Tag Archives: sin

Communion; Unworthily vs. unworthy…

I discussed the doctrine of transubstantiation in two parts which you can find here; pt. 1 & pt. 2.  I mentioned that I was going to comment on Paul’s injunction about taking communion unworthily, and that we are to examine ourselves.  Throughout different denominations, teachers have been misusing these verses to try to lay a guilt trip on people for their sin when partaking of the bread and wine; however, if one looks at the verses in question, things start becoming clear.  We are indeed to examine ourselves, and we are not to take unworthily, but what exactly does this mean?

1 Corinthians 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

I hold that the bread and wine are symbols (not “just” symbols or “mere” symbols, but symbols full of meaning, that serve several purposes), as taught by Christ and Paul (and even James indirectly). However, there is power in the act, or in the taking. Why do I say this? Because one can eat and drink temporary “damnation,” or rather rendered judgment (in the Greek; krima), or sickness on themselves, according to Paul. Eating and drinking without remembering Jesus and His sacrifice leads to this.

Of course, in Paul’s example, there were people eating and drinking the bread and wine after they were drunk, and/or they had come to have a full meal together, and did not set apart the bread and cup, but rather drank and ate hungrily without thinking on Christ. They weren’t taking it worthily…in other words they were partaking in an unworthy manner.

The Greek word used for “unworthily” is anaxious, which is an adverb describing the act (remember, adverbs describe verbs, not nouns), not the person.  Worthiness in this context is not about the person taking the communion, it is about how it is taken. We aren’t to examine ourselves before partaking, we are to remember Christ.  So, from scripture, we are not to examine ourselves, for worthiness, that takes our “eyes” off Christ, and puts them on ourselves. The only way to take unworthily is to take not remembering Christ’s sacrifice, and by so doing, we fail to remember Him and fail to show forth His sacrifice.  So to examine ourselves means to make sure we’re remembering Christ, that we aren’t just eating because we’re hungry (or drunk). None of us are worthy, as far as that goes, so there’s no examination necessary when it comes to our being unworthy.

Anyone who tries to get people to examine themselves for things like sin when partaking of the bread and wine are doing the very thing Paul warned against; taking our “eyes” and minds off of Christ, and neglecting to take in rememberance of Him.  Now, there is a responsibility on the part of the person taking the bread and wine to realize what it is symbolic of…this is why non-Christians should abstain from taking communion; they don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God, and therefore would not be partaking in remembrance and faith in Him, nor to show forth His body, broken for us, and His blood shed for the remission of our sin.  Again, I look forward to going more in depth about how Passover fits in with communion, and remembering Christ’s sacrifice for us in a later post.

I owe much of this teaching and understanding to the late Dr. Gene “Doc” Scott…his teaching on this idea has helped to refocus believers hearts and minds onto Christ.  If a person’s sins were going to stop us from taking communion, none of us could partake.  Communion, or the taking of the bread and cup is one of the straightforward symbols and acts that Christ Himself instituted, and instructed us as believers to do.

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You’re a sinner, I’m a sinner…

It’s basic Christian theology, right?  That was my immediate thought, and the way I’ve always been taught, both by pastors, family, the Bible, and yes, the Holy Spirit.  Apparently, though, there are many of my fellow Christians out there that mouth these words yet never take them to heart, and quite frankly it’s driving me a bit insane.  I don’t know if this is because pastors, teachers, and preachers out there are not teaching this, or if it has become such a pat phrase that we just nod right on by it.  Honestly, how many of my fellow believers out there read the title “You’re a sinner, I’m a sinner,” and nod right along without really stopping to think what that means?

Two dialogues this week brought this to my attention, and it is actually one of the main reasons I started this blog when I did.  The first conversation occurred on a Christian forum that I am a member of, in a thread discussing the death penalty from a Christian perspective.  Here is a paraphrase of one of the comments that appeared in the thread, “Well, I would hope that if I did anything that deserved the death penalty, that they would catch me, and carry out the sentence.”  I hate to break it to you, but we have all done things that deserve the death penalty according to the highest law in the land; God’s own law.  Has anyone really studied the stoneable offenses in the Old Testament (OT)?  There is a pretty big list including adultery, murder, not honoring your parents, etc… they earned the death penalty.  “Well,” you say, “I’ve never killed anyone, I’ve never cheated on my spouse!”  Any self-respecting Christian should have a ready comeback to that idea, straight from Christ’s own teachings, here’s a hint, see Matthew Chapter 5.  Not enough?  Many of my fellow Christians who like to push works, and even condemn others while trying to avoid condemnation themselves love the book of James, so let’s see what James tells us: James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. Well, now, that changes a few things, or at least it should.

The second discussion that brought this to my attention was an interview done with John Barrowman (of Torchwood fame, go Captain Jack!) on a BBC show that I watched via youtube.  One of the topics discussed was the fact that John is openly homosexual.  Also, he made mention on this show (and elsewhere in other interviews as well), that he believes in God, and was brought up in the church.  Now, this post isn’t to discuss homosexuality, but rather something more fundamental.  John made the point that it was wrong for Christians, (or “other” Christians, perhaps) to say to him that he is evil, bad, and wrong.  Not only that, but he then made the comment that he was a good man.  Two things came to mind the first was that I’m sure there’ve been some “lovely” Christians that have indeed spat on Homosexuals, called them names, and pronounced damnation on them, calling them evil, bad and wrong just because of their homosexuality, and that’s a true shame.  The second thing that came to mind, is “what theology has John, and all those condemning homosexuals for their sin without looking in a mirror been taught?”

The stance clearly presented in scripture, and by Jesus Himself, is that none of us are “good.”  None of us.  Yes, without Christ, John Barrowman is evil, bad, and wrong, and so am I, and so are you.  That’s the whole point. There is none good but God, our righteousness is as filthy rags, no there are none that doeth good… “Yup, yup, yup, you’re right, none good, yup!”  No! Don’t just agree with it, think about it.  We are all a bunch of sinners, who, according to scripture, if we break one law, we get charged with ’em all!  All of our hope, all of our faith rests solely on Christ; not on what sin we haven’t committed, because we’ve committed them all according to the word.  There’s not one mere human better than any other.

Is this post a hidden message against the death penalty, or one saying homosexual acts are fine?  By no means.  Is it a message that supports sinning so that grace may abound? I join Paul in saying, “God forbid!”  There is indeed right and wrong, and sin that we should actively try to avoid with the help and teaching of the scripture, and The Spirit.  I’m just hoping this will help even one person soak this idea in and really think about it; it is fundamental theology, and is meant to get everyone’s eyes firmly on Christ, because He is indeed the source of our only true Righteousness.  It is also meant to banish the foolish idea that any one of us is “better” or less deserving of death than any other human; our only means of escaping the death penalty in this life or the next is faith in Jesus Christ!

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