Do People Really Die Because of how they take Communion?

The instructions about Communion as given by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 contain a warning. We discussed yesterday what causes judgment to come on Communion takers—their flippancy in regards to what is going on in Communion.

Now we will look at the judgment included in the warning. Here’s the whole passage:

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 11:27-30).

The manner in which someone partakes of the elements is the problem, it’s not because you sinned yesterday. Examine yourself: are you understanding what’s going on? Do you partake with the proper respect for what it represents? Are you treating others well? Are you showing off? Are you doing this to look good? Are you truly remembering the Lord’s death?

Those who are not “discerning” the body and blood of Christ, are not understanding the significance of what He did and act disrespectfully, are going to be judged.

Paul says some in Corinth are weak, sick, and others have died because of how they took Communion.

Wow. Is this for real?

I have heard many people explain that it’s not for real. Some say this is a Law principle, sounds too Old Testamenty, certainly it can’t be true for us today.

Well, one problem with that reasoning: Paul said it right there in the middle of the New Testament. I’m going to have to go with Paul on this one rather than your feelings about what the New Testament should sound like.

Some think Paul is speaking spiritually—weak, sick, and some are dead spiritually, not physically. Well, ok, but that opens a new can of worms. If people are dying spiritually, what does that mean? Did they lose their new life in Christ? Have they lost their salvation?

Again, taking the simple meaning of words, Paul means that many are sick, weak, and dead because they took Communion wrong. I’m gonna go ahead and take those words simply for what they say even if they make me uncomfortable.

Does God really judge people like this in the New Testament?

Well, again, it says it right there! I can’t get past that. I could give you loopholes and theories, but that’s what it says.

I’m guessing the point Paul is making is that we ought to be careful how we take Communion. Again, not whether you sinned recently to the extent it actually bugged you, but are you respecting what is going on?

When I was a kid I did not take Communion with the proper respect. I didn’t know any better, I don’t think I was being blasphemous, I just didn’t know. I always tried to balance the Communion cup on my watch. I spilled it a couple times.

I should not have been taking Communion at that time. If I did that as an adult, if you’re making jokes, putting on a show, and missing the point of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, yeah, I’d watch out for some physical repercussions.

Does that make me an Old Testament believer stuck under a yoke of bondage? Probably according to some. To me it sounds like I’m listening to God’s word. I’ve yet to hear someone with more authority than the Apostle Paul tell me why this isn’t relevant today.

Be careful out there. Communion is not a joke.

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