Church Discipline: Fencing the Table – “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

So yesterday you were introduced the reality of church discipline, today we’re talking about how church discipline relates to “fencing the table.”

Read 1 Corinthians 11

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 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.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

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. (1 Cor. 11:27-32)

Note the first paragraph of Scripture above, the “words of institution” as they are called today.  These give clarity and grounds for doing what we do during the Lord’s Supper.  But then note the second paragraph where we find clarity and grounds for warning those who desire to take the Supper, that there are times when you should and should not take the Supper.  Did you know that?  Has that ever been told to you by the pastor or one leading the Supper?  If you eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner you are guilty and eat and drink judgment onto yourself.  What does this mean?  At least two things:

For the Christian it means there are times you can take the Supper and times you cannot.  If you’re in stubborn unrepentant sin, not willing to confess or forsake that sin, in anger with another Christian you cannot take the Supper until these things are dealt with.  If you take the Supper in this manner you are not in a good place.  Repent, confess, seek and find healing with your Christian brother or sister, then come to the table and feast.

For the non-Christian it means there is never a time when you can take the Supper.  Why?  Because you are still in your sins and the wrath of God still stands against you.  While not having faith in the Christ who is present during the Supper, it is dangerous to meet Him there in that state.  It is no small thing to make small the table of the Lord.  Do not treat it with contempt or you will heap judgment onto yourself in a further degree.  Did you see what happened to people when they did this in the above Scripture?  They died.  Be warned.

This is why every pastor, before the Supper, ought to “fence the table” so that some are let in to take it while others are kept out for their safety.  When you hear the call to come to the table to feast some of us should hear a “COME AS YOU ARE!” while others of us should hear Gandalf’s voice warning us “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

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