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Ecclesiology discuss What does "discern the body" mean (1 Cor 11/Lord's Supper) in the Theological Forum forums; What does "discern the body" refer to in 1 Cor 11? Is it discerning the Lord's spiritual bodily presence in the bread of communion, or ...

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    WrittenFromUtopia is offline. Inactive User
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    What does "discern the body" mean (1 Cor 11/Lord's Supper)

    What does "discern the body" refer to in 1 Cor 11?

    Is it discerning the Lord's spiritual bodily presence in the bread of communion, or is it the body of Christ, the Church?

    Is this a command for examining if we are in the faith, or examining if we can discern that the body of Christ (the Church) is God's people?

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    John Gill
    not discerning the Lord's body. This is an instance of their eating and drinking unworthily, and a reason why they eat and drink condemnation to themselves, or contract guilt, or expose themselves either to chastisement or punishment; because they distinguish not the Lord's supper from an ordinary and common meal, but confound them together, as did many of the Corinthians, who also did not distinguish the body of Christ in it from the body of the paschal lamb; or discern not the body of Christ, and distinguish it from the bread, the sign or symbol of it; or discern not the dignity, excellency, and usefulness of Christ's body, as broken and offered for us, in which he bore our sins on the tree, and made satisfaction for them; a commemoration of which is made in this ordinance.
    Robertson's Word Pictures
    Not discerning (μὴ διακρίνων)Rev., if he discern not, bringing out the conditional force of the negative particle. The verb primarily means to separate, and hence to make a distinction, discriminate. Rev., in margin, discriminating. Such also is the primary meaning of discern (discernere to part or separate), so that discerning implies a mental act of discriminating between different things. So Bacon: "Nothing more variable than voices, yet men can likewise discern these personally." This sense has possibly become a little obscured in popular usage. From this the transition is easy and natural to the sense of doubting, disputing, judging, all of these involving the recognition of differences. The object of the discrimination here referred to, may, I think, be regarded as complex. After Paul's words (1Co_11:20, 1Co_11:22), about the degradation of the Lord's Supper, the discrimination between the Lord's body and common food may naturally be contemplated; but further, such discernment of the peculiar significance and sacredness of the Lord's body as shall make him shrink from profanation and shall stimulate him to penitence and faith.
    They weren't understanding it's significance and were bringing chastizement or damnation upon themselves.

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    Gabriel,
    I am not sure either of your answers sufficiently expressed the ordinance so I couldn't vote. I'm kinda dingy sometimes and slow to understand. It may be that both are correct but not fully expressing the whole.


    [Edited on 7-20-2005 by puritancovenanter]

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    From John Calvin, 1 Cor 11 27-29:


    27. Therefore he who shall eat this bread unworthily. If the Lord requires gratitude from us in the receiving of this sacrament -- if he would have us acknowledge his grace with the heart, and publish it with the mouth -- that man will not go unpunished, who has put insult upon him rather than honor; for the Lord will not allow his commandment to be despised. Now, if we would catch the meaning of this declaration, we must know what it is to eat unworthily. Some restrict it to the Corinthians, and the abuse that had crept in among them, but I am of opinion that Paul here, according to his usual manner, passed on from the particular case to a general statement, or from one instance to an entire class. There was one fault that prevailed among the Corinthians. He takes occasion from this to speak of every kind of faulty administration or reception of the Supper. "God," says he, "will not allow this sacrament to be profaned without punishing it severely."

    To eat unworthily, then, is to pervert the pure and right use of it by our abuse of it. Hence there are various degrees of this unworthiness, so to speak; and some offend more grievously, others less so. Some fornicator, perhaps, or perjurer, or drunkard, or cheat, (1 Corinthians 5:11,) intrudes himself without repentance. As such downright contempt is a token of wanton insult against Christ, there can be no doubt that such a person, whoever he is, receives the Supper to his own destruction. Another, perhaps, will come forward, who is not addicted to any open or flagrant vice, but at the same time not so prepared in heart as became him. As this carelessness or negligence is a sign of irreverence, it is also deserving of punishment from God. As, then, there are various degrees of unworthy participation, so the Lord punishes some more slightly; on others he inflicts severer punishment.

    Now this passage gave rise to a question, which some afterwards agitated with too much keenness -- whether the unworthy really partake of the Lord's body? For some were led, by the heat of controversy, so far as to say, that it was received indiscriminately by the good and the bad; and many at this day maintain pertinaciously, and most clamorously, that in the first Supper Peter received no more than Judas. It is, indeed, with reluctance, that I dispute keenly with any one on this point, which is (in my opinion) not an essential one; but as others allow themselves, without reason, to pronounce, with a magisterial air, whatever may seem good to them, and to launch out thunderbolts upon every one that mutters anything to the contrary, we will be excused, if we calmly adduce reasons in support of what we reckon to be true.

    I hold it, then, as a settled point, and will not allow myself to be driven from it, that Christ cannot be disjoined from his Spirit. Hence I maintain, that his body is not received as dead, or even inactive, disjoined from the grace and power of his Spirit. I shall not occupy much time in proving this statement. Now in what way could the man who is altogether destitute of a living faith and repentance, having nothing of the Spirit of Christ,33 receive Christ himself? Nay more, as he is entirely under the influence of Satan and sin, how will he be capable of receiving Christ? While, therefore, I acknowledge that there are some who receive Christ truly in the Supper, and yet at the same time unworthily, as is the case with many weak persons, yet I do not admit, that those who bring with them a mere historical faith,34 without a lively feeling of repentance and faith, receive anything but the sign. For I cannot endure to maim Christ,35 and I shudder at the absurdity of affirming that he gives himself to be eaten by the wicked in a lifeless state, as it were. Nor does Augustine mean anything else when he says, that the wicked receive Christ merely in the sacrament, which he expresses more clearly elsewhere, when he says that the other Apostles ate the bread -- the Lord; but Judas only the bread of the Lord.36

    But here it is objected, that the efficacy of the sacraments does not depend upon the worthiness of men, and that nothing is taken away from the promises of God, or falls to the ground, through the wickedness of men. This I acknowledge, and accordingly I add in express terms, that Christ's body is presented to the wicked no less than to the good, and this is enough so far as concerns the efficacy of the sacrament and the faithfulness of God. For God does not there represent in a delusive manner, to the wicked, the body of his Son, but presents it in reality; nor is the bread a bare sign to them, but a faithful pledge. As to their rejection of it, that does not impair or alter anything as to the nature of the sacrament.

    It remains, that we give a reply to the statement of Paul in this passage. "Paul represents the unworthy as guilty, inasmuch as they do not discern the Lord's body: it follows, that they receive his body." I deny the inference; for though they reject it, yet as they profane it and treat it with dishonor when it is presented to them, they are deservedly held guilty; for they do, as it were, cast it upon the ground, and trample it under their feet. Is such sacrilege trivial? Thus I see no difficulty in Paul's words, provided you keep in view what God presents and holds out to the wicked -- not what they receive.

    28. But let a man examine himself. An exhortation drawn from the foregoing threatening. "If those that eat unworthily are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, then let no man approach who is not properly and duly prepared. Let every one, therefore, take heed to himself, that he may not fall into this sacrilege through idleness or carelessness." But now it is asked, what sort of examination, that ought to be to which Paul exhorts us. Papists make it consist in auricular confession. They order all that are to receive the Supper, to examine their life carefully and anxiously, that they may unburden all their sins in the ear of the priest. Such is their preparation!37 I maintain, however, that this holy examination of which Paul speaks, is widely different from torture. Those persons,38 after having tortured themselves with reflection for a few hours, and making the priest -- such as he is -- privy to their vileness,39 imagine that they have done their duty. It is an examination of another sort that Paul here requires -- one of such a kind as may accord with the legitimate use of the sacred Supper.

    You see here a method that is most easily apprehended. If you would wish to use aright the benefit afforded by Christ, bring faith and repentance. As to these two things, therefore, the trial must be made, if you would come duly prepared. Under repentance I include love; for the man who has learned to renounce himself, that he may give himself up wholly to Christ and his service, will also, without doubt, carefully maintain that unity which Christ has enjoined. At the same time, it is not a perfect faith or repentance that is required, as some, by urging beyond due bounds, a perfection that can nowhere be found, would shut out for ever from the Supper every individual of mankind. If, however, thou aspirest after the righteousness of God with the earnest desire of thy mind, and, trembled under a view of thy misery, dost wholly lean upon Christ's grace, and rest upon it, know that thou art a worthy guest to approach the table -- worthy I mean in this respect, that the Lord does not exclude thee, though in another point of view there is something in thee that is not as it ought to be. For faith, when it is but begun, makes those worthy who were unworthy.

    29. He who shall eat unworthily, eateth judgment to himself. He had previously pointed out in express terms the heinousness of the crime, when he said that those who should eat unworthily would be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Now he alarms them, by denouncing punishment;40 for there are many that are not affected with the sin itself; unless they are struck down by the judgment of God. This, then, he does, when he declares that this food, otherwise health-giving, will turn out to their destruction, and will be converted into poison to those that eat unworthily.

    He adds the reasons because they distinguish not the Lord's body, that is, as a sacred thing from a profane. "They handle the sacred body of Christ with unwashed hands, (Mark 7:2,)41 nay more, as if it were a thing of nought, they consider not how great is the value of it.42 They will therefore pay the penalty of so dreadful a profanation." Let my readers keep in mind what I stated a little ago, that the body43 is presented to them, though their unworthiness deprives them of a participation in it.
    ~Wayne Wylie~
    Member, Mid Cities Presbyterian Church (OPC)
    Ruling Elder
    http://www.mcopc.org
    Bedford, TX

    Job 28:28 - And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

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    WrittenFromUtopia is offline. Inactive User
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    Originally posted by puritancovenanter
    Gabriel,
    I am not sure either of your answers sufficiently expressed the ordinance so I couldn't vote. I'm kinda dingy sometimes and slow to understand. It may be that both are correct but not fully expressing the whole.


    [Edited on 7-20-2005 by puritancovenanter]
    Well, basically I was trying to separate between the paedocommunion and the orthodox Reformed view.

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    Originally posted by WrittenFromUtopia
    Originally posted by puritancovenanter
    Gabriel,
    I am not sure either of your answers sufficiently expressed the ordinance so I couldn't vote. I'm kinda dingy sometimes and slow to understand. It may be that both are correct but not fully expressing the whole.


    [Edited on 7-20-2005 by puritancovenanter]
    Well, basically I was trying to separate between the paedocommunion and the orthodox Reformed view.
    I have read those who believe when Paul mentions the Lord's Body in that passage, they take it that he means the Church so they can get around the 'examine yourself" passage and let small children take communion.
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    AdamM is offline. Puritanboard Freshman
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    Even granting that Paul may be referring to the body, meaning the Church as Christ's body, the argument for paedocommunion from that section of scripture does not fly.

    Q1 - So you have to rightly discern who is and who is not in the body?

    Q2 - Can you do that without an insight and and understanding of the work of Christ, to rightly know who is and who isn't in the body?

    A. The kind of faith that remembers, proclaims and discerns fits either interpretation.
    _Adam_McMurry,_RE
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    Originally posted by AdamM
    Even granting that Paul may be referring to the body, meaning the Church as Christ's body, the argument for paedocommunion from that section of scripture does not fly.

    Q1 - So you have to rightly discern who is and who is not in the body?

    Q2 - Can you do that without an insight and and understanding of the work of Christ, to rightly know who is and who isn't in the body?

    A. The kind of faith that remembers, proclaims and discerns fits either interpretation.
    Gabe,

    I am not trying to be quarrelsome but this trying to figure out who is worthy is the same argument I was in earlier about who to baptize. How could I tell one was regenerate before they partake in the sign of being baptized into Christ's body. I think it is the same way for paedo-baptist, only in that they are trying to figure out who is worthy to partake of communion so that an individual doesn't do harm to themselve. It is going to rest upon a good confession and converstion of lifestyle. We can not see the heart but we are shown to how to tell some differences. We are told to test the spirits also. The fruit of the tree is another example.

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    WCF 26 section 2
    Saints by profession, are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necesities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.
    The Westminster calls for profession and offers it to all those who call upon the Lord. That is not an infant. Now I do not know if paedo involves pre-teens or not, you have to tell me what you think of that.

    [Edited on 7-21-2005 by puritancovenanter]

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    Originally posted by puritancovenanter
    Originally posted by AdamM
    Even granting that Paul may be referring to the body, meaning the Church as Christ's body, the argument for paedocommunion from that section of scripture does not fly.

    Q1 - So you have to rightly discern who is and who is not in the body?

    Q2 - Can you do that without an insight and and understanding of the work of Christ, to rightly know who is and who isn't in the body?

    A. The kind of faith that remembers, proclaims and discerns fits either interpretation.
    Gabe,

    I am not trying to be quarrelsome but this trying to figure out who is worthy is the same argument I was in earlier about who to baptize. How could I tell one was regenerate before they partake in the sign of being baptized into Christ's body. I think it is the same way for paedo-baptist, only in that they are trying to figure out who is worthy to partake of communion so that an individual doesn't do harm to themselve. It is going to rest upon a good confession and converstion of lifestyle. We can not see the heart but we are shown to how to tell some differences. We are told to test the spirits also. The fruit of the tree is another example.
    If you don't mind me jumping in. As far partaking of the sacrament in a worthy manner consider WLC Q.170 through 177:

    Q. 170. How do they that worthily communicate in the Lords supper feed upon the body and blood of Christ therein?

    A. As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lords supper,[1084] and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses;[1085] so they that worthily communicate in the sacrament of the Lords supper, do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal and carnal, but in a spiritual manner; yet truly and really,[1086] while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death.[1087]

    Q. 171. How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lords supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?

    A. They that receive the sacrament of the Lords supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves[1088] of their being in Christ,[1089] of their sins and wants;[1090] of the truth and measure of their knowledge,[1091] faith,[1092] repentance;[1093] love to God and the brethren,[1094] charity to all men,[1095] forgiving those that have done them wrong;[1096] of their desires after Christ,[1097] and of their new obedience;[1098] and by renewing the exercise of these graces,[1099] by serious meditation,[1100] and fervent prayer.[1101]

    Q. 172. May one who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation, come to the Lords supper?

    A. One who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation to the sacrament of the Lords supper, may have true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof;[1102] and in Gods account hath it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it,[1103] and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ,[1104] and to depart from iniquity:[1105] in which case (because promises are made, and this sacrament is appointed, for the relief even of weak and doubting Christians[1106]) he is to bewail his unbelief,[1107] and labor to have his doubts resolved;[1108] and, so doing, he may and ought to come to the Lords supper, that he may be further strengthened.[1109]

    Q. 173. May any who profess the faith, and desire to come to the Lords supper, be kept from it?

    A. Such as are found to be ignorant or scandalous, notwithstanding their profession of the faith, and desire to come to the Lords supper, may and ought to be kept from that sacrament, by the power which Christ hath left in his church,[1110] until they receive instruction, and manifest their reformation.[1111]

    Q. 174. What is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lords supper in the time of the administration of it?

    A. It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lords supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance,[1112] diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions,[1113] heedfully discern the Lords body,[1114] and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings,[1115] and thereby stir up themselves to a vigorous exercise of their graces;[1116] in judging themselves,[1117] and sorrowing for sin;[1118] in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ,[1119] feeding on him by faith,[1120] receiving of his fullness,[1121] trusting in his merits,[1122] rejoicing in his love,[1123] giving thanks for his grace;[1124] in renewing of their covenant with God,[1125] and love to all the saints.[1126]

    Q. 175. What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lords supper?

    A. The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lords supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success;[1127] if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it,[1128] beg the continuance of it,[1129] watch against relapses,[1130] fulfill their vows,[1131] and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance:[1132] but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament;[1133] in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time:[1134] but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled,[1135] and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.[1136]

    Q. 176. Wherein do the sacraments of baptism and the Lords supper agree?

    A. The sacraments of baptism and the Lords supper agree, in that the author of both is God;[1137] the spiritual part of both is Christ and his benefits;[1138] both are seals of the same covenant,[1139] are to be dispensed by ministers of the gospel, and by none other;[1140] and to be continued in the church of Christ until his second coming.[1141]

    Q. 177. Wherein do the sacraments of baptism and the Lords supper differ?

    A. The sacraments of baptism and the Lords supper differ, in that baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ,[1142] and that even to infants;[1143] whereas the Lords supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul,[1144] and to confirm our continuance and growth in him,[1145] and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.[1146]
    ~Wayne Wylie~
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    Job 28:28 - And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

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