one could get sick or even die. The only reason one would not be worthy is because of one’s sins. But this verse says that Communion is for the one who sins. This verse says that by taking Communion, you are being reminded that Jesus has poured out his blood for the very purpose of forgiving your sins. This verse assumes that you are unworthy before coming to take the Communion. For if you were worthy, then you apparently don’t need your sins forgiven. Communion is for the unworthy person, not the worthy.

Let’s go back to our passage in 1 Corinthians and interpret it the correct way. After we do that you will see that taking Communion is not dangerous at all. We need to start at the beginning. It needs to be looked at closely and slowly. Most passages are misinterpreted simply because they are read too fast and the small details are glossed over. The section starts in 1 Corinthians 11:17, which reads, “In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.” Paul is about to give directions because he is aware of how this Corinthian Church has been holding their church services. His directions are given to correct what they were doing wrong.

Verse 18 says, “In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.” Verse 19: “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” This seems to be saying simply that with the different messages being preached in the church that God will reveal who is teaching the correct doctrine. If everyone always verbally agreed with each other (which some would be lying), the true differences would never be worked out. Doctrine should be debated in churches—that is, debated in love, encouragement, without arguing. Doctrine should not be argued over in church. But different views should be peacefully discussed and God will reveal who is speaking the truth. And one may have the truth on some passages, but may have to defer to someone else’s explanation on others. But this church in Corinth let their differences divide them and that is never a good thing.

Verse 20 reads, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, [21] for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk.” Paul says what they were doing does not even resemble the Lord’s Supper. Paul points out that there is no order during the Communion service. No one waits for his neighbor so that they may eat together. They just gorge to fill their hunger. We have named this service “Communion”, which hints at its original intention, which is that we are to eat together in union as one body in Christ to pay homage to Christ shedding His blood for us. Communion is not for a lone person on an island. Communion is not for the individual. It is for the community of believers. Earlier we covered the blessing that comes with taking Communion, but you do not get that blessing if you take Communion selfishly, thinking only of yourself. It is to be taken together because Christ did not die that a single person would be saved. He died for all sinners. He does not want us to commemorate what He did by taking Communion with only self in mind. Jesus did what He did because He had the majority in mind. He wants us to also have the majority in mind.

Verse 22 reads, “Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!?” The verse before this adds that some remain hungry, another gets drunk. Some barely eat any bread and barely drink any wine. Others gorge themselves, thinking only of themselves. Paul rebukes the ones who gorge themselves. He says, “Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in?” Paul is saying that the Communion is not a ceremony to fill your appetite. The purpose is not for that. Today it is difficult to imagine filling our appetite with the Communion bread and wine because we are usually given a really small, tiny cracker and a really small shot of Welches Grape juice. Yes, I do have an issue about churches drinking grape juice over what Jesus commanded us to drink in remembrance of him shedding His blood, and that is wine. A really small shot of wine would not hurt even a child. But that is getting off the point here. Paul says that it is a sin to treat the Communion table as the dinner table. And this is actually what the so-called “dangerous” passage is really referring to.

The “danger” passage we read at the beginning is easy to misinterpret, but it is not referring to our sins. It is not saying to examine your own sin before taking Communion. It is saying examine how you are treating the Communion table before taking Communion so that you do not defame the Communion table itself. If you come to the communion table to fill your hunger, you are defaming the Communion bread and wine. If you come to the Communion table thinking only of yourself and not of your neighbor, thereby eating in haste, then you are defaming the bread and wine that was shed for all of God’s children. The self-examining part has nothing to do with examining yourself to make sure you are perfect, righteous, and sinless before taking Communion. If that were the case, as we said, no one would be able to take it. The reason why it is near impossible to defame the Communion table today is because since a tiny cracker and a tiny cup of grape fruit juice is passed out, no one is thinking about filling one’s hunger with that anyway these days. I did see some kids defame the Communion wine before. After church in the basement, some kids wanted to drink the remaining cups that were not used. They took some and pretended that they were getting drunk off of them. The deacons quickly rebuked them and made them stop. That is defaming the Communion table. They were kids. They were rebuked. They are doing well today. If they were adults doing that, then the curse of them getting sick and even dying early would befall them because the Scripture is Truth. But we, for the most part do not have to worry about this curse because it is conceptually difficult to defame the Communion table these days. People today are not getting drunk off the church wine (or grape fruit juice), nor are we looking to the tiny crackers (which technically should be bread as Jesus commanded) to fill our hunger.

The above paragraph is my answer to why Communion is not dangerous. Readers quickly read the “danger” passage without looking at the context of the rest of the verses that precede it and follow it. But to be thorough, I would like to finish this section with commentary on the rest of the verses. We left off on verse 23, which reads, “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, [24] and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” Wait a sec. Was Paul there? Of course not. So how did Paul receive this word about what Jesus did and said if he wasn’t there? Obviously, Paul was taught this by the disciples who were there. He says, “For I received from the Lord.” By the time Paul wrote this, Mark (Paul’s buddy and a disciple of Jesus) had already written the book of Mark which says this. So Paul received it from the Lord through the disciples. Since all of Scripture is God-breathed, whatever it says, you and I could also say that we received these words from the Lord. Compare the similarity of these words with Mark 14:22-25.

Verse 25 reads, “In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” We talked about this New Covenant. The New and Old Testament are really misnomers, as the word “Testament” is an Old English word for “Covenant” that we just traditionally kept as “Testament.” A biblical covenant is a legal contract that God establishes. It is legal and binding. Some covenants that God gave in the Old Testament were conditional. God would fill His side of the covenant “if” Israel would obey and remain faithful and not serve other gods. Israel had a tendency of breaking God’s covenants. We today would also be guilty of breaking those OT covenants because we today are just as unfaithful to God and serve other gods. Our gods today are called “self” and “money”. Your god is whoever occupies your mind and obedience the most. The New Covenant is an unconditional covenant, which is unlike the Old Testament covenants.

This New Covenant was introduced in Jeremiah 31:31 (this is in the Old Testament, mind you). It reads, “’The time is coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel [which they unfortunately rejected by rejecting the Messiah] and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them.’ declares the LORD.” Verse 33: “’This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time [God will revisit Israel with His covenant during the Tribulation period and beyond],”’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’” The New Covenant is God pulling off the Old Covenant for us because we could not pull it off ourselves.

Back to 1 Corinthians 11:26, which reads, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” The death of Christ is half of the reason why you are saved today. The Resurrection of Jesus is the other half. God never wants us to forget the sacrifice that Jesus paid for us. We are to do this as a continual memorial to remember the death of Christ until he comes. When He does come, we will continue to have Communion, as we read in the Gospels, but we will have it with the Lord Himself. Nowhere in the bible does it specify that Communion should be once a month as most churches prescribe. Since there are no prescriptions for the frequency of Communion, then God allows us to take it according to our conscience. Some take Communion every week. A few take it every day. But the obvious implication is that we are to take it frequently and continue to take it. We are not to take it solo. It is to be a community ceremony for the purpose of fellowshipping with other believers.

Verse 27 reads, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” See the issue here is not sin against God, but rather sin against the bread and the cup. This is why this entire, what I call the “danger” passage, is not dangerous at all. The issue is not an absolution of sin. It is about not sinning against the cup and the bread by taking it gluttonously. Since most do not dishonor the cup or bread itself then this passage does not apply to the majority of us. Only a fool would defame the cup and bread of the Lord (or immature children). We therefore have nothing to worry about and we can now stop avoiding Communion. It is a blessing to take Communion, not a curse.

Verse 28 reads, “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. [29] For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.” Again, it is about defaming the bread and wine itself, not just committing sin in general. Communion is for the sinner. It is not for the righteous who does not need forgiveness. Verse 30 says, “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” This curse is real, but there is hardly anyone idiotic enough to make mockery of the Communion table. Verse 31: “But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.” This is a nice verse. This verse expands beyond this topic. If we judge ourselves, that is be judged by our own conscience, then it is possible to escape God’s judgment, or discipline of us. If we constantly judge ourselves we would avoid most sins that we are accustomed to giving in to. God disciplines us. Discipline is a good thing. Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Verse 6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

Know that discipline is a good thing. God does not go around killing those who are caught in a sin and takes Communion. He disciplines them. 1 Corinthians 11:32 says, “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.” It is possible for a Christian to ignore God’s discipline. If that happens, God will treat the person as He would treat a worldly person. He will increase the heat of His judgment so that the child will turn and repent. Paul sums up his message with verses 33 and 34. Here he again stresses that he is talking about how one treats the Communion table, not just sin in general. It reads, “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.” Since we cannot get filled off of cracker crumbs, the only thing we need to be concerned about is respecting your neighbor and being mindful of them to keep order to the Communion service.
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