August 16, 1924
Mr. John F. Davis,
My Dear Mr. Davis:
Your letter of the 12th came this morning and I expect to be away all next week, so unless I answer your inquiry immediately I may overlook it altogether, and I don’t want to do that.
The scripture about which you ask reads as follows: “But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.” 1 Cor. 11:28.
This as you know, refers to partaking of the church ordinance called by us the “Lord’s Supper”, and the apostle is designating the proper characters to partake of it, and the proper spirit in which it should be partaken of.
For instance, he says in this connection that those who eat and drink of this supper not discerning the Lord’s body, eat and drink unworthily, and thus eat and drink damnation (condemnation) to themselves. This means that those who fail to discern the Lord’s body in this ordinance are still in a condemned state, or still in a state of nature, and therefore not worthy to take part in the supper, have not the proper qualifications.
The Lord’s body is the church of the living God. Not to see his body is not to see the church. To see the church means not simply to see the men and women composing the church, but it means to see them not as they are in the flesh but to see them perfect in Christ Jesus, not having their own righteousness which is as filthy rags, but being clothed upon with the righteousness of Christ. When you view the church, do you see them as sinful creatures of Adam’s fallen race, or do you see them as saints of God in the beauties of the holiness of Christ Jesus? If you see them the latter way, then that proves that you are discerning the Lord’s body, and therefore you would not be eating and drinking unworthily in the matter of the Lord’s Supper.
This is the reason why Paul says let a man examine himself and so let him eat; that is, let him eat in that way or in that manner. And the proper way or manner in which to eat and drink of this supper is in the spirit of self-examination, not sitting in judgment or criticism upon one’s brethren, but examining one’s own self to see whether we are seeing the Lord’s body or are we simply seeing an earthly body; are we viewing every man perfect in Christ or are we viewing them in all the imperfections of fallen nature and charging their faults up against them?
When one realizes that the brethren are all better than he is; and when one feels to be the chief of sinners and the least of saints, and he wants to be at the feet of the brethren and not at their head as leader, then that one is seeing the church or the Lord’s body and is qualified through that spirit of self-examination to partake of the ordinance. Though feeling keenly his unworthiness to eat and drink of it, he would not be eating and drinking unworthily.
This Spirit that searches the hearts and tries the reins of men is no earthly candle lighted by earthly wisdom, but is the Holy Spirit of God. When this Spirit is at work in us, we will examine ourselves, we cannot help it, we shall be bound to do it. And the more this Spirit examines us through and through, the more we shall feel our unfitness to be in the church, and the more we shall feel the brethren to be above us and better than ourselves. It is in this way, a poor sinner is made to see the church of God, that is, to see the Lord’s body. In this way, the Spirit cleanses the vessel from self-confidence and fleshly idols and makes it fit for the service of the sanctuary. We cannot handle the holy things of God’s house unless we be clean and that is by having the power of the Living Word speaking in our soul. When that power does speak in one, every hidden thing is brought to the light and one’s confidence in the flesh is utterly destroyed. This light not only destroys self-confidence but it shines from the face of Jesus revealing him to the downcast sinner as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thus the sinner finds nothing in self in which to glory but Christ becomes All in All.
Isaiah said that he was a man of unclean lips because his eyes had seen the King the Lord of hosts, and all his train filling the temple. Was not Isaiah looking at Christ and the church by faith here? I think so. And in comparison, he saw himself filthy. The fact that he saw his filthiness was evidence he had seen the body of Christ. This made him a worthy follower of the Lamb. Therm fore, let us examine ourselves to see whether we have any evidence that we have seen the body of Christ. If so, we have one sign to encourage us to eat and drink of his holy ordinance.
Yours to serve in the gospel, H. H. Lefferts
(The above was sent to us by Sister Mary Dams of Shreveport, La., daughter of the late Brother Davis to whom Elder Lefferts wrote it in 1924. We are glad to publish it for it will find a ready response in the feelings of each brother or sister who reads it, who has often been made to examine himself. – J. D. W.)
Republished – Signs of the Times
Volume 136, No. 3