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The Restoration Plea in 1 Corinthians 11:17

For many years the Churches of Christ have stood up and said that denominational Christianity is wrong and that we need to simply restore the Church of the New Testament. Is that plea valid and is it Biblical?

In the book of First Corinthians, Paul is writing to clear up a lot of divisions/denominations that were in the incubation period (1:10-12). Left unchecked and unrepented, the Corinthian Church would no longer be recognized as a Church belonging to Christ (Rev 2:5). This means they would be lost for all eternity. Paul is pleading with this church to be restored back to what it was when he planted the congregation (4:14-21). This entire book is filled with Paul pleading for the Church to be restored.

In 11:17-34 Paul addresses the Lord’s Supper which is an act of worship. This is of extreme importance because worship is one of the greatest divisions between the N.T. Church and modern denominational Christianity. Does it matter how one worships? Can and should New Testament worship be restored? Let’s take a quick look at some principles Paul teaches on this.

1 Cor 11:17-34- But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. (18) For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, (19) for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. (20) When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. (21) For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. (22) What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. (23) For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, (24) and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (25) In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (26) For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (27) Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.

In 11:17-18 we see that the Lord’s Supper had reached a point where it actually harmed the church. From this we should immediately see that there is a wrong way to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Since the Lord’s Supper is worship, we can conclude that there is a wrong way to worship.

In 11:19, If there was any silver lining to the division it was that those who were righteous were clearly seen. So many folks have never even thought of this before, but worship is an identifier of the church of Christ. If you are looking for simple New Testament Christianity one way to find it is to see how they worship.

In 11:20-22 We learn what they had done. They had turned the Lord’s Supper into a full-blown meal. Turning the Supper into a full meal had consequences and the consequences were the divisions. Every time you add to or change the simple command of God, you will have divisions.

Adding to the Supper was not wrong because of the results, adding to the Supper was wrong because it was not authorized (Col 3:17). It just so happens that every unauthorized addition to worship will have a negative effect.

So, here is this problem. The Church does not look like it did when Paul planted it. What does one do in this situation?Throw up their hands and say, “you do things your way, and we’ll do things ours”?

Please notice 11:23. Paul pleads with them to go back to the simple command of Jesus. To restore what was originally commanded. This is Paul making the restoration plea!

Improper worship will be the reason many lose their souls. The remedy is not pleading ignorance and not taking a stand. The remedy is restoring the New Testament Church. Let’s go back in time before Baptist conventions, before Wesley, before Calvin, before Luther, before the Pope. Let’s go back and restore what was originally delivered.

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