Question: “What was the Corinthian church like?”
Answer: They were full of flesh. Paul does not use the word ‘ordinances’ for any other church. ‘Ordinances’ are the orders and instructions necessary to keep right order and holy behaviour in the church. Indeed, we have civic orders and ordinances of “Don’t Park Here” and “Don’t Speed Over 60km/hr” for law and order, and with appropriate penalties for non-compliance.
Question: What were these orders?
Answer: They are found in 1st Corinthians - 1Cor 1:10 no divisions 1:31 glory in the Lord 2:13 compare spiritual with spiritual 3:8 reward for own labour 3:13-15 take heed how you build 3:16-17 be holy 3:20-21 no vain glory 4:1-2 be a faithful steward 4:6 don’t be puffed up 4:16 be followers of Paul 5:1 no fornication 5:11 no company and eating with fornicators, covetous, idolaters, railers , drunkards or extortioners 5:12 judge those within 6:1-8 don’t be judged in the world’s courts 6:9-10 no inheritance 6:18 flee fornication 7:1-40 marriage advice 8:13 don’t defile the conscience of the weak 9:7 soldiers worthy to be paid 9:19 be servant to all; 9:24 run for the prize 9:27 keep the body under 10: 6-14 cease lusting, idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ and murmuring 10:32 all things edify not 10:32 give none offence.”
Question: When were these orders given?
Answer: In the previous chapters prior to the Lord’s supper of chapter 11. Paul delivers the orders for the church in chapters 1-10. He then goes on to say “If you are not judging yourselves and following the orders “…as I have delivered (past tense) them to you…” (11:2), you will get weak, sick and die.” The Lord’s supper was a test to see whether they were judging themselves and keeping the orders!
A similar test in the OT was the Jealousy Test for a woman to uncover any unfaithfulness to her husband. She would drink the water to see whether she was telling the truth. Her belly would swell and thigh would rot if her speech and heart were not as one (Num 5:27).
Furthermore, to say “… the cup, as oft as ye drink it …” (1Cor 11:25) reveals it is not a mandatory order. Christians might only have the Lord’s supper once a year, if that.
How often have you heard the Pastor warn the unsaved, with much gravity, not to take the Lord’s supper? But taking the supper unworthily is directed at Christians, not the unsaved, who are already unworthy. Is there a special double damnation for double unworthiness for an unsaved person? I think not.
Hence, the Lord’s supper is not an ordinance but is a REMEMBRANCE with consequences of not treading Christ’s shed blood underfoot (1Cor 11:25).
Harley Hitchcock 14th July 2021