September 28, 2008
This morning we face an unusual and grievous circumstance as we approach the Supper of the Lord. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:
1 Corinthians 11:27-32 (NKJV)27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.In this text, we are told that it is our duty as the people of God, when coming to the Supper, to discern the body rightly. What does this mean? Throughout 1 Corinthians Paul has insisted that discerning the body rightly means recognizing all the members of the Church and their relationship to me. It means waiting for others before pigging out on the Supper. It means acknowledging that Billy over there really is my brother in Christ even though we find it hard to get along. It means acknowledging that those sinful men over there who compose the Session of elders really do have authority in the Church. To recognize the body is to look outward, around the room, and make sure that we are at peace with our brothers and sisters in the Lord and filling our proper role in the body.
If we fail to do this, then Paul tells us, we shall be judged. Indeed, he notes that this was already happening in the Corinthian church. As a result of their failure to judge themselves, the Lord intervened and starting judging on His own. It is to avoid just such a scenario that we are bringing a matter before you this morning.
Today we face the heavy task of suspending a member from participation in the Supper of the Lord. This morning we announce the public suspension of ------ from the table of the Lord for scandalous conduct unbefitting a disciple of Christ. Simultaneously our mother church in Spokane is announcing the suspension of ------. We do not do this lightly or frivolously. This is a sober moment. Suspension means that ------ is living in a way that does not become a follower of Christ and that informal, private confrontation has failed to turn him from the error of his ways. We are now bringing the matter to you in accordance with Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18. What can you do?
First and foremost pray for him and for ------. Beseech our Heavenly Father, the giver of all good gifts, to grant him the gift of repentance, that his eyes would be open to see his own unbelief and that he would return to Jesus.
Second, the mailing address of ------ and ------ will be made available to the members of the congregation. We would ask you to consider writing him or her or both of them separately a letter. But let me give guidance. The letters are not to be shrill; not to be harsh. Rather, remind them of your love for them, insist that you are praying for them, and encourage them to reconsider the path they have chosen – to choose life and not death. We would ask that all members of the congregation consider doing this – from the smallest to the biggest, youngest to the oldest.
Third, pray that our Lord would protect the purity and peace of His Church. Details substantiating the course the elders have chosen will be presented in the appropriate time and place. Meanwhile, ask our Lord to bless His Church and pray for us as we work through these details.