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Examine Yourselves

Examine Yourselves
By Paul O. Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
July  2006


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When the apostle Paul wrote his second epistle to the Corinthians his admonition was for them to give themselves a self examination. This examination or test was important for them to see themselves as the Lord saw them. The apostle said, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves..." (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Spiritual examinations are important to our spiritual man just as physical examinations are to the human body. Many a person has saved his or her life by discovering a life threatening tumor through self examination. Also, others have died prematurely because they neglected the advice of a doctor to examine themselves for blemishes which might have resulted in discovery of a cancerous growth that ultimately resulted in death.

2 Corinthians 13:5 is not the only passage which admonishes us to examine ourselves. The apostle Paul wrote this same body of Christians previously and told them that when they participated in the Lord's Supper that they were to examine themselves before partaking of the bread and the cup of the Lord. If they did not discern [see] the body and blood of the Lord in their communion, they [were eating unworthily and] were eating and drinking "damnation to themselves."

Spiritually we have a standard of measurement. This scriptural standard shows no partiality. The apostle John said when he was on the Isle of Patmos, "And there was given unto me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar, and them that worship therein" (Revelation 11:1). This figurative language signified the measuring of the church, the worship, and the worshipers. This is God's standard of measurement – the inspired word – the Bible. By it we can scrutinize and test ourselves to see if we meet God's standard of a true Christian. Paul said, "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged" (1 Corinthians 11:31 NKJ).

Not everyone is going to heaven just because he is religious. Jesus said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:21-23).

We can run, but we can't hide from the Lord. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13). We can run from one congregation to another seeking refuge from our sins. We can go where they don't preach on this or that, or where the standard is not so high. In such a case we can feel comfortable when practicing sin and unrighteousness. The church in Corinth tolerated immorality – a man guilty of the grossest type of sin. He was welcome and in full fellowship, and the church thought everything was just fine. He was in a congregation where he felt comfortable. They did not preach on immorality and incest. There were other things that congregation did not preach on or teach against, as is indicated in other passages. And as long as that was the case all felt comfortable, and the consciences of the members were not troubled. However, the apostle Paul demanded that change come. He showed them what the standard of truth was. And if they did not do something about the situation there, then he would when he came to them. Listen to him, "I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare" (2 Corinthians 13:2).

Surely we can see the need of maintaining a high standard in the church. Running from sin pretending things are all right when they are not, is not the solution to problems in a congregation. The solution is to teach the will of God in its purity and its simplicity, without fear and without favor, so that all members know what God demands of us as Christians. Then with that measuring reed given to John, examine ourselves whether we be in the faith. By doing this we can make any adjustments or changes in our lives necessary for us to be approved for heaven in the day of judgment when we stand before the Great Judge. Surely, we want to hear the Lord say to us, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joys of thy Lord." How do you stand with the Lord?

We appreciate the above article by brother Paul O. Nichols. We commend this teaching. In it there reference to the self examination to be done by each Christian before eating of the bread and drinking of the cup in the Lord's Supper. Once more, the apostle wrote, "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" (vs. 27–29). Unworthily in verse 27 is an adverb modifying the verbs eat and drink. The sin that one might commit is eating of the Lord's Supper without appreciating, fully realizing its solemn, symbolic meaning, i.e. that the bread is the body of Jesus and the fruit of the vine His blood. One might treat it as common food, not discerning, that is, not seeing in it Jesus' sacrificial offering of Himself on Calvary. The person who does this, the Bible tells us, "eats and drinks damnation to himself."

There is only one loaf in the communion to picture Jesus' one physical body and remind Christians that they are His one spiritual body, the church. The Scripture says, " For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." Consistently, there is a single cup in the Lord's Supper. The Bible says, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16,17). It is called "the cup of blessing" as distinguished from any other cup we might drink from. There is a literal drinking vessel to contain literal contents to be drunk. The single container filled with fruit of the vine pictures the single covenant, the New Testament, which Jesus ratified with His blood (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25).

When we are about to commune, if we make comments, let them not distract from the spiritual significance of the Lord's Supper. It is not appropriate to break down the construction of the elements that make up the Supper. Let's refer to it as "the cup of blessing" when we thank the Lord for it and ask His approval on what we are about to do. We should say things which will help prepare the thoughts of the Christians' who are about to commune. It is no time to conduct a one-sided debate; save that for another time. Rest assured there is no miracle performed at the Lord's table. The container is still a literal cup filled with literal fruit of the vine or grape juice, before, when, and after it is blessed, and the bread is still literal bread before, when, and after the prayer of thanks is offered, but in the Christians' mind the bread is now Christ's body and the cup is now the New Testament ratified by the blood of Jesus. At the table, please, let us only emphasize the spiritual significance of the elements to help prepare the Christians to see the death and sacrifice offered by Jesus.

Long ago Isaiah wrote, "Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all" (65:8). What is found in the cluster–"new wine;" this is the juice of the grape. The cup bearer to Pharaoh in Genesis 40 told that he dreamed about a grape vine which sprang up, "And in the vine were three branches... and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand" (10,11). This, my friends, was fresh squeezed grape juice. A similar process gives us the drink element in the Lord's Supper–the fruit of the vine.

Furthermore, the inspired apostle employs the expression "communion" concerning our eating and drinking in the Lord's Supper. Communion means a "sharing" or a "joint participation." The passage says, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" The joint participation in the Supper signifies that we, the communicants, share in the body and in the blood of the Lord. Who communes? "We" do. Who? The same "we" who break the bread. Do you see it? What is pictured to us in the one bread is the one body of Christ. The Greek word bread is artos translated "a loaf" – it is not "a piece of bread," it is the bread, a loaf and it is the body of Jesus, and we commune in it. The cup of blessing which we bless we share or commune together in.

Your self-examination should help to make certain that your mind is upon the body and blood of the Christ in the Lord's Supper.

= = = = = = =
SELF-EXAMINATION BEFORE EATING THE LORD'S SUPPER

We appreciate the above article by brother Paul O. Nichols. We commend this teaching. In it there reference to the self examination to be done by each Christian before eating of the bread and drinking of the cup in the Lord's Supper. Once more, the apostle wrote, "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" (vs. 27–29). Unworthily in verse 27 is an adverb modifying the verbs eat and drink. The sin that one might commit is eating of the Lord's Supper without appreciating, fully realizing its solemn, symbolic meaning, i.e. that the bread is the body of Jesus and the fruit of the vine His blood. One might treat it as common food, not discerning, that is, not seeing in it Jesus' sacrificial offering of Himself on Calvary. The person who does this, the Bible tells us, "eats and drinks damnation to himself."

There is only one loaf in the communion to picture Jesus' one physical body and remind Christians that they are His one spiritual body, the church. The Scripture says, " For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." Consistently, there is a single cup in the Lord's Supper. The Bible says, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16,17). It is called "the cup of blessing" as distinguished from any other cup we might drink from. There is a literal drinking vessel to contain literal contents to be drunk. The single container filled with fruit of the vine pictures the single covenant, the New Testament, which Jesus ratified with His blood (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25).

When we are about to commune, if we make comments, let them not distract from the spiritual significance of the Lord's Supper. It is not appropriate to break down the construction of the elements that make up the Supper. Let's refer to it as "the cup of blessing" when we thank the Lord for it and ask His approval on what we are about to do. We should say things which will help prepare the thoughts of the Christians' who are about to commune. It is no time to conduct a one-sided debate; save that for another time. Rest assured there is no miracle performed at the Lord's table. The container is still a literal cup filled with literal fruit of the vine or grape juice, before, when, and after it is blessed, and the bread is still literal bread before, when, and after the prayer of thanks is offered, but in the Christians' mind the bread is now Christ's body and the cup is now the New Testament ratified by the blood of Jesus. At the table, please, let us only emphasize the spiritual significance of the elements to help prepare the Christians to see the death and sacrifice offered by Jesus.

Long ago Isaiah wrote, "Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all" (65:8). What is found in the cluster–"new wine;" this is the juice of the grape. The cup bearer to Pharaoh in Genesis 40 told that he dreamed about a grape vine which sprang up, "And in the vine were three branches... and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand" (10,11). This, my friends, was fresh squeezed grape juice. A similar process gives us the drink element in the Lord's Supper–the fruit of the vine.

Furthermore, the inspired apostle employs the expression "communion" concerning our eating and drinking in the Lord's Supper. Communion means a "sharing" or a "joint participation." The passage says, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" The joint participation in the Supper signifies that we, the communicants, share in the body and in the blood of the Lord. Who communes? "We" do. Who? The same "we" who break the bread. Do you see it? What is pictured to us in the one bread is the one body of Christ. The Greek word bread is artos translated "a loaf" – it is not "a piece of bread," it is the bread, a loaf and it is the body of Jesus, and we commune in it. The cup of blessing which we bless we share or commune together in.

Your self-examination should help to make certain that your mind is upon the body and blood of the Christ in the Lord's Supper.

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