ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: THE TABLE OF THE LORD VII
Nov 6, '09 10:07 AM
By Regner Capener
Hiya, Folks! This is the best day of your life! Sure it is. Yesterday’s gone, and tomorrow isn’t here yet. Fact is, if you were any better, you’d be dangerous! Hohohohoho…….
Now wouldn’t you rather start Monday like that instead of some old cranky, wheezy, whiny, “I jus’ don’t know if I oughta get outta bed t’day or not! My bones are jus’ so tarred! Reckon, I gots to, though. Won’t get nuthin done in bed…..groan….”
See. Get your spirits livened up. Get your mind alert. Grab a good cup of that dark roasted Columbian or some French Roast, or somethin’ like that! Wake up, sleepy!
We recently learned of something that happened with some longtime very close friends of ours, Clif and Kristi Shannon, who live in Anchorage. We've known them for nearly 25 years, and in fact Kristi was my secretary when I was in international banking. She also worked with Della at Zales Jewelers when we first met them. Anyway, Clif has had diabetes for many years, and this past year suffered with kidney failure and required daily dialysis treatments. He has been on a transplant list for a new kidney.
I'm not sure what prompted it but Kristi decided to see if she could be a donor for Clif. Turns out she was a perfect match. Seven or eight weeks ago, the transplant operation was conducted in Seattle. Kristi gave one of her kidneys to Clif, and the operation worked! Clif is now free of the dialysis treatments and is recovering just fine, thank you very much. So is Kristi. We had the pleasure and blessing of their company this past week as they drove over for a four-day visit.
We hear of kidney transplant operations regularly, but the idea that a wife could donate one of her kidneys to her husband is really cool! I'd never seen that before.
The recent death of a relative prompted some of our children and grandchildren to come from Alaska for a visit. Our youngest son, Joshua and his wife, Michelle (and their kids), came from Anchorage as did our daughter, Danielle. Because they needed to get back home before Thanksgiving (both Danielle and Josh had to be back at work), we decided to have an early pre-Thanksgiving dinner. Four of our eight children were here, along with spouses, grandchildren and two of our great-grandchildren. I think I counted 21 at the dinner table -- and that's about half of our tribe. We'll have an actual Thanksgiving dinner later this week, but the gathering will be somewhat smaller.
Let's see....what was it that David wrote? "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."
Yup! David had it right! And we've got "a quiver full."
(Anyway, in case you're wondering, we've had a busy time for the past few weeks -- hence no Coffee Breaks got published.)
When Paul was writing to the Corinthians about the Table of the Lord he wrote this,
"Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not?
"What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come. 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. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." (I Corinthians 11:23-30)
Let me once again phrase verses 29-30 for you in some contemporary amplified terminology. "He that eats and drinks [at the Table of the Lord] treating it as just another commemorative act and "one more religious thing to do," eats and drinks of the same judgment and decree God made [when He said to Adam, "In the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die"], not differentiating between this Table and any other table. Because they treat the Table of the Lord as commonplace, many people are weak and infirm and suffer the various sicknesses and diseases that afflict human flesh; and many die -- most prematurely."
If you grew up in church like I did, you most likely heard the instruction to "examine yourself" more times than you can count. The problem was that we were "examining ourselves" introspectively to see if we had any sin in us. There may be a sense in which that could be applied, but that's not the whole picture of what Paul was talking about.
The Greek word in the original text is dokimazo, which means: to test, to prove, to scrutinize and to recognize as genuine after examination; to approve, to deem worthy. This was a word originally "coined" (if you'll excuse the unintentional pun) among numismatists who put metals through the fire to test their genuineness.
The word, dokimazo, describes the process by which the purity of coins were established -- putting gold, silver and other precious metals into a crucible and applying heat to the place where any impurities would come floating to the surface. Those impurities would be scooped off, and what remained would be classified as 99.9% pure. The .1% difference was always left as the possible margin of error in which some undetectable impurity might remain.
Just as an aside, Paul also uses this same word in writing to Timothy when he says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15 KJV) The King James Version really misses the essence of what Paul wrote to Timothy.
This verse should really render like this: "Be instantly responsive to the Lord, diligently making yourself available to Him in the midst of the crucible, a tried and tested laborer who has no fear of being examined -- one who, by virtue of God's testing and the time spent in the crucible with Him, knows the proven word of truth."
Quite a different picture, don't you think? That word, dokimazo, (or actually its root, dokimon, which describes the smelting process itself) is what Paul is using to indicate how approval comes following examination.
And what is it that we are examining, proving or testing at the Table of the Lord? It is quite simple, really. Look at the context of the examination. "For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself because he doesn't discern the Lord's body."
Are you seeing it?
Discernment, in this case, is the ability to differentiate between what is taking place when you eat at the Table of the Lord and when you simply eat a piece of bread or drink a cup of wine. Let me explain.
The phraseology that Paul uses is very revealing. Immediately after saying "Let a man examine himself," he uses the Greek word, houtos, which means: in this way, in the manner spoken of, like this, in such manner. Talk about an illustration!
What Paul is literally saying is, "Let a man place himself for examination in the crucible BY eating of that bread and drinking of that cup." The examination comes by the Word being allowed to do His work in us by the power of His blood.
Let's look at this one more way. Consider how Paul put this to the Philippians.
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13)
Work out your own salvation? Huhh? How do we do that?
Again it is quite simple. We permit the Word to do His work in us. We permit the Word -- the Bread of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself -- to reveal things in our lives that need change, correction, modification, elimination, etc. We permit the Blood of Jesus to finish the work of redemption, to destroy death, to rescue us from the Curse, to minister freedom from sickness, disease, infirmity and weakness.
And how do we permit the Word to do His work in us? How do we permit the power of the Blood of Jesus to accomplish His purpose? By eating at the Table of the Lord! By eating of the bread and drinking of the cup. You see, there is nothing common about this. There is nothing ordinary about the broken bread and the cup of the Lord. There is a supernatural act that is designed into the very nature of the partaking.
I've said this before and I'll say it again. My Roman Catholic brothers almost have it right. Although they believe that the bread actually becomes the body of Jesus and the wine actually becomes His blood, that's not quite true, but almost. There IS a supernatural thing taking place here. The bread and the wine are accomplishing in us -- as long as we permit it -- to do exactly what Jesus' body took, and what His blood accomplished -- literally!
The key is, AS LONG AS WE PERMIT IT! There is a process taking place. Consider once again the fact that Jesus gave us two ordinances -- specific commands -- to keep as believers. The first, of course, was water baptism. Water baptism (when it is done by faith) establishes our legal basis as sons and daughters of God, as heirs and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, as having been freed from the Law of Sin and Death.
The Table of the Lord, on the other hand, is the walking out of our freedom, the partaking of the substance of faith, the enabling in a practical sense of what Jesus accomplished by His death and resurrection, the transforming of us from corruptible (and corrupted!) beings to incorruptible. Each time we eat of the bread and each time we drink of the cup more of Jesus gets imparted and implanted in our being and more change takes place in us.
This is where the Word of Truth becomes proven in us.
Remember Paul's statement to Timothy? "[Make] yourself available to Him in the midst of the crucible, a tried and tested laborer who has no fear of being examined -- one who, by virtue of God's testing and the time spent in the crucible with Him, knows the proven word of truth."
When we permit God to do in us and accomplish in us what Jesus finished with His suffering, His death and His resurrection we become systematically and methodically transformed into a new creation. As a side note here, when we repent of our sin, accept and acknowledge and confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our spirits are instantly transformed. We spiritually become new. But we are not only spirit-beings.
Created as triune beings, we are spirit, soul and body. Transformation begins in the spirit, but change must also come to our soul -- our mind, our thoughts, our thinking processes, our character and makeup, our identities. By the same token, change must come to our bodies as well. In case you hadn't noticed, Jesus paid the price for our physical well-being also.
The apostle Paul expressed it like this. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thessalonians 5:23)
See the picture?
What has happened throughout history is that the implications of the Table of the Lord have become so watered down as to become a religious rite, something "we have to do," something that lacks force and power for change in us; in other words as Paul puts it: anaxios: commonplace. That's the word that gets translated as "unworthily."
So long as we treat the Table of the Lord as "commonplace" or as some religious act, we not only do not receive the benefits Jesus intended for us to receive by eating and drinking of Him, we eat judgment to ourselves. We are treating something that is holy -- something that is supernatural, something that has force and power for change in us -- as expendable and unnecessary.
And the result, as Paul notes, is that "many are weak (astheneo: diseased and impotent) and sickly (arrhostos: unhealthy) among you, and many sleep (koimao: die [prematurely])."
It is time that God's people wake up and realize what they have available to them in the Table of the Lord. How was it that Jesus put it?
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." (John 6:53)
Now you're beginning to get the picture. Life -- Zoë life -- the light, the life, the energizing force of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus is what we receive every time we partake at the Table of the Lord. Della and I do this without fail every single day! And we do this with every single gathering -- both Sunday worship and teaching gatherings and Wednesday nite Bible study gatherings -- at River Worship Center. And it is making a difference for everyone!
Our youth is being renewed like the eagle's because Jesus is satisfying our mouth with good things. (Psalm 103:3-5) He heals all of our diseases, He redeems our life from the destruction that comes from the Curse, and He crowns us daily with His lovingkindness and His tender mercies. And it is all made available at the Table of the Lord.
I repeat. There is nothing commonplace about the Lord's Table. Let me counsel you to begin to eat of the Table of the Lord every single day. Don't do it because I say so. Do it as an act of faith. Use the Table of the Lord as a point of contact between you and the supernatural impartation of life, health, strength and wholeness given and made available to you by the Lord Jesus Christ. Stop moaning and groaning about your aches and pains and begin taking advantage of the Bread of Life and the Cup of Blessing.
I'll be back.
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
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